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Insensitivity and immaturity on display

By AbduRafiu
11 November 2021   |   1:36 am
Two major events occurred last week. The collapse of the 21-storey building under construction at Ikoyi filled airwaves, the print and the digital media.

People walk to rescue workers along the rubble of a 21-storey building under construction that collapsed at Ikoyi district of Lagos, on November 1, 2021. – Several people have been trapped while unspecified number of people mostly construction workers were feared dead as a 21-storey building suddenly collapsed in the Ikoyi district of Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

Two major events occurred last week. The collapse of the 21-storey building under construction at Ikoyi filled airwaves, the print and the digital media. Hearts were gripped with anxiety and certain sense of foreboding. The second event was the Anambra State governorship election which was keenly contested and was watched with more than passing interest, indeed with our breath in our mouth against the threat by IPOB and the caliber of the contestants—Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, a renowned economist and former governor of Central Bank leading the pack; yes, eventually he led the pack. His closest rival was Valentine Ozigbo, who brandished the PDP flag. He has impeccable credentials, waving before our gaze a First Class in accounting and a Masters which has attached to it a glittering distinction by the authorities from Lancaster University, United Kingdom. Of course we had Andy Uba, the grassroots man who has been in public consciousness since he was a special assistant to President Obasanjo.

There was also brave and daring Senator Ifeanyi Uba. I cannot now swear on oath between Soludo and Andy Uba for whom Obasanjo would have cast his vote were he eligible to do so. He loves them both but esteems Soludo exceedingly highly for his scholarship. And he has implicit trust in Andy Uba. But I knew the contest was clearly between Soludo and Ozigbo. I believe that was the basis of anxieties, especially for a people who have elected to stand alone by the party that represents their aspirations—APGA. As our fathers would say, you don’t all sleep and your heads would point in the same direction! There was as sense of relief when the news flash came and pronounced Soludo the governor-elect.

But then it was when Nigerians were grappling with consternation and extreme grief over the Gerrard Road disaster, Ikoyi, that an immature young man attempted to foul up the South Western environment, their world view and values and civilisation. Families thronged the site of the high-rise building that collapsed for their loved ones. No one knew who was safe and who had died and buried in the rubble. As the number of the dead being excavated was rising so were anxieties. They held their breath with some women carrying their arms on their heads and others folding them on their chests. There was hope when a handful were rescued, brought out alive even if wounded. Ambulance was racing from there to Lagos Island Hospital with siren typically blaring. The air was thick with sorrow. Within 72 hours, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the young man with the right application to work, had visited the place three times, even in the dead of the night. His deputy, Dr. Hamzat had also rushed to the scene.

Where is Femi Osibona? The question was ringing out from different parts of the site, from the anxious and from sympathizers. There was grave concern for him by those who saw him enter the building. Osibona was the developer of the property under the name of his firm Fourscore Homes Limited. It was in this atmosphere that the young man, Adewale Sikiru said to YouTube Channel, NA 24, that the building came down only minutes after he left there. Fine enough. But he went on to state his mission to the building. He said that he was there for an interview for the position of a site engineer.

Although he was found qualified, but rejected on account of being a Muslim. He was reported to have quoted Femi Osibona as telling him that he could not work with a Muslim. Would it not have been enough if he had said he miraculously escaped being a victim of the collapse by the whiskers; that the building came down only minutes after he left there, and that he thanked his stars? Nothing could be more in bad taste and cruel. Drained of compassion, he did not care about those trapped in the rubble made up of broken concrete blocks, pillars and twisted iron rods as well as broken wood among other sharp and piercing objects. It was in the sordid atmosphere he decided to deride and gloat. For him the collapse served Osibona right after all he denied him his first job! It was a one-sided report, indeed poor and perverse editorial judgment to have aired such a report. Osibona is not alive to confirm or deny the story. He must have lent himself to dark influences that are looking for a trigger to cause ethnic and sectarian commotion and breakdown of law and order in a region known for liberality and accommodation in matters. I will return to this presently.

Osibona was from Ijebuland. The Ijebus are too broadminded to begin to discriminate against anyone on account of his faith. What is a better proof than the yearly Ojude Oba Festival which is used to round off the Eid-il-Kabri and celebrate the paramount king, the Awujale of Ijebuland? It is an event that brings all Ijebu people together, Christians and Muslims. What a delightful event to behold every year with the people filing out according to age groups and associations, different groups in different colourful attire. There is horse riding. People with financial muscle, notably Mike Adenuga, pick the bill. Among the prominent leaders who attend the occasion every year are Chief Ayo Adebanjo the leader of Afenifere and Gbenga Daniel, former Governor of Ogun State. Both are Christians. Otunba Daniel is son of a clergy man, and he himself is a Christian. He built a church in memory of his father at Shagamu.

The claim by the guy seeking job has found resonance in the sentiments of MURIC which has lapped up. It is the kind of situation MURIC has been waiting for to stoke its fire. Says Professor Ishaq Akintola, its director: That video clip is an undeniable evidence of the alienation , marginalization, improvisation and persecution of Yoruba Muslims by no other than their fellow Yoruba who happen to be Christians.” I recall when the South West Governors decided to establish Amotekun to boost security in the Region, Professor Ishaq Akintola said Muslims were being discriminated against in recruitment when the exercise had not even begun. During the imbroglio over Hijab-wearing in Christian mission schools in Kwara State, Professor Ishaq Akintola wading into the issue said: “We warn the Kwara State Government (KWSG) against compromising its authority over this issue. Any attempt by KWSG to spoon-feed CAN or to sweep the right of Muslim girl-child to wear Hijab under the carpet will be resisted by the Muslim community. The law is on our side. On Hijab we stand. There will be no retreat, no surrender.”

The people of South West must be wary of the campaign to set the region on fire. It is the most peaceful in the country. They should not allow themselves to be lured into chaos engendered by falsehood. Fanatics whether they are Christians or Muslims are not servants of Truth. They are in fact harmful to the cause. The Son of God after Whose Teachings Christianity arose was and still is the Prince of Peace, the Love Arm of God in the Trinity and the Holy Spirit, Justice Arm. The Two are Parts of the Whole, Christ on the right-hand side, and Holy Spirit on the left-hand side of the Father, the Godhead, which can be likened to two hands of a man. When God acts in Love, He acts in Jesus Christ and when in Justice, in the Holy Spirit. And the Lord Christ said, “The Father is in me and I am in the Father. The Father and I are One”. Prophet Mohammed (May Peace Be unto Him) after Whose Teaching Islam came into being was sent by God. After Christ left to rejoin with His Father and become, mankind went back to their old ways, errors and wrong- doing. Prophet Mohammed was sent to quickly come to arrest the decline. Without Him coming, mankind would have gone into perdition before the End Time, the Age of the Holy Spirit in which we are in the present time.

In the South West as I pointed out during the Hijab controversy, religion is not an issue. There is hardly any family that does not boast of Muslims and Christians, and animists. Because of their education, culture, exposure and age- long civilization, they do not ask whether a person is a Muslim or Christian before relating with him or her. The leaders have set good examples to follow. Islam came to Yorubaland in the 1400s, 14th Century from Mali. This was long before Uthman Fodio set foot in Nigeria in 1804. The Yorubas refer to it as Religion from Mali which over time became distorted to read and ‘Esin Imole’. As examples the leaders in this zone have set, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, a Christian (Jeremiah) was the first as Premier to set up Pilgrim Commission for Muslims in Nigeria. His own sister he sent on pilgrimage to Mecca. His nephew, Abimbola, the son of the sister is a Christian. Bola Ahmed Tinubu is married to a Christian, Remi. She attended Our Ladies of Apostles Secondary School, Ijebu-Ode. When she was ordained a deaconess, Bola Tinubu was in attendance on the occasion at Redeemed Christian Church of God camp. Babatunde Raji Fashola is married to a Roman Catholic Christian, Abimbola.

His 87 –year old mother is a Christian so was his grandmother. The late Abiola Ajimobi, former Governor of Oyo State was married to a Christian, Florence. The wife of the former governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun is married to a Christian whose father is a clergy man in Osogbo. The mother of the Speaker of the House of Representative, Hakeem Gbajabiamila is a Christian. I know of a neighbour who is a Christian but whose son is a Muslim. Whenever the young cap comes back home from the university, the mother, a Christian would wake up to prepare the meal at dawn during fasting period. He was known in the neighbourhood for calling out Muslims for morning prayers. When the young man finished at Ife, he was posted to Sokoto for his Youth Service. Because of the state of insecurity the parents knew fear. Their friends wanted if they could get him reposted to the East, Edo or Rivers. He refused bluntly. He said it was just as well; he had longed to go to Sokoto to deepen his knowledge of the Quoran. Today whenever he visits the parents, his wife walks up and down the house in full and black regalia of Muslim women, covering head to toe.

Most prominent Yorubas were educated in Christian schools. The late Dr. Lateef Adegbite, one-time secretary general of Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs attended Baptist Academy, Obanikoro, Lagos; the same school Professor Aliyu Babatunde Fafunwa went to. Well-known Moshood Kasimowo Abiola, the winner of 1993 annulled election attended Baptist Boys High School, Abeokuta, as Justice Bola Ajibola, today founder of Crescent University, Lafenwa, Abeokuta. Hadjia Mrs. Lateefat Okunnu attended Methodist High School, Yaba. The Emir of Ilorin, His Eminence Ibrahim Kolapo Sulu-Gambari attended Offa Grammar School, Offa.

The school was set up by Offa Descendant Union and had a Methodist missionary as the first chairman Board of Governors. Other old students of the school are General Alani Akinrinade, General David Jemibewon, the irrepressible J.S Olawoyin, Professor Mobolaji Oyawoye, the first professor of geology in Africa. Indeed, Offa has produced at the last count over 100 professors, eight of whom have been vice-chancellors of universities in Nigeria. Salihu Modibo Alfa Belgore, one time Chief Justice of Nigeria and Justice Saidu Kawu attended AIONIAN secondary schools, either at Ilesha or Offa. These are schools that are either owned by the Anglican Church or affiliated to it.

It is hardly remembered that Lateef Jakande, former Governor of Lagos State attended Ilesha Grammar School. So did the Alhaji Wahab Iyanda Folawiyo, the Baba Adinni of Yorubaland. Alhaji Jakande was managing director of the Nigerian Tribune until close to being sworn in as Governor of Lagos State. The closest friend industrialist Oba Otudeko had was Arisekola Alao, Baba Adiini Musulum of Oyo State, and now of blessed memory. The first head prefect of Cherubim and Seraphim College, Ilorin was a Muslim while the principal was a Christian of very high ranking in C&S Church. Politician Olawepo, a Muslim was among the early set of Cherubim and Seraphim College.

So, where is the discrimination? The people should be on the alert to reject the insidious campaign by people with sinister motives to inflame passion and set the West on sectarian fire with Muslims set against Christians. They should continue to uphold their accustomed respect for one another’s recognitions and convictions.

Wedge between Bola Tinubu and Segun Osoba
There is a determined attempt to draw a wedge between former Governor of Ogun State, Olusegun Osoba and Bola Tinubu, the former governor of Lagos State and presidential hopeful of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The attempt is driven with curious and injurious insinuations to throw their supporters in disarray, based on falsehood and ignorance. Both underwent surgery in the knee in the United Kingdom. The insinuations should be thrown out of the window.
(The editor says my time is up. To be fully addressed next week).