Oyedepo’s pins and needles
Sir: Silence is a luxury reinforced by inequality. While a select few easily find their voices, others do so at extortionate costs. The hope that soared in 2015 when in a seismic shift Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressive Congress won Nigeria`s presidential election and in the process handed Goodluck Jonathan a historic defeat has quickly soured leaving behind the vinegar of disappointment and regret. Of this vinegar, Nigerians have drunk to their fill and absolutely sated, an increasing number is leaving no one in doubt that enough is enough. David Oyedepo, Bishop and Founder Living Faith, a church that has branches all over the world, recently joined the rising number of Nigerians simply astonished by the audacious incompetence of the APC-led government. In a hard hitting sermon during which absolutely no punches were pulled, the widely respected pastor found occasion in the so called social media bill currently lying before the National Assembly to lash out at the Buhari administration. Calling out the restrictions the bill is about to place on the right of Nigerians to freely express them, Oyedepo denounced the high handedness of the government. He ended his rebuke by prophetically pronouncing that the days of the Buhari administration are numbered. Only time will tell. However, on a lot of scores, Oyedepo echoed the sentiments of a lot of Nigerians.
Oyedepo is a divisive character somewhat. While some people are alarmed by the sheer wealth of his church, his seemingly extravagant lifestyle and what many have perceived until recently to be his reluctance to speak out on national issues, he is well loved by his congregation and a host of others who find succor in his ministry.
Nigerian pastors seem to have some sympathy for the Buhari administration. His Vice President, Yemi Osibanjo, is one of them and it may explain their reluctance to criticize the administration. However, as things have continued to get worse against all hopes, a lot of them can no longer afford the luxury of silence. Given the administration`s antecedents, it is highly doubtful that Oyedepo’s words would achieve anything other than stirring the President`s megaphones to loud, caustic sessions. The current administration, more than any other since Nigeria`s epochal return to democracy in 1999, has largely disappointed. This pervasive disappointment is made even more grating by the fact that the President seems impervious to the advice and criticisms so necessary for governing a country such as Nigeria requires. He has surrounded himself with structures built to drive fear into those who would speak up and staff primed to sweep away critics in a flood of verbal diarrhea. In the face of so much, silence is proving even costlier than was the case. It is why everyone must take a stand in the interest of Nigeria. It would not matter whose ox is gored if in the long run Nigeria is better for it. Oyedepo and other religious leaders are uniquely placed to take and feel the pulse of Nigerians at any given time. There is little doubt that the course the country is taking at the moment has them on very sharp pins and needles. They must find their voices always for what is at stake is not just the survival of Nigerians of the moment, but the future of their unborn.
• Kene Obiezu, wrote from Abuja.