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Truly, the hood does not make the monk

By Alade Rotimi-John
10 August 2022   |   3:45 am
The ugly spectacle of the past week in which persons other than those who have been called to the holy orders irreverently donned the hood in the manner of bandits or agberos is not only comically odd but has brought into focus our upturned sense of propriety or correctness in behavior and morals.

PHOTO: LUCY LADIDI ELUKPO

The ugly spectacle of the past week in which persons other than those who have been called to the holy orders irreverently donned the hood in the manner of bandits or agberos is not only comically odd but has brought into focus our upturned sense of propriety or correctness in behavior and morals. What is even more tragic is that there has been no palpable uneasiness about the heretical conduct of the goons by those who may have devised or conjured the theatre of the absurd. It is difficult to enter imaginatively into the tensions created by the confrontation of the Church’s doctrinal teachings with the folly of the irreverent use of her motifs.

Thankfully, there will always be rare characters as strong as church leaders who could withdraw into their privacy and continue to review the travails of the church over the ages and interpret the Yar’Adua Centre show of shame as familiarly obscene. However, in a general situation of strife, of inexplicable combativeness, and of up-beat political rascality, those who plotted the scheme must be understood to have intended to exploit the prevailing state of objective tension to cause animosity or hatred among the people.

There is a requirement to interrogate our penchant for unserious conduct even where the situation calls for sobriety and deep reflection. Our unserious bearing is becoming proverbial and is noted by the rest of the world as peculiarly Nigerian. It has given us out as a people who live to idealise the profane or the iniquitous. We seem to have no capacity for self-absorption and thereby indulge in whimsical undertaking

The stark lucidity and perceptive insight that are required for nation building are patently absent particularly among those in authority over us. One wonders whether we are the descendants of those glorious ancients who even the most imaginative among us cannot picture or imagine as belonging to our specie. We are left wondering whether those glorious beings have anything in common with the poor impostors of the Church’s totem at the venue of the unveiling of a party’s Vice Presidential candidate. Everything that happened at that venue is as mediocre as it is unhistorical. The projected solemnity of the event was downed by the uncomfortable facts of an official connivance with or objective promotion of the misdemeanor.

Even as the current of opinion regarding the most exalted office in the land is in favour of a young, vibrant, knowledgeable and scandal-unchallenged person, some tired Trojans noted for their antics and irrascibility are polluting the atmosphere by introducing irrelevant diversions to the settled pathway of the people. The spectre of the fake Bishops and of other masquerades as Christian clergy at an overly political event is one such dubious diversions. It is calculated to confuse the people and create tension within the polity from which they – the organisers of the infamy – will be the beneficiaries.

They will be called upon to officially mediate a needless crisis. They will now be comfortably ensconced to pontificate on the unrighteousness or danger of allowing religion to take the pride of place in the electoral process. They will also move to enact laws in that regard after they have benefitted from an abuse of the same process. In our judgement, this lack of sensibility is an aberration. It has an insidious but serious damaging effect.

Our collective challenge of the fake Bishops’ infamy is necessary. It ought not to be derided. We ought to be inspired by lofty ideals even as we may in the end resolve to put the matter securely where it belongs – the trash bag of unfortunate events. We can claim with justification to be the proud inheritors or spiritual heir to the glorious political events of our First Republic. Then campaigns were issue-based and powered by published manifestoes premised on track or proven record or the fertile exercise of the mind regarding infinite possibilities. Ex-convicts, socially-disoriented persons, thieves including currency forgers of the time found no place on the political podium. Our creation today of figures half emerging from suave civilization is the reason of our needless struggles with existence or with practices that have become second nature in other climes.

We seem to have blown away a great deal of our virtuous practices as we have broken down the walls of our search for persons of upright or good moral characters to lead our efforts towards desirable growth and development. Our once honest interest in the background of aspirants to positions of power has taken the back seat. It has been sorely replaced with a bread- and- butter reward system.

We need to gather up our glorious past and recreate it for the future. It is mournful that we are today captivated by wild human beings in the mould of foxes, fawns, centaurs and satyrs who dot our political landscape as even we continue to tolerate or endure their mischief or as we grin as cheshire cats.

The lamentable vagueness of the message of some of the frontline candidates for the office of the president is worrisome. They disingenuously avoid the national question so as not to offend the thrust of the status quo and for fear an outright answer would dim their chances of becoming the choice of the electorate or of achieving their life-long ambition.

Nonetheless, the closely-reasoned speeches or addresses of one of them have sparked considerable interest and enthusiasm. Numerous would-be voters especially among the youth population promise to switch to him at the polls. He is rightly perceived as holding hope aloft and of initiating a radical departure from the slovenliness and desultoriness of the past years of locusts. He is dutifully shaping the character of his presidency. The social media and the usually-reticent mainstream media have set off a wave of favourable comments even as they have burgeoned with tributes.

The general environment of aridity of ideas has, in its wake, produced the grotesque spectacle of fake Bishops or, put more poignantly in the popular lingo of the Nigerian public conversation drivel, “unknown men of God”. Even as the hood is deemed insufficient to make or characterise the monk, its absence or ill-fitting donning presents us with the laughable anachronism of the monkey without its proverbial or trade mark bushy tail.

Rotimi-John, a lawyer and public affairs commentator, wrote vide lawgravitas@gmail.com

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