By Tunde Odesola
Written in 1953, “The things men do” is the title of one of the 90 thrillers by English novelist, James Hadley Chase. His novels were very popular in European markets with France leading the pack just as far-flung Russia was not left out. Chase was a renowned name in Africa and Asia, too. Curiously, however, his works failed to make an impact in the US as his descriptive knack seemed unconvincing to American readers. To think that Americans, on whose soil, Chase situated most of his novels, would reject him, highlights the title of another work of his, “The way the cookie crumbles,” and emphasises the helplessness of man against life’s vagaries.
It’s unlikely you’ve caught people having sex in a church. Or have you? I haven’t either. But I broke the story of a soldier who raped a young girl in a church at the Capital area of Osogbo in 2007. This was during the killings and arson that rocked the announcement of Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola by the Independent National Electoral Commission as the re-elected Governor of Osun State. The soldier was a member of the battalions deployed to restore peace in Osun. However, his idea of peace was to use his piss organ insanely by yanking a young girl off a commercial motorcycle at a roadblock, dragging her to a church nearby and raping her. The stories and a feature I did on the ignobility earned the testosterone-soggy soldier a sacking. But as terrible as sex in a church is, I’ve never experienced farting in a church before until last week.
From ages past, the church has been under intense attack from the enemy. A 15th Century German preacher, Martin Luther, captures the blitzkrieg in these words, “For where God built a church, there the Devil would also build a chapel.” As “The things men do” makes “The way the cookie crumbles” inevitable, the need for the inviolability of the church, according to Luther, remains a task to be pursued always by men of good conscience. But will man allow the church to remain the house of God, and not the house of politics? What transpired in Otuoke between the all-knowing farmer of Ota and the fisherman from Ogbia LGA of Bayelsa, last Sunday, shows that man won’t stop to trade and fart in the house of God soon.
In December 2013, former President Olusegun Obasanjo wrote a vicious 18-page letter titled, ‘Before it is too late,’ to Jonathan, accusing him of heavy-duty corruption, shielding an alleged drug baron in the Senate, ethnicity, clamping down on the opposition, training snipers, shielding murderers, driving away foreign investors, among others. Baba Iyabo roared in the letter, “Nigeria is bleeding and the haemorrhage must be stopped… Corruption has reached the level of impunity…The serious and strong allegation of non-remitting of about $7bn from the NNPC to the Central Bank occurring from export of some 300,000 barrels per day, amounting to $900m a month, to be refined and with refined products of only $400m returned and Atlantic Oil loading about 130,000 barrels sold by Shell and managed on behalf of NPDC with no sale proceeds paid into NPDC account is incredible. The allegation was buttressed by the letter of the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria to you…This allegation will not fly away by non-action, cover-up, denial or bribing possible investigators…”
Obasanjo thundered, “Presidential assistance for a murderer to evade justice and presidential delegation to welcome him home can only be in bad taste generally but particularly to the family of the victims. Or, as it is viewed in some quarters, is he being recruited to do for you what he did for Abacha in the past?…Allegation of keeping over 1,000 people on political watch list rather than criminal or security watch list and training snipers and other armed personnel secretly and clandestinely acquiring weapons to match for political purposes like Abacha and training them where Abacha trained his own killers, if it is true, cannot augur well for the nation…”
Last week, newspapers were awash with the stories of Obasanjo in Otuoke, where he paid a two-day visit to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan and his family, and also inaugurated some projects established by the Governor Seriake Dickson-led state government. Addressing the vicar of the church, Rt. Rev. James Oruwari, Obasanjo said, “What touched me most in this short gathering are the children coming forward and singing the welcome song and dressed in the attire of different cultures, different tribes and different linguistic groups in Nigeria.” He said the cultural display by the children underpins the reconciliation homily given by Oruwari. The Balogun Owu then delivered a punchline, “Unless we preach peace, we teach and practise reconciliation, we will have no peace. And unless we have peace, we will not have development; and unless we have development, we will not have growth and if we do not have growth, we will not come out of poverty… whatever we are, wherever God has brought us to be in this country, what is important is the oneness of Nigeria…”
This political gospel according to Saint Matthew Aremu Okikiola Olusegun Obasanjo is nonsense. What an uninventive way to lap up one’s vomit! What an impudent god – to hang a pulpy Jonathan on the cross in 2013, put a crown of thorns on his head, spear him and strip him naked, only for this same tin god to crawl back to the cross with gold, frankincense, myrrh and halo, announcing the resurrection of his devil on the cross.” Reconciliation is now more important than recovering the questionable wealth allegedly traced to the Jonathan family and making them answerable? Where did Obasanjo bury peace and oneness in 2015? Sophistry: reconciliation, peace, oneness, development, growth. Where’s justice, Baba Iyabo? What’s the basic condition of democracy if not justice? Why is Nigeria a hell if not because our laws don’t work? You formed a movement to get ‘justice’ for Nigerians against the misrule of the directionless Muhammadu Buhari administration, but embraced the Jonathan you described as the lord of corruption? Has Jonathan been absolved of the allegations Obasanjo accused him of?
Jonathan also preached unity after Obasanjo finished his address. He called on Nigerians to embrace oneness and unity. Expressing delight over the visit, Jonathan said, “It is a unique opportunity. Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo promised that he was going to visit my village when I visited his hometown after leaving office. But I didn’t know it was going to come at this time…
“I pray that as we progress in this country, ONE DAY, ALL CHURCHES AND MOSQUES SHOULD BRING CHILDREN AND DO THIS KIND OF DANCE SO THAT WE ALL KNOW THAT THE MESSAGE OF UNITY SHOULD BE CARRIED ON.” Haba! Uncle Jona! All my life, I’ve never heard a more unconvincing statement than this – all churches and mosques bringing children to dance…! What dance? Palongo? Palongo for national unity!?
A former Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Osun State Council, Ayoade Adedayo, once told the tale of drunk in his Ora-Igbomina hometown. At Easter, it was customary for Christians to announce the symbolic resurrection of Jesus Christ by shouting at 12am, “Jesus has risen!” This could be done by anyone as soon as it was 12am. On a particular Easter Monday, the man, who had been drinking all morning, slept but jerked awake up around 7pm. He staggered to the window, cleared his throat and shouted, “Jesu jinde o! (Jesus has risen!)” A woman next door retorted, “Kei jinde o, lo re sun pada! (He has not resurrected, go back to sleep!). I love Oyinlola and Donald Duke’s wish to have Nigeria reordered but having Obasanjo as the harbinger of the wish is like building an architectural masterpiece with snowflakes; it will soon melt away.
– Originally published in The Punch, February 26, 2018
By Tunde Odesola