Besides a plague, Nigeria as a country seems to thrive on a complex web of controversies; both necessary and unnecessary. We have a way of recklessly raking one up where there is none. More so, when it now comes with a pandemic as confusing as the COVID-19, and the fallout from its management, it definitely cannot go without leaving controversies on its wake. Only, that I did not expect the controversies to come so soon; I was waiting, patiently though, till the bright light will appear at the end of the dark tunnel. I was already salivating, thinking of possible and probable headlines suitable for the heart rendering cans of financial scams and frauds that will be opened up, once the pandemic is fully chased away. But here we are. Before moving to the level of the much dreaded community transmission; while still dealing with the surface caused by imported transmission, we have started smelling the rat.
The rhumba dance is between our most venerable Papa, Bishop David Oyedepo, the founder of the Living Faith Church, the Federal Government, headed by the man he humbly referred to as ‘the foolish old leader’, and the management of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country. However, an ironical twist in this all rat rhumba is the Bishop who with open disdain of the Biblical injunction that urges all to pray for, respect and obey those in authority.
Bishop Oyedopo’s Church is said to have branches in some 65 countries around the World. He should know that Churches are not currently, opening in America, Britain, France, even Jerusalem et al. so also is the fact that Mosques are not opening in Saudi Arabia. In short, this year’s Hajj has been cancelled. First time since anyone living can remember. But here, Bishop David Oyedepo has smelled a rat.
The voice of darkness is pulling down the Church. He smelled a rat. Instantly, the failed apostle of 5G theory, Pastor Chris Oyakhilome jumped into the fray; he quickly echoed the same sentiments. He wondered why would the government allowed markets to open, while churches are not. Trust the media guys at the Presidency, their principal may be meek, certainly, neither Femi Adesina, nor Shehu Garba is. Trust the duo with a most vitriolic pen, they are really professional sparks plugs. They went to work. But before they could opened a can of deodorant, the Lagos State House of Assembly had perceived some repugnant odour too. They too smelled a rat. Oh my God… and me too suddenly caught the bug, once the news alert woke me up midday Friday, to the news that the Supreme Court has quashed the 12-year jail term handed that hitherto irrepressible former Governor of Abia State, Dr. Uzor Orji Kalu. The final arbiter in the land simply ordered a retrial. Definitely a rat is smelling!
Let’s be frank with ourselves here. Locking down the country is bad enough because of the simple virus that ordinary water from the Christ Apostolic Church can cure. Have we forgotten so soon the Church’s most adorable song? Babalola olomi iye re o, omi iye. (Babalola who has the healing water is here, healing water…). Or the unbelievers could decide to switch to Osun River in Oshogbo. I heard the water can heal just any viral infirmities. Rather the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to start carry all infected persons to Osun River in Oshogbo for Spiritual bath and having a drink from the brownish coloured river, they started ‘foolishly’ spending billions of tax-payers money to establish isolation centres, all over the place.
The ‘foolish old leader’ (apologies to Papa, Bishop David Oyedepo) succumbed to the Neo-colonial World Health Organization (WHO) inspired lock-down. Before recommending the lock-down, did WHO ever take into cognizance the huge revenues that the social and religion centers, so locked down, generate daily, weekly, monthly? Do they factored in the costs of maintaining Bishops, General Overseers, Directors, their wives, concubines and other side chicks? This vestige of colonial imperialism is wicked and senseless.
But before the ‘foolish old leader’ in Aso Rock could unleash his attack cats to sniff out the smelling rat, an ‘unbeliever’ who called himself ‘Pastor’ Poju Oyemade of Covenant Christian Centre had practically made Femi Adesina’s job lighter. They only need to restate the social need of opening the markets. The main job has been done by the two rebellious Pastors.
Oyemade had no finesse, a little crude. He gave Papa an upper cut. He described his cry as ‘senseless’. He further sarcastically waded into the festering controversies of closing of the ‘doors of a physical building’. He believed that ‘shutting the doors of Church building does in no way mean the closure of anointing of the spirit from working’. I tend to agree with him, but Papa Bishop was not done. While the controversy was raging he came up last weekend and declared ‘the doors of all Churches open and that anyone against this will die for it’. He believed our Lord Jesus Christ is more than any plague killing people. He offered no remedy other than ‘cast all your burden upon Jesus’ line of thought.
If I read my Holy Bible properly, I should fear this pronouncement. Remember, Jesus Christ pronounced against that fig tree, and pronto! It dried off. Elijah asked God ‘to smite these people with blindness’. In a blinking of an eye, they were all blind!!
Unfortunate for the one his congregation love to call Papa. Ogun State Government almost immediately, after he ordered doors of churches open, extended the lock-down in the State, where his Church is resident, by another week. All lock-down measures remain place. Places of worship remain shut too. It will be interesting how the next one week plays out in the State. Anyway, nothing to worry about. Papa will circumnavigate this too. After all he has an unenviable records of past ineffectual Spiritual pronouncements or is it curses and prophesies. He once threatened to ‘open the Gate of Hell’ for whoever will vote against his candidates. Not a few members of his congregations revolted against this and nothing happened. His candidate lost. He must have lost count of several curses, sorry Spiritual pronouncements against this siting President and those who believe in him. These however, remain what they are. Pulpitarial grandstanding!
I still blame the President and his medical advisers for all this. Melinda Gates, the wife of Bill Gates, the computer Guru, must have studied us deeply as a people. She knows our mentality. We chase mundane things more than eternal ones. We chase material things more than our lives. Her predictions of dead bodies littering the streets of African might have been targeted at Nigeria. Who knows? The North is moving the Almajiris out of the Region in droves. To where? Down South, I guess! These social misfits are the largest purveyors of the virus.
Fact is fact. Worship centres are closed. Drinking bars are closed. So also are all sporting centres. The markets opening are to sell food items. This is to mitigate against hunger. The numerous Imams have not cried out, neither are the drinking joints operators. But our venerable Papa is the one pontificating on ‘hunger’ as a ‘silent virus’ killing people silently. Seriously, I smell a rat if it is Churches that will start the cry for opening while the plague is still intractable.
I believe the controversies around COVID-19 in Nigeria are just gathering verve. Lagos State is already riling our nervous system with the announcement that the State could exceed a 120,000 mark by August. Agreed, if we carelessly allowed the plague to spread to the squalor areas of the State, we may suddenly start looking something closer to that of France, Italy or Spain. US may remain at the apex of the log forever, though. More controversies shall soon arise, like a storm from the Sahara Desert. You can bet the Lagos State House of Assembly to threaten the Governor with impeachment over the donors’ funds or even the figures released. Mere releasing the lists of the donors cannot assuage some bloated egos.
From an obscure State, however, somewhere up in the middle of the country, a voice, a weighty one at that, has also ranged out. Youthful Governor Yaya Bello has also perceived the smelling rat in his State. In spite of compelling evidence, he would want anybody who cares to listen that COVID-19 is alien to his State. While the NCDC people believed otherwise, and was making life uncomfortable for the young Governor, he chased them away with Executive powers.
Truly, a rat is smelling. Is it rotten? Our Bishop has declared opened ‘the gates’ of the lock downed churches. Also, Governor Yaya Bello has chased health officials away from his State. And the Supreme Court, suddenly, letting loose Orji Uzor Kalu in the middle of this plague is curious. I smell a rat here. He now have ample time to buy himself a favorable judgment.
But still, we have to patiently await what plays out between now and next few weeks in the country. If the NCDC people are actually doing business with COVID-19 or not we shall know. And if the ‘Gate Keeper of Hell’ or the Jerry Curled Yo-Yo one in South Africa, will force the doors to their churches open and they start fetching the members from their various homes, to attend services, we shall see. Maybe the Holy Bible is not accurate again, I may not know. All the instances of people worshipping in their homes in the New Testament, no longer hold for these people with nebulous agenda. Even Jesus Christ urges where two or three people gathered and call my name, there I will be. This injunction has no meaning to them. I smell a rat truly about their intentions. But if by any stupid act of omission or commission, this pandemics is mistakenly allowed to slip out of control, as I can see it losing, no one will direct anyone again. Nigerians will be the ones to start running inside when the ‘foolishness’ of these charlatans opening their mouths faster than the workings of their medulla oblongata start manifesting. Then nobody will beg anyone again. And no government will lock anybody down or up . We shall all firmly remain locked in. Hunger virus or greed virus shall have no meaning to us then.
Let us all watch the outcome of the Rhumba dance, we shall all hail, clap or curse the eventual loser.
What a people!!! Afolayan Adebiyi writes from Lagos, Nigeria.