I got to know quite early in my life that when a pastor is preaching you are not supposed to ask questions. You are required to listen and take whatever he says as coming from God. But that is not to say that you must be dumb throughout the period of your stay in the church. No. You can actually ask questions; but you can only do so during the Sunday school session – not during the sermon. The problem is that majority don’t get to church early enough to meet the Sunday school program. And there is every tendency that the Pastor/GO himself would still be in his office at that time preparing his sermon for the day. You are then left in the hands of the Sunday school teachers or junior pastors whose biblical knowledge may, sorry to say, not be much better than yours.
Knowing that I cannot question a pastor’s sermon, I have decided to be cautious in writing this piece about the recent opinion expressed by Bishop David Olaniyi Oyedepo in regard to the unity of Nigeria (Hope you can see that Bishop is my namesake…aha!).
I actually watched the video on Sahara Reporters and shook my head in disapproval as Daddy said, “If the nation will break, let it break!” At a point, the Bishop actually spoke in tongue briefly and I became afraid. I was scared because I thought he was about to predict a breakup of the nation. But thank God that what followed was not a prophecy. It was actually an opinion, and I am a strong believer that we are all entitled to our personal opinion. So my personal opinion is that “Nigeria Must Not Break, Sir!” and I have my reasons for this.
Yes, I am not unmindful of the fact that some guys out there will want to give me a head-knock for daring to disagree with Bishop – a whole bishop. In fact, I am thinking of my former Personal Assistant as I write. He is one of Winners Chapel pastors and I know how he reacts anytime someone disagrees with whatever Bishop Oyedepo says. K’oloun so wa n’be – God help us!
Expectedly, Bishop Oyedepo’s comments have been generating a lot of heat, most especially in the social media. A number of people support his arguments wholeheartedly while many are already calling for his head because of his statements. Some have even gone to the extent of calling him names…horrible names. I will never do that. As an Elder in my own church, I cannot go against my Christian teachings by saying negative things against such a highly respected Man of God. My bible tells me in 1 Timothy 5 that I must not “…rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father…” so my stand here is to politely propound a couple of reasons why Nigeria must not be allowed to break; hoping that one of my Winners Chapel friends will help pass the message to Bishop.
I was still very young during the Biafra war. But my father told me a lot about it. And each time he relayed the story to me, he would end with either of two Yoruba proverbs, (i) eni ija o ba lonpe ara e l’okunrin – you can continue to call yourself a man until you’re faced with a war, (2) Eni Sango ba t’oju e wole ri ko ni ba won bu Oba Koso (I can’t translate this one. Please ask any Yoruba elder that is nearby).
Will any Nigerian ever want a repeat of that bloody war? Truth be told, there is no how there would be a breakup of Nigeria without many heads rolling and a lot of blood flowing on the floor. I don’t think anyone in the country wants that to happen today. Nigeria must not go into another senseless war in which millions of lives would be lost. For us to understand this issue properly, just think of what happens during ordinary peaceful protests in Nigeria. In fact, look at what happened during the fuel subsidy protests of January this year. Hope we can all remember that some people lost their lives. How much more when agitations for a breakup become a civil war? My conclusion is that there cannot be a breakup without a war in Nigeria. Simple as ABC!
We shouldn’t also assume that a breakup of Nigeria would just be a matter of North and South going their separate ways. Far from it! Let me sound it loud and clear that if Nigeria should break up today, we would probably end up with about 400 different countries! Yes, I repeat; 400 countries. That would be the time for every ethnic group in Nigeria to start canvassing for a separation. Are we ready to have Ibadan country, Egba country, Ijaw nation, Fulani country, Hausa nation etc? Are we prepared to face the consequences?
Yes, Bishop opined that “…marriage is not by force.” I agree with him. But the consequences of a broken home are better imagined than witnessed. I am yet to see any divorcee that is happy with her broken marriage. How about the children of a broken home? Do they find it easy? I beg, Nigeria must not break! Help us beg God not to allow it to happen, Sir.
I have heard many people advancing different reasons for the breakup of the country. But I am yet to be convinced, honestly. Our problem in Nigeria is NOT because of our unification or size. No, please. Our main problem is that of leadership; pure and simple! And that problem of leadership is better surmounted as a unified entity. That is not to say that the pro-breakup group doesn’t have any point at all. They do, but I believe that what we will lose far outweighs all the points being canvassed for disintegration.
A common belief is that the frequent religious unrests in the country are that of North vs. South. No way. It is not. I am also yet to be convinced that our problem is that of Christian versus Moslems. I don’t think so. Our problem is that of leadership, and some of our leaders see religion as one of the easiest weapons for the achievement of their personal gains. With good leadership, the so called ‘cabals’ will not have a place. With good leadership, there will be no cause for any call for disintegration.
As a people, we can change Nigeria. Again, let’s go back to the fuel subsidy protests. Did we see what happened in Kano and other Northern states? Protests in Kano; of all places? That is to tell us that the people of Nigeria are gradually becoming wiser. So, now that we are beginning to unite as a people – ordinary people of a united country on burning issues – please let us stop talking about disintegration!
Many are also tempted to argue that the issue of Boko Haram or Niger Delta militancy will stop if everyone goes his own way. Big lie, iro nla! In fact, I submit; the problem will become escalated. Who says that Boko Haram will not spread across the new and weaker countries that will emerge? Who says the individual presidents of the now smaller nations will be able to handle the guys? Sorry, a breakup will not stop the problem.
I am inclined to start listing the advantages we currently enjoy as “the giant of Africa” but they are too many for this space. Suffice to say that we earn better respect as a one-Nigeria; we are bigger and richer as one nation; we co-exist better as one-Nigeria people; we have more freedom as a one nation. In fact, a funny thought came to my mind as I watched that video. Hmm, this mind of mine sef! You see, it occurred to me that Bishop may need a visa to continue to preach at Canaanland if Nigeria should break up. No pun is meant, but the fact is that his home state would have become a separate nation by that time. Honestly, that is what is likely to happen.
The other day, it was Cameroon that was doing shakara with us until Obasanjo finally gave Bakassi to them. My mind is telling me that as small as they are, Niger Republic, Benin Republic, and Chad would all start their own wahala with a disintegrated Nigeria the moment we breakup. Go and write it down, it is my prophesy. And I pray it doesn’t come to pass. At that time, you and I would travel to Ghana and they would ask us, “Which of the Nigeria countries is yours?” It would be a shame. I’m actually ‘filing’ this piece from Accra and as a frequent visitor to this country I know how proud I’ve always been when talking to my Ghanaian colleagues and friends.
If your wife is from the North, and you are from Osogbo, I wonder the kind of pressure that would be on both of you the moment Nigeria disintegrates. If your child is in Command school in the North, I just wonder what would happen to his education in the event of a breakup. I also wonder what Lagos state would likely say to me if my home state of Osun should also decide to become a country of its own. The other day, one state in the Eastern part of the country declared that it would no longer employ non-indigenes. I think the governor actually fired the non-indigenes from the state service. That’s just a state ooo. What happens if that same state becomes a separate nation tomorrow? I beg, if na joke make we stop am o.
As I said, I will never be a party to raining abuses on men of God. But I have the right to advise them. Yes, I do. Hope Bishop was not part of the delegation of Men of God that went to Aso Rock the other day to check the health of Late Yar’Adua. They came out of the ‘Rock’ to mislead Nigerians that the former president’s health was improving drastically. The poor president died shortly after the visit. Hope Bishop Oyedepo did not go with them. In case you are wondering what Yar’Adua’s health has to do with the subject of this article, I leave you to make the connection on your own.
Something tells me that if Nigeria should crumble today, it would take many years for peace to reign; and many of the people canvassing for the breakup would no longer be alive by then. We would have left the upcoming innocent generation to bear the brunt.
E jowo, e ma je ka fi ete s’ile ka maa pa lapalapa – Don’t ignore leprosy and start dealing with ordinary rashes. Let’s face the real issues of the country and find a way of resolving them. We can do it as a people. Nigeria is not Russia. It is not Sudan. Our case is different. We are a totally different people with different issues and cultures. We should not get carried away with the fact that South Sudan is now a country of its own. It is not going to be that easy in Nigeria.
Of course, our big men will never talk without mentioning America or UK. As far as this matter is concerned, let everyone know that America is not bearing the name ‘United States of America’ just for the fun of it. There is also a reason for having the ‘United Kingdom (UK).’ And I don’t think China is contemplating splitting into pieces.
I close my laptop for now. Enjoy your weekend, and pray for Nigeria on Sunday.