I was shocked learning from a young school girl I gave a ride last week that she was not issued a uniform in her public primary school based on the OAU campus, Ile-Ife. On further inquiries, I learnt that the uniform, one pair each, was initially issued free to all students enrolled at the commencement of the free-uniform-for all exercise. Students were subsequently required to BUY replacements themselves. Some new pupils, like the young girl in question, were never issued any uniform at all, to start with. The uniforms being produced at the much publicized new government garment factory are now being SOLD in the open market!
The shock for me is that the government is still actively touting the provision of free modern school uniforms as one of its major achievements. Every parent knows just how long one pair of school uniform can last. And at the end of the day, the parents are probably better off buying their old affordable school uniform, procured from the local tailor, than the government’s mass-produced one. Checking through the news, I just discovered that parents are actually already protesting on that very point! (Nigerian Tribune, June 27 online)
All these only confirm what we wrote earlier that the whole point of the same-uniform-for-all-public-schools move was not so much as relieving the parents, but essentially an attempted first step to introduction of Shariah-compliant uniform, specifically the hijab, into public schools in the State. The failure of that effort has been documented in our previous write-ups (see here, here or here).
But truth be told, Governor Aregbesola is probably sincere when he insists that he has no deep commitment to foisting the hijab on public schools in Osun state. It is clear that he is only giving leave to his Islamic constituency to see how far they can go in their desperate efforts to convince their foreign sponsors that they are making progress in their dream of dipping the Koran into the sea. Aregbesola’s personal sympathy is not hidden at all: it is towards Isese, the revival of the old dead and dying deities of Yorubaland.
For instance, last year, the state government not only declared for the first time ever a public holiday, the Isese Day for traditional religions; public funds were released to resuscitate, celebrate, and offer sacrifices to some 8 dead deities of Yorubaland. This year, plans are on to increase the tally to 32 deities - to be celebrated after the elections in August. Reports are rife of nocturnal sacrifices now intensifying at the State Secretariat complex, such that people are now afraid to remain at work beyond certain hours!
Such reports are quite credible, going by even those things that happen right in the public glare. For instance at the opening of the Ultra modern Ayegbaju Market (on July 8), during the now mandatory inter-faith prayers perfected by the governor, the traditional religionist, aptly named Esuleke (the devil has triumphed), ranted on and on boasting of how the gods of the land are no match for imported ones. The disgusting incident was broadcast live on the state radio.
At Church Arise!, we respect the right of people to believe whatever they choose to, and to worship (or not worship) however they wished. Our grouse, as we have made clear over the years, is when people are coerced into some practices, including curfews and society-wide taboos (as in the cults and most so-called traditional religions), or disallowed to change their beliefs (as enshrined in Islam). Of course, we also insist that everyone should be free to promote and advertise their religious beliefs – at personal costs and without infringing on the liberties of others.
Furthermore, we value and respect hard work in people, irrespective of their religious persuasion or ethnic background. Our opposition to the government of Mr Aregbesola is therefore based on no other considerations other than an honest and below-the-surface assessment of what real good he has to offer our society. Based on the Scriptures that form the title of this article (Mathew 7:18), Mr Aregbesola’s deep roots in the occult can never allow him to produce beneficial fruits for society – despite his good and sincere intentions. Those slave masters of ancient days, who kept our forebears in deep darkness, deprivations and sorrow, have not changed their appetites for human blood; and they frankly have nothing good to offer – other than the usual protection racketeering: “Pay up or I kill!” These are the masters Governor Aregbesola enthusiastically embraces and is bent on delivering our land and people to.
The school uniform issue cited above is only just one evidence of how far Mr governor’s “good” deeds can really go. In his clumsy attempts to mollify his ostensibly primary Islamist constituency for his Iseese Day declaration, the governor went on to also declare an Hijrah Day for moslems. And in an attempt to “compensate” the Christians too, Mr. Governor went further to embark on building an inter-denominational worship auditorium for them. But some are insisting that only the declaration of a “Pentecost Day” as public holiday will balance the rather puerile actions of the governor! As our people will say, “trouble sit down, cunny man go find am.”
The really sad thing about Mr Aregbesola is his apparent inability to understand that people are not as gullible or stupid as he supposes them to be. No doubt, the assurances given him by his Oranmiyan cult and the likes are partly responsible for this blindness on his part. For instance, he sincerely believes he is a man of peace, the quintessential Omoluabi; while at the same time arrogantly boasting, even right in the public arena, how he was going to remove the governor of another state who though performing so excellently, has refused to join the same political cult that Aregbesola belongs to (For instance see here). Similarly, his ignoble activities and utterances during the elections at Anambra state are in the national space (see here). Yet Mr. Aregbesola is convinced that he is the man of peace!
The same self-delusion is playing out in his political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), which still insists that the deployment of the army to forestall the violence they have boasted to unleash at Ekiti state during the recently concluded election was what caused the massive loss of their party. Going by the reasoning of the APC, supporters of the APC were cowered at the presence of the military and they could not turn up to vote – all over the state, even in the local government of the APC’s candidate. On the other hand, the supporters of the other parties were not so cowered. The same goes for the much talked about “stomach infrastructure” supplied by the opposition candidate - as if their own candidate did not do the same, if not more! (see here)
Maybe if it were in some other less-enlightened State, the provision of basic infrastructure (admittedly, a novelty for governments in Nigeria) should have been enough ground for blind relinquishment of core values and identity (including docilely accepting the overt dedication of the State to the Osun deity with its re-designation as “The State of Osun”). But in Osun State, people ask questions about the source and terms of procurement of the money being spent, and the costs of the projects being executed.
For sure, no one is deceived that the Islamic bond money currently being used to build roads, even if interest free, will have absolutely no hidden strings attached. Even for the legitimate incomes such as taxes, it is outrageous that hefty, absolutely unreasonable percentages of the revenue collected (mostly from government - Federal and State - establishments) are paid to the so-called Tax Consultants who are supposed to have collected the tax. The Consultants in turn, settle the big Party Chieftain in Lagos, who is behind their appointments in the first place (for instance, see here ). A similar scenario plays out in the execution of contracts and projects. The problem of the APC is that, probably on the assurance of the mesmerizing powers they believe they are custodians of, they imagined that the public has no clue as to what is really going on beyond the tip of their nose.
Now it will be foolhardy and naïve to suppose that any of the other major politicians currently on ground in the State is personally much better than Mr Aregbesola. Whoever emerges as the winner in the forthcoming election on August 9, the Church of God and other well-meaning citizens will have to remain vigilant in order to combat the spirit of arbitrariness, and compel accountability, the rule of the law, and godliness in our Society. But that battle should be easier directed at one man, the governor, than directed at an institution like the APC which thinks nothing of having virtually 100% of its national leaders/officers (Deputies don’t count) coming from the same religion – Islam! (See here, here and here). The APC has made it impossible and unreasonable to talk of politics in Nigeria without talking of religion. Even Egypt (with a Moslem majority) is today sorry for the gamble it took with the Muslim Brotherhood.