My political ideology is such that I didn’t endorse Mallam Nasir El-Rufai’s policies while he was FCT Minister. I have always proposed, for the ends of achieving real development for this complex nation, a certain brand of socialism where the welfare of the masses is a primary concern of the government. But where those masses become the pawns of a government’s reckless elitism, I jump out of the supporters’ train of such a band of victims. The only proven solution for the stability of a third world country remains investment in the education and emancipation of human capital and the non-hypocritical commitment to the welfare of the socio-structurally created paupers. These are the magic schemes our stolen and misused trillions ought to be “wasted” in—that’s the only way to destroy the evil creations of our decades-long misgovernance. El-Rufai, in the course of his tenure, displayed elite-aggrandising sensibilities and pursued policies detrimental to the common people of Abuja. Away from bureaucracy, ElRufai is my man—apology to rapper Ice Prince.
Political activism is the most dangerous venture to ever contemplate, especially in a country where intellectuals sell their honour to cover up government’s failures in the most incoherent jargons and shameless stunts. El-Rufai, following his tenure, has become something of a usual victim of these pro-government wolves. His post-office activism, for want of a more fitting word, is defined by constant, yet often than not very correct and commonsense, analyses of our state and federal government fiscal and other excesses. He has by means of these made himself, after General Muhammadu Buhari, the most watched person in the sights of President Goodluck Jonathan’s spokesmen, aides and paid agents.
Ours is a country where a critic of government is expected to have no past in politics or public service, where we pretend we cannot recognise the truth on account of the dress of the messenger who bears it. Yet, logically, when a man criticises the government, our question each and every time should be: “How true is this criticism?” But when the State, or even any opponent, “attacks” only a critic’s unrelated past action in order to play down his present message, this sort of charade only goes to confer plausibility on what such a critic has said. This was the drama we witnessed last week, over World Bank Vice President Oby Ezekwesili’s exposé of our federal government’s financial scams over the last decade. The Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, in response, asked Mrs Ezekwesili to shut up as she too was not a saint, citing her records as Minister of Education. Such a response as Maku’s, to that charge by Mrs Ezekwesili, at that time cannot be considered to be anything other than a case of virulent sophistry. Virulent, for Mr. Maku has often spoken without recourse to thinking in the past. This inability to think out a coherrent response lends at least some credibility to Mrs Ezekwesili’s assertions in my books.
Following this Makuchistic charade, an aggrieved friend, the Nigerian blogger Bukola Ogunyemi, who goes by the handle @Zebbook on Twitter responded thus: “If Jesus criticizes Jonathan’s gov’t, Maku/Abati/Okupe will say he slept with Mary Magdalene.” What does Bukola mean? He means that the three musketeers of the presidency, Labaran Maku, Reuben Abati and Doyin Okupe would challenge the reputation of the holiest of men, following the track of Maku’s nonsensical attack of Oby Ezekwesili’s record, if Jesus Christ ever dares criticise the government. Simple. Bukola only saw Jesus as a symbol of piety worthy of reference and reverence in this tweet. Equally simple. It’s similar to saying, “Gimba wouldn’t believe in the prophethood of Muhammad if he appears today”. This doesn’t apply that I disagree with the teachings of Muhammad. It only suggests that I am a disagreeable person. But these things, a statement and its interpretation, refused to stay simple. Bukola’s tweet acquired a slant soon as Mallam Nasir El-Rufai retweeted it. Soon enough, word reached his state-paid-for-vigilance antagonists who made indecent haste in stoking religious outrage concerning the tweet, a haste in which they forgot the meaning of the term “retweet” and got amnesia of the social media idea that a “retweet/share is not endorsement”. Soon enough, authorship of the tweet was fastened on El-Rufai. Still El-Rufai apologised, Bukola too apologised. But what broke my heart were the death threats received by the latter.
I don’t discuss Christianity. I have never commented on Jet-owing pastors, tithing, CAN’s endless dramas and anything Christian that doesn’t affect me, because I find worse examples of misrepresentation of religion among fellow Muslims as well. What I don’t get is why certain bigots would threaten to kill Bukola over a deliberately misunderstood reference. Did our collective intelligence decline overnight? Bukola’s reference only became “blasphemous” when a Muslim politician retweeted it and agents of the State, intent on burying the underlying issue of governmental accountability, sought to hoodwink the masses—these evil people know that, having denied us basic welfare, the frenzy of religion is the opiate of the masses. This issue of the tweet is yet another example of divide-and-rule tactics at its most cynical manifestation. No, I do not think that tweet would have become so swiftly blasphemous without our politics of religious alignment.
Critics of Nasir El-Rufai argue that Jesus is beyond joke. But Bukola’s tweet isn’t really a joke. It is a parody of Mr. President’s men and their utter bankruptcy of imagination and hypocrisy, potraying them as stooges so unable to engage criticism that they would unthinkingly do the unimaginable, cast aspersions on Christ himself. That tweet cannot be taken in any way to cast aspersions on the image of Christ and anyone’s retweeting it cannot change this. The tweet merely highlighted the evident danger posed by people like Maku/Abati/Okupe who will say just about anything to keep their jobs.
In other news, Mr President’s men haven’t offered us credible explanations on the scams exposed by Madam Ezekwesili, Mr President’s men have stopped talking about the indicted fuel subsidy thieves, and the man who stole our N27 Billion police pension fund has just been set free by a judge that doesn’t deserve to be there. Those are the people who deserve the death threats sent to Bukola. May God save us from us!