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*a patent blaspheme

By Bisi Lawrence

I am not ashamed, not even shy, to proclaim  Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour. Rather, I  am proud to be Christian. Even beyond that, I consider myself fortunate to be one. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that He came to this world to redeem sinners, being unmarked by sin himself, by shedding his sacred blood for the propitiation, that is the relief, of the guilt of our misdemeanour. Furthermore, He is for ever ready to extend His ineffable work of salvation to those who believe in His saving grace and put their trust in His abiding love. As one of the hymns of C.F.Alexander (Mrs.) aptly describes Him, He is:

VISIT: Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin  during a visit to Vanguard Media  Ltd, Apapa, Lagos, yesterday.  Photo: Diran Oshe.
VISIT: Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin during a visit to Vanguard Media Ltd, Apapa, Lagos, yesterday. Photo: Diran Oshe.

“The joy of all who dwell above; The joy of all below  To whom He manifests His love And grants His name to know.”

The Holy Writ directs that, at the name of Jesus—at the mere mention of the “name that is above all other names, “every knee should bow.” This is the name that even the demons know, and tremble. Of course there are some people who have not been granted the blessing of knowing His name. They deserve our prayers.

Names are
important. They stamp our identity on what we are. In many cultural groups, they depict the attributes of the people and give rise to additional cognomens. Such supplementary names are given for various reasons; sometimes to describe the exploits of a man of valour, the comeliness of a child at birth, or merely as a nickname. In any case it is not be trifled with. In Yorubaland, for instance, there are cognomens like “ibadi aran”, or “ibadi ileke” which relates to the comeliness of the hips of a little girl. Then there are others like “agb’ogun gb’oro”, which bespeaks the valour of a bold warrior, or “agbon magbe” which acclaims the infinite source of wealth of a personality. It is a cognomen also associated with generosity and independence; it is blighted when it lends itself to toadyism and sycophancy. It never should.

But politics seems able to turn characters around by the witless way in which some people choose to dabble in it. Surprisingly, that happens to people who obviously really do not seem to have a place in it. The exertion to make themselves relevant drives them to extreme measures, far beyond what is sensible or acceptable, so that they make regrettable statements, just to make a point.

Dr.Doyin Okupe, scion of a royal house, has found a niche for himself on the fringes of politics as the attack dog, and the chief praise-singer of President Goodluck Jonathan these days, a role in which he finds himself very comfortable. However, his pronouncements have left his well-wishers squirming on their seats on a number of occasions. It is his privilege to dump a prosperous medical practice for the position of a hanger-on in the corridors of Aso Rock, and he is entitled to laud his principal to the skies.

But when he starts to
compare President Goodluck Jonathan, a mere mortal‘, to Jesus Christ the Saviour of the world, he has gone overboard. It would have been bearable if he is a declared pagan, or atheist, or an adherent of a religion other than Christianity, but several of his relatives known to me are of the Christian faith. That makes me believe that he too is of the same faith, and that hurts. His point of comparison also attests to the fact that he was making his comparison as a Christian—of sorts. It was to the effect that Jonathan was bearing the burden of Nigerians, even as Jesus had borne our burden.

One would concede that
the ruler of a country like Nigeria does bear a burden. He occupies the table at which the buck–laden with poor power supply, bad roads, mismanaged resources, and so on—finds a resting place. All of that is of “this world”, and Jesus Christ has declared that the territory of his reign— his kingdom—is of a different plane. He is not on the same “level” with Jonathan and all the other worldly leaders, bless them. With a disparate basis, there is no call for comparison. And while the tasks of a political leader group themselves into responsibilities, the burden of the Christ is self-imposed and discharged through the agency of love. While the populace pay tax and the civilian officials derive sundry benefits from their services, Christ willingly bears the burden of our sins freely and fully.

Doyin Okupe made a mistake. He has subsequently attempted to explain it away like every politician caught in the web of a faux pax. It will not be the first time that a fly politician would be swept away in the swirl of his own rhetoric. But he avoided the main point which is the comparison of his political champion to the King of Kings. He has thereby offended the sensibilities of reverential Christians everywhere. But while other religions would slap a vengeful sentence on him for what is no less than patent blasphemy, the way of love is to forgive— that is, if one admits his guilty and confesses to the sin. That is the kind of burden that our Lord bears, and it is not given to a mortal to duplicate such mercy and grace, even if he is accounted to be the most accomplished political leader ever created.

The campaign for
the next general elections is warming up. A busy time lays ahead of campaigners, especially for those whose eyes are set on the richest prize, like earnest (and honest?) Doyin Okupe. Maybe he need not try so hard, anyway, since he expresses such belligerent confidence in the sure success of his “paladin”. Not to dampen his enthusiasm, but just to share a thought with him: if Jonathan wins, as it looks likely from this distance that he may, the success may not be entirely due to the noise of his raucous campaigners. Just take a dispassionate look at the field in front of him, and you may find yourself muttering his first name. The man is indeed lucky.

Merry Christmas!


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