By Donu Kogbara
NOBODY can deny that Professor Farooq Kperogi, an outspoken US-based media scholar and newspaper columnist, is an excellent writer. His impressive mastery of the English language is rare, even within the context of a journalistic realm that is full of talented scribes.
Kperogi also happens to be a brave, impudent, premier league disruptor who doesn’t mince words, especially when VIPs misbehave. And I’ve long had a soft spot for him because I happen to be a lover of erudition and a part-time wahala woman who is instinctively drawn to super-smart people and straight-talking, no-bullshit iconoclasts.
Long story short, Kperogi is, at his best, passionately persuasive, commendably courageous, amusingly abusive and thought-provoking. But, being human, he does not always put his best foot forward; and I am flabbergasted by the vicious attacks that he has recently directed at his fellow Professor, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
For reasons that I do not even begin to understand, Kperogi has decided to launch a campaign that depicts Osinbajo – a pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG – as a dangerous, bigoted, tunnel-visioned Pentecostal fanatic who has a sinister agenda that Kperogi describes as the “RCCGifcation of Nigeria”.
The internet is awash with articles in which Kperogi unjustly accuses Osinbajo of numerous toxic RCCG-promoting utterances and actions. Any article Kperogi writes is eloquent. But the anti-Osinbajo articles are neurotic, unjust and borderline hysterical as well as eloquent. According to Kperogi (a Muslim), Osinbajo’s agenda is not just overtly anti-Muslim, but also subtly hostile to non-RCCG Christians.
According to Kperogi, Osinbajo has shamelessly packed his office with RCCG members and bent over backwards to nominate RCCG members whenever he’s invited to fill key government positions. But if one examines the facts, a totally different picture emerges.
Firstly, Osinbajo’s personal office contains several serious Muslims who have extremely cordial relationships with their boss; and they are shocked by Kperogi’s allegations and have just produced a short video to prove that they are not figments of anyone’s imagination.
Secondly, the RCCG is a large organisation that contains several highly accomplished economists, lawyers, etc, who can get public sector jobs without playing the religious card; and not all of the RCCG appointees in government were nominated by Osinbajo.
Ironically, some were brought into the Buhari administration – without any intervention from Osinbajo – by the late Muslim Mallam, Abba Kyari, Mr President’s original Chief of Staff, a COVID victim.
Thirdly, I am a Catholic, which means that I belong to the traditional wing of Christianity; and I have met the Vice President; and there are Pentecostals who are always trying to convert non-Pentecostals like me; but he is not one of them. And the bottom line is that Osinbajo never struck me as someone who is obsessed with his religious preferences or with recruiting new members for RCCG.
Rather, he comes across as a relaxed, enlightened, friendly, wise, mature, hard-working citizen of the universe who believes in the “live and let live” mantra and is eager to embrace any decent human being who shares his sincere desire to make Nigeria a better place.
Kperogi has also relentlessly criticised Tinubu and other frontline 2023 presidential aspirants, slammed Buhari for being chronically inept as well as “embarrassingly” biased in favour of Muslims, made it clear that he regards all serving ministers as “thugs”, et cetera.
In other words, Kperogi viscerally despises most of the big boys and girls who populate the political landscape in this country. But his searing hatred of Osinbajo really puzzles, surprises and disappoints me because I feel that he and Osinbajo are natural allies!
Kperogi and Osinbajo are both cerebral academics and sophisticated men of the world who must surely know that it is not realistic to expect the perfection of Heaven to exist on Earth…and that reluctant compromise is often necessary…and that it is hard to achieve change if you are not part of the power structure.
Osinbajo’s detractors often blame him for not aggressively opposing Buhari and resigning from a government that has made so many mistakes. But Osinbajo owes Buhari a debt of gratitude for placing him in the number two slot; and rebellion is not an ideal way of responding to a favour, even if your principal is not doing well.
I cannot tell a stronga-head palaver boy like Kperogi what to do, think or say. But I would like him to consider the possibility that he has been immensely unfair to Osinbajo and should save his bile for blatantly ridiculous aspirants – Yahya Bello, the Governor of Kogi State, and Rochas Okorocha, the ex-Governor of Imo, for example!
Letter from a reader
LAST week, I complained about the fact that the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC – which is supposed to represent the interests of nine oil-producing states – has for the last 18 months been run by a Sole Administrator who hails from the same state as Godswill Akpabio, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs.
I also commented on the fact that anti-Akpabio protesters want NDDC, which is in very bad shape, to be under the Presidency rather than the Ministry. And I said that I don’t think that who NDDC reports to is important because an inadequate presidency will further mess NDDC up, while a good minister can transform it. A Vanguard reader called Emeka Onyesoh responded thus:
Donu, your concluding paragraph in this Sweet & Sour column of April 8, 2022 is recipe for disaster.
An unthinking and uncaring President appointed an uncaring Akpabio who appointed an uncaring sole administrator. Yet, you “really don’t care who NNDC reports to. . .”
Let me remind you that if the kind of President we have today is elected in 2023, he will surely appoint the kind of minister you have today, who will appoint the kind of sole administrator you have today, and the party would go on.
That was the mistake Alhaji Tinubu and Co. made in 2015; not caring about the record of their candidate as military president and chairman of PTDF.
The quality of the president who will emerge from the 2023 presidential election, would determine the quality of leadership the NDDC will get to transform or mar the lives of your suffering people of the Niger Delta!
Emeka Onyesoh, Enugu.