My piece on Yemi Osinbajo’s undisguised hostility toward Muslims and his missionary zeal to evangelize his faith using the symbolic resource of state power is news to many only because people haven’t been paying attention to him—or have been simultaneously attracted and distracted by his oratory and stoop-to-conquer strategies.
The same man who built a learning center (that is fitted with a mosque) for Kanuri Muslim victims of Boko Haram to distract attention from his anti-Muslim bigotry told his co-religionists in Lagos that the Boko Haram crisis in the Northeast is the devil’s work to stop the spread of the gospel of Jesus.
In an April 25, 2018, news story in the Punch titled “Governance in Nigeria is spiritual warfare – Osinbajo,” Osinbajo said not only the Boko Haram crisis in the Northeast, but also other communal upheavals elsewhere in Nigeria are caused not by criminals and homicidal fanatical thugs but by the devil in order to stop Christianity.
“We, as the body of Christ, must not lose focus,” he said. “We are called to bring men and women to salvation: all men and women, even those who kill and persecute us…. There is nobody born or yet to be born that can stop the march of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” (See a link to the story in the comments for more gems).
Even many liberal Christians are mortified by this aggressive evangelism–as a VP, not as a pastor– that frames Muslims as people who need to be salvaged, that constructs the insecurity in the country as the devil’s work to stop the spread of Christianity.
It basically means Osinbajo envisions and works for a future Nigeria where everyone will be a Christian and sees insecurity in the country as the temporary setbacks caused by Satan. Such a person is a great pastor and evangelist, no doubt, but he has no business being the leader of a plural country with two competing proselytizing religions.
In other words, if he were merely a Redeemed Christian Church of God pastor, I wouldn’t have had a problem with what he said. But he is THE VICE PRESIDENT of a complex country that’s riven by religious and ethnic divisions.
As the vice president of EVERY Nigerian irrespective of faith or lack of faith, he should not actively promote or “other” any religion. That’s the oath he swore to uphold, which he has serially violated.
But let’s even ignore the invidiousness of regarding his fellow citizens who share a different faith from him as no more than lost souls—or, as he put it in the news story, “enemies,”— that need the gospel of Jesus Christ; how can a high-ranking official of government who should invest intellectual energies in finding solutions to the crippling insecurity in the country frame the problem as a “spiritual warfare” and as the consequence of the devil trying to stop the spread of Christianity?
Where is the connection?
Those are the thought-processes you would expect from a backward, benighted simpleton. He’s similar to past ministers of power that Nigeria has had who said Nigeria’s poor electricity generation and transmission are caused by witches, wizards, and evil spirits.
The militantly ignorant, uneducated religious fanatics who’re defending this raw, simple-minded bigot would throw a fit if a Muslim in high federal political office said and did a quarter of what Osinbajo says and does—and they’d be right to do so.
They just don’t have the intelligence and self-awareness to be consistent when the culprit is someone who shares their faith.
I have taken on the fanatics of my own faith and openly condemned appointments by the Buhari regime that unfairly favored Muslims. I won’t ignore bigotry in another politician just because he doesn’t share the same faith as I. It’s about principle and consistency.
Only a self-hating country with an exuberant taste for self-immolation would even consider someone like Osinbajo as an option to be president of a fragile country like Nigeria.