Vice-President blasts Nigeria’s elite
Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, General Overseer, the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Enoch Adeboye , ex-President Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and several other dignitaries yesterday in Yenagoa, formally inaugurated the 10,000 capacity Bayelsa Ecumenical Centre.
The centre built by the Bayelsa State Government, would host state religious functions as well as interdenominational Christian events and has a modern Christian library, rosary store, a restaurant, bookshop, a choir gallery, a rotating altar, an archive, prayer rooms and a VIP section in the main auditorium.
Osinbajo whose speech was read on the occasion by the Aso Rock Chaplain, Pastor Seyi Malomo, took a swipe at Nigerian politicians, business owners and religious leaders, accusing them of deploying religion and ethnicity only when they suit their selfish interests.
The vice president argued that when negotiating how Nigeria’s money will be stolen, the elite businessman, politician and religious leader would relegate their ethnic backgrounds and religious leanings to the back, but would push them to the front-burner of national discourse to score cheap points when they are caught.
“It is difficult (fighting corruption) because it is systemic and affecting all institutions; perpetrated by a leadership elite that includes, not just politicians, but private sector individuals and even religious leadership.
“The second is tribalism, religion and other parochial tendencies. Unfortunately, because of state failure in some respects, many, even pastors have gone into their tribal groups and speak and act mainly from that perspective,” Osinbajo said.
He maintained that the Christian leadership in Nigeria has failed to take its rightful place in the scheme of things in the country, because the pulpit which should ordinarily be the source of truth and fairness has resorted to religious bigotry and warmongering.
“But what we hear today , instead of the gospel, are cries of war, those telling us from the pulpit that our enemy is a physical one who must be destroyed before he destroys us.
“It is populist and popular rhetoric ; every time it is repeated in a Christian gathering, it excites applause, yet, there it is, completely contrary to everything in the new covenant of Jesus Christ,” he added.
According to the Vice President, all cases of corruption have the traces of all religions and all ethnic groups , adding that Christians as well as Muslims connive and agree when it comes to crimes against the Nigerian State.
“ It is in my view that the Nigerian elite; political , business and religious, regardless of faith and ethnicity , think alike and are driven by largely similar motivations. The elite are usually self-centred, selfish and unprepared to make the sacrifices either in service or self-restraint that leaders of successful communities must make,” he noted.
He said playing the ethnic or religious card has become the “default tactic” of the country’s elite, stressing that “when you look at any list of alleged perpetrators of heinous cases of corruption, all tribes, ethnicities and religions are well represented.”
While describing the edifice as “beautiful”, Osinbajo insisted that what Nigeria needs now is a “new tribe” of people irrespective of faith, ethnicity and tribe who would place high values on integrity, hardwork, fairness, justice.
On his part, Pastor Adeboye who had earlier formally opened the building located in Igbogene, a few kilometres from the city centre, took time to pray for the people of Bayelsa and the family of Governor Seriake Dickson.
He professed his love for Bayelsa state and expressed joy that a prayer he made for Dickson’s wife sometime ago eventually resulted in the birth of quadruplets.
The cleric lauded Dickson for the edifice, noting that it is not every king that God has given the grace to build a house for him as shown in the case of the biblical David.
In his remarks, an elated Dickson said the first bill he sent to the House of Assembly on becoming governor was the state thanksgiving day bill , an event that holds yearly.
He said Bayelsa remains one of the most stable states in the country, because of the special place the state occupies in the heart of God, stressing that it was a rare privilege to be able to build a house for God’s people.
Some other persons present during the event were past military governors of the state; President, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Felix Omobude and CAN President , Rev Samson Ayokunle, who was represented by the South South Chairman of the group, Bishop God-do-well Avwomakpa.