If not for the fact that the National leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has been pocketed by the Jonathan administration, and also probably because new testament Christianity does not permit ‘an eye for an eye’, maybe a ‘fatwa’ would have been issued today, by the Christian community against Presidential spokesman Doyin Okupe for his widely reported megalomania and blasphemous statement, that ‘President Jonathan is like Jesus Christ’. Particularly, coming less tot 10 days to Christmas.
But I have a feeling that Okupe could not have been possibly speaking the mind of President Jonathan in this vein. This is a President that has tamely shown respect for religious leaders over the years, albeit for political maneuverings and advantages. This is a President that is quick to invite religious leaders with huge followership to Aso Rock for Presidential breakfasts meetings followed by Group photographs; this is a Presidential that visits the Redeemed Camp strategically few months to general elections, where he receives, ( on his knees), fatherly blessings, from the most revered Pastor Enoch Adeboye; thereby sending signals to the world that he respects human Christian leadership and authority; and of course he needs religiously induced votes to stay in power.
So, if Doyin Okupe was not speaking for President Jonathan, who was he speaking for? He was speaking for the ruling and governing class. The People’s Democratic Party, the mafias, the Godfathers, and the clique who have held the President and people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria hostage, in the false illusion that Nigeria is their personal fiefdom and kingdom, now and forever more.
If we assume the Okupe is a victim of political megalomanianism, then President Jonathan should attempt to redeem his remaining modicum of positive image and integrity by openly denouncing the likes of Okupe’s that want him to play god. He should also sack him from his kitchen cabinet, as a symbolic way of watching his hands off (in the order of Pontius Pilate), from this sacrilegious statement, and misdemeanor by his top aide.
Christians regard Jesus as Lord, Saviour and messiah; and the Christian doctrine of trinity equates Jesus with God the Father, and the Holy Spirit. By likening President Jonathan to Jesus, Okupe is indirectly saying Jonathan is god, as well as saying Ebele Jonathan is like the Holy Spirit. This is an eternal sin, which can only be remedied by eternal forgiveness. I leave religious pundits to interpret Mark 3:28-30: “Truly I tell you, all sins and blasphemes will be forgiven for the sons of men. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, but is guilty of an eternal sin”
But I have a feeling that the President may not personally renounce this statement, and shrug it off wishing it will fizzle out of public discourse over time, just the way he seems to wish the issue of Chibok girls will become history, even when they remain in captivity.
Perhaps, Okupe is really be speaking the mind of the President, after all. Students of Nigeria’s political history will recall the systematic attempt by the Jonathan’s camp to mystify the President and immortalize him, while he has not even clocked 60 years of age.
It started with the 2011 elections, when the name Azikwe suddenly crept in from nowhere, to the middle name of erstwhile President Jonathan. The signal then was that Jonathan was like the Great Zik of Africa, that Jonathan was his offshoot, and the inheritor and torch bearer of his political legacies and empire. Later, the nocuous group – Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN) placed an unimaginative advertisement on National Television networks (still running) where President Jonathan is compared to President Barack Obama, the late President Nelson Mandela, and former Singaporean President, Lee Kuan Yew. As if that is not enough, GEJ is now likened to Jesus- indicating that it is no longer fitting to compare our famous President to mere mortals, dead or alive. He is best compared to the Saviour and Messiah!
I have a feeling that this may not be the end of the script being played by the TAN- the Transformers. Within the next few months, as the election heats up, look out for this statement- ‘President Jonathan is god’, as this would be the apt tune to drive home the point, that there is no alternative to GEJ. Also look out for statements similar to this- ‘Dame Patience Goodluck is like ‘Mary’, the ‘mother’ of Jesus.
Do we give Okupe a benefit of doubt? Maybe he wanted to say that Jonathan is a good follower, disciple of Jesus, his good disciple, and wants to be Christ like. Let’s read his words again which, like any literary expression, is open to several interpretations: “People do not understand the burden this president is bearing. He’s like Jesus Christ. He’s bearing the burden of everybody,” Okupe told Sunrise Daily, a programme of Channels Television.
Even if we give the Presidential spokesman an undeserved benefit of doubt due to, maybe an improbable slip of tongue, Jonathan has been an unimpressive disciple of Jesus Christ. The messiah fought for the poor, and fed the hungry in thousands; but under Jonathan’s government, the poor has become poorer while a Federal Minister spent billions of naira to hire private jets with public funds for official and unofficial assignments, and another squandered N255m to purchase two armored cars. The Biblical Saviour preached fairness, and pro poor Justice. But the supposed ‘Jesus’ of Nigeria is overseeing a wage structure that gives over N50m to the least paid Federal Legislator monthly, while the least paid Federal civil servant receives N18,000 ($100) as monthly salary.
The Biblical savior drove traders out of the temple, but Nigeria has become a nest of thieves and Aso rock has become the abode of brief case contractors, mindless profiteers, middlemen, and mafias. Such is the tragedy of a nation that produces crude petrol, exports it abroad, and imports it back as refined fuel through official middlemen, and sell it to its citizens at cut throat prices. The Biblical Savior rescued citizens from the hands of death, even when they were caught in the act, whereas, under the supposed political savior of Nigeria, the country has become a graveyard, with citizens murdered in cold blood daily like Christmas chickens. Under the very nose of the ‘Jesus’ of Nigeria, teenage girls were kidnapped in broad day light and married off to blood thirsty extremists, and the only response from Jonathanians and other apologists, is to place giant ‘Bring back Jonathan’ bill boards around the country’s capital-, a sadistic mockery of the ‘Bring Back our Girls’ campaign.
In conclusion, Presidential aides should be advised and cautioned to stop dragging the name of the President into further disrepute, and international opprobrium on very sensitive religious issues. They should stop comparing the President with others; whether political or spiritual figures. The mere fact that the President names starts with a ‘J’ like the name of Jesus, does not mean he should be likened or equated to Jesus Christ. Even the biblical Jonathan lived like any other human being, but Jesus lived as the Master and the King of Kings that He is. The President himself should be advised to be proud of, and start bearing only the names his parents gave him. I doubt whether Azikwe is his original name. Let him also strive to carve a niche for himself so that other people would be compared to him in future. Let him make his own name; let him instruct his aides to stop the vain, inglorious, and puerile effort to liken him to heroes and icons that he is not, presently.
In retrospect, maybe Doyin Okupe was misquoted, maybe what he wanted to say is that Jonathan is like the Biblical Judas who squandered ‘goodluck’ and betrayed the hopes of the Nigerians. After all, just like Judas, the name of our beloved GEJ starts with a “J’.
Babatope Babalobi is the Coordinator of the Movement for Revolutionary Change