Tuesday, 27 August 2013


Still on the COZA controversy, Job Egila writes an open letter to Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo; PASTOR BIODUN, REMEMBER SAMSON AND DELILAH   Quote:  “There are 3 sides to every story, your side, their side and the truth”   I have been following with knee interest the stories making the rounds in the social media about the alleged sexual scandal against your person and ministry as well as comments made by quite a number of persons.  The aim of this write up is not to take sides with any party but to offer some unsolicited advice.   I was lucky enough to attend your Sunday service today (25 August 2013) in Abuja and listen to you preach and make a brief remark concerning the scandal and can't help but to write this article.   What better analogy to use than the story of Samson and Delilah.  Most bible students and readers are familiar with the story but for the sake of those are not, let me give a brief summary of the story.   Samson was a Nazirite and a great man used by God in the Old Testament.  He was a judge over Isreal at the time and had been taking out great vengeance against Philistine.  Hoping to “capture” him, the Philistine leaders offered Delilah a sum of money to collaborate with them in order to uncover the secrets of Samson's great strength.   Delilah using the powers of seduction and deceptions, consistently wore down Samson until he finally told her the source of his powers.  When he slept on her lap, Delilah called the Philistine who shaved off his hairs.  Subdued and weak the great and powerful Samson was captured.   Pastor Biodun, there is a no doubt whatsoever that you have achieved a level of greatness and that you enjoy some fellowership as man of God.  You have come a long way from your humble beginnings that it can cause some to envy you.  Ese Walters story might be true or a lie, but the greater a man becomes, the more careful he should become.   No man is infallible, you are a man first before venturing into God's work(becoming a man of God).  You have a moral duty and obligation to live  above board.   There is no smoke without fire as they say, it is not a co-incidence that another woman has come up with another accusation and whether or not it's true only God knows but you must work on your “weaknesses” because there is no denying that everybody has got one or more.  Beware of sexual seduction as it has lead to the end of many great men and leaders.   Finally, whether or not the stories are true or not lets remember that accounts will be give to the Almighty and as they say these days He is watching us in 3D.  If the stories are true which only you, the ladies and God knows at the moment, then seek for true repentance and change your ways after all David in the bible committed so many atrocities but seeked forgiveness and was called a man after God's heart.  If there are mere fabrications to destroy your ministry, then keep doing God's work and run away from temptation, just like Joseph in Portiphar's house.  To the rest of us, nobody  holy pass so we should learn to be careful when passing judgment.  Let he who has no sin cast the first stone.   Job Egila Bauchi State Nigeria. 25th August, 2013.

Saturday, 20 April 2013


Boko Haram leader

Years after the first suicide bomb attack in Nigeria, the odious flames of insecurity that have engulfed the nation still rages. The Boko Haram insurgency which started in the sleepy town of Bauchi in 2008 has grown deadlier and more sophisticated over the years defying various attempts at a crackdown including brute force, trillion Naira budgets and the so called carrot and stick approach. Indeed the sect has shown that it is quite capable of eating the carrot and breaking the stick. Its activities have virtually crippled the three most viable economies of the north- Kano, Kaduna, Plateau and have turned the entire north east region into a relic of some rustic civility.
Perhaps it was these turn of events that informed the spiritual leader of Muslims in Nigeria and Sultan of Sokoto Sa'ad Abubakar III to call on president Goodluck Jonathan to consider granting amnesty to Boko Haram. Ever since the sultan made that appeal the talk of amnesty has assumed a life of its own culminating in the setting of a 26 member committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North on April 17, 2013.
As expected, the new disposition of the Federal Governementtowards amnesty has generated a lot of debit across the nation with the voices for and against in almost equal measure. But does a sect that has so much blood on its hands deserve amnesty?

The argument against amnesty has been supported with several reasons all of which seem very cogent. The first and most widely circulated is the view earlier held by the presidency about not giving amnesty to ghosts or a group that is not interested. The apparent rejection by the sect's Leader of the proposed amnesty does appear to lend credence to this argument.

A Second point is that granting amnesty would be like rewarding criminality. The deaths and scale of destruction by Boko Haram is second only to Nigeria's 3 year long civil war. Consequently, compensating the actors of such horrendous crime is not only unthinkable but is also a cruel irony on victims.

The third reason for rejecting amnesty is the fear that it might encourage other groups to take up arms, kill, kidnap, bomb and eventually seek amnesty. This thought is consistent with the long held policy by countries like the United States of America and Isreal 'not to negotiate with terrorists'. The policy makes it clear from the onset that Government cannot be held to ransome for whatever reason and serves as a deterrent to would-be terrorists.
Lastly, there is a cynical belief that most of the proponents of amnesty from the North see it as an opportunity to line their pockets and empower their relations. Those who argue along this line draw comparism from the Niger Delta amnesty programme which has made many people of South South extraction instant billionaires in the name of 'facilitators' of the amnesty programme. Sceptics also argue that most of the so called militants are merely relatives and acquaintances of powerful Niger Delta indigenes that have manipulated a well intentioned programme to train their people as Pilots and Engineers at Government expense. The fear is that such a scenario would be similarly replicated in the north especially as there is no test that can be carried out to show who is a genuine Boko Haram member and who is not.

As earlier stated, all these points appear valid but do elicit a counter.

Boko Haram may operate underground and may well not be interested in amnesty. But an incontrovertible fact is that the sect does appear divided. This disunity is a chink in the amour that can be exploited to great effect. The Boko Haram war might be ideological on the face of it but a little scratch beneath the surface will reveal a far bigger picture of poverty and purposelessness. These are the people that serve as ready foot soldiers for the sect. They are the canon fodder recruited on promises of pecuniary benefits and indoctrinated with a sense of deadly purpose. An offer of amnesty might be able to reach out and sever the supply line of would-be suicide bombers and lieutenants.

As for rewarding crime, no price is too great to pay for peace. As such, all options whether good or bad must be fully considered in the interest of bringing lasting peace to the North, restoring its damaged economy, eliminating the fear of bombs, carnage and ending the brutal occupation by soldiers. It is also heartwarming to see that part of the Terms of Reference for the Amnesty committee is the 'development of a comprehensive victims' support programme.' This should allay the fears of those who claim that the victims have been neglected while the terrorists are being rewarded. Granting amnesty will also ensure there are no more victims.

The notion that amnesty for Boko Haram could encourage the springing up of other terror groups is very genuine. But should the fear of an eventuality hinder the taking of steps to stop an eminent danger? The problem of Boko Haram is one that does not threaten the North alone but the entire country. Nigeria is more interconnected than most regionalists think and a problem in one part affects every other part. Simply look at the manufacturing conglomerates in Lagos whose truck drivers are afraid to take goods to the north and all the tomatos that are now being imported from Ghana because it is not safe to go to the North. The economic effect on the nation cannot be easily quantified. Besides, the recent discovery of a terror cell in Ijora should be enough reason to convince skeptics that once Boko Haram enters Lagos, the whole Country is doomed! So the point is, let the immediate problem be tackled and then ways of preventing a copy cat can be put in place. Again, it is good to see that the Committee was also saddled with the responsibility of developing 'mechanisms to address the underlying causes of insurgencies that would help to prevent future occurrences.'

Examples abound of Countries that have had to go against policy to dialogue with so called terror groups. In October, 2011, Israeli Soldier, Gilad Shalit was released after more than five years in Hamas captivity. Israel had to negotiate and strike a deal with its arch enemy Hamas in which it agreed to exchange 1,000 palestinian prisoners for Shalit. A steep price to pay for just one life was the argument in some quarters.
Also, Nigeria's former colonial masters, Great Britain has on more than one occassion granted amnesty to the Irish Republican Army(IRA) terrorists who had been accused of killing army and police officers as well as carrying out deadly bombings. Indeed, the amnesty granted the IRA by the British Government and Northern Ireland Office (NOI) did not go down well with Irish Unionists but it has to a large extent brought peace to the once troubled Northern Ireland.
These two examples show that there is always a place for dialogue, negotiation and amnesty in the over riding interest of peace.

Finally, there are no guarantees that corrupt opportunists would not seize upon the proposed amnesty to enrich themselves but the true measure of the success or failure of amnesty is not whether people other than terrorists benefitted but rather if peace was achieved in the end. The Niger Delta amnesty for all its lapses brought peace to the region and allowed the country to resume optimum production of oil thus preventing the oil dependent economy from grinding to a halt. If a similar gain is derived from granting amnesty to Boko Haram, in the end, it would have been worth it.

It must be said however that if the amnesty succeeds in securing peace, the colossal failure of the nations' security forces at containing the insurgency must be reviewed. Trillions have been spent, 'collateral damage' has been heavy and the landscape has been transformed into a war zone, yet the activities of the sect did not appear to slow. The possibility of complicity on the part of security forces must be considered and all necessary steps should be taken the address the many social injustices that give rise to problems such as these.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Let Gay Bishops Be!

"[The House of Bishops] confirmed that the requirements in the 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England apply equally in relation to the episcopate."
-Statement by Church of England

The Church of England must feel they have found a clever solution to a knotty challenge. Gay Bishops can now be ordained in the church, but they must be celibate. In a sense this decision of the House of bishops is the culmination of a decade of controversy that has threatened to tear the anglican church Worldwide apart.

From 2003, when Jeffrey John had to stand down his appointment as bishop of reading over his 
relationship with a long time partner, the issue of gay bishops was bound to eat away at the soul of the church. Indeed,  Rowan Williams, the erstwhile arch bishop of Canterbury, had in 2004 predicted that dark days lay ahead.
 So has the church of England finally put this all too contentious matter to bed? Certainly not. The decision that Bishops can be in gay relationships as along as they practice abstinence is ridiculously absurd! Rather than look at the Bible for direction, the Church decided to use human wisdom in tackling a matter that can simply not be treated as a social debate or rights issue. This has given rise to an inherent contradiction of practice. How can one be gay and celibate at the same time? Its like saying its alright to be a thief as long as you don't steal- bizarre to say the least.

The decision to ordain gay bishops, though not entirely surprising, will not sit well with the Anglican Communion in Africa, whose cause is being championed by Nigeria.

No doubt had the Church of England been more mindful of the Bible's warning in Romans 1, such an issue would not even have arisen:
"And the men, instead of normal sexual relationships with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men and, as a result, suffered within themselves the penalty they so richly deserved."
Romans 1:27(NLT)

 The Bible expressly condemns Homosexuality as sin with attendant consequences. Interestingly, the punishment prescribed for homosexuality is not immediately apparent as God will simply let them suffer within themselves the penalty the so richly deserve. Little wonder the first ever recorded case of AIDS was among homosexuals- and the HIV scourge has been prevalent among that community ever since.

While I do not condemn allowing homosexuals into church, there is a marked difference between coming to God's presence as-you-are and being God's priest while doing something he so clearly abhors. Of course the argument among liberals will be that even the most pious of priest have their own flaws and even sin. The simply answer I have is that we still recognize those failings as sin. Sin which can be forgiven when we go to God in contrition.

By allowing the ordination of Gay bishops in the church, what the Church of England is essentially saying that homosexuality is not a sin, its just being different!

In the coming days there will be rigorous attempts to either affirm or denounce the Church of England's decision. The Anglican church in Africa will probably make good their threat to breakaway. But no matter what happens next, the Church of England will emerge worse of than when this issue first broke about a decade ago. Dark days certainly lie ahead.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

The Curse of Missed Opportunities

"The most potent weapon in the hand of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed" Steve Biko.

Before January 1, 2012, I was a social recluse: I had never participated in any form of protest; had very few friends, my Twitter account had only 5 tweets, I was not on any chat group and visited Facebook sparingly. I devoted my time to work, family and church- I was completely at ease with the world. My reticence stemmed from the feeling that Nigerians were cursed to remain oppressed. A glaring example was the 2011 general elections where a unique opportunity to effect changes was lost to small mindedness and primordial sentiments.

The removal of fuel subsidy on New Year’s Day however became the catalyst needed to ignite my activism. Hence when I learned that some Nigerians had decided to ‘Occupy’ Eagle Square Abuja in protest, I immediately went there as well. The turnout was impressive considering the spontaneity of events. But Government was determined to not shift ground because shortly after we assembled, a detachment of soldiers and police descended on us, dispersed the crowd with tear gas and arrested a few people.

In the days that followed that incident, I attended meetings of Civil Society Groups planning street protests, engaged in public debate about my opposition to subsidy removal and became active on all forms of social media. I realised there were a number of Nigerians that did not know what or why we were against subsidy removal and I made it a sacred duty to inform them in every way possible.
 By the time the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) called for a nationwide strike, Occupy had been on the streets for a week and though I did not participate in the Abuja sit-ins at Eagle Square and eventually Ascon Petroleum, I supported the frontline troops through provision of drinking water, tea items and toiletries. For the period the strike lasted, I went out every single day, marching through the streets, united with other Nigerians. We had transcended religious, ethnic and regional fault lines and replaced them with a searing lava of anger against an arrogant, clueless and insensitive Government-the volcano was about to erupt! My excitement was palpable.

The unique thing about the Occupy movement was that unlike the NLC, which was merely responding to the fuel subsidy increase, we were simply taking advantage of subsidy removal to push home an agenda for reform and good governance. Thus we raised issues such as tackling the cabal, reducing the size of government, cutting needless spending etc. I was convinced that if the strike lasted for a month, Government would not only revert to N65 per litre but would also be more circumspect when taking decisions in the future. The signs were already beginning to appear: Hardly a day went by without one Government official or the other coming on air to address Nigerians. Indeed the President who only a few days earlier did not deem it necessary to personally announce the removal of subsidy, broadcast to the nation at least 3 times during the strike. He also had to cancel an overseas trip!

Consequently, when the NLC called off the strike on the basis that Government had reduced pump price to N97 per litre, I was gutted! What happened to ‘no retreat, no surrender?’ When did labour start speaking for all Nigerians? But at the end of the day, it was clear that all our effort was going to amount to nothing. It felt like I had been raped-Violently.

There are three things which I believe were responsible for the inability of OccupyNaija to carry on with our protest when the strike was called off. First, we did not have a critical mass. OccupyNaija was elitist; it consisted largely of educated, enlightened and intellectual Nigerians who, quite frankly, are an insignificant number when compared with a population of over 150 million. Thus the larger populations of Nigerians-the ones worse hit by the fuel subsidy removal- were nowhere near the protest grounds. Most of them, like traders and bus drivers, just stayed at home praying for the strike to end so they could come out and glean their daily peanuts! Had these set of Nigerians been on board, the role of NLC during the strike would have been insignificant.

Secondly, we were inexperienced. Most of the people that joined OccupyNaija were openly engaging Government for the first time, as such there was very little knowledge of how to coordinate, organise, mobilise and keep the overzealous in check.

Finally, the movement lacked leadership. OccupyNaija was a spontaneous response to a national problem. Nigerians were united in purpose but needed some kind of leadership that would have helped articulate the peoples grievances and engage the authorities if need be. It was this lack of leadership that led to opportunistic politicians attempting to steal the limelight and malicious insinuations by Government that the protests were sponsored by the opposition. These problems notwithstanding, the Occupy Movement has clearly demonstrated that all power derives from the people and the moment the people realise this fact, they can determine their future. Subsidy presented us with a better great opportunity for change but we were not prepared and as a result, our collective resolve was betrayed by Labour. It is my firm belief that the Occupy movement should establish a structure- a rallying point that would easily summon the troops. The Government needs to know we are still alive, we are watching them and most importantly, we are legion. Through OccupyNaija, I have made great friends and met some amazing people, we must not allow this network become yet another missed opportunity.