Recently, a bomb was thrown in the Nigerian social media space by a Journalist known as Farooq Kperogi, who is also a Professor of Journalism and Emerging Media at the Kennesaw State University, Georgia, U.S.A., and also, a fierce critic of the Buhari Administration, who disclosed something about The Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, with the information provided revolving around the Vice President’s long-hidden religious fanaticism.
Kperogi wrote two articles concerning the Vice President, with the first article identifying and explaining 10 reasons why the Vice President could bring about a religious war in the country, and the second article explaining how Osinbajo’s religious extremism had been hidden in plain sight. As it stands now, the once praised Osinbajo has now become a controversial personality. This is indeed bad for his reputation, and it has cost him a lot now due to the fact that he was overzealous and could not distance religion from politics.
These articles sparked a lot of mixed reactions among the readers of that article. Some readers were of the opinion that Osinbajo was only a “deeply religious” person, and was insensitive to the beliefs of others, and that it would be wrong to refer him as a religious bigot. Other readers thanked Kperogi for exposing the Vice President’s religious zealotry. Sadly, a lot of people who seemed to be too loyal to Osinbajo could not criticise him for his religious fanaticism and were busy making reference to Muhammadu Buhari’s past ethno-religious utterances. They could not keep their sentiments aside and call a spade by its name. They were too cognitively biased to keep aside their primeval and needless sociopolitical and religious interests.
Only one fact provided by Kperogi was somewhat disputable. An article published by Sunshine Truth, an online newspaper, titled ‘‘Why I’m Happy with Mimiko’s Mother – Osinbajo” which Kperogi referenced in his writeup, he talked about Osinbajo gloating over the late life conversion of Mimiko’s mother, but according to the article, Osinbajo was only happy with her because she accepted Jesus Christ as her Personal Lord and Saviour before her death. I have seen Muslims and Christians who have always rejoiced over the conversion of someone to their faith. Osinbajo’s joy over the conversion of Olusegun Mimiko’s mother to his faith is not a sign of religious enthusiasm.
But the articles that dealt a great blow to Osinbajo’s reputation and revealed his obscure religious enthusiasm was the article written by Festus Adebayo titled “The trials of Brother Osinbajo”, and the other one published by the Daily Post Newspaper titled “It’s time for a Christian to govern Lagos – Group”.
A lot of Osinbajo’s aides who are of the Islamic faith have tried to save his name by trying to exonerate him as someone who respects the beliefs of others. Dr. Balkisu Saidu, a Senior Special Assistant on Legal, Research and Compliance matters at the office of the Vice President referred to Kperogi’s article as a ‘‘conscienceless smear campaign” by politicians who are planning to tarnish the image of Yemi Osinbajo because “he is a fair, upright and just leader” and she also described him as a man who tolerates the beliefs of others.
This is not the first time someone accused VP Osinbajo of being religiously overzealous. In an article written by a Yoruba Muslim, Dr. Musbau Akinbade in November 2021, he alleged that Osinbajo had a “stealth christianization agenda”.
As it stands now, there’s no amount of publicity that would help Osinbajo look pleasant in the eyes of Northern Muslims. In Public Relations, once the image of an organization or person has been negatively advertised, even good public relations activities cannot help to restore that image. Kperogi’s revelation has already spread so far and wide, even to the mosques where it has become a topic of discussion. Even the Islamic group, Muslims Right Concern (MURIC) gave a serious warning to Muslims not to vote for Osinbajo in any election, and that any of them who defaulted would be labelled as a traitor to his/her faith.
This should serve as a lesson to our aspiring and existing politicians to never play the ethno-religious card in politics, as it could dent their image and push many of their supporters who might not be of similar faith or belief system away from them.
People describing Kperogi’s article as a plot by the opposition to demarket Osinbajo are totally wrong. His intention in that article is not in anyway connected to political motives as he has always been spearheading the cause for the seperation of religion and ethnocentrism from politics in his write-ups. Kperogi has also called out other personalities, like President Muhammadu Buhari in the past for their ethnoreligious bigotry.
For a long time now, Nigeria has been playing syncretic politics, that is there has always been an incorporation of religion into politics. Religion and tribalism have been elevated as a veritable political tool. Religion, tribalism and regionalism, which are hardly seperable in Nigerian politics have always being a top priority among the electorates, and this has depraved the country of good, competent and vibrant leaders. Religion should never be used in achieving selfish sociopolitical motives.
Religious Fundamentalism and Syncretic Politics should never be allowed to play anymore in our political climate, and ultimately, in a secular country like Nigeria.
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