“You can’t shake hands with a clenched fist.” Indira Gandhi
The vitriolic and caustic reaction of Bishop Abiodun Ogunyemi, the combative Bishop of the historic St. George’s Anglican Church Sabon Gari, Zaria to the apology tendered by the Anglican Church of Nigeria to Nasir El – Rufai, the Governor of Kaduna State, over the orchestrated media campaign by Ogunyemi and the Reverend Joesph Hayab led Christian Association of Association (CAN), by the powerful delegation led by the highly respected Dean of the Anglican Church Archbishop Buba Lamido is a confirmation that Bishop Ogunyemi’s mission was to “sufficiently provoke” and force the Kaduna State Government to demolish the St. George’s Anglican Church, Sabon Gari Zaria. This assertion is as certain as saying the sun will rise from the East, going by his conduct.
The clear motive behind the acerbic reactions of Ogunyemi and Hayab, his co-conspirator is manifestly and political. It would be recalled that some so-called opposition had boasted prior to the 2019 General Elections that they would ensure the defeat of El-Rufai in the 2019 elections and having woefully failed,they have obviously shifted the battle to the 2023 presidential elections, which many people believe El-Rufai would contest, despite his vehement denial that he hasn’t given the top job any attention. But this hasn’t stopped the plot to hang the toga of a religious fanatic and tribal warlord around his neck, which they hope would “kill” his rumoured presidential ambition. This is at the root of the false allegation concocted by Bishop Ogunyemi, who it must be stated was hastily posted out of Yobe State, due to his cantankerous nature and Hayab, whose open partisanship has made CAN irrelevant. According to Bishop Ogunyemi “The governor (El-Rufai) is being prepared for 2023 elections. The governor (El-Rufai) should know that he will never be president of Nigeria. I speak prophetically as a servant of the living God.” Thankfully Ogunyemi is not God! Ogunyemi and his ilks, including those who predicted the day El-Rufai would die, have refused to learn from their failed predictions in the past, which explains their haughty predictions, which most certainly would also fail in the future.
On assumption of office in 2015, the Nasir El-Rufai administration undertook an extensive and in depth study of previous reports into the various crisis that had bedevilled the state. The reports shockingly revealed that lack of adequate market shops was at the very root of virtually all the crisis- from Kasuwa Maigani, Kajuru to the Zangon- Kataf crisis, all had their origin at the markets- which unfortunately always assumed sectarian/ethnic dimensions. Like El-Rufai said, “contentions over the location of markets and access to them have been implicated in the legacy of violence that has blighted some of our communities.” For instance, the decision of the then Chairman of the Zangon Kataf Local Government Council to relocate the market triggered the deadly 1992 Zangon – Kataf crisis which was to eventually engulf the entire state. The Kasuwan Magani crisis like that of Zonkwa, Kafanchan, and Kajuru all started in and around markets.
The conclusions garnered from the reports and the post-conflict assessment of the 2018 Kasuwan Magani crisis further convinced the government to as a matter of urgency address the market issue. It consequently adopted a two-way approach of embarking on a massive redevelopment of markets as a strategy of attacking the root cause of the crisis and as part of the administration’s Programme of promoting equal opportunity and economic development of the various communities. For instance, the new Kasuwan Magani market will have over 1,000 shops, modern abattoirs, police post, clinic and fire service area in compliance with health, safety and environment regulatory requirements that is a must for a model market. Hopefully access to shops for everyone who wants to trade having been addressed, we shouldn’t have crisis from that front again.
It’s this resolve to address the question of markets that brought the St. George’s Anglican Church Sabon Gari into focus. What Ogunyemi and Hayab have bluntly refused to tell the world, because it doesn’t fit into their evil plot of demonizing El-Rufai , is that 45 houses,including several mosques were marked for demolition and for which compensation had been paid, and that the church was never valued and so no compensation was paid and so even when the quit notice was mistakenly issued to the church it amounted to absolutely nothing because the church had not been compensated. If not mischief,why would Ogunyemi pretend or feign ignorance about the solemn pledge by El-Rufai at the Anglican Synod which held at Owerri to the entire Anglican Church of Nigeria that he would not demolish the historic church, in addition to previous official letters to that effect?
The kaduna State Government contrary to the lies being bandied by Ogunyemi and Hayab never shelved any plan to demolish St. George’s Anglican Church,because in the first place there wasn’t any such plan. If there was,the Church would have been valued and paid a hefty compensation,as demanded by the law. The gospel truth is that Ogunyemi and Hayab thought they finally had their archenemy El-Rufai in a tight corner,which explains the resort to the media,rather than engaging with the government and resolving in a peaceful manner whatever issue that had cropped up. Ogunyemi also in his desire to scandalize, vilify and portray El-Rufai as a religious fanatic, bluntly refused to consult with the leadership of the Anglican of Nigeria on the way forward,just as he refused to reach out to the government when the quit notice was mistakenly served on the Church. That El-Rufai continues to wax stronger in spite of the evil machinations of the likes of Ogunyemi and Hayab is a testimony to his goodness. The Anglican Church of Nigeria deserves the commendation of all men of goodwill for putting Hayab who had questioned the decision of the church to visit El – Rufai in his place, by telling him that they didn’t need his permission to visit the governor. Hayab, clearly seeks relevance, but because he lacks an unflinching commitment to truth, he seeks it in vain.
Musa wrote from Kaduna