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In as much as every human being – Christian, Muslim or free thinker – has been granted the freedom to operate according to his heart desire, the position of the former president, Chief Matthew Olusegun Obasanjo on religion is confusing and to an extent quite pathetic. This is because he has been pretentious in religious affairs. It is believed that when a man had seen death at his doorstep and miraculously the death is taken away, he could claim anything and preach the love of God and humanity. Obasanjo saw death and has cause to preach the gospel that the grave beckoned on him in vain at that time. If truth can be passionately proclaimed in this encapsulated episode, there are certain conditions which would make a man prefer death to life. This cannot be far from the case relating to Obasanjo’s life in the Yola prison. And I wish the man can always reflect on the realities he met while behind the bars. I recently received via email a photo of Obasanjo when he was serving the life term imprisonment for an alleged coup plot. I need not describe the terrible sight. But if building a church to propagate Christianity was the greatest way to gratify God for His mercy, and it is meant to preach peach, humanity and harmony as Christ admonished his followers, our eyes are yet open. Of course, it is hard for a man who sees death not to repent. If it is assured that you will die tomorrow, you will spend the whole day repenting and preaching to people around you to see life as a shadow signifying nothing. You will even give to charity all your possessions in an attempt to please God and gain His pardon for all your shortcomings in the past. Obasanjo, events seem to reveal became an evangelist during and after the Yola prison experience. Three years behind bars (1995-1998) is a harrowing experience for one who lived in abundance and had attained affluence while in office as a Head of State. How life uplifts and belittles! According to the now renowned evangelist, Obasanjo received divine messages while in prison. First, he was assured that he would not die. And he still lives! Secondly, he was assured that another Nigerian leader will free him. And thirdly, he vowed that if the two came to pass, he would strengthen his faith and show unprecedented affection for his acclaimed religion. Obasanjo can only be disinterestedly described as a prophet going by the concept of some denominations of Christendom; a soothsayer by the pagan language; a pathological liar by the freethinkers; and a mullah following the belief of certain sects in Islam. With all these attributes, he has, unfortunately, continued to tell Nigerians their fate, prescribe routine medication for their several complicated illnesses, decide who gets what amongst all groups of the nation – religious, ethnic, political, economic and others, till he is overpowered by the God who has kept him alive and made him comfortable on the corridors of power. It is not sure if he was equally revealed to while in prison that he would become a president of Nigeria. According to him, the pressure to become the president of Nigeria in 1999 took him years back from realizing his dream. What dream did he have for Nigeria while at the corridor of death? What has he succeeded in achieving from the dream as president in eight years, or say twelve years i.e. when we add up his tenure and 2007-2011? How laudable that at the time when hope was nearly lost, the former president converted an armed robbery kingpin, Baba Ali to a born-again Christian who eventually became a pastor. How laudable the then repentant armed robber was sent to a bible school to acquire the teaching of Christ in an effort to preach humanity and love among Nigerians. And how laudable he has accomplished his heart desires since he came out from prison straight to Aso Rock Villa. The bitter truth is that Obasanjo possesses the penchant of hatred for Islam and Muslims. All what he could offer to Muslims were merely out of pretence and not love. Were there no Muslim prisoners in the prison? How many of them did he empower or sent to Islamic schools for reformation after he became the president who represented all segments of the Nigerian society? He empowered Christian minorities in the north even as he still does, knowing fully well that political and economic empowerment of the minorities are the duo weapons to destabilize full power control of the majority in the area. This is the problem the north contends with today. How many members of the Muslim minorities in the South-East and South-South did he empower? However, Obasanjo belongs to no religion but claims the identity of all religions. He should not be allowed to keep to power through Jonathan, so that the fresh air we all need to survive will not be seized one day. Building a church for God is a common phenomenon which many heathens have done. But on what moral grounds should a man who challenges God Himself have to propagate God’s words. More are yet to be revealed about what Obasanjo wants for Nigeria, with its multi-religious, multi-cultural and multi-political compositions. Muhammad Ajah is a writer, author, advocate of humanity and good governance based in Abuja. E-mail [email protected]

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