(By Fola Ojo)
“Arriving Johannesburg, the cover was blown. When covers are blown in deals that have to do with money in Nigeria, it means someone in the deal is probably being edged and schemed out from the booty; and what follows is always crying and gnashing of ugly teeth of obstreperousness. Between the couriers of the cash and the Nigerian diplomats in South Africa, something happened, but we don’t know what it was. Some day, we will find out the truth. It was the known truth that got someone talking to the media about the dingy deal“.
Before now, he minimally knew about Nigeria other than its name. He befriended no Nigerian aside from the few he stumbled across in his ministerial assignments as a preacher. But in recent times, Joe, my white American friend, has learnt so much about my country and its people that he now believes he is more equipped than a Nigerian Professor of History or any Nigerian alive, about all that is in Nigeria’s past, present, and what will be in the future. That was his confession.
Joe’s acuity about our country’s stories was acquired through Facebook where he is connected to me as friend, and in turn to many others he has never met and may never meet. He follows our arguments about issues and according to him, he laughs his head off reading many of our opinions. Joe summed up Nigeria and Nigerians in this short American Southern sentential submission: “Y’all gat some mess up in there”. He is right.
Nigeria has a messy past, a messier present, and a gawky, gaucherie future except our God shows His mercy. What have got many giving up hope are events we see all around us in everyday Nigeria. This country has become a cesspool of ludicrousness and ridiculousness, a cesspit of laughability and farcicality, and a cistern through which all things miasmic and mephitic flow. Government after government, it appears as if we are in a quotidian navigation through the noxious vicinage and nauseating neighbourhood of the nonsensical and the absurd. And writing or blowing out your larynx in a scream for a change looks like shadow-boxing and sciamachical strain, stress, and stab.
Friday, September 5, 2014, a Bombardier Challenger 600, with a Nigerian flight crew headed for Johannesburg, South Africa. The jet became a flying cash-vault and strongroom brimmed up with undeclared raw cash that totalled $9.3m. Mission was to purchase arms and ammunition for some agency of the Nigerian government as it continues chasing Boko Haram from pillar to post in its newly sculpted caliphate. So, reinforcement was needed from xenophobic South Africans because all routes to the Western world to purchase ammunition for Nigeria are full of booby-traps and suspicions of money-laundering by Nigerian government apparatchiks. On board was an Abuja-based Israeli, who was the only man with the combinations to open the lock on the suit cases containing the cash.
Arriving Johannesburg, the cover was blown. When covers are blown in deals that have to do with money in Nigeria, it means someone in the deal is probably being edged and schemed out from the booty; and what follows is always crying and gnashing of ugly teeth of obstreperousness. Between the couriers of the cash and the Nigerian diplomats in South Africa, something happened, but we don’t know what it was. Some day, we will find out the truth. It was the known truth that got someone talking to the media about the dingy deal.
The shock in the whole drama was the mode of transfer of the whopping sum and the initial responses of our government. It was both risible and daffy when we read that the government believes money- transfer through a jet would deliver faster than going through the Central Bank. The purchase of the ammunition was so urgent in the thought of those responsible for this irresponsibility that the government chose not to make the transfer via the Central Bank but through a pastor’s private pet jet. The jet must have been so anointed with some kind of miracle oil that, in a holy-rolling of sort, it can cover a 3,000 miles journey between Lagos and Johannesburg and deliver money faster than a Bank Wire Transfer would in minutes. If this is not a jejune jabbering from a polemic whippersnapper; if this is not a farrago of bunkum and absurd verbiage, I wonder what then it is. These are some of the stories the world reads about the giant of Africa that makes it look like a divagate gallimaufry of ridicule and loutishness. Warts of weird behaviours are found in all crevices of our government, and stench is locked up in all the nooks and crannies. God must come to Nigeria’s rescue.
The man or woman who knew the truth then dropped the name of a man of God. It was Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, the head of all Christians in Nigeria under the Christian Association of Nigeria, and the sole owner of the flying cash-vault and strongroom jet. I and many all over the world have drawn and learnt from the man of God’s teachings and expository prowess of the infallible word of the living God. Oh, how I love Pastor Ayo! I wish the night-crawling money transfer had not taken place on his jet, or any other jet belonging to any man of God for that matter. I wish the money had not been transferred on Pastor Ayo’s jet because all of us Christians now have to defend what I believe is totally indefensible. I wish Pastor Ayo will just leave these politicians alone and preside over CAN in a noble and decent manner, not running back and forth genuflecting before politicians in pursuit of wealth that has wings.
As a servant of God, I always cringe in shame when scandals regarding anointed men brew up. I have to attempt sharpening my debate skills to confront some of my friends who think Pentecostalism and Pentecostal pastors are just a bunch of unemployed lowlifes and unemployable barracudas who just love to extort and manipulate both the highs and the lows in the society with perfected Pentecostal abracadabra. Pastor Ayo is a great man of God, but he is now perceived in recent times as a man of glittering gold and blinking bling. The leasing and sub-leasing of the jet are obviously an attempt to make extra cash to maintain the jet. I wish Pastor had found another way of maintaining the toy. If he cannot maintain the jet, he should not retain it. You cannot retain what you cannot maintain. I wish gun-running, dirty-deals, money-trafficking under the cover of the night had not been part of how Pastor Ayo’s ministry is now defined. But, it has happened, and it’s not a happenstance. Any kind of romance between pastors and Nigerian politicians may surely land big and heavy bags of free money, but it will always land you in a heavy pile of trouble especially as CAN president. When a CAN president is in conjugal conjoining, lovey-dovey dance-steps with Nigerian politicians, it will spring a carbuncle that may never heal.
The Christian Association of Nigeria that Pastor Ayo presides over has become a CAN of worms that many Christians have kept an arm’s length from since he became president. The Catholic Church has pulled out, and many others are also tinkering with the same idea. We know Pastor Ayo is an unapologetic supporter of President Goodluck Jonathan, and that is well. But he cannot drag millions of his members who don’t believe what he believes regarding politics. He has every right to do that with the church he founded, not CAN that is a rallying umbrella for all Christians in Nigeria who have differing political swings. There is no doubt that this present leadership of CAN is full of worms, and it will be a great move if Pastor Ayo stepped aside. Doing otherwise with all the foofaraw we have now is kicking the CAN down the road.
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