OF SILHOUETTES AND SHADOWS: THE PROPHETS, IYABO OBASANJO, AND THE (2016) US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS
find both intriguing and amusing the level of interest and furore that the last US presidential elections generated in Nigeria and beyond. I am impressed that Nigerians (Core Nigerians, Nigerian-Americans and other Diaspora-Nigerians), appear to pray and wish for that country the same good and blessings they wish their mother country. And this is not a surprise, if we recall the billions of dollars/Euros that Nigerian-Americans repatriate home every year, especially those dwellers in the land of big dreams (the escapees to Europe are said to be too prudent with their cash!). Short of this, however, I begin to wonder what the furore is about; the devil will have his say, but God will have His way, always! And please, reserve those nice-sounding arguments about Nigeria's strategic interests being tied to different US policies; I have become wearied with them, they have so far not done any good to our hungry children. For instance, when the US bought our oil, what changed in our lives? Dear old IBB still 'settled' everyone that needed 'settlement', until the entire country was teeming with hypocrites known then as 'IBB boys'! And if President Barak Obama had visited; how would it have changed our mind-set or inclinations from a disposition to give and receive bribes, to that of honour and hard work? Our problems are home-grown; their solutions are also to be found at home. I will proceed now to the task at hand.
The aim of this comment is to investigate Dr David Akintimoye defence of Prophet TB Joshua against the attacks of critics over his failed prediction of the recent US presidential elections. The side attractions include the somewhat detached disposition of Iyabo Obasanjo to these matters; and of course, the protestations of Dr Moshood Fayemiwo, who also wrongly predicted that election. I begin by referring to David Akintimoye's article (see Link below), whose central theme and aim was to deprecate the strong criticisms, which Prophet TB Joshua's failed prophecy of the US election attracted from Nigerians. This piece, like the one I wrote previously, is not meant to vilify or denigrate any of these gentlemen. However, I hope I am allowed the small liberty of expressing my humble but honest opinion. And if that is not good enough, I should think that the God who watches over with a fatherly and godly jealousy, also deserves that I jealously defend His name from being trifled with, although, not with blood and iron.
As mentioned earlier, David Akintimoye's article showed his displeasure with the Nigerians who cast 'vilifications' and 'vituperations' at TB Joshua's way, simply because of a failed prophecy. I would have restrained myself from writing had Akintimoye's article stopped there; I share in some of his concers that this generation is irresponsible in their management of the new freedoms that IT has brought our way. However, Dr Akintimoye went further to express further views, amongst others; that Prophet TB Joshua's prediction was actually correct because Mrs Clinton won the popular vote, but lost due to that imperfection in America's 'perfect democracy', ie the electoral college; that TB Joshua was ignorant of this fact since he was neither an American politician nor a lawyer; that the difference between a self-fulfilling and a non self-fulfilling prophecy is that the latter, but not the former required prayers (help?) to be fulfilled.
Under one sub-heading, Akintimoye asserted that the failed prophecy did not make TB Joshua a failed, sorry, a false prophet, since '[m]istake was inevitable in Ministry'. Under another interesting sub-heading, Dr Akintimoye expressed disappointment that Nigerians delighted in destroying their great ones; he counselled that Nigerians must learn not to expose the soft underbellies of men like Prophet TB Joshua, who has brought much honour and global attention to Nigeria. He advised that Nigerians (mostly the Christian clergy) should imitate their American partners who covered up for Mr Pat Robinson (who also made a false prediction), by quickly taking down the prediction from its publication site. Although, not publicly expressed, I confess that I have once previously disagreed with Dr Akintimoye's views - in a rejoinder to Dr Ejukwa Osam's articles on tithing ( I apologise that I am unable to properly refer to that article here). While I concede that Dr Akintimoye appears to be a man that exercises restraint in language, I must regretfully disagree with him once again.
For instance, Dr Akintimoye spoke about self-fulfilling and non-self-fulfilling prophecies. If one were to accept the existence of such academic gloss on the simplicity that we know to be in Christ Jesus, I would think that they do not apply in this instance. First, Prophet TB Joshua did not ask for prayers in order to ensure the fulfilment of that prophecy. Secondly, there would have been no reason to, because he was speaking to Nigerians regarding an American election. And assuming that the results of an American election would have triggered off a nuclear war, which should have been a worrisome prospect for the world, including his audience; the popular prophet gave no inclinations of such a possibility. Similarly, Dr Akintimoye's reference to David's
In relation to Akintimoye's comments that the prophet should not be regarded as a false prophet because of this failed prediction, because mistakes are inevitable in ministry; I answer like this. The biblical examples given by Dr Akintimoye are by no means analogous to the failed prediction of Prophet Joshua. Thus, where Moses drew the wrath of God by striking the rock twice instead of once as commanded; could he be said to have prophesied in the name of the Lord, and it did not happen? In the same vein, is Peter's denial of Christ thrice, due to fear and lack of faith - because he lacked the Holy Spirit at the time - to be placed at par with an intentional lack of reverence for God's holy name? Or, are we to conclude that committing an unintentional sin is the same as being a 'deliberate' false prophet - which is quite rightly the title of a prophet whose prophecies consistently fail?. However, I should add that neither Moses nor Peter, or even David, also cited by Dr Akintimoye, should replace Christ Jesus as the role model of the new covenant Christian. If I am mistaken in this view, then Christ Jesus came in vain! Moreover, I am also troubled by Akintimoye's clamour that we should hide the failed prediction of Prophet Joshua because of his global promotion of the Nigerian brand; and also because the same was done in America for another 'man of God'(Mr Pat Robinson) whose prediction in 2012, in similar circumstances, fell through.
I suppose Dr Akintimoye reasoned that we did it successfully for Mr James Ibori, whom our local courts set free, only for the gentleman to be convicted there after by a British court, over the same offence. Dr Akintimoye therefore thought we should extend the same generousity to our most popular brand in religion, Prophet TB Joshua. And why should we copy that which is manifestly wrong and evil, but not that which is good and just? And if Dr Akintimoye was kind enough to remind us of Apostle Paul's challenge of Peter's hypocrisy, at the time, for which we (non-jews) should all be thankful; then, we must not conceal the misdeeds of anyone, including Prophet TB Joshua, as a way of bestowing honour on them. Does Dr Akintimoye not realise that these things pertain to God, and not man? And is it not because God is long suffering and closes his eyes to our iniquities that we always glory in our follies? Again, I understand Dr Akintimoye's position; he, like the rest of us, grew up in streets named after dishonourable politicians and soldiers; and he must have been taking more than a passing interest on the awardees of our national honours in the recent past.
Some of Dr Akintimoye's views in defence of Prophet TB Joshua's failed prediction remind me of the exertions of another prophet, Dr Moshood Fayemiwo, in his defence of his failed prediction of the British election of 2015. According to Dr Fayemiwo, his prediction was true after all, because David Cameron, who won the election against Prophet Fayemiwo's prediction that Ed Milliband would be the winner; finally lost in the 2016 Brexit referendum. How unimpeachable in logic and wisdom? The parallel to Dr Fayemiwo's defence is the views by Dr Akintimoye that the ignorance of Prophet TB Joshua probably accounted for his failure to correctly predict the US presidential election. I can only express my surprise and sadness at both views; and I would phrase my reaction in that old biblical rhetoric credited to the ancient Jews: Is it not because God has no knowledge of the American Electoral College system? And is it not because God is unable to tell the difference between a general election and a referendum; therefore, he could not tell Prophet Fayemiwo that David Cameron would lose in a referendum, not an election? And who is the current British PM, Theresa May or Ed Milliband? I find it necessary to state here that the simplicity of the Christian faith is its virtue, its sanctity and paradoxically, its sacredness. In relation to our focus, this simplicity translates simply to this: The prophet whose prophecies always happen is the one called by God.
Besides, Dr Akintimoye should note that a prediction had gone forth regarding the imminent demise in 2017, of Prophet TB Joshua's SCOAN. And, of course, it is the very Prophet (Dr) Moshood Fayemiwo that gave that prophecy. Since he believes so much in prophets and prophecies, Dr Akintimoye, I dare say, should worry more about this; and Prophet Joshua should worry even more. After all, it is said that you do not go hunting for squirrels while your house is up in flames? If I were Prophet TB Joshua, I will not be wasting time prophesying about a US election happening thousands of miles away, while there is a subsisting prophecy that my house is about to conflagrate! And 2017 is almost here! By the way, that is also the year that Mr Trump will become the US President, barring any eventualities that Prophet (Dr) Moshood Fayemiwo wishes should happen! But I am indeed in a quandary, whether to believe Prophet TB Joshua, or to believe Prophet (Dr) M Fayemiwo; would Dr David Akintimoye advise me, please?
By way of contrast to the above, it is my wish to briefly recount some of the statements (on the issues above and related matters) credited to another Nigerian-American, a female, who I think fits the description of Jesus Christ, in relation to Nathanael, as a man without guile (John 1:v 47). That woman is Iyabo Obasanjo. I know this woman from a distance, in the same way I know most Nigerian public figures, past or present, dead or alive. However, my interest in public and international affairs goes beyond the mere acquisition of knowledge for some unedifying purpose. I make it my business to search and discern those statements and actions of man that are in agreement with God's Truth, plan and purpose, and those that are not, no matter how close to resembling the Truth the latter appears to be. Before I speak of Dr Iyabo Obasanjo, I would also like to confess that I had in 2002 or 2003 (I am not certain which), after the bomb blast that rocked the Ikeja Cantonment, written a piece in the Sunday Vanguard, in which I posited that Dr Iyabo Obasanjo's father, Gen (rtd) Olusegun Obasanjo (the irrepressible 'OBJ'), had a 'bloated image of his capabilities'. The Sunday Vanguard editor at the time decided to feature this line in the centre of the nearly one page publication, under an image of the former president. Back then, I had hoped OBJ and his 'boys' would not see it, or if they did, that they will laugh it off; I was not ready to go on an inspection tour of the DSS detention centres! The news, however, is that Dr Iyabo Obasanjo in a subsequent publication, confirmed this view, to my pleasant surprise - I hope not pride! The publication in reference is the open letter Dr Obasanjo wrote to her father, published by the Vanguard (Nigeria) Newspapers (see Link below).
Apart from helping me see the other parts of the ex-president that is hidden from the public view; Iyabo Obasanjo's confirmation of my view regarding her father, convinces me that the conclusions I have reached concerning her here are also largely correct. For example, the boldness and candour, which appears to come natural to Dr Iyabo Obasanjo, tells me that Olusegun Obasanjo may not have scurried under his bed when the Col BS Dimka led-coup of 1976 happened; as was widely rumoured. But let us return to Iyabo Obasanjo. Some of the above views on the senior and younger Obasanjo were gleaned from another publication in which Dr Obasanjo candidly revealed some private family issues. I am unable to comment on these, except in so far as it helps reveal some relevant personal traits of Iyabo Obasanjo in relation to this piece.
Dr Iyabo Obasanjo was recently interviewed by Emmanuel Aziken in Virginia, US (see Link below). Her response to some of the questions helps to poignantly express the contrasts that I intend to highlight as both the problem and solution to the Nigerian crisis. The point is that most Nigerians would gladly exchange the substance for the shadow, every time and all the time; having alienated themselves from the truth, they suffer fools gladly. Our grandiose thinking and arrogant manners have left us bereft of common sense and native intelligence! In contrast, Iyabo Obasanjo views appear to suggest that some (few) Nigerians still think straight. When asked about the recent US Presidential election; her reply was that the election was not about electing Donald Trump, but about rejecting Hillary Clinton, a conclusion she doubted that most people grasped. I agree. I think people like Prophet (Dr) Moshood Fayemiwo missed that point, but I can say this for him - he appears to believe that women would do better in political leadership. It is difficult to guess which he would have preferred between Hillary Clinton as US President; or Madam Olajumoke Ajasin-Anifowose, as the next Governor of Ondo State in Nigeria; The latter prediction (as the former) would now have to wait for another day; because Mr Rotimi Akeredolu is now the Governor-elect of Ondo State. But we digress.
We return to Dr Iyabo Obasanjo. When Iyabo Obasanjo was asked who she supported in the US elections, she mentioned Bernie Sanders, the man who lost to Clinton in the primaries. Her reasons or part of it was that he was the only one who referred to 'inequality', and stressed the need to reduce inequality, for, according to this sensible woman: "Large inequality is a mark of a poor underdeveloped country and the US inequality is getting worse..." Further on she again stated: "The mark of a great country is not how many billionaires it creates; but the life of the lowest, poorest individual defines a great country..." I leave whoever reads this piece to judge whether I have rightfully ascribed the attribute of being sensible to Iyabo Obasanjo; and how she compares to the gentlemen above, including, unfortunately, her father, who boasted recently that Madam Folorunsho Alakija was one of 25 persons he made billionaires during his tenure (see link to the story below). The interviewer subsequently confronted Dr Iyabo Obasanjo with the view that President Barak Obama seems to disdain Nigeria because he had refused to visit the country, although, he visited Ghana, which is close to Nigeria, but is by no means as important as a regional power (note that this view is held by us dreaming Nigerians!). Apart from stating some plausible reasons that would necessitate Obama choosing to visit Ghana, Dr Obasanjo followed with this retort: "Why is an American President visiting you [Nigeria] important?" The summary of her position concerning this question was that you develop and reach your heights by doing the right and proper things, that way others are forced to recognise you; and her example was China.
Finally, when asked if she would be likely to play a political role in Nigeria of the future, she pointedly and emphatically declared that she would not. From her last answer I have gained confirmation of my privately held view that no decent person could ever be part of Nigerian politics - at least not for long - the way things are at present. And it is not a novel proposition; the late Gani Fawhenmi held tenaciously to that view until he died! As far as it concerns Iyabo Obasanjo, I do not know the colour or depth of her religious inclinations, or whether she epitomises any virtues, but this I can say of her; that she is clearly a woman without guile. Following from this conclusion, I would like to call upon our prophets, including TB Joshua and Moshood Fayemiwo, and other 'men of God', to declare their stands; whether they are for God or Baal, for Christ or for mammon, for the Truth or against it. However, I am not ignorant of the fact that there is much to be gained in this day and age, from being a hypocrite, and from leading a life completely devoid of the Truth or any principles. The hypocrite is like the shadow; unreliable, unrecognisable, a lie, in so far as it depicts an untruthful image of the substance; it is either distorting or exaggerating the shape, colour and form of the substance, either as a ridiculously too long or too short representation of the original. On the other hand, the silhouette may be as dark as the shadow, but it is more reliable, it can be reached and touched; it is the substance itself, and is, therefore, closer to the truth than the shadow. Again, I shall leave to readers the choice of who qualifies as the shadow or the silhouette between the prophets and their supporter, on the one hand; and Iyabo Obasanjo, on the other. Speaking for myself, and in view of the above, I should ask Dr Fayemiwo to consider adding Dr Iyabo Obasanjo to his next round of predictions as the first female Nigerian president in 2019. That might just well come true!
The Books of Isaiah and Jeremiah, whose passages always eerily remind me of Nigeria (see, Isaiah 1; Jer. 5: vv 30-31), as well as many other biblical texts, resonate with one fact: God is full of mercies, but He is also a God of justice. God is not mocked! (Gal. 6: v 7). I have spoken in good conscience.