Governor El-Rufai And The Licensing Of Preachers – Sunday Ogidigbo

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Kaduna Pastor To Give El-Rufai His Burial Date

Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna State is a person I regard with high esteem. He is one public office holder that demonstrated in his former role as the Minister of the FCT, that the possibilities and potentials of genuine development is not a façade when governance is deliberate and value driven. I don’t want to stress his brilliance, his relationship with my former principal Mallam Nuhu Ribadu or his many acts of kindness, interventions and generosities to a number of people I call friends.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of 360Nobs.com.

I must mention that I am not one of those offended by what some call insult or dishonour to the name of Jesus. If I must classify myself either as a fan or a foe, I will go with the former. El-Rufai or Fashola were my preferred choice for President in the 2015 elections. I went for Atiku when my preferred houses were not in the race for Aso Rock. When El-Rufai became the Governor of Kaduna State, I knew he would hit the ground running; and knowing his track record, antecedents and leadership capacity, he would transform the state. In my previous articles, I have made reference to some of the good fruits his policies and programmes are already yielding. The Religious Regulatory Bill is like dropping a bomb from the sky in peace time.

I have taken time to look at the bill and to also read a number of Op-Eds on the matter. The governor has every right to control noise pollution and enact laws that punish hate speeches. My grouse with the bill pertains to the provisions regarding the licensing of preachers and the criminalisation of the distribution of religious materials. If noise pollution is to be stopped, the governor should prohibit the use of loud speakers by religious houses from dawn to dusk, not till 8pm as the law is proposing. Personally, I think loudspeakers should be restricted to the inside of all religious or prayers houses, and all such buildings should be soundproof, as it is the case in advanced countries.

This proposed bill is one accidental policy direction of a man known for sound judgment, steady hands and a clear head. What comes to mind is the verse of scripture that says, “Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour; so doth a little folly him that is in a reputation for wisdom and honour.” To this, both the liberal and conservative mind will agree, for it further substantiates the Yoruba aphorism that, “a little excrement soils the anus.”

I know the reaction from some on my side of the religious aisle has being venomous, with a few calling down fire, brimstone and death on the governor. I would rather caution him to be mindful of the long term political cost of this policy. If by chance this bill was designed to target the church, Mallam El-Rufai will be at loggerheads with the Powerful and Invincible Rock of Ages; the Rock that Pharaoh fought to his death. The Rock of Ages can be full of pricks; he that headboots Him does so to his own peril. The governor should know the proposed law has the tendency to attempt a gagging of the church like Herod did, and it criminalises evangelism.

True Christians know this comes against the soul of Christianity and the Great Commission. Like the apostles resisted the Pharisees, trust me, any true Christian will not obey. Jesus will fight with all the power and might for His kingdom. If in doubt, ask Saul of Tarsus. I know some would think that Jesus exists in the figments of the minds of Christians, which was the error of many ancient kings, one of whom ate grass like a cattle for seven years.

Nigeria is a secular state and government at all levels should do everything not to interfere with religion. Where religious activities promote violence, hatred, division or criminality, there are enough laws in the land to address such. There are many problems facing us as a nation. Christians and Muslims are all suffering from the grinding effects of the ongoing fuel scarcity and the drop in power supply. What Nigerians want from government at all levels is to prioritise housing, healthcare, education, environmental safety, mass transit, urban renewal, job creation, among others. Criminalising preaching and threatening preachers with jail terms is not going to solve all these problems; it would only create apathy and civil unrest.

It’s however spooky that the bedrock of this proposed bill can be traced to the military edict promulgated in 1984, with Buhari as the then military Head of State. With him as the president and this bill coming again from Kaduna State will cause non-believers susceptible to conspiracy theory to have a rethink. All of these leaves me somewhat befuddled that a governor with El-Ruafi’s democratic credentials is drawing inspiration from a draconian military law. I am just hoping that at this rate, the APC government will not seek to resurrect the decree no.4 of 1984, because we’ve seen attempts by this government to sponsor a law targeted at censoring social media.

On Easter Monday, I saw on Japhet Omojuwa’s timeline on twitter a video showing the Master Plan of Kaduna State; this is what the governor of my mother’s state should pursue aggressively to see how it would become a reality. It is wisdom for him to stop the bill, even if it passes, by not signing it into law.

This piece was written by Sunday Ogidigbo. He is the Lead Pastor of Holyhill Church, Abuja. 

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of 360Nobs.com.

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