Governor Ayodele Fayose is a character that appears to defy social norms. Defying social norms is not a problem because it encourages debate and promotes engagement with issues as they develop. There is no rule that says somebody is right because you align with public opinion or with the views of the majority. When people defy social norms, they go against what the ‘majority’ sees as right or wrong. This is perception which may be jaundiced. Hence, a deviant is one who does something or engages in a habit condemned by the majority as unwholesome. It is against this background that the likes of Fayose can facilitate social change (violent or peaceful) through their utterances and symbolic representations such as what has been called ‘death-wish advert’ against the All Progressives Congress(APC) Presidential candidate, Gen. Muhammad Buhari.
Fayose did not do anything unusual from what most of us do. In Nigeria, there is spiritual explanation for people’s failures. Usually, we go to Alfas, Imams, and pastors who give the notion that the source of our problems is tied to somebody. Hence, when we gather in churches and even as expressed in several church programme themes (“Breaking the backbone of enemies”; “Possess your Possession”; “The key to your Breakthroughs”), we pray that our enemies should ‘die by fire’ so that we may fulfill our destinies on earth. This is the prayer that gets more voices in the church with the whole space filled with ‘prayer noise’ aimed at killing our enemies. Against this background, Fayose’s advert is only a reflection of what we all do in our religious spaces. The subtle difference in Fayose’s advert is that whereas we pray for the death of our enemies in churches, the enemies are anonymous and mostly unmentioned. That Fayose chose to go to the press with overt pictorial evidence of the perceived political enemy that ‘should die’ is callous, wicked and totally insensitive. And as typical of ‘politrickcians’, he wrongly interpreted Deuteronomy 30 vs. 19.
Rather than base my interpretation on the quoted verse, I read the whole chapter with a view to knowing what led to that conclusion. The message in the chapter was predicated on the covenant reviewed by Moses after leading the children of Israel out of Egypt. They (Isrealites) were asked to obey the covenant to serve the Lord and not worship idols. Deviation from this covenant was to bring on them and their generations ruin due to the anger God would visit on them. This was why he asked them to choose between life and death. Verse 15 of the Chapter says “Now Listen! Today I am giving you a choice between prosperity and disaster, between life and death”. However, God still urged them to keep his commands, laws and regulations by walking in his ways. In verse 16, the promise is that whoever follows the covenant will live, and the Lord will bless their land. For me, the most important part of the message here is for Nigerians to choose a good leader who would give them better quality of life. If this will come by change, February is the opportunity God is given us again to make our choices. Whatever person (s) we elect will eventually determine whether Nigeria as presently constituted will be blessed and progress or cursed and retrogress. Now if Fayose is not sufficiently knowledgeable to appreciate the sensitivity of his message at this time in the history of Nigeria when issues of religion, ethnicity, sectionalism and power become hotly debated, what about his advisers? He who walks with the wise grows wise but a companion of fools suffers harm (Proverbs 13:20).
Published in the Daily Times newspaper dated: Monday, January 26, 2015