Re: Tragedy and Casual Bigotry Against Yoruba Muslims

Re: Tragedy and Casual Bigotry Against Yoruba Muslims

Sunday, November 7, 2021 11:42 am

Femi Osibona, developer of the Ikoyi collapsed building

By Andrew Agbese

The piece with the above title written by Prof. Farooq Kperogi can be faulted on its high reliance on conjectures and innuendos.

This is obvious from the case he chose to weave his argument on, which relied only on the account of one side where the other party has no way of knowing, least of all responding to it.

I had thought that with Femi Osibona dead, any allegation against him should have been thoroughly scrutinised before being passed to the public especially if such is coming from an aggrieved party that is capable of holding grudges against the deceased.

More so in a society like ours where playing victims of religious persecutions to win the sympathy of others are common.

But Kperogi chose to ignore these and found Osibona guilty as charged because as he said, the late business man’s character of religious exhibitionism was consistent with the allegations of religious bigotry levelled against him.

Even if those instances of ‘exhibitionism’ are true, the simple deduction is that the man was the showy type and do not necessarily prove that he harbours resentment towards others of different faith.

And since the man is not alive to explain things that could have been circumstantial around him, it woukd have thought it fair to have left such conjectures out.

As a journalist, one way to have proven that Osibona bore such sentiments against Muslims was to have moved beyond what people who may have beef with him had to say about him to source for more evidence independently.

One of the ways to do that would have been to go through the list of his staff and associates and if no Muslim is found in them, then the allegation could be said to be true.

But even without going far, another evidence in the tragedy has put a lie to the claim of religious bigotry as Zainab Sani Oyindamola, said to be serving at the construction company before her death, appears to have been a Muslim.

Now for a man whose religious intolerance was said to be that glaring, it woukd have been nigh impossible for a name like that to enter his company’s rolls without raising an eyebrow.

Or was it that in her brand of Islam, they assumed that if Osibona says ‘praise God’ she would have replied with an ‘hallelujah’ instead of ‘Alhamdullah?’

Even if she was not a Muslim like a certain Zainab I know, the combination of Zainab and Sani could have made the CEO of a company said to have a huge resentment for Muslims suspicious and whoever was responsible for engaging staff in the company know that his boss woukd not accept such.

The same applies to the accuser, Adebowale Sikiru (I’ve not met a single Yoruba Christian who bears Sikiru) that it would have been needless inviting him for an interview in the first place if the boss is known to have such a reputation.

Besides, I find it curious that a job interview usually conducted in a serene atmosphere with the least likely distraction would be done in the presence of brick layers!

What is more.,latest news from the collapsed building shows a good presence of Muslims who could have been workers at the site as it has been reported that among the latest survivors include one Ndajor Ahmed, Yunusa Abubakar, Ajiboye Habib and others.

Then Kperogi made an assertion that Yoruba Muslims hide their Muslim names to avoid the bigotry of their kindred.

I find this particular point amusing because anyone familiar with the Yoruba knows they have a culture of giving a handful of names to their children at birth which makes it practically impossible for the children to mention all the names when all that is required, are two or at most, three names.

Due to lack of use, many of these names become latent as in the case of former president, Olusegun Obasanjo whose full name is Mathew Okikiola Aremu Olusegun Obasanjo.

And from what I have seen, whichever name such children decide to use later is purely at their discretionary and not due to intimidation or in order to avoid discrimination.

For instance I have a friend whose Yoruba name is Funmi and one day when I discovered that her middle name is Christiana and I called her by that name, she almost ate me raw because she did not like it. So, it is clear that other factors other than religious bigotry could be responsible for the choice of names they decide to go with.

Like Bola Ajibola that Kperogi many prominent Yoruba Christians have also hidden their Christian names.

For instance, Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s Christian name was Jeremiah, but he most times, chose to go with his Yoruba name, Obafemi.

Former president, Oiusegin Obasanjo had to publicly threaten that no one should refer to him as Mathew even though it’s his name.

Former governor of Oyo State, Alao Akala’s name is Christopher but how many times he was called by that when he was in office?

But going by Kperogi”s argument, it would be apt to assume that all these politically exposed persons dropped their Christian names in order to avoid Muslim bigotry among their kindred.

The example of political exposed persons flaunting the different religions of their spouses which Kperogi gave to help his point runs contrary to what he wants people to believe.

He, for instance, mentioned some prominent Yoruba political leaders who readily show-off the religion of their spouses.

But contrary to what he wants us to believe, the politicians do these not out of inferiority complex in their natal region but to sell them as tolerant of the major religions in the country and they do this most times when they’re gunning for national offices and hardly do so if the position is within Yorubaland.

But why I find the pont intriguing is that while Kperogi can name not less than three Yoruba politicians who have spouses of Christian Faith, he probably won’t be able to mention one Christian lady married to a Muslim Yoruba political leader who has kept her faith.

The point here is that the tolerance is mutual and instances of marginalisation exist on both sides and are insignificant that they can be excused.

One faith may fail in one aspect but makes concession in other aspects.

For instance, the Christian parent that give their blessings to their daughters to marry a Muslim cannot be denied credit for religious tolerance while the suitor who chose the lady knowing she’s of different faith takes all the accolades.

It bears restating that the religious tolerance in Yorubaland is mutual and not at the expense of one faith.

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