By Mallam Farouk Isa Jimeta
Mr. Farooq Kperogi has continued his sponsored attacks on Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. Parading a motley of dodgy and dated reports that he has stripped of context and given twisted interpretations to suit his nefarious agenda, the Professor of fake news is unrelenting in his objective to alter the reality of well-meaning Nigerians who know and can readily attest to the character of the Vice President as a liberal, tolerant and accommodating leader who embraces Nigeria’s diversity, and has worked committedly to make it a source of strength.
Mr. Kperogi’s academic career may have hit an untimely decline, likely due to his now well-noted inclination for pushing dubious agenda and the use of untrustworthy sources for the purpose. But he has since found the usefulness of that crooked skill in the field of politics where there is no shortage of clients willing to offer good money for the execution of smear campaigns and blackmail attempts premised on the construction of an alternate reality through seductive but false claims.
It is obvious to any discerning observer that his obsession with Prof. Yemi Osinbajo is due to the strength of his candidacy as a potential successor to President Muhammadu Buhari, and the fact that there are those who are not pleased by the development. His choice of religion as the primary tool of blackmail was also deliberate for apparent reasons, but none that has to do with the country’s stability or concern for Nigeria’s Muslim population, as he falsely portrays in his now weekly diatribes.
Mr. Farooq Keprogi has no respect for Muslims neither does he care about their well-being or status in Nigeria of today or in the future. The evidence of this isn’t farfetched; you only have to look up his well-documented attacks against Islam and Muslims in the recent past, particularly from 2015 when President Muhammadu Buhari’s emergence and subsequent re-election in 2019 was a source of pain to his clients and recruiters.
An example is his 2017 article titled “Why Buhari is wildly popular in the Muslim north” in which he attributed the President’s goodwill in the northern region to “Muslim clerical tyranny”. The entire piece was a shameful and condescending disparaging of Muslim northerners as a monolith group incapable of prosecuting or examining a matter with sense and logic once the matter of religion is introduced.
In another similar piece, this time from December 2021, Mr. Farooq Kperogi had this to say about the Muslim north: “You can smolder the northern masses with economic asphyxiation, as Buhari is doing now, and they would make peace with their fate with listless acquiescence, but blaspheme their religion or even icons of their religion, and they would rise up in arms and murder indiscriminately.”
Here again, he was pushing the dangerous and reductive stereotype of Muslim northerners as religious extremists who kill at will and indiscriminately in defense of their religion.
Given his rich history of such offensive characterization of Muslims and the denunciation of Islam, it is worth asking how and why the same man has appointed himself the spokesperson of Muslims on the subject who is tolerant of their faith, as well as presents the best chance for Nigeria’s stability as a multi-religious state - a project he has repeatedly placed in jeopardy with his reckless articles which encouraged hatred against Islam and Muslims.
The answer is that Mr. Farooq Kperogi is merely executing a script. He is serving the interest of those who having found nothing to smear the Vice President with (due to his spotless public service records), have now zeroed in on Nigeria’s ethno-religious fault-lines to scaremonger and cause disaffection.
Mr. Kperogi himself hinted at the effectiveness of this evil strategy in another piece where he said: “Appeal to religion is the easiest way to ignite the raw emotions and solidarity of the [northern] masses.” His frivolous and baseless accusations against the Vice President must then be understood as an execution of this strategy in collusion with opposing political figures who are threatened by the VP’s rising profile.
Regardless, to assuage the fears of those who may have been lured by Mr. Kperogi’s sophistry and seductive propaganda, it becomes important to address the questions asked on Prof. Yemi’s Osinbajo’s tolerance of difference in faith and worship, and whether he is a man capable of joining or initiating a plot aimed at the ‘Christainization’ of what is a historically diverse country.
Perhaps the most credible answer to the question can only come from Muslims themselves, especially those who have experience of interacting and working with the Vice President. Yes, he does work with Muslims; in fact, his leadership team at the Presidency comprises of a significant number of Muslims, despite Kperogi’s mendacious claims that he makes the choice of staff on the basis of religious affiliation.
Dr. Balkisu Saidu is one of the Muslims who works with the Vice President. She serves as a Senior Special Assistant on Legal Research, and Compliance matters in his office. Responding last year to sponsored claims of religious discrimination against the Vice President, she not only clarified that the “Christian appointees” elements like Kperogi have portrayed as evidence of Prof. Osinbajo’s bias were actually made by the President, but also that the Vice President is a “humane, compassionate, and detribalized patriotic Nigerian.”
She went on to say that: “If you are talking about religion, the most senior official or position in the Office of the Vice President apart from the Vice President himself, is the office of the Deputy Chief of Staff to the President and the name of the person occupying that office is Abdulrahman Ipaye and he is a Muslim.”
She continued: “When people lack what to use or have exhausted all avenues to speak evil against perceived opponents or ridicule the good works that they are doing, they resort to use of religion or other means possible to damage the image and reputation of that opponent.”
Similarly, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), an Islamic rights advocacy group, was prompted by insinuations from nuisances like Mr. Kperogi to conduct an investigation into allegations of religious bias in the operations of the Vice President last year, and the following was their verdict:
“MURIC is known for raising its voice against those who oppress Muslims but we do not wish to be known for remaining silence when we see Christians who accommodate Muslims. Objectivity demands that we speak up for the good Christian who accommodates Muslims.”
“During our investigation, we stumbled on an article written by a female Muslim presidential aide in the VP’s office. The article, which surfaced recently on social media, affirmed the presence of 18 Muslim officials in Osinbajo’s office.”
“An opportunity to confirm one of the claims made in the article defending the VP came our way just by chance and we feel compelled by principle to share the information since we are stakeholders. The opportunity we refer to occurred way back in 2018 or 2019. It provided concrete and undeniable evidence which we witnessed by ourselves as a group and it confirmed that Mr. Abul Rahman Ipaye, a Muslim and former Commissioner in Lagos State who was mentioned in the article as the highest staff in the VP’s office is, indeed, a bona fide staff of Osinbajo,” the group concluded.
There are several more attestations from other credible Muslim groups and individuals but reeling them out in what is already a lengthy piece may amount to belaboring a firmly established point, that VP Osinbajo is not a religious bigot and his emergence as President holds no threat to Nigeria’s continued existence as a multi-religious state where Christians and Muslims alike enjoy equal opportunities to practice their faith and pursue self-actualization.
I do not expect any of these to cause a change of heart in Mr. Farooq Kperogi. It is impossible to wake a man who pretends to be asleep. Or more aptly put, a man who receives payment in large sums to feign slumber. He needs these ‘gigs’ to meet his responsibilities and he doesn’t care about the dangerous implications of his actions. He is set in his ways. I only offer these clarifications to set the records straight and present the true picture of things to unsuspecting Nigerians who may be led to think that Kperogi’s ability to sprinkle bogus words in his putrid articles amounts to knowledge on the subject he discusses. He is a paid propagandist who makes a living from spreading lies and cloning the truth with baseless conspiracy theories aimed at stirring ethno-religious divisiveness. Nothing more, nothing less.
Monday 21st of March 2022