In robust rejection of bigotry allegation, the office of the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has released a video displaying his Muslim aides and associates.
The video was released after a professor of journalism in the US, Farooq Kperogi, had in a piece accused the vice president of religious bigotry.
Last Monday, Vice President Osinbajo formally declared his intention to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in a video posted to his social media handles.
In the video released on Wednesday, the 16 aides spoke about their positions, states of origin and the duration of their work in the office of the vice president.
The names of Muslim appointees listed in the video included: Abdulrahman Ipaye (Lagos) — deputy chief of staff to the president, Mariam Uwais (Kano) — special adviser to the president on social investment, Babafemi Ojudu (Ekiti) — special adviser on political matters, Balkisu Saidu (Sokoto) — senior special assistant on legal research and compliance matters, Abdullahi Gwari (Yobe) — head of protocol and senior special assistant on foreign affairs, Olabisi Ogungbemi (Kwara) –special assistant on political matters to the president, Ahmad Zakari (Jigawa) — special adviser to the president on infrastructure, Afeez Kau (Kano) — personal assistant, Abdulrahman Baffa-Yola — special assistant to the president on political affairs, Mariam Masha (Lagos)– senior special assistant in humanitarian intervention, Yusuf Ali (Kwara) — special assistant to the president on power regulation, Gambo Manzo (Gombe) — special adviser on political affairs, Muritala Aliyu (Kogi) — special adviser on logistics, Ibrahim Salama (Katsina) — media assistant, Lanre Sasere (Lagos) — senior special assistant to the president on planning and coordination, as well as Muhammed Braima (Kwara) — special assistant on internally displaced persons (2015 – 2019) but later appointed as special assistant on job creation.
Kperogi fires back
But responding, Kperogi insisted that Osinbajo was only interested in advancing interest of members of his church, arguing that it was Buhari who appointed the Muslims in the video.
“Several of them are embarrassed by it—the same way that I’ve been embarrassed by Buhari’s favoritism toward northern Muslims. So, please don’t understand me as demonizing the RCCG, which I believe is a great spiritual sanctuary and source of hope for many.”
“Now, let’s get started with empirical facts and end with a conceptual wrap-up of what Osinbajo’s bigotry represents, which is scarier than the facts. Osinbajo’s deceitful parade of a little over a dozen Muslims who work in his office (which includes at least two that no longer work there and several that were appointed directly by Buhari or the Presidency) is a poor attempt to paper over his vast record of deliberate, religiously inspired exclusion of Nigerians who don’t worship at his church.
“Here’s a list of the 80 people who work in his office. Most of them, I have confirmed, are members of the RCCG. Of the 80 people who work in his office, including those appointed by the Presidency, take a look and tell me what you see.
“Osinbajo was the pastor of the Olive Tree Parish of the RCCG in Lagos. In May 2015 when he became VP, Okechukwu Enelamah succeeded him as the pastor of the parish. Months later, when Osinbajo was given a chance to nominate a minister, he chose Enelamah.
“In the aftermath of Enelamah’s appointment as a minister, Alex Ayoola Okoh became the pastor of the Olive Tree Parish. In 2017, a vacancy emerged for the position of the DG of BPE. Osinbajo again chose Alex Ayoola Okoh, Enelemah’s successor. That’s three successive pastors of the Olive Tree Parish in government at the same time.
“But it gets even more interesting. Osinbajo’s predecessor at Olive Tree Parish is pastor Olukayode Pitan. He is said to be the pioneer pastor of the parish. He pastored there from 1995 until 2009 or thereabouts when he handed over to Osinbajo.
“Well, Osinbajo made him MD/CEO of the Bank of Industry (of course with the later approval of Buhari who had no clue what was going on) when he was acting president. That’s 4 pastors from the same RCCG parish!”