Mr Femi Adesina, Special Adviser To The President on Media and Publicity, has shared an experience on how President Muhammadu Buhari elevated Yakubu Pam, former Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Plateau State, who was allegedly denigrated by ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo.
In his weekly article, the Presidential Spokesman recalled an encounter between Obasanjo and Pam in 2004.
He said when the former president visited Plateau over a religious crisis in the state, he talked condescendingly on Pam, whom he allegedly described as a “total idiot”.
“Let’s go back in time to May 2004, when the lands of Yelwa-Shendam, in Plateau State, had turned crimson. Primitive fury and hatred were unleashed, leading to internecine bloodbath. Hundreds and hundreds of people were killed along religious lines.”
“While the place was turned into killing fields, the then President Olusegun MATTHEW Obasanjo (emphasis on that middle name) visited, and met with the different stakeholders.
“During the dialogue session, the then Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Plateau State asked a question the President found offensive. And the Owu man, a retired Army General, flew off the handle. He let out this fusillade:
“What role have you played to bring about peace as CAN Chairman in Plateau State? CAN, my foot! What kind of CAN Chairman are you? Did your own Christianity teach you about revenge? You are an idiot. A total idiot. And I have no apologies for that.
“Pin-drop silence. Strange things do happen in Nigeria. But it had never been seen like that. For a father of the country to publicly excoriate a religious leader? For a Matthew to call a preacher an idiot, “a total idiot?” It was sacrilege walking on two legs,” Adesina wrote.
Adesina, who described Pam as a man of peace, added that to worsen matters, security agencies had asked the cleric to apologise to Obasanjo over the encounter.
He said years later, Obasanjo left power while Pam moved to other issues until Buhari appointed him the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC) in 2020.
The Presidential Spokesman narrated how he and Pam were together at the presidential villa in Abuja.
“A tale of the priest and two Presidents. Publicly flagellated by one, a Matthew, and now, honored by the other, a Muhammadu. What Rev Pam didn’t get from a Christian, he got from a Fulani man from Daura, a Muslim. Is there any lesson we can learn from this? Think about it.
“A couple of weeks back, precisely on January 14, 2021, Rev Pam was at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, leading an NCPC team on a courtesy visit to the President. An idiot, “a total idiot” was at the seat of power, being treated with the dignity he deserved, by a man of a different faith. Holy Moses!
“I tell you, this Rev Pam, from Gyel, Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State is a reconciliator, a peace advocate, and that is why God has lifted him up today. And not through a Matthew, but a Muhammadu, one against whom all lies under the sun have been told: he’s a religious bigot. A herdsman. A nepotist. Jihadist. Everything. May God forgive those who condemn the person they don’t know, and have refused to know,” Adesina wrote.