By Kola Johnson
When God created man, he carved for him an emblematic niche of uniqueness. This is to say that no two breed of the biological genus of the homo-sapien are exactly the same.
It remains by this token, a dissappointing failure in the collective sense of discernment of man, that he fails in his inability to cultivate the cognitive antennae to grasp the message endemic in this variegated pattern of creative assymetry.
No wonder therefore that the general run of humanity are monoculturally keckled and manacled by societal fads and values, refusing to differ on rational positive ground, by attuning to the divine pulse to locate their special place in the cosmic universe or yielding themselves in utilitarian resignation, as tools for a benign cause whatsoever; as fate might assign.
Take for instance, the inspirationally sublime heroics of Joan of Arc. In the year 1429, the English soldiers in France, faced a French army, led by this 17 year old girl.
Joan of Arc was a deeply religious person. She believed that God had chosen her to free France from the English conquerors. Joan of Arc approached the French king, Charles the seventh, to whom she divulged her subliminal visionary promptings. He decided to give Joan a small army and some weapons. Joan led this army and won victory upon victory for France.
In 1430 however, Joan was captured and became a prisoner of the English. She was sentenced and put to death. But soon after, the English army was forced out of France. Her heroic deed was however not forgotten, because 500 years later, specifically. In 1922, Joan of Arc was made the national saint of France.
Edith Cavell, a nurse was another figure whose quiet courage made her a heroine of World War one. Enamoured of humanitarian promptings, Cavel who was running a teaching hopsital in Brussels, Belgium when the war broke out, undertook the task of sheltering wounded soldiers who had been caputred by the Germans and escaped. She soon became involved in an underground movement to help caputred soldiers to escape to freedom in England.
Edith Cavell was arrested by German secret police and shot. On the night before her execution by a German firing squad, cavell was visited by a chaplain. Her words to him was a message to the world… “This I would say, standing as I do, in view of God and eternity. I realise that patrotism is not enough I have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone” said Cavell in a confession that superogating higher sublime humanitarian over narrow patriotism to unworthy cause.
Prime Minister Asquith of England said of Edith Cavell “She has thought the bravest man among us, the supreme lesson of courage”.
Pastor Moses Iloh, veteran Labour leader, militant zikist; soccer maestro and contemporary of Thunder Balogun, the soccer legend, in the Plateau Football Club, later Mighty Jet of Jos; pioneer official of the Red Cross Movement; National Executive Member of the PFN and CAN, fiery social critic and reformer, Ex-Chairman International Cycling Federation, foremost patriot, statesman and Ex-Chairman, International Cycling Federation, Founder and President, Eclectic Network, a socio-political presure group; a distinguished soldier of Christ and General Overseer Soul Winning Chapel, Ebute-Metta Lagos, competently queues in at this juncture, on account of his zealotry, bordering in extreme circumstances, on the suicidal, for any cause deemed by him as worthy.
Indeed, when just of recent, February 13, 2016, Buhari congratulated him on the occasion of his 86th Birthday anniversary, it was apparent to the teeming mass of people, who knew him, that he indeed deserved every letters of the encomium.
Imagine for instance a journalist who once approached him for an interview. This guy, who in apt specific reference was attached to the Sunday desk of the Nation Newspaper, ostensibly came on the spur of Iloh’s virulently iconoclastic odd-one-out antagonism to the Jonathan regime; pitched as it were, in contrasting assymetry, to his fanatically outspoken; zealotry for Buhari’s presidential quest.
No wonder that the journalist raptured in befuddlement could not help but ask the gadfly critic and social reformer, whether he did not harbour fear of reprisal.
That poser, though in its laconic brevity, is sententiously portentous in its ominous conveyance, just as it is signally illustrative of Pastor Iloh’s monomaniac obsession not in the isolated context of Buhari’s presidential quest per se; but indeed, the all-encompassing macrocosm of causes of whatever hue, he might deem worthy of attentive visionary devotion.
Looking back in retrospect, one could aptly remark from the authoritative observatory of a first hand witness, that the interim years to Buhari’s presidency was indeed an excruciating period for Iloh. Of this specific period in question, thematic conversations and discourse of every hue, starts and ends with Buhari.
“What do you think I can do, for Buhari, please what do you think I can do for this man”, Iloh would ask any Dick and Harry, indeed whosoever crossed path with him. It was a mission which for Iloh, was intensely personal, in terms of his rabid advocacy for Buhari, dating back from the distant and indeed testy moment before the party primaries when Buhari’s, victory was percipiently far from a foregone conclusion.
Indeed, throughout that period, this writer, among the teeming mass of people priviledged with a first hand knowledge of Iloh’s psycopathic fixation for Buhari; who indeed wished him well too, would undoubtedly have wished Buhari to come out top, if only for Iloh’s sake. And looking back today, one imagines what would have happened to the man, had Buhari not clinched the much coveted presidency.
Iloh would have regarded it as a personal tragedy, considering his intensely passionate patriotic sentiment for fatherland. In similar reminiscence of Theophilus Danjuma’s avowal to go on self exile, in the event of the failure of Obasanjo presidential bid – Iloh also would have followed suit in exilic remonstrance, had Buhari’s presidency fallen in stymied fiasco. Indeed, dating bark from the distant moment before the party primaries, when his presidential quest would appear as adorned with no scintilla of hope, Iloh had remained as constant as the northern star in terms of his relentless pro-Buhari advocacy.
Earlier in passing, I had applied the epigramatic catch-phrase of odd-one-out in terms of Iloh’s pro-Buhari fanaticism. Odd-one-out in what way, one may ask?
The logic endemic in this connotation can only be grasped in its succintly poignant relief, against the massive wave of pro-Jonathan sentiment, rocking the ecumenical firnament, as top-notch clerics, across the geo-political divide strived to out bid one another in their pro-Jonathan obsessionism; turning their pulpit as campaign podium for him.
For Iloh, an iconoclast, compulsively averse to the herd instinct he would surely not be swayed or intimidated by the madding crowd. He would certainly not think twice of the conviction as typifying the general clerical mind-set – of Jonathan’s return as a fore-gone conclusion as predicated on the familiar cliché of leveraging incumbency; and the perverted sway of popular paralogic defeatism; to be part of the winning team.
He would also not entertain even for a second, the backlash vendatta which in their torrent was sure to dog his path, should Jonathan and his cronies succeed in their repeatedly rehearsed scheme of ledgerdemain to coast home to victory.
Iloh would also refuse to be persuaded by the ecumenical pan-zionism prejudicially locating Buhari in the nihilistic antagonism of Hausa-Fulani irridentism and unabashed myrmidon of universal pan-arabism, fired in Nigeria’s context, by the visionary fundamentalism of sharia as the dominant order in a theocracy of Islamic nationhood.
Whereas the preponderant mass of the Igbos had seen Jonathan in the solidarous light of a consaguinal filial kin deserving of their massive vote; however Dr. Iloh’s breadth of cosmopolitan pluralism contrasts in oposing dissonance to such parochial hollow ken of primordialism.
Were Iloh a fellow party man or friend of Buhari, whether directly or by proxy, or were he in quest of one patronage or the other one would have understood; it was certainly none of those, but the best that will take fatherland Nigeria to the Canaan of her dream. Even his implacable antagonists would vow.
No wonder that the publicity secretary APC in the premier satrapy of Lagos State, Joe Igbokwe remarked with unreservedly candid emphasis in one of his write-ups, that Iloh stands out in deservedly salutary sense, as one of the key outspoken patriots to whom Buhari should be grateful.
My big brother, Femi Adeshina who also happened to be the Features editor, National Concord, during my brief stint on the features desk of that glorious but defunct media outfit did indeed acknowledge in his regular column, even as far back as his stint as Managing Director of the sun; Iloh’s epic role in holding aloft Buhari’s noble banner, in his sustained accent of emphasis on Buhari as the best of all options over which no other option could have been better.
Buhari’s noble banner, in his sustained accent of emphasis on Buhari as the best of all options over which no other option could have been better.
It is against this background that it would not be out of place to aver that what Femi Adesina was in the journalistic firmament of the press in the lynchpin centrality for the pro-Buhari cause, also aptly evokes the person of Iloh in similar pivotal reckoning in the collective universe of Nigerian ecumenism.
His immolatory creed of daily self crucifixion, particularly in the unbroken continuum in which it occurs on the alter of humanitarian philanthropy, as unfolded in his characteristic impulse for frenzied giving especially to the poor and needy, is a story that is better reserved for another day.
To the best of my knowledge, grand seignor cleric of his stature, whom I knew, are attitudinally affixed on the receiving side, exploiting their sacerdotal pastoralism as a subterfuge to wheedle and coax their flocks for an increasingly expansive personal till.
Imagine for instance, a man who along with his wife Reverend Mrs Edith Iloh, runs a kindergarten nursery school for children of indigent parentage – tuition free; free uniform; free meal – along with institutionalised welfare package, administered with scrupulously sustained zest and gusto for the needy, irrespective of tribe or religion, on wide ranging areas of health, shelter, clothing and feeding among others.
Yet it becomes pertinent to emphasize on a bewildering note of wonderment, that outsiders; that is non-members of their church and a predominant mass of Islamic devotees account for over 95% of beneficiaries.
Iloh’s fervor for Nigeria is gargantuan in its prodigy; cryptic in its puzzling spell, transcending the human ken; and his patriotic conscience, an open sore, gasping in intensely pathetic yearning for the healing balm of the Nigerian dream. Wishing him more years of beneficial service to the Nation.
KOLA JOHNSON IS A WRITER AND JOURNALIST