[OPINION]: Government of Cows By Cows and For Cows


Bayo Oluwasanmi


The history of political struggle in Nigeria reminds us of the dangers of a fixed majority rule. In a fixed majority rule as in the case of PDP, founded in 1998, the PDP has won every Presidential election since 1999 amidst controversial circumstances. It is the dominant party in the Fourth Republic. Under this circumstances, the minority lacks any mechanism for holding the majority to account or even listen.

With any fixed majority as we have seen with PDP, it does not promote deliberations or consensus. The permanent majority always has its way, without reaching out to or convincing anyone else. Now with the minority becoming a permanent loser, the potential for instability exists.

The fundamental important question of political stability is how to induce losers to continue play the game. Political stability depends on the perception that the system is fair to induce losers to continue to work within the system rather than to try to overthrow it. The cow gift to Pastor Tunde Bakare from President Jonathan no doubt, is to induce and seduce Pastor Bakare. When the majority is fixed and permanent, there are no checks on its ability to be overbearing. A majority that does not worry about defectors is a majority with total power.

The presidential democracy as practiced under the PDP majority leadership of Mr. Jonathan pride itself in the glorious hyperbole of its leaders illuminating amusing mockery of precisely the opposite of democracy.

At this time of the year when we have a reprieve from the deceptive and destructive politics in Nigeria, the Jonathan administration which has become the most favorite choice of butts of political jokes, injected itself into the New Year festive mood of Nigerians by offering a cow as a Christmas gift to no less than Pastor Bakare the presiding overseer of the Latter Rain Church and the convener of Save Nigeria Group (SNG).

The cow gift from the president to the pastor in part smells of Machiavellian logic. The Italian politician and humanist philosopher Nicolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) believed that leaders must be ruthless in the pursuit of power, that they should maintain an outwardly moral reputation but be willing to act immorally to maintain power.

Credited with the saying that ‘the ends justify the means” – the notion that even immoral actions are justified if they produce a desirable outcome – Machiavelli  was of the view that if a leader must use brutal force, deception, coercion, or elimination of rivals in order to acquire and maintain power, then he should not hesitate to do so.

Agreed that Mr. Jonathan has no “outwardly moral reputation,” but then he would act immorally to maintain power. It is no exaggeration to state that Pastor Bakare especially among the clergy in Nigeria, remains Mr. Jonathan’s harshest critic. Also, he was the vice-presidential candidate of the rival party that contested the presidency with Mr. Jonathan.

Another manipulative method used by Mr. Jonathan to bribe the pastor is through emotional appeal. All too often, when a leader doesn’t have truth and logic on his side, he resorts to tricking people with emotional appeal. This is a ruthless power play that is unworthy of a president. Mr. Jonathan capitalized on the emotional psychology of the season of giving to bribe a political foe and a caustic-tongue critic of his administration.

The role of Pastor Bakare in Nigeria’s political scene reminds me of the role of Prophet Amos in the Israel of his days. In Chapter 1: 3 of the Book of Amos, the prophet begins his “Rogues Gallery” with Israel’s neighbors on all sides, then spirals inward to the principal target of his sermon – Israel. Pastor Bakare on many occasions had used devastating logic and wit to expose the incompetence, corruption, and irrationality of the Jonathan administration. Indeed, he’s found of using humor to belittle, shame, ridicule, and mock his presidency that has become entrenched and entangled in unbridled scandal and opprobrium that continue to haunt the Jonathan administration since day one.

The dubious nature of the gift is the latest act of cunning craftiness of deceit and plotting with a recipe for political poison in the corruption inherent Jonathan administration. I see the cow gift to Pastor Bakare as a metaphor for Prophet Amos reference to “cows of Bashan” in Jonathan’s presidency. There is a striking similarity of rotten core of immorality, injustice, false optimism, and shallow piety in Amos’ days to the brazen corruption, blatant injustice, and the forgotten poor of Jonathan’s presidency on one hand, to those who had grown soft and lax in luxurious living in Israel of that time to Jonathan’s administration of custom made outfit for political con men, embezzlers, and economic predators on the other hand.

Bashan, a fertile area east of the Sea of Galilee, was known for its well-fed cattle. In likening the rich women of Samaria to the “cows of Bashan,” the prophet was indicting them for their vanity, greed, and lack of moral consciousness. By their empty and indolent lifestyles, these women oppressed the needy and made heavy demands on their own husbands for luxuries. Similarly, Nigeria a rich country with abundant human and natural resources continues to be plundered, raped, and ravaged by GEJ bandits of cows from the creeks of Bayelsa to the corners of Abuja.

Luxury-loving Jonathan and his partners in corruption have been consumed in possessions and materialistic lifestyles that Nigeria is now owned by them. They have grown fat, apathetic, and proud, choking on their own luxury and “Therefore, you (they) will be the first to be led away as captives.”

Mr. Jonathan’s cow gift is repulsive, offending, insulting, and sickening. “…But is it cow that we need?” asked dumbfounded Bakare. For the gluttonous “cow of Bashan”, Bakare continued: “If you check their books, one cow could have been bought for $5,000. The rest of the money is pocketed!” As if on the Latter Rain Church pulpit, you can hear Bakare shouting “We don’t need cow, we need a country that will move forward!”

Bakare in his characteristic to your face brutal truth, said “Thanks for the cow, but no thanks! … We are the cause of our problems. We feel big when Mr. President sends us hampers etc … We go to them for contracts etc … Until we change ourselves, we cannot expect change to from those who lead us!”

By the way, how many cows were given as gifts and to whom? How much did it cost Nigerian tax payers? What happened to the other cows and the recipients? The number of cows, cost, and names of recipients will forever be shrouded in mystery. Only Pastor Bakare has the moral, the conscience, and cognizance of the spiritual implication of why the gift must be returned to the sender.

Satan, like a fisherman baits his hook according to the appetite of the fish. The rest of the “cows of Bashan” are used to Aso Rock bribe as a reward for their night vigil prayers and fasting rendered under the auspices of Presidential Prayer Agenda solely for the victory of Mr. Jonathan in 2015 election.

I cannot emphasize or castigate enough Mr. Jonathan’s leadership flaws and failures. There is something disarming about this gift: it underscores the painful truth that Nigeria is headed by a cow head. In fact, Mr. Jonathan’s administration metaphorically speaking, altered the definition of democracy as government of cows by cows and for cows!

Leaders who fail morally do not lead anyone to a better place. Meaning Mr. Jonathan’s moral turpitude would not lead Nigeria to a better place. Character represents the inner life of a leader. In like manner, the gift of cow from Mr. Jonathan reveals a lot about his missing character. The influence of an unjustly act that the cow gift represents, creates a ripple effect on corruption. Mr. Jonathan’s crooked influence infects an entire nation. The scary part of this sad story is that Mr. Jonathan could not see his own corruption.

The foundation for all leadership is trust, integrity, and justice. I believe Mr. Jonathan has demonstrated again and again that he’s not the right leader for Nigeria. In my judgment, he represents a failed leadership because he’s badly skewed by self-interest. I don’t know how Mr. Jonathan could transform his “Transformation Agenda.” But one thing I’m sure of is: the cow gift is the surest one way ticket to his political oblivion!

A comment by Awudu Mba Oluwa on the story on SR said it all: “This is cow giving cows. Even the cows given out are better than the cows that gave the cows away.”


“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are outraged as those who are.” –Ben Franklin

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