When you take a public office, you take a lot of things along with it. Loss of privacy is one of the many. You are out there in the open. All your actions and inactions are subjected to public scrutiny. You family members are not spared. Same goes for your close friends and associates. Your personality attracts different interpretations, from good, bad to the ugly. Your political supporters will forever see you in good light while those on the other side of the political divide will never perceive anything good in your character and whatever you do. The ordinary man on the street perceives you based on your performance, what the people and the media say about you. The interesting thing is that most members of the public you serve will describe your character with conviction when asked even though they have never met you in person or have a close relationship with you or anyone close to you.
I belong to the man on the street category, even if I also take a bit from the other side of the divide, the opposition. My place of work gives me out in this respect.
I have never met Gov Abdulrasaq. I knew little of him before the 2019 general elections. Since then I have come to know so much about him ,wrightly or wrongly, that I could write a book on him. Most of the things I know about the governor were told by his friends, associates, political opponents, social media etc. As a journalist, a top practitioner for that matter, you get information about people and issues, solicited and unsolicited. My knowledge and perception of Gov Abdulrasaq is consequently based on the pictures painted for me by various accounts. Most of these pictures fit the governor like second skin.
He talks little and appear gentle. But beneath the gentle mien is a strong and stubborn streak. He is hard as steel and harbour a volcanic temper. He is a patient listener, but has a strong mind of his own. He follows his mind on any issue. He is speculative and strategic. A lone ranger, Abdulrasaq is aversed to team play,preferring to walk and work alone. He interacts but doesn’t suffer fool gladly. He has a brilliant mind for business ,this shows in the success he has made in his area of pursuits, Oil. Though not miserly, he is nonetheless not free with his money. He can be surprisingly generous and brutally tight fisted,depending on the need and circumstances. He has a network of friends that cut across politics, business and social circles. He follows the social media, but he is a chronically lazy reader. He hates reading lengthy writings, even as governor, and most often than not, he will chuck such writing and speak in his own words instead. He is a night crawler, a socialite who can tap dance his ways around night clubs all over the world. Night clubs are where he truly comes alive. He was said to have offered to show his fellow governors over 90 night clubs in the US during one of the diplomatic trips with president Muhammadu Buhari last year. He loves his wines,music and not shy of women. He loves Suya too, and loves going Suya hunting, especially at night.
He is very vindictive and hard to forgive. He will nurse an injury done to him until time allows him to extract maximum pound of flesh.
“Vicious ” is one of the nicknames given to him out there in his world. He is simplistic . He travels around the world mostly unaccompanied and without baggage. His only companion is the backpack which usually contains personal effects and toiletries. He buys the clothes he would wear at the country of his destination. His fashion sense is poor and weird especially when ardoning the native attires. It is common to see him decked in a agbada with Sneakers to match. Ugh! He is not without guile and deceit which most politicians are known for. He can be economical with the truth too. These are pardonable politician’straits.
Of course, he can be a pretender. This he has brought in abundance to governance in kwara. He harbours complex ,especially when dealing with the highly educated. He is a fighter who never backs down ,ready to fight till the end. He is someone who cannot be easily cowed. He is not given to conforming to regulations. He however has eyes for details. He loves his family, especially his children.
Summarily, I can describe Abdulrasaq as gentle as a dove ,but wise as a serpent. He is as simple and truthful as he is cunning, deceitful and pretentious. He is as kind as he is vicious and as miserly as he is generous. He as soft-spoken as he is harsh in speaking. He is friendly as he is hostile. He is many more.
The Covid-19 Imam
The coronavirus pandemic changed the way we live. From religion, politics, economics, education and sundry social activities, the pandemic changed the world. As it were, things can never be the same again with humanity. The world has become a caricature of how we used to know it and live in it. The grotesque appearance of masked faces. The changed of baton from livelihood to idleness. Transition from surplus to scarcity. Emergence of emergency pastors and homemade Imams. The empty churches and mosques and the vanishing of tithes and fisebililahi. Ha! Coronavirus ba shau ni. The Easter period offered a glimpse of death of the old religious order. The resurrection of Jesus christ was celebrated not in the churches and out in the streets as was traditional for centuries, but quietly in the recesses of individual’s private homes. The entire celebration was more mourning -like. This was done to control the spread of this deadly virus ,thus saving lives, and in obedience to security protocol enforced by the by the government. After the Easter came the Ramadan, the Muslims 30-day fasting period. The closure of mosques before the arrival of the islamic holy month meant that 2020 Ramadan was going to be observed in a manner never experienced in Islamic religion. The evening prayers, Tarawih were to be done ,not in mosques, but in individual homes and compounds. To lead the prayers were no longer the bonafide Imams, but anyone in family who can shoulder that responsibility. These are called emergency Imams. I call them Covid-19 Imams.
I’m not a bonafide Imam,even though I lead my family in prayers whenever I pray at home. From the time the closure of the mosques was announced, I took on the Imam duty at home full time. I performed this role till the end of the Ramadan. Then came the Eid prayer. Like millions of Muslims worldwide, I had never lead any Eid prayer. This is because it is not just to be lead by just anybody. There are also some technicalities, which makes this prayer different from the everyday ones,even though the technicalities are simple and easy to know or follow. In preparation for this totally unfamiliar but highly rewarding task, I asked questions( Mas’usd Adebimpe, my beloved brother proved a good teacher in this regard ), and also sought further guidance from various Islamic channels. Well, I did my best and felt very fulfilled.
My experience during the Eid al-Fitr prepared me better for the Eid el-Kabir,Feast of the Sacrifice called Sallah ,marked across the muslim world four days back. I carefully followed all the rules guiding the prayer and experienced the glory of Allah throughout the duration. Like so many things that changed due to the coronavirus, I experienced an elevation in my status as a Muslim. Welcome, Alhaji Bilyamin Adedamola, the Covid -19 made Imam.