Behind the Scenes of My Aborted Jerusalem Pilgrimage (I), By Odaudu Joel Minister

Whatapp News

I had a very close rapport with the Chief of Staff to Kogi State Governor, Hon. Edward Onoja. Anyone who is ignorant of this fact must be a stranger in Kogi State. 

I regard Edward as a man of intelligence, good communication skills and philanthropy. He was a superior with whom I worked assiduously towards achieving good governance in Kogi State. He had good, listening ears. He was my very good friend. We’ve sat and dissected salient personal and governmental issues together. We’ve traveled together. We’ve had breakfast of bread and shayi together. We’ve had isi ewu and Red Bull energy drink together. We’ve had nkwobi and palm wine together. He is indeed, a good man.

Edward sunk a borehole in my village, something I’m eternally grateful for. I did not hold back in expressing my appreciation to him for that magnanimity. The point I’m trying to make here is that I have always held the “Chief” in high regard and do not bear any grudge against him as that is not in my nature. I am not a petty man.

My story as scribbled in this write-up is not motivated by any pent-up sense of needless vindictiveness on my part. It is about calling a spade a spade. The locus of the matter here is about my relationship with God which was weakened and almost severed; it is about my slated pilgrimage to Jerusalem to get closer to my God and the role Edward played in its abortion out of sophomoric and petty idiosyncracy.

Without further ado, let me lay the facts bare for those who have been demanding them.

The Kogi State Government was ready to sponsor some pilgrims to Jerusalem in 2018, as it is the tradition annually. 

The forms for intending pilgrims were made available in many offices. The office of the Chief of Staff to the Governor had its own forms, same as the office of the SSG. Various units in government also had the forms. This time, and for the first time, the Media Unit of the Governor’s Office got a slot for a pilgrim, an opportunity influenced by Kingsley Fanwo, the Director-General, Media and Publicity to the Governor.

During the wee hours of a Wednesday morning in October 2018, my phone rang. The call was from Fanwo. “Odaudu, please go to Chief’s office and pick a pilgrimage form meant for one of us in the media office. It’s your time to go to the Holy Land”, he said. I thanked him and took off for Edward’s office.

I picked the form from Edward’s office and I wrote down my name as part of the people that obtained the forms from his office. Shortly afterwards, we were drafted for medical test.

My medical report was obtained from Government House Clinic. The screening team from Abuja did their own independent medical test and I was found fit. NDLEA did their test, and as usual, I was certified untainted. Immigration also did theirs, and I was certified fit. All the criteria were fulfilled. After which I was given the identification uniform as well as others in order to indicate me as a Kogi Pilgrim.

Out of sheer pettiness and personal hatred for me, the almighty Edward Onoja aborted the progression of the process. Since my name was on his list as Chief of Staff to the governor, he ordered the removal of my name from the list just four days to my departure to Israel. 

On Thursday, 13th December, 2018 while in Agodo, Bassa for Elder Phrank Shaibu’s late father, Mr. Simon Shaibu’s Christian wake, my phone rang and behold, it was the Secretary to the Pilgrims Welfare Board, Lokoja, Mr. Simeon Onakpa calling, saying, “Hon. Odaudu, I am sorry to inform you that you’re among the 14 people the Israeli Embassy declined Visa for undisclosed reasons. Consequently, you will no longer be among the intending pilgrims going to Jerusalem this year.”

I was not in any way shocked. I took the news in my stride. I knew what had gone on behind the scenes. I have known Edward Onoja well enough to predict what he can do. I knew and still know how petty he could and can be. I know the length ‘an almighty’ Edward Onoja can go to please his tiny mind. If aborting my pilgrimage to Jerusalem to worship God will please him he would go any despicable length to satisfy his bitter mind. He doesn’t care about breaking every rule in the book to achieve his aims. And he did it. Alachi gbe!

Parents and siblings of Edward’s PAs qualified and got Visas. Government House photographers including members of staff of InsideStory, Edward Onoja’s private media outfit, got Visa. Septuagenarians and octogenarians from Ogugu and Imane on Edward Onoja’s list qualified and got Visas. The semi-literates and the unlettered from across the 21 LGAs all qualified and got Visas, but I was not granted Visa by the Isreali Embassy for Edward’s “undisclosed reasons”. Eche inaga! Òjò ki mu duba nwu Edward ómaye mi.

To be candid and fair to my friends, Edward Onoja is a good man, and he has done so much for me, but his chronic pettiness has always been his greatest undoing. Part of what I  noted in him is his hypocrisy, calling the name of God in vain.

Of late, I saw a video where Edward said God “gat” his back, and that he was “covered by the blood of Jesus”. How amazing! This phenomenon is quintessential of the Igala exclamatory remark: “Awuwu óla ki ya m’éné t’óga le!”

There is always a line that morality and godliness dictate we do not cross in our relationship with another person. No matter how much hate and vindictiveness you hold in your heart towards a person, you do not interfere in their connection with their God. To do that would make you nothing but the devil’s pawn and you do not have the moral right to declare yourself righteous and call on the Lord’s name at every turn. You’re just covering yourself with the false facade of holiness while beneath your heart is dark and ungodly.

I just hope that after reading this point-blank piece, as usual, no one will begin to threaten me with death.

I also hope the Ejule-based APC zonal youth leader will not send thugs after my aged parents to burgle and burn down my father’s house in the village after reading this protracted narrative just like he did in March this year.

If you are for God, be for God. If you are for Lucifer, dedicate your whole life to the service of Lucifer. Double-faced cannot enter heaven and as such, cannot see God.

Whatapp News