How Religion Aids Political Corruption in Nigeria -
January 12, 2012 / Niyi Osundare (with notes from GEJ fb page)
In the past five years or so, I have been reconsidering my long-held opinion about the relation between leadership and followership. Time there was when I laid all the blame on leadership. Now I’m beginning to say that the followership should also take their fate in their own hands. This is what I see most of the time, for example, in the plays of Femi Osofisan, one of our top writers. Play after play after play; the leaders are there doing things. But the address is to the people.
Why must you continue to be ridden like a donkey? Why can’t you, too, get up in the saddle?
Nigerians are too docile, too forgiving of bad leadership. Why are they this way? A number of reasons. The first one is religion.
The kind of religion we have in Nigeria is one that puts you to sleep, and after that, puts you to death. It’s not the kind of religion that’s after social justice; it’s not the kind of religion that is after the welfare of the people and the independence of their existence. Particularly guilty in this regard are the Prosperity Gospellers of the Pentecostal variety who hawk faith on the air and convert religion into superstition. If you have no job, we are told, it must be because of your sin. Your poverty (or pauperization) is a result of the offence you have committed against God.
Blissfully indemnified are the rogue-rulers whose greed has corrupted and ruined our social estate; those whose policies or lack of them have made job creation impossible by sabotaging our productive capacity? So, if you have no job, blame your sins; if you wallow in poverty, you only have yourself to blame.
In the thinking and preaching of many of these latter-day evangelists, every scoundrel in power in Nigeria is “God-chosen” and must be treated as such.
Religion in this country is a dangerous opium; really dangerous opium. And that is why our rulers are encouraging the building of churches and mosques all over the place. When in December last year the newspapers carried the picture of a kneeling President Jonathan with a ministering Pastor towering above him in prayerful supremacy, we were presented with an image so symbolic of the relationship between the state and religion in Nigeria. No picture could have been more emblematic!
Religion has killed rational thinking in this country. I say this all the time, our country is still in a pre-scientific era. That is why things are like this. We don’t think logically; that is why any ruler, any fool would seize the reins and rule us, because we would always find an excuse for being ruled or being led by the nose.
Not long ago a pastor said he was between two cities and he discovered that the fuel in his car had run out. He actually checked and saw the fuel in the car was completely gone. But because of his act of faith and on the strength of his prayers, he was able to do two hundred miles on an empty tank! When he declared this testimony, people clapped and shouted “ Hallelujah!” I never heard anybody say how can?
Nigerians don’t ask questions; that is why the imams and the pastors lead them by the nose, and the politicians also complete their humiliation and disempowerment. And between the clerics and the political functionaries, there is a very close liaison.
It’s a kind of power structure; one controls the political, social realm, the other controls the spiritual, metaphysical realm and they are together.
Many Nigerians are not rational, interrogative people. In fact, in this country today, if you are the interrogative type you are easily labelled, branded, and condemned. People even wonder: why are you always asking questions?’
When the blessed Tai Solarin was alive, he agonised and agonised over this issue. The way he was misunderstood, the way he was misinterpreted and his anger at the way many of our people were going - that we should be up in the streets.
Another problem: well, our people are docile and the reason why they take all kinds of cheating is that many of them envisage themselves in the position of power someday, too. If I am X and the oppressor is Y, and the oppressor is oppressing me, stealing all the money, and making life difficult for me and my children, I am not likely to attack him. I’ll pray to God to let my own “miracle” happen so that someday, he will go and I will be in his place. No; I am praying for him to go but for the structure to remain.
This is the social psychology of Nigerian politics. So many people don’t see it as wrong. When they see it as wrong, it’s because it is putting them at a disadvantage; they are not really concerned with the social order or the commonwealth. That’s a very important issue.
If our rulers were people with a sense of shame, they wouldn’t be talking about subsidy at all. They should cover their faces in shame and apologize to the Nigerian people; for if anything, it is the Nigerian people that need some form of hardship allowance from their incorrigibly incompetent government.
And our President and his officials have been going from church to church (have they called at the mosques yet?), asking for God’s blessing for the kind of socio-economic mayhem they are about to unleash on the Nigerian people through the removal of the so-called subsidy; asking the pastors to pray to God to make Nigerians compliant to and accepting of their impoverished situation, begging Almighty God to soften the minds of Nigerians.
But no one entered a plea for God to smash the incubus of corruption and mismanagement that has brought this country to its knees. Our President never asked God to grant him the courage and candour to make a public declaration of his assets as required by the constitution of the country he rules...
President Goodluck forewarned Nigerians of the Impending Jan 01, 2012 ‘sacrifice from the people’ Decision in his Facebook Address to the people on Dec 25, 2011 ……
“As we celebrate the brith of Jesus Christ this Christmas season, I want us all to pause for a while and consider what we are celebrating. We are celebrating the birth of Jesus and the commencement of His life of self sacrifice. Upon a further examination of the life of Jesus, we see that His life exemplified qualities that are needful in nation building i.e. concern for His nation, the world and future generations. He put the interest of His nation and humanity above His personal interest and made the ultimate sacrifice.
Those of us who are Christians will recall that Jesus did ask us to follow His example and likewise consider the interest of others and our society. So, as we celebrate Christmas, this message should not be lost on us. Perhaps we should consider how best we can sacrifice today so that our families, our nation, our offspring and future generations can have a greater tomorrow.
Nigeria is currently at a time in her national life where she requires sacrifice from all citizens in order that the wellbeing of future generations will be a thing of certainty not speculation. I assure you that the required sacrifice will start with me. Let our corporate sacrifice be our Christmas gift to future generations. I wish all Nigerians a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in advance. May God keep you throughout this season and beyond.” GEJ