question: what is wrong with Nigeria? God or the devil

Nigerians are a set of religious people. It could be said that being religious is a common default for an average Nigerian; much like natural air that is freely available to all, a  knowledge that there is a God somewhere, and as far as the human eye(we) can see, people(Nigerians) are striving to know Him better and better. Children are taught right from home about God, neighbors make a noise about it, and teachers in school don’t fail to hit the nail on the head. With the two dominant faiths in Nigeria as Christianity and Islam, it is comforting to see Nigerians from all walks of life professing their faiths with passion and vigor on days special to God-worship. And if you neither go to a church or a mosque for worship, you might be looked at very suspiciously, just by default.

More, Nigerians go ahead and identify themselves religiously individually and socially. It is very easy to know who is a Christian and who is a Muslim just by the clothes they wear, on religiously-special days of the week, Sunday or Friday, or any other day of importance to either faith, the difference is always very clear. Are you from the North, South, East or West part of Nigeria, religious identity / possible affinity can be calculated, and  sometimes made very obvious even by name. The stickers on cars, the sign-posts of some houses and offices, the names of primary/secondary schools, private business establishments, etc; all make God the center-point of the average Nigerian life. Inside private or commercial buses, the God-factor is always there in the simplest of talks / discussions. And after all is said and done, Nigerians never forget to leave all in the hands of God. From person to person, family to family, community to community, the “God sense” is everywhere and in everything. Right from the early hours of every-day, its either a Church or Mosque that wakes me up first on their loud-speakers. And if there are two beings-, that an average Nigerian knows about very well, it is definitely God and the devil.

Nigerians love talking, talking about God and the devil:

Yes, you are right my brother, you are right on the point. See, the devil is responsible for everything in this country, all the bad bad things, and all the bad bad people. From the political arena to the poor man sleeping underneath the bridge, ”bad” is the handiwork of Satan. But God is good and the devil is a liar. We will pray and God will do something about all these bad bad people.

God is responsible for the rain and the sunshine, the devil is responsible for darkness and flooded streets. God is responsible for “giving us electricity”, it’s the devil the motivates the NEPA officers to take away the light. Eventually, God wins and always restores it, but the devil takes it away again. The conclusion of the matter is that God and the devil are always fighting for electricity. God is responsible , for waking us up in the morning, keeping us healthy, and the devil is responsible for making people sick and killing Nigerians. If Nigerians don’t grow old and die, if they are not killed by the fumes of their generators, they will either be killed by the police or armed robbers who are professionals at killing innocent people; or by accident on the highways full of potholes. It is the devil that masterminds all the accidents on the highways, actually digging the potholes during the night through all the agents of darkness around. Can you see our government hospitals, that there are no doctors there? They will rather refer you to a private hospital. See, it is the devil.

Regardless of the presence or absence of LASTMA officers on the roads, there is always traffic everywhere in Lagos. It is the devil that causes traffic, because usually thereis nothing in the front lane that warrants the long bumper to bumper traffic. And when these LASTMA officers actually go crazy and actually start causing traffic rather than preventing it, it is the devil behind them, that doesn’t want Nigerians to get home early totheir families after a hard day’s work. The devil is also responsible for the police. In fact, that is why they collect 50-naira from motorists. The monies all go to serve the devil.

Do you know how many thousands of students failed JAMB last year? In some countries, the number of students who sit for their own national-exams isn’t up to the amount that failed here. Our educational system in this country is in shambles. The devil has destroyed it. With all the yearly budgets, education is still poor. My friend, you better begin looking for how you will afford a private school for your kids. Even the Universities have become a sad story. The corper in my friend’s office cannot introduce himself in a completely correct English sentence, talk less of write it down on paper, and yet he claims to have passed through a University.

The devil is responsible for poverty in Nigeria. There are so many poor people in Nigeria. First, the devil makes people poor, then tells them to go and steal – as armed robbers. Then when they steal, they are caught and thrown into already congested jail-cells, then begin to pray and that’s when all these Churches and Mosques start their prison ministries.

See all these politicians. They have forgotten that we are the ones that elected them into office. Immediately after winning election, they turn their faces away. Politics in Nigeria is about money and money is what people are looking for in Nigerian politics. Nobody wants to serve the people. Everybody is interested in their own pockets, their own bank-accounts. Before, the norm was that people embezzle money enough for themselves and their lifetime. Nowadays, the tide has changed, politicians are embezzling money so that their children, and their grand-children will never be poor. Some people haveembezzled enough money such that even if they spend one hundred thousand Naira per day, they and their generations can never be poor. We need to fast and pray in this country. God needs to do something about all these corrupt politicians. God has to do something.

What is the name of that one being hunted by the EFCC? How can somebody steal billions of Naira, book a flight, travel to Europe and deposit it there? Are you telling me he has no accomplices? Does he want to tell me that Nigeria is the backyard of his fathers house? God dey!. If only God will intervene in the affairs of this nation. It is only God, nobody else.

Ssssshhhh, stop talking people. Too much talking and no action makes Nigeria a dull boy!.

I often ask myself if it is really an extreme love for God that makes Nigerians put God into everything / leave everything in His hands; even things that are their(Nigerian’s)
own responsibility. And oftentimes, with this “God sense” taken to an extreme, Nigerians blame God or the devil for their own inadequacies. I think God and the devil should be officially tired of Nigerians by now, especially in this blame game.

Amidst all the religiosity, I never fail to wonder why the two daily highlights of Nigerian newspapers have become news about political corruption and crime.

Crime: when for example, armed robbers get caught by the police, they will blame the devil for their actions. Isn’t there some other entity anywhere besides God or the devil to be blamed for crime? And when students who cheated in examinations are caught, they blame the devil as well: “it is the devil that made me cheat”. Usually God doesn’t make them study hard. I then wonder if the devil actually took a pen and wrote the “expo” on their arms and legs before entering the examination hall.

Corruption: corruption is a national pass-time, a tradition practiced from the prison to the Presidential palace, from the pulpit to the pew. Corruption has become the next “in-thing” in our society, and if you don’t know how to be corrupt, you will be taught free of charge. Sometime ago, I went to buy some electronics equipment for myself at the computer village in Lagos. At the point of payment, the sales lady asked me how much I wanted her to write on the receipt. At first, I didn’t understand what she meant, so I told her to write the amount I paid on the receipt. She again asked me “how much”. I then became obviously disturbed. My friend who accompanied me later explained that just in case I was running an errand and wanted the cost price to be inflated above the original, I could have told her to write double the price on the receipt.

But the truth is that with all the religiosity, though unfortunate, we(Nigerians) actually pray for electricity and the very basic amenities of life. Or is it because we have been disappointed by our fellow men whom we call leaders, that we now look up to God for help? And immediately “light comes”, for example, the rush begins to do “one or two things” before it is taken away again. Usually, only “one or two things” can be done with electricity supply before it disappears. I was informed sometime ago, that in Lagos state, for example, the number of generators is twice the number of houses people live in. This is because both at home or in the offices, generators have become citizen#2.

Sometimes, I sit to think:

  • I wonder if those we call leaders in this country don’t ever sit to think about what they can do for the people they lead – just for the purpose of etching their name in gold in Nigeria’s history books. In a country with so many needs, making a positive impact shouldn’t be a hard task to complete, should it?

  • Is it really hard to provide the most basic amenities of life in this country? What natural / physical / mental resource do we need that we don’t have?

  • I wonder if they(our leaders) are as religious as the people they lead, if they have a conscience that instructs them to do right and condemns for wrong doing; if they actually listen to their own consciences, if they actually profess a faith, and if this profession guides them in their actions and inactions;

But then some of them have religiously sounding names, so at least the possibility is there that they are not pagans. It is evident in whatever they say or do, coz they are
always thanking God for everything, even after embezzling money. Whether the newspapers claim they are corrupt or not, they are always thanking God.

Or maybe I am altogether wrong, I’m sorry, maybe I am taking things too far. Could it be possible that the God in America and Europe is very different from the God in Africa, in Nigeria to be specific? Their God could be white and ours black, green or yellow? Theirs could be tall and ours short. Perhaps, their God teaches them what ours doesn’t teach us. Hmm, how true!

Perhaps, their God teaches them to use their brain positively for their own immediate profit, while ours doesn’t teach us the same. Their God must be teaching them how to
tarr their roads, construct bridges, gutters and drainages, and run water through pipes. Their God must have designed their road network, to make sure vehicular traffic is always flowing and there are no dead ends / one-ways anywhere. It is definitely their God who laid underground / overhead electrical cables. I think its called environmental engineering, the subject their God teaches them, thus making their environment conducive for human beings to live and beautiful to the eyes. Our own God is definitely not interested in any of the above. Here, everyone is just on his own.

Definitely, their God isn’t fighting with the their devil over electricity as ours is. He had perfected the art many years ago, so that now, a remote control is used to switch on and off electrical power. Unfortunately, in Nigeria everyone has become an electrical engineer, actually responsible for / climbing the electrical poles in front of their own houses in order to switch power phases.

In fact, I heard that Ghana had migrated Gods some years ago. They have since been under tutorship of the American and European Gods, and have been celebrating constant electricity. This God-migration project which they executed successfully has also helped in the improvement of their reputation in the international scene.

The truth is that their God in America must have a special way to guarantee security of their lives and property; provide an outstanding educational system, provide jobs after
graduation and allow their citizens to live happily and comfortably. Our own God definitely isn’t interested in our lives and properties and has nothing to do with our educational system. Jobs? Living happily and comfortably? at least, our God enables us to migrate outside Nigeria in order to benefit from their God over there, in the hopes that some dollars would be sent home regularly via Western Union. This is very evident in the lives and attitudes of our friends and cousins, especially when they come home for Christmas. And this must be the reason why their countries are called “abroad / greener pastures”, and ours “Africa”. This must be the reason why when we(Nigerians) are planning to “travel out”, we buy new clothes and shoes, get a new haircut, and inform our entire family clan of the journey with about 25-of them eventually seeing us off at the airport, while; should these Europeans and Americans be visiting Africa, they come in T-shirt and Jeans and either boots or canvass for the purpose of running very fast in case they need to. There is definitely a difference between our God and theirs because we have to pray to get a visa to go to their country, while they don’t have to pray for a Nigerian visa. In fact, we don’t need to worry about our security whenever we visit their country. They are the ones that have to worry about their own security and malaria when they come here. Their God must be masterminding all these behind the scenes, turning  everything in their favor.

And while we grope in darkness here, their God has taken them to space several times. They saw earth from space and sent us the pictures, In fact, they’ve been there so many times that they are now doing research there on a permanent basis. Unfortunately, our God here in Nigeria hasn’t completely mapped out our borders for an average Nigerian to be informed about where he officially belongs. And until we are thrown in jail for trespassing another Nation’s borders, we really don’t know where Nigeria starts or stops.

Just recently, a voters registration exercise was conducted in Nigeria and we assumed our God was in control as usual. At the end of it all, the majority of eligible voters weren’t able to register, and those who did had many stories to tell. A friends voters ID I saw made me laugh. There was some kind of shadow on his head which made him look like a female with a hairdo at the back. Now, how you identify physically as male but show up as female on a National voters card without any kind of embarrassment.

And just to show His kindness, just recently, the American God sent his richest man on an assignment to Africa. He came and was donating his wealth all over to fight Malaria, even though none of these mosquitoes will ever bite him. Meanwhile our own God is busy mobilizing our politics, the battle between the North and South, the East and the West; playing a divide and rule card-game against our interests as people.

So, no wonder we wear their clothes, watch their television shows, listen to their radio stations, play their music everywhere and buy their CDs and DVDs, usually called “pirated”. Talk about cars, computers and other electronics we use in our homes, their God must be a heavy hand in the world-export-circle, because ours hasn’t introduced us to how we can manufacture some of these things locally for our own use. It was only recently(last year) that I heard that the importation of pencils and erasers, even toothpick was banned. This means all those years in primary school, I had used a pencil manufactured by an oyinbo God, yet I wasn’t getting an oyinbo education.

Is it possible to put all these religious talk, display and attitude aside and ask ourselves some very hard questions? why can’t all the religiosity in Nigeria translate into good tarred roads, 24-hours electricity, running water, security of life and property for the average Nigerian? Why is it that with all the “God sense” of 150-million people, the average Nigerian struggles to survive with less that $1 a day? Why are Churches so full on Sunday and the Mosques on Friday and yet we seem to be living in an age of stone? I want to believe we are all taught to love our neighbors and do what is right by whatever faith we profess, and if this is the most basic of “doctrines”, why is it that the God whom we all know about, whom we call by different names, whom we all worship in Churches or Mosques across the length and breath of Nigeria cannot guide us to do the right things for
ourselves and our neighbors at the very very least?

what exactly is wrong with this country? God or the devil.

Your comments, opinions and reactions are welcome!

OJ

Ayotokunbo Ajewole, an engineer, an avid writer, and blogger (a.k.a OmoJesus)

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OJ

Ayotokunbo Ajewole, an engineer, an avid writer, and blogger (a.k.a OmoJesus)

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