Economic Aid, HIV/AIDS, And Nigerian Churches

by Sabella Ogbobode Abidde

DO AFRICAN COUNTRIES REALLY NEED FOREIGN AID? Before embarking on this discourse, I must say that most foreign aids are not aids in the real sense of the word since most of the allotted money (or material) never makes it into the intended country. Moreover, there is an “unspoken politics” involved in foreign aids. Even so, the short answer to my question is that some do; but most don’t! Generally speaking however, I am opposed to any form to foreign Aid – not only because I think it does not serve any real purpose; but because the little that gets into any of the targeted countries doesn’t get to those who should have benefited from such aid. More often than not, it is the elite and government functionaries that pocket and squanders the aid.

There are countries in Africa that shouldn’t have been nation-states in the first place. These are countries that are just too small, too poor, and vastly undereducated, lacks viable human and natural resources and are not ready to be independent states. Some of these countries should have formed confederations or at best, teamed with other countries to form one independent state. But pride and undue nationalistic feelings “convinced” them they need independence. Unfortunately, “paper political independence” does not pay workers salaries, pave roads, build schools and hospital and eradicate diseases, and provide for public infrastructures and other life’ necessities.

Now, decades after “political independence”, these countries do not have the wherewithal to administer their own affairs as they are constantly in need of foreign aids and other forms of assistance from the West or from any country that would listen to their pleas for help. For instance, Rwanda and Burundi would have been better off as one single country; just as Republic of Benin and Togo should have been a single country, ditto Senegal and Gambia. Same can be said of Burkina Faso, Mali, and a host of other African countries. Aside from historical reasons, what business does Swaziland and Lesotho has being independent countries? Wouldn’t’ they have been better of as an integral part of South Africa?

Today, most of African countries depend on foreign assistance to keep afloat. These aids are injurious to a country’s psyche: it encourages laziness and indolence; and makes receiving countries dependent on donor countries. Over the long run, receiving countries become indebted to donor countries and in due course become an appendage to the donor countries. The West, as a rule, does not give a cent out of the sheer goodness of their heart. For these are capitalist countries and not charity organizations; and capitalism is all about profit and self-interest.

Are Rwanda and Burundi, and Congo (Kinshasa) truly independent states when they take their marching orders from Belgium and France? Yaoundé can’t take any step without getting a clearance from Paris. And when was the last time Nigeria caused a ripple without first checking with London and Washington? That Nigeria still receives foreign aids baffles me. What do we need foreign aid for? What do we need military and technical assistance for? We have all the necessary human and natural resources to be truly successful and independent. That America, China, Britain, Germany, Italy and others still give us a penny here and a dime there is not only ludicrous, it is insulting and demeaning!

The corruption and politics of foreign aid aside, what good would it do any self-respecting people and country to continually depend on handouts? What does our penchant for handouts tell the world about us? That we are not responsive and responsible? That but for the grace of the Global North, Africa would still be in the pit of poverty? Any wonder the West acts condescendingly towards us?

AIDS/HIV IS RAMPANT IN AFRICA and its resultant consequences is killing us and depriving us of our future. Although, I must posit, without any scientific evidence, or without any empirical data that, almost 15% of the so-called Aids/HIV cases are related, not to the dread disease, but to malaria, malnutrition, air and water-borne diseases, hopelessness and acute sadness. Hopelessness and sadness kills, you know. In any case, I do not think that the infusion of dollars alone ($15 billions from the US alone) would make measurable dent in the Aids/HIV crisis in Africa.

Some of our behaviors is to be blamed for the almost uncontrollable spread of Aids and other sexually transmittable diseases: polygamy, society-condoned sexual orgies; prostitution; carefree sex amongst the young; sexual conquest of Africans living abroad during their periodic visits to Africa; a culture that permits unlimited procreation, the false belief that Aids is a White-man’s disease or that certain potion can thwart infection. It is time for the reorientation or adjustment of our culture, and time for the reeducation of the African male.

In most of Africa, we expect our women to be able to cook, clean the house, provide sex (on demand), and raise children. We expect them to be submissive, and be at our beck-and-call. And even though “the times are changing”, men are still in command and in control. It is because of this reality that I believe — for us to arrest the incidence and prevalence of Aids and other STD’s — we have to embark on the reeducation of African men.

Reorient, reeducate, and re-culture the African male and we would be able to curb most of the excesses and primordial beliefs of our society. Moreover, this reeducation would curb the rate of Aids, and damper the need for circumcision, polygamy, body piercing, tribal markings and mutilations. Adjustment of the African culture is also necessary in other aspects of our lives. For instance, Leo Igwe asserted that:

    “Men dominate the socio-economic and political machinery and organizations. Men are regarded as natural leaders, who are superior and born to rule over women. Women are considered weaker vessels-extensions of men and secondary human beings. The pride and dignity of women are derived from and dependent on men…Ten daughters are not worth a son. No woman is regarded as complete or real until she gives birth to a male. Delivering a son gives a woman pride and a place at her husband’s home…every married woman stands with one leg in her husband’s house until she gives birth to a male child”.

The gist of my argument is simply that unless we take a second and third look at our culture – a culture Daniel Etounga-Manguelle considers the most humanistic of all living cultures – Aids/HIV would continue to ravage our men, women and children – no matter the amount of money that is poured into our public health system. And if care is not taken, more people will die from Aids-HIV-STD in the next ten years than have died from malaria, water-borne diseases and malnutrition in the last sixty years.

NOT TOO LONG AGO, I posited that: “…we do things — shamelessly — in the name of God: we steal, cheat and lie in the name of God. We oppress, exploit and subjugate fellow citizens in the name of God. We “command” people’s loyalty in the name of God; and if we fail to get the respect and loyalty we think we deserve – we kill the offenders in the name of God. Not to be outdone by our politicians and public servants, some armed-robbers have been known to pray before going out to rob and kill. And if they are too busy to pray, they simply pay top-dollars for prayers. As if that is not heretical, there are “men of God” who fornicate and commit adultery in the name of God”.

I went on to say: “…Nigerian politicians are using God and religion as a ruse to misrule and swindle. These same politicians who place their hands on the Bible or on the Koran would be the first in line to take bribes, inflate contracts, and ignore the most qualified job-applicant in favor of someone from their ethnic group. These “children of God” are adept at colluding with foreign nationals in bilking the public purse. In so many ways, the current pack of politicians remind me of the early missionaries (to Africa) who came with gun on one hand and the Bible on the other hand….Does God truly listen to our prayers…What’s the matter with God?” (For the complete article, please see

What is the matter with some Nigerian Churches? Some Nigerian Churches have become the bastion of corruption, hubris, and a cathedral of immorality and unethical deeds. Most purport to speak “in tongue” when they can barely speak a neighboring native language; they claim to see vision when they can barely see beyond their noses; they claim to be paragon of morality when they have a house full of banalities; most claim to be doing God’s work when in fact they work for the gods.

God’s work has now become a business enterprise. Saving souls, redemption, salvation, eternal bliss and other noble ideas are no longer their Raison d’être. Today, it is all about Pathfinders, Mercedes Benzes, political power and political influence, glitz and glitters, and other worldly collections.

A recently published item about the compensation of Nigerian pastors staggered and almost fell me. How could they be paid that much? Why should they be allowed access to that many vehicles and in some cases private jets? These pastors have a retinue of chauffeurs, pilot, maids, personal assistance, chefs, and what not at their command.

They have all these…all in the name of God? Haaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Nigeria.

I guess some Nigerian churches and places of worship are simply mirroring the “reality on the ground”. Churches and places of worship are like homes; and a home is where you go to rest, to seek comfort, feel safe and be invigorated for life’s battles. A home is where you go at the end of the day or at any time of the night and feel you are in the hands of your lord. It isn’t so any more in most Nigerian Churches. At home or in the Churches, those leeches will get you.

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