God Is A Nigerian?

by Michael Egbejumi-David

A few years ago, I was a medical student in beautiful Brazil. One of the more popular samba/carnival music of that time had a line in it that were God a Brazilian, life would be a grand carnival. Clearly intended as a feel food line, nevertheless, I could see the rationale behind those lyrics. The evidence was all around me.

Brazil is a stunning country with exceptionally beautiful people. Wonderful landscape, wonderful beaches, wonderful clean cities. Don’t even get me started on their women! The place has very modern infrastructures and efficient, functional systems. And its citizens certainly know how to enjoy themselves. Everything works. Recently, that country overtook Great Britain as the sixth best world economy. As a young man from Nigeria, I thoroughly enjoyed my years in Brazil and would happily recommend the place to anyone without hesitation. And as stated earlier, the lyrics of that song resonated with me.

But just last week, the Nigerian Ambassador to the US, Prof. Ade Adefuye, perhaps in a fit of non-alcoholic wine-induced fervor, pronounced God a Nigerian. The man is a Professor of History so it is difficult to understand the criteria he used before declaring God a Nigerian. Nevertheless, we are Nigerians; we are used to making grandiose statements like this.

However, the Prof did make some insinuation along the lines of it being a miracle of sort that there was no coup d’état during the Yar’Adua – Jonathan transition. He also murmured something about us getting close to the precipice and pulling back. Apparently, for him, these feats make God a Nigerian.

Until Adefuye made his proclamation, I didn’t think that God was that cheap. I always thought that God was not the author of confusion. I always thought that God loathed filth. I always assumed that immovable corruption was anathema to God. Also, that immortal line, “Let there be light” always left me with the impression that God would abhor any permanently NEPA-infested environment.

I used to imagine that God would be reluctant to endorse a poor province whose legislators, paradoxically, are the highest paid in the entire world. A place where every big man oppresses everyone else every day – especially the poor – doesn’t immediately strike me as a place to be identified with God. A habitation given to frequent and seemingly unending cult and ritual killings, I felt, would struggle to impress God.

Where social and national development always take a back seat to personal and short-term gain; where government officials and other Party bigwigs steal without let; where people in charge sabotage oil and electricity provision for the sake of their own pocket; where government and military personnel actively steal and smuggle fuel across the border in ships that simply disappear afterwards; where infrastructures are wickedly allowed to crumble just so a Governor or someone else can get his 10% cut from the award of a new contract; where the entire civil service has been constituted into a massive obstacle course that citizens can only successfully negotiate it with a fistful of money; could such a place be synonymous with God?

Obsessively, our leaders cart away the money set aside for the provision of hospitals and for healthcare. Many of our citizens are left to suffer and die daily from preventable diseases. But some of those leaders have their own hospitals abroad, and most of them frequently jet-out for basic checkup, routine operations and eye check. That kind of place could not be God’s favorite post code, I would have thought.

Could God find proper refuge in a place where political leaders strip completely naked, gulp down putrid bloody concoction and then swear an oath of fealty to some evil spirit and to a godfather? Could God feel at home in a place where young ladies and sex are routinely traded for government contracts?

Furthermore, I was always under the impression that God could not habituate for long in any place where bribery is the unofficial legal tender. God, I had assumed, would hold in contempt a land where illogicality, injustice and neglect are official State policies. I thought God would be snippy about a space where Pastors and Imams lie as a matter of course and mercilessly exploit the poor. God perhaps might want no part of an area where chief Pastors slap church members or hammer steel nails deep into the heads of children and infants.

I would have thought that God would hold a dim view of any locale where his children are regularly slaughtered ostensibly in his name. In fact, I was operating under the assumptions that were God or his son to pass through Nigeria; He would bear a huge tree stump with which He would clobber most of its citizens in their places of worship – particularly its Pastors.

But now Adefuye tells us that God is simply loving it in Nigeria. That his green-white-green uniform is well starched and pressed. That pure water is his favorite brew. He just loves galloping his chariots along pot-holed and urine-drenched roads – whenever Mrs Jonathan and other government officials allow access.

Well, I guess I have been wrong all along. This is life; we learn something new every day.

My own take however is that, Nigerians, we have become bone lazy. We don’t want to do what it takes to become great. Our collective psyche has been attuned to the ‘miracle’ channel, the miracle mind set. Even our University students who ought to know better and who ought to be more versatile in their thinking and in their approach are largely given to the ‘God will take care of things’ doctrine.

We all seem to want the good life but without putting in the commensurate hard work and making the necessary sacrifice. It is easier to hand everything off to God than to roll up our sleeves, get down and dirty and do all that is necessary to transform into a great society. That is what is done in all progressive nations. But here, we seem content in only wanting to pray and fast ourselves into greatness. And even at that, some of us will still pay a junior Pastor somewhere to do the fasting for us. With all of our natural and human resources, with all of our enviable endowments, we are still in the back waters, bobbing along on a river of superstition.

And that was Prof Adefuye’s driver, I’m sure. That has become our mentality now. It was in this same Nigeria in 2008 that a chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), Rtd. Justice Ayoola announced at a public conference that the ICPC was going to go spiritual in its fight against corruption. Specifically, he said, “Come September 7th, we are going to God the almighty. We are going spiritual about it.” The man said all of that and still kept his job because that has become the standard, that has become our norm.

When our big men have conned, pillaged and looted; when they have carted away everything around them and there is no protest from the people, they are inclined to believe that God is on their side. And before long, like their Ambassador colleague, they begin to think that God must be a Nigerian.

But Nigeria has always struck me as the exact opposite of what God would intend. Endless exploitation of the poor, endless disorganisation, endless inefficiency, endless 419, and monumental corruption doesn’t strike me as a trademark of God. And all that false religiosity and mealy-mouth piety ain’t fooling no one either – least of all God.

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