Perceived callousness in society comes, chiefly, from the responses of the government to public issues as they affect individuals and the collective. As a country and society, we are perhaps the most cold-hearted people on the surface of the earth. Here, a man who fed his children last night and … could still afford something substantial as zakat, that’s our definition of generosity. An armed robber who is lucky to escape unhurt is the one society worships. In our fated clime, if you don’t have money, you are in trouble. In the eye of the nouveau riche, why must you not even have money? Times and things have now gone so bad that those who lived under Ibrahim Babangida would think that Sani Abacha was complete evil, whereas those who lived under Muhammadu Buhari would also think as if this sad and sympathetic country had a better yesterday. Taking the most optimistic view, Abacha’s approach would have been one of ‘live-and-let-live’.
In 1980, Ogunpa flooding happened to Ibadan. No doubt about it: it was a terrible tragedy, with millions of naira worth of goods either destroyed and/or carted away. Lives in their preciousness were also lost. Not unexpectedly, the government’s response was swift, but only in terms of jingles and advertorials, not that foodstuffs and/or clothing were given to the people. In specific terms, there were no physical interventions as in what could truly touch the people. Instead, eloquent words – that the government would see to the sufferings of the people – were in excess of expectations. The late Bola Ige, who was the governor of the old Oyo State at the time, was on hand to mitigate the perceived energy of the enemy, notably Adisa Akinloye and Richard Akinjide, who were not only indigenes of the ancient city but also rubbing and defending the ego of Shehu Shagari, the then president of Nigeria. To the victims, nothing came; unfortunately, so!
Somewhere along the line, something important happened, but not in the public glare. The Federal Government intervened with N30 million, and the money was shared. Friends and colleagues watched as government officials of specific calibre started building monstrous houses and buying exotic cars; and they were careless with their mouths. Though the victims documented what Ogunpa took away from them, it was just an exercise in futility. When money came, which took several months due to the shape and size of Nigeria’s bureaucratic slip-ups, the people had moved on, obviously without any assistance from anybody. But their children in the civil service saw what happened and news went round. As at that time, Ige was no longer in government. People saw all those anomalies but there was no way they could push their aggression beyond bottling up the resentment they had for the government and government policies; and it was freely discussed among the people. Again, that’s where it ended. After all, there’s no sympathy for government money, more so as it belongs to no one. Sad therefore that the handlers of Nigeria’s affairs have consistently shown sufficient callousness to the extent that nobody pities them again. Sadder that that policy has been responsible for the depravity in the system, which makes nobody care. The saddest part of it is that it subsists till date, because nobody has attempted to address it.
Look at the parents of the Chibok girls, Leah Sharibu and many others who are still languishing in the terrorists’ enclave. Talking seriously, that’s sufficient enough to take their faith away from them because, if one has a God who cannot actually save one while one is here, it is useless believing in the afterlife. If one calls on God while one is on earth, and, indeed, He hears but cannot save one, then it is as if one doesn’t have a Saviour in the first place! With this sad expression staring us in the face, isn’t it time our religious leaders called on God again – if, truly, they know how to call on Him – to come down and rescue those who trust in Him? Isn’t it time we beheld His real power, because, for those who truly believe in Him, at no time is His power limited?
The pathetic truth is that those who are leading us on the religious path in Nigeria are unperturbed even as dear fatherland has turned into a fount of uncertainties, a cocktail of misfortunes, a terrible economy and a nation divided. Pastor Adejare Adeboye is fine; Pastor Folorunso Kumuyi is fantastic while Bishop David Oyedepo keeps acquiring jets as if he’s buying motorcycles. Remember former President Buhari also rode to Aso Rock on the promise of recovering the Chibok girls. PMB has done his 8 years and gone back to Daura, leaving behind policy summersault, unmet promises, unsettled obligations and, most importantly, the girls at the mercy of Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists. As things stand, nobody remembers poor Leah who is wasting away in the forest for knowing the God she served or her parents who continue to walk the path of their fate. Still, our spiritual fathers continue to use this same God to make money; and it is as if being a Nigerian is a crime. And we ask: isn’t ours a terrible tragedy?
For heaven’s sake, how did we get to this pass?
May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace in Nigeria!