The wind of change blowing on the religious firmament and the realm of individual consciousness in Nigeria is a welcome development. The advent and evolving preachers of salvation to correct or change the docile minds of followers of prosperity preachers are imminent. People are waking up from religious hypnotism and gullibility. The Nigerians’ docile cognitive functioning or development has always been their deadliest enemy. The economic adversity and the general perversion and deterioration of morality in Nigeria are also responsible for the mushrooming of pseudo-preachers in Nigeria. Every conceivable effort must be made to educate the masses to make well informed decision while partaking in revival of souls and national development.
The universal decadence or decline in the tenets of religion is responsible for the decay in politics, value system, government, standards, morals, dignity, and religious faith in Nigeria. If one has a motivational speaking acumen or a gift with little versatility in the Holy Books, one will move unrepentant crowds to his/her congregation through prosperity crusade. In the house of God in Nigeria, you cannot distinguish between moral sermon, comedy and sensualization of women. These commonalities are all intertwined in the messages to the congregations. Children are vulnerable, and are mostly being exposed to immoral teachings. Very few men of God are in short supply for souls and spiritual revival.
The new normal of challenges confronting our religious leaders in Nigeria isn’t unexpected; it is long overdue and soothing. Any religion that encourages “follow-follow” without availability of space for cognitive thinking and questioning of their religious leaders when they err is doomed to lose its followers in the long run. The only thing that’s constant in life is a change, when change is due to manifest, it will be like moon, star, sun and truth. Their spontaneous shooting from the sky will not be stoppable or preventable. The day deceived people reboot their minds; alive to their moral rejuvenation, ethical and self-awareness is their day of liberation. According to Abraham Lincoln, “you can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”
In those days of the country’s economic growth and prosperity, the three prominent religions in Nigeria were so innocently beautiful to practice. It was a period of soul-searching for collective tranquility. The messages of gospel our fathers in the Lord introduced to us when we were growing up in the village were salvation, salvation, salvation; and eternal life, eternal life, eternal life. In these two nuances are sacred catalysts that shaped salvation and eternal life: these catalysts are morality, discipline, integrity, and the spirit of true love and togetherness. I remember my father of blessed memory, Alhaji Ibrahim Akewukanwo Balogun, a prominent Muslim cleric in Ekiti. His sermons every morning in those good old days were spiritual tonics for everyone irrespective of your religious affiliation. The imports of his sermons were for the unification of the Muslims, the Christians and for the general public. He built unblemished spirits of tolerance, love and neighborliness in all his scions, household, and the community.
In retrospect, you hardly heard about prosperity gospel, all we heard and had were gospels of salvation, and what you must do always to be on the road to eternal life or the kingdom of God! It is a welcome development that my Christian and Muslim folks are sieving chaff from the grains. Enough is enough, this period and henceforth! The prosperity preachers must be bracing up for challenges from the religious crowds in the nearest future. The colonialism and neocolonialism of African, and economic underdevelopment brought prosperity preachers to African countries. Prosperity preachers stupendously achieved their aims by creating a life of opulence and extravaganza, for themselves and their families at the expense of their impoverished and avowed congregants. Prosperity theology has dwarfed and dominated the theology of salvation. Our generation has jettisoned the principles of salvation–whereas, salvation is the saving of the soul from sin and its attendant consequences. It may also be called deliverance and redemption from sin and its consequential effects. No matter how you reconstruct and embellish lies, it can only be espied by individuals with looped mind, but it will be repugnant on the long run to individuals with fecundity of mind.
As Muslims and Christians, while we kept our faith and beliefs, in those days, I remember vividly the ace song we used to sing in our schools and at home that goes thus: ijoba orun ku dede, araye eyii pada…. (The judgment of God is imminent; the world must change from sins to salvation….). The true preachers in those days instilled in us discipline, morality, true love, roads to salvation, fear of God and good neighborliness. What we have these days is prosperity, deceitful messages embellished with theatric and gymnastics display emanating from flamboyant “gods of men.” The words of God have been twisted to sooth particular set of selves, existential motives and evangelization of ostentatious lifestyles of the Shepherds.
When undisclosed sources of huge cash donations are given by politicians to the churches and mosques, no one will bother to question the donors’ sources of income. It’s the Lord’s doing! Money in hard currencies is the new normal in Nigerian evangelism. Nigerian naira has been made egregiously a worthless currency by most of these Nigerian prosperity preachers. Their Muslim counterparts are not left out in this bazaar of procuring money from Peters to pay Paul in the name of giving back to God. Just like their Christian counterparts, Muslim preachers too are aping prosperity preachers’ styles of raking money from their poor adherents to live like kings. This concerning development is a serious indictment of our political and religious leaders.
Reassuringly, in the next few years, in the realm of time, Nigeria will reorder its religious values; truly rearm her people with the words of God. The motivational hypnotized adherents of our religious circles will come to term that the fear of God is truly the beginning of wisdom. In this age of information dissemination, ignorance will definitely be a choice. Consciously, our folks must reboot their consciousness; they must be conscientized to use their cognitive thinking to liberate themselves from the shackles of self-hypnotism. Moreover, Truth is bitter, but like bitter cola, the words of wisdom from umpires intertwined with the words of God, copiously lifted and untwisted from the Holy books must be used to guide us, and bring us back on the road to salvation, in order to gain the much expected eternal life.