By Ikechukwu Amaechi
The way Nigerians drop God’s name in every discussion, you will be right to think that God has no other business in this universe other than to wait on the country and its wayward citizens.
Many a time, you will hear sound bites such as, “Nigeria is God’s unfinished business. He will never abandon His children,” and you wonder what else anyone would expect God to do for the country.”
In his 2007 book, The Trouble with Nigeria, late literary icon, Chinua Achebe, said, “The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership.”
Achebe, whose literary works have become prophesies, added: “There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character. There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or water or air or anything else. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example, which are the hallmarks of true leadership.”
And this has nothing to do with God abandoning the country. Not at all! But despite the unassailability of Achebe’s position, those who claim that God still owes Nigeria a debt insist that it is His responsibility to give us good leaders.
To such people, Psalm 62:11 which says: “God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this that power belongeth unto God,” suffices. Not stopping only with power belongs to God, they admonish us that it is God’s command we must pray for our leaders whether they are good or bad.
But they forget Proverbs 29:2, which says, “When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.”
So, while it is true that God anointed leaders for the Jewish people of the Abrahamic era being a theocratic state, it is not God’s responsibility to choose leaders in a democracy. That is the prerogative of eligible voters. Even in modern Israel, the democratic oasis in the Middle East, God no longer chooses their leaders for them. The electorate exercise their franchise and elect their leaders. And when such leaders misbehave, the system holds them accountable.
As I noted here last week, Israel is one of the 78 countries across the globe that have jailed or prosecuted their leaders who left office since 2000. In 2011, former President Moshe Katsav was sentenced to seven years in prison for rape and other sexual offences, and a few years later, former Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, was handed a total of 27 months in jail on various charges of corruption, obstruction of justice and accepting bribes. The incumbent Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is also on trial after being indicted in 2019 in three separate corruption cases and faces more than a decade in prison if convicted.
In other democratic climes, leadership failure attracts a steep price. In Nigeria, rather than holding our leaders to account, we deify them, elevating them to the pantheon of the all-time greats for sleeping on the job, literally. Religious leaders admonish us not to criticize them, but to pray that God touches their hearts. Sadly, in doing so, we wittingly create monsters in power.
That is my point of disagreement with Dr. William Kumuyi, founder and General Superintendent of the Deeper Life Christian Ministry, who said on Tuesday that God will use President Bola Tinubu to build Nigeria and solicited support for the new ministers, claiming that God will use them as “instruments to build our nation.”
Speaking with newsmen ahead of the monthly Global Crusade of the Church scheduled for Osogbo on Thursday, he said God has not forsaken the country.
“Let’s forget the past. This is a new day and I believe; we all believe that we’re going to see new things for our country through our President and through the members of the cabinet. Good things will happen,” the 82-year-old Kumuyi, a University of Ibadan first-class honours mathematics graduate and overall best graduating student in 1967, said.
“If you look at the new ministers one by one, you will see the good things they have done either as state governors of the past or as former ministers and I would say they have been carefully chosen. If we support and accept them and if we are not criticising their every step, we believe that God will work through them and use them as instruments to build our nation. God will perform a miracle in the heart of our leaders and their hearts will be towards the people and the wisdom to lead us and do everything that will benefit us as a country, the Lord himself will do it in their hearts.”
Simply put, Kumuyi was assuring Nigerians that God will change the hearts of the leaders to do good things that will benefit the country. Rather than holding their feet to the fire through constructive criticism, the cleric would prefer that we see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil. He wants us to turn a blind eye to wrongdoings, ignore bad behavior by pretending not to see it while praying and hoping that God will perform a miracle in the heart of our leaders.
Pastor Kumuyi wants Nigerians to forget the past.
How can we forget the past when nothing has changed or even about to change? As an Igbo adage made popular by Chinua Achebe in his magnum opus, Things Fall Apart, says, a man who does not know where the rain began to beat him cannot say where he dried his body.
How we can forget the past when it is still business as usual. The only thing that has happened is that just as the Jonathan Goodluck cabal dislodged the Umaru Yar’Adua cabal and the Muhammadu Buhari cabal dislodged the Jonathan cabal, the Bola Tinubu cabal has succeeded in dislodging the Buhari cabal. But the modus operandi remains the same – people paid huge sums of money to smuggle their names into the ministerial list, lawmakers had their fingers in the pie to guarantee successful screening. The 2024 budget will still be padded and the off-season governorship elections in Imo, Bayelsa and Kogi on November 11 will still be a do-or-die affair.
Kumuyi’s exhortation is sheer religious sophistry. And I know that the revered religious leader knows that what he said was a lot of hocus-pocus, an attempt at being politically correct. And this has nothing to do with President Bola Tinubu because the same religious leaders said the same thing about former President Muhammadu Buhari.
They told us that if God didn’t want him to be president, he wouldn’t have been. Even when it was obvious that the man was wilfully leading the country down a dark alley, they admonished us to pray for him. They insisted that God works in miraculous ways and may well decide to use the worst of us for the purpose of glorifying His name.
But why must it be only in Nigeria that God will anoint certificate forgers and fraudsters as leaders just to prove His awesomeness?
If you probe further, they will tell you not to judge. Some will even tell you that Jesus said He came for sinners and not the righteous.
Good! But where has that left Nigeria? Buhari, the man our religious leaders told us to pray for as they are telling us to pray for those on the saddle today no-matter how they came to power, left Nigeria with an N80 trillion debt, pushed well over 130 million Nigerians into multi-dimensional poverty, with inflation rate at double digits and a dangerously divided nation.
Could that be God’s wish for Nigeria? No!
What good thing, for crying out loud, did Bello Matawalle, Abubakar Bagudu or Simon Lalong do as state governors that should inspire hope that they will deliver on their new mandates?
In any case, why will Nigerians troop out four years thence to vote again when God will unilaterally annul their electoral preferences and anoint someone else whose political philosophy is Machiavellian and who believes that the end justifies the means?
Recognizing the God factor in all areas of our lives means that we see God working through all of our circumstances for His purposes. But the essence of the God factor is grossly negated when the philosophy underlining victory at the ballot is: “Political power is not going to be served in a restaurant. They don’t serve it a la carte. At all cost, fight for it, grab it and run with it.”
Religious leaders should be careful not to utter profanity in the name of political correctness. That will be tantamount to taking God’s name in vain.