Monday, November 14, 2011

Occupy till I come : By Kaanayo Nwachukwu

While it has become an increasingly tough task getting Nigerians to come out and protest about their dissatisfaction with the tumultuous state of events in the country, that dilemma has however not been experienced by religious leaders and thousands of bar-owners in the county; in fact they seem to be the biggest beneficiaries of the failing health of the Nigerian state, as they have witnessed an exponential increase in the number of people trooping into their establishments to seek solutions.

Recently I read of Omolayo Abayomi, a Nigerian-born UK resident nurse who had her license revoked because she neglected her responsibilities in the face of an immediate challenge and resorted to calling on Jesus. A situation that best describes the attitude of a large section of the Nigerian people.

The lucrative business of religion is closely followed by the alcohol industry in terms of patronage by Nigerians, and the reason is found in the disillusion and easy escape from the harshness of reality both offer to unsettled Nigerians. While it is clear that the lack of power, infrastructure and adequate jobs are all a failure of governance and government, Nigerians still throng to places of religious worship screaming their lungs hoarse as if the plan is to deafen God to submission.

Several others simply drown themselves in unbelievable quantities of alcohol in beer spots littering the country. Nigerians have been persistently pummelled by successive repressive governments with unfriendly policies, and each time you feel they have been sufficiently pushed to the wall enough to spur a reaction; they turn around and scale the wall. It is almost as though it is impossible to provoke a response from Nigerians, and this has spurred forth an aura of impunity from the ruling class.

This crowd abnormality has become a tool of further repression of Nigerians by several religious leaders across the country. The religious leaders have become kingmakers as they have been able to apply the unquestioned loyalty of majority of the masses to full effect. It is not uncommon at election periods to see staunch Northern-Muslim presidential candidates waving their hands and chanting Christian songs at crusade grounds along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. The scope of their power is unimaginable!

Pastors sit atop the most financially rewarding, less-burdensome enterprise in Nigeria today and have further diversified their fledging church business. One of such additional businesses is the highly-overpriced universities everywhere now, that have further compounded the educational situation in the country with the production of socially-unprepared graduates. This is in total contradistinction to the ideals espoused by early missionaries who dispensed free healthcare and education as evidence of the altruism of their religious faith. The lucrative nature of religion is now so enticing that I suggest the National University Council (NUC) introduces a full discipline called ‘Bachelors in Church/Mosque Administration (BCA/BMA).

It is not uncommon to see well-known rogues, renegades and political-miscreants who have occupied our collective economical fortune occupying the front rows in churches and mosques today, while the rest of you blandly occupy the spaces behind. After all the Bible did quote Jesus Christ in Luke 19:13 as saying ‘Occupy till I come’?

The tragedy is that many of you would die before Jesus Christ does come, and the only spaces you would have successfully occupied would be those seats behind the rogues on the pulpit and front row in the church/mosques, and Mama Nkechi’s plastic chairs in her beer-parlour. The current political current all over the world favours popular protests, and this would have been the perfect opportunity for Nigerians to express their displeasure over the insecurity, shoddy self-centred policies, poor and biased implementation of established laws and inability to create a framework/roadmap for infrastructural development in the country.

This would have represented the best opportunity for all Nigerians to down tools and peacefully demand of the government their economic space that had been illegally occupied by political opportunists. But as I have found out after all these years, you ever-enduring Nigerians would return back to your places of religious worships and favourite alcohol spots for your daily fix.

Courtesy: Sylvester Awenlimobor

Kaanayo Nwachukwu: Is a Speaker / Commentator and the author of the highly acclaimed memoir, "A Dream of Canada: An Incredible Story of Struggle and Overcoming."

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