This aspect of our life is becoming clearer to me each passing day. I am neither a pessimist nor an incorrigible optimist. I try to take issues in equal measure as they break. I have to be honest. I am still of the fervent belief that Nigeria will re-emerge from the present quagmire, and become a shining star among her peers. But before the proverbial light at the end of the dark tunnel, or is it joy comes in the morning, one cannot but ruminate on the sad descent of the Nation and her moral towards the nadir of centripetal negativism.
The unflappable feasting on the carcass of morality and good conscience is a delusional antithesis that men of high moral fibber can simply not sleep well with. Yet we ululate, we feast, as if the naked dancing in the open market square is an Olympic sport. The embarrassment of the Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Igboho’s debacle is starting the Nation right in the face. We should look at more than the political aspect of the two men. Rather, we should concentrate on the debasement of norms and moral values that promoted these down the streets folks to national and international prominence. Whatever the weight of the alleged offenses under the relevant exalts laws, the negative cultural aura that promoted their activities cannot be extricated from them. The collapse of values in our country and the rise of odd heroes. No doubt, the centripetal pull is great and most alluring. The Motor Parks touts in Lagos State, under the nomenclature National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) is said to control some mind-boggling 125 billion naira daily.
These are mere societal miscreants; the ones we tagged never-do-well. But this huge economy in their hands has turned them into super-beings in the State of Aquatic Splendour. The State of Excellence has fallen into the hands of the street matadors, with the political leadership in the State in hot romance with them. This humongous economy is being misused daily to the detriment of the interest of the larger society. The micro-economy of the State is suffering, yet these untamed rascals would always let loose their attack dogs on the long-suffering citizens daily to raise the money. They care less about the fate of the State, once their god-father is well catered for. 125 daily for 30 days and in one year! Oh My God!! Whoever is breeding these maverick exploiters is not doing the nation any good.
Yet, in another breath, the one whose followers affectionately called Papa, the fiery Bishop, of the Living Faith Church, Bishop David Oyedepo, is said to pay his graduate pastors a mere 38 thousand naira only monthly. He recently dismissed some odd 41 of them for being “unfruitful”. Sadly, Lord Jesus Christ only referred to that fig tree as “unfruitful”. What a condemnation! Anyway, Papa did have a good record proceeding with this. He once employed 7 thousand graduates at a go. And he placed them about the national minimum wage of 30 thousand naira. The pastors were commissioned to grow the parishes they were deployed to, but mistakenly believe they were in His Vineyard. Lo, their unfruitfulness was spotted and the hierarchy moved against them. The negative vibe, however, continues between the church and the dismissed pastors. It’s a moral burden for the two sides to discharge. The side with sharper street mentality and propaganda will win. But surely, the nation is bound to lose deeply from all these shenanigans.
The negative aura is fully encompassing. While the internet scamming game is ever revolving among the youths, the hard drugs peddling by the “big boys” has also picked up, going by numbers and volumes of arrest and interventions made by the operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA). Recently, huge haulage has been recorded from MMA International Airport, Ikea, Nnamid Azikwe International Airport, Abuja, and Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano. The recent surge cannot be easily explained. But since the internet scamming, the Yahoo Yahoo business of the youths is not relenting, so the drugs pedalling by the barons. All these point to a broken chain w morality in a society. I sincerely doubt if we ever sit down as a nation, as a people, to think of some countries that started the journey same time as us.
If we do, we may suffer cardiac arrest. Yet, we still need to look at what Malaysia is doing? What India is doing or has done? Here we should try to study how are the Asian Tigers fast pulling away from the shadows of the West. Not the beggar’s solemn prayers of going to borrow money from China all the time. Perhaps, it is time to removed the veil of darkness still covering our eyes. Time to break from the cocoon of religious bigotry and dogmatism, unprofitable ethnic supremacy rigmarole, and negative suspicion of others intent. The fear of domination that has manacled the best of us down will certainly remain unless we free our thoughts and free and minds towards each other.
This is a nation of oddities. So many incongruities in life. We keep hearing the Lord Jesus Christ admonition to the weak and weary: “Come unto me, all that labor, and with heavy yoke and I shall give you rest”. But what do we get in the triangles of the Lord? More pains. Just last week, a young man, Oluwatosin Adegoke, just 28, may not be your archetypal man in the news. And not even many might have even caught a wimp of him. But he was frustrated by social on the spiral fall. He sought succour in the Vineyard of the Lord. Instead of the rest that the Lord Jesus Christ promised us, his yoke was made heavier. All promised of the dawn of good life prophesies given him became a mirage. He deceit. He saw fake prophecies. He saw manipulation. His negative aura rose. He suddenly bulldozed his way into the headlines by razing down a worship centre, God of Truth Covenant Evangelical Church in Idimu locality of Lagos State recently. His grouse? He got fed up with “deceit” in the name of Almighty God and “fake prophesies.
The young Oluwatosin was said to have earlier ordered the prophetess running the Spiritual home to close down on two occasions.. The woman was said to have ignored him. This she did to perilous repercussions. The young man simply bought some quantity of Premium Motor Spirit (Petrol), and with a stick of matches, ignited a hellish inferno on the church and its properties. He ensured all were razed down. He also stayed put, till police came and got him arrested. The Magistrate sitting in Idimu area Magistrate Court will determine his fate soon. But for now, Kirikiri Medium Security Correctional Centre is home for the young Oluwatosin. Oluwatosin represents several disillusioned young men and ladies that have been wounded and disoriented by fake Prophets and their prophecies. It is part of the growing culture of negativism in the country. Whatever the outcome of this case, the hordes of “thus saith the Lord” would still actively continue with their perfidious acts.
Both as a Nation and as a people, we have sadly irretrievably regressed into the very nadir of positivism, and now perched daintily at the apogee of negativism, where only things of low moral values excite us. This is crystal clear in our lives, in-house dealings, in our associations. In religion, we have promoted nebulosity far above any known biblical doctrine. Vague concepts are the main thrust. I think the creed now is: confuse them, not convince them. Arts is one area where Nigerians did so excellently well until the arrival of some ill-prepared untalented ones joined the fray. The evergreens works of the juju maestros of the 70s, local Apala, fuji, and others of the 70s and 80s are still there to wet down the nostalgic feelings of those who were there to taste from such rich repertoire. Today the robust industry is already down the hill. All manner of charlatans has emerged in the scene and so have corrupted most values we held dear. And so also is the theatre practitioners. When the barely educated ones were in the show, the quality and content were excellent. Now that the impact of education ought to be felt in productions, the reverse is the case. The influential British Broadcasting Corporate (BBC) in a documentary described their products as mostly quantity without quality. Yet we roll out the drums in celebration.
The country keeps sliding down further into the Hell pit of a negative conundrum. The ground norm was laid long ago. In an era of bile indiscipline in all ramifications and stratification of the society. Neither the led nor the leader ever showed a good modicum of character and discipline in our conduct. The Oil boom of the 70s was wasted on insane projects, most that have turned to white elephant’s projects today. The odious story of Ajaokuta Steel Rolling Mill would suffice here. Many a staff were recruited, send for further training in the old Soviet Union, came back, and were drawing fantabulous wages till they retired. Most never put an hour into the production of steel. The idea was to use that particular Mill as a springboard to a technological breakthrough, but alas, our culture of indiscipline ruined it all.
Till today, the project remains a pipe dream. This signposts several other abandoned projects scattered all over the country. Our lazy reliance on Providence rather than meticulous planning and creative thinking has spread into the house government administration. The several billions of dollars wasted on these abandoned projects can conveniently block the over 60 billion US dollars debt burden the country is currently grappling with. The negative rot extends far beyond this. Our national life is in shambles. In the last three weeks, I have tried without success to go to the Apapa area of Lagos State from Ikea. Apapa is an upscale area. An abode of the rich. But now desolate and deserted. The trucks blocking the access roads to and from are owned by elemental beings, ghosts. So no one could order them off the road. Yet in the midst of the madness, you see uniformed armed men exhorting money from distraught motorists. The negative vibes continue.
While we slipped down into the nadir of life, we raised hopes. Not wanting to work towards attaining growth, but just by divine intervention. This mentality is sadly carried into the governmental administration. No conscious effort in building and rebuilding the broken debris of the nation. The social fibber our forefathers bequeathed to us has been laid to waste. The culture of uprightness has been supplanted by dubious double-speak. Greed and avarice, covetousness and graft, are now hallmarks of nobility. In many towns across the country, the ones Professor Chukwuemeka Ike described as “the undesirable elements” are now elites and power holders. Two stories caught my attention during the week. In Criminal Law, they say no two crimes are the same. Here in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State, South West, Nigeria, a young banker, his wife, and his mother-in-law were sentenced to a total of 60 years each.
The banker had defrauded so many depositors of their deposits and used the wife’s and mother-in-law’s bank accounts to siphon the funds away. He was done in by a vigilant woman who raised a petition and the bank took up the matter for investigations. Some cool 21 million naira was found in her wife’s account and equally another huge amount in the mother-in-law’s account. The three are to spend the next 5 years in a Correctional facility as the 12 count charges are to run concurrently. So also in Akwa Ibom, South-South Nigeria. Another young man, his fiancée and to be mother-in-law are to spent the next 21 years in another Correctional facility. They had jointly scammed an American lady of over 900 thousand dollars. The two related, but yet different cases, say slot about the level of negative rot in the system.
One may start wondering: what a society we are growing and developing? In an age when UAE was using drones to shoot chemicals into the sky to provoke rains, so that the arid weather of 50 degrees Celsius can come down, Surprisingly, Sunday Igboho and Nnamdi Kanu are still mobilizing those who fought the Ijaiye-Egba war of 1860. Even the Kiriji war of 1880 did witness the use of some modern weapons. The age of fighting wars with charms is over. Let he who have ears hear. That Kanu and Igboho over-reliance on voodoos has been sarcastic, detonated their false bloated egos. This is an age of truth, of science, of knowledge, not of invocations of elemental beings and demons. Just like the unnamed prophetess accused of issuing out fake prophecies, those who produced those charms for these people are equally guilty of “deceit” and “fake prophesies”.
Therefore, their shrines deserve the treatment Oluwatosin gave the God of Truth Covenant Evangelical Church. If it is true that Sunday Igboho was crying in the Cell, I am dead sure he was not crying out of pain or deprivation. He was crying because of the failure of the old man to fly into the dingy Cell, manacled him, and flew out before anyone could decipher what was going on. He wanted that hero moment badly. But no old man, not even a woman now, to order the elemental being into that flight. Because those powers are simply no more now. They belong in the folklore. They belong in Mr. Tortoise’s stories of old. Perhaps, they belong to Nollywood’s African Magic. Watching too many of these home videos can truly change one’s orientation and perceptions. Not anymore now.
Therefore, it is a mere illusionary exercise for anyone to rest his hope on acquisitions of charms to fight any war. It is bound to fall. It did fail Mazi Nnamid Kanu. It has also fail Chief Sunday Adeyemo Igboho. And take it, sane fate await anyone who fantasizes his war ammunition infrastructure on such. I pray the two irredentists ethnic matadors to get reprieve as soon as possible. They must surely have learned a few more things by now. Mere noise and people’s applause do not win games. Neither would propaganda and emotional outbursts. These are part of the negative mentality holding us both as a Nation and people back. Rather, better tactics, superior strategies, and adequate preparations do.
Alagba Afolayan Adebiyi writes from Lagos, Nigeria
Feferity Media Group