Notes for File
A recent picture of President Muhammadu Buhari and some governors in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, where they had allegedly ‘gone to pray for the nation’ was a sad reminder of the warped mindset of the typical Nigerian leader, not to mention the present administration. Here was a man, who was reported to have last gone on Hajj many years before his ascension to power. His reason was not because he could not afford it but because it was a waste of resources and besides, the holy book only prescribes at least, a visit to the holy land, and that, he had fulfilled.
The issue here is not because he went to pray in Mecca sinmce it is easier to hide under the fact that he was in the country for a working visit and therefore ceased the opening to pray for Nigeria. But the real question is: is prayer really the solution to Nigeria’s problems? Ask the honest ones and the natural answer would be no.
Nigerians, including their leaders, are the most religious people the world has produced. They go to Church at a time they should be at work. They, in the name of prayer, disturb their neghbourhood as if others do not know God. They take their religiosity beyond their known confines and cause huge discomfort to others in God’s name. Move around the nooks and crannies of the country, even in the remotest of places, worship houses dot everywhere with funny names and denominations as if it’s the nation’s biggest industry and employer of labour.
What does this say about Nigeria? It says they are truly very religious people. But are they Godly? That’s a billion and one dollar question. The truth is that Godliness is somewhat far away in the Nigerian context. They carry God in their heads and yet act to the contrary. They profess different faiths and yet are unable to live true to the tenets of their faiths. You find the most incomprehensible act of wickedness amongst them, including those who just returned from their places of worship. Worse still, they are the most unforgiving set of people.
So, where is the God in them? Being religious is not the same as being Godly. Even right in the places of worship, when the need for help is raised, you’d be shocked to find those who could quote their holy books from the beginning to the end, taking the back seat and feigning not to have a hand to lend, even when you know they do but because they do not believe the fact that in giving lies unmerited favour. They perch on others and exploit one and other in the name of religion. So, where is the God in them?
Nigeria’s problem is not prayer, certainly. There are many sluggards scattered around the country praying day and night at the expense of credible means of livelihood and yet, are unable to move mountains. So, it is really not about prayers. Developed countries know God too but have remained developed even in their relationship and disposition to God. They are miles away from Nigeria’s brand of religiosity and are yet by far better off. So, what’s Nigeria’s problem?
The problem here is simply one of sound leadership; the one who knows and understands the issues; the one who can think through the issues and come up with ideas that are extra-ordinary especially when the situation is extra-ordinary. A leader with a progressively creative mind, who would refuse to play the second fiddle in terms of sound ideas to better the lot of his people. The problem is evidently one of leadership with poor ideas – leaders whose exposure, experience and capacity are hugely limited by their naivety.
Let them pray from now till tomorrow, the heavens will not come down to address the unstable forex crisis. Let them pray from now till kingdom come, the heavens will not transform into forces to combat Boko Haram. Let them pray from now till eternity, Angels will not transmute into humans to help tame the tide of corruption. Let them pray from now till they are fatigued, Nigeria will remain what it’s always been – Nigeria – except the approach changes significantly.
What Nigeria requires is a leader that is just and fair in his disposition to all; the one that can transcend sectional sentimentalism – a leader that can make hard choices when the occasion demands; the one that truly belongs to no one but everyone. That’s what Nigeria needs – a very godly but not necessarily religious leader, one that can live above board. Period!