By Prince Charles Dickson PhD
I will start my essay by extensively copying extracts from a public lecture that was given by Prof Sola Adeyeye…
Alas, the average Nigerian mind has been buffeted and drowned by gales of superstition and supernaturalism.
In my second year at Ilesa Grammar School, I was smitten by love for a girl who was at St. Margaret School, Ilesa. I felt that I had little chance of winning her hand in love. It occurred to me that I could become most popular if I could win the 100 yards race for junior students. I knew that St. Margaret girls would come as guests at our annual Inter-House Sports Competition. So, I went with a friend to a babalawo in town. He made lacerations in my ankles and gave me *Ọfẹ* which he promised would propel me to supernatural speed as I pronounced incantations during the race thus: _Ọfẹ, gbé mi, Ọfẹ, gbé mi_ meaning __Ọfẹ_, lift me!
Unfortunately, my ankles got infected and septic; I suffered severe pain. Worst of all, as the the gong sounded and others ran, I was still stooping and reciting incantations- _Ọfẹ, gbé mi, Ọfẹ, gbé mi_
Stupid _Ọfẹ_ refused to lift me! Other students had run almost 50 yards before I finally began to run! The whole field bursted into guffaws. It was (and must still be) the worst record in the 100 yards sprint in the history of Ilesa Grammar School!
I was a member of the House of Representatives When Bellview Airline crashed in October 2005. At the conclusion of the usual debate, the Chamber resolved to pray for the souls of those who had died. I jumped on my feet and raised a point of order. Only Uche Onyeagocha backed me. We insisted that we should let prayers be offered in our churches and mosques while we legislators focused on doing proper oversight to ensure that our aircrafts were well maintained and our pilots well trained. We asserted that after all our prayers, another plane would crash within six months because of a poorly maintained fleet. The chamber erupted into spontaneous denunciation and protestations. “No plane would crash again in Jesus name!” “You are prophets of doom; we bind and reject your prophecy in Jesus name!”
Alas, about two months later, Sosoliso aircraft crashed in Port Harcourt killing a famous lady preacher (Bimbo Odukoya) and students from the Loyola Jesuit College, Abuja. When the plane crashed, there was not one drop of water in the tankers and trucks packed at the Airport Fire Station! Ironically, this was in Port Harcourt, a city at sea level and the capital of a State named RIVERS!
We, Nigerians, are a superstitious lot. It does not matter too much what religion we profess, or the level of education that we have acquired; superstitions run through our blood. This is the reason that when things are clearly not well, when they get as bad as possible, when we should get angry and be emboldened to take corrective steps, we calmly retort by saying “it is well!”
This proclamation, ostensibly an exercise of faith in the ultimate triumph of omnipotent God, insidiously yields a docility of temperament and cadaverous unconcern!
The favorite houseboy, or perhaps errand girl of a religious Nigerian, is the very God he/she claims to worship! That is why once we knowingly say “it is well” in the face of staggering evidence to the contrary, we also affirm that “God will do it!” All these emanate from the supreme confidence that we often express that “God loves Nigeria!” The way we say it, you would think that God hates either Cameroon or Ghana!
The truth, of course, is that nations, just like individuals, sleep on whatever bed they have laid. The pervasive dysfunction and decay in our national institutions are the creations of Nigerians, not God. We can pray for as long as we wish in our churches and mosques. We can tarry in our endless camps and so-called vigils. None of these alters the immutable truth that whatever a nation sows, the same it shall reap.
The Lagos-Ibadan Expressway probably hosts the highest concentration of sectarian zealots in the world. It also had the distinction of being the only Federal expressway in the world where trucks were parked anywhere that suited the insanity of their drivers. God sees it all. He probably smiles at it all!
Meanwhile, we keep praying even as we suffer and smile as Fela Anikulapo-Kuti once sang. We forget that the righteousness which exalts a nation (Proverbs 14: 34) has little to do with the endless religious jamborees and superstitious abracadabra on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
Most Japanese neither worship Jesus Christ as the Son of God nor accept Mohammed as His Prophet. Because of its endless Buddhist temples, Japan might be classified by Nigerians as a nation of infidels! Furthermore, the natural resources of Nigeria by far exceed those of Japan. Yet, see what the Japanese have made of their country.
What do we see when we look at the world? Western Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia and countries predominated by Christians are doing well. Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Kuwait, the UAE all of which have Muslims as majority are doing well. Israel, the only country in the world whose majority subscribe to Judaism, is doing well. Japan is doing well with its Shinto and Buddhism. Needless to say, China and Russia, both of which are predominated by atheists, are doing well. This variegated array of countries that are doing well show that progress and well-being of nations are not exclusively fostered by just one theology! Every religion has its own superstitions. Only societies that move past these superstitions make progress.
Now I will end in this manner, before you do anything, whether we agree or we choose to debate, think!
One day a shepherd offended a man. This man harbored a grudge against him and decided to take revenge on him. He chose a day and, late at night, began to dig a hole for his offender.
When he was digging this hole, he imagined how his offender would fall into it and break something, for example an arm or a leg, and maybe even die in it, without having a chance to get out of there. Or, in extreme cases, his sheep, ram, cow, or at worst, a goat will fall into the hole. He dug long and persistently, dreaming of revenge, and did not even notice how the hole was getting deeper and deeper.
Dawn came imperceptibly, and he woke up from his thoughts. Imagine his surprise when he saw that during this time he had dug such a deep hole that he himself was no longer able to get out of it!
Hence the conclusion: before you dig a hole for someone else, even if only in your thoughts, remember that in order to dig it, you yourself will have to be in it, since the first one in it is the one who digs it.
Whether it is the bandits, terrorists ravaging in the Abuja FCT, Kaduna, Sokoto, Plateau states, or the bench and bar in miscarriage of justice, politicians eroding our fragile confidence in governance, or the intentional ethnic and religious state sponsored parapotic policies or the deliberate state abetted murder of our educational institutions, and first-degree murder of our health facilities. We are digging holes everywhere, so, whether we agree or not, the truth is that Nigeria, and Nigerians need to do more to find the right direction or else, we are disintegrating internally—May Nigeria win!
Prince Charles Dickson PhD