I was probably too young to appreciate the message of the legendary Afrobeat King, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, while he was alive. Today, his songs are amongst the most in my collection, and each time I want to go African, Fela ranks top. Time and reality have both worked together to cause me to hold in awe the Fela brand. The things he saw, and condemned through his unique brand of music, decades ago, have assumed incomprehensible proportions today, making me wonder what he would have been singing about were he to still be alive.
One of his songs, the one from which I lifted the caption for this piece, aimed at highlighting the deceit of Nigeria’s men of the pulpit who preached heaven to their impoverished members while they amassed stupendous wealth and erected mansions here on earth – the same earth which isn’t supposed to be their home. My surprise, actually, is that Fela sang this long before this era when owning private Universities – and charging tuition fees far out of the reach of more than three-quarter of the members whose “widows’ mite” were used to build same schools – has become a status symbol for the churches and mosques. When the legend was pooh-poohing Nigeria’s religious leaders, they were only living in sprawling mansions; they hadn’t yet graduated to owning banks and real estates. They hadn’t become ‘religio-capitalists’ foraying into full-blown importation and seeking waivers in exchange for spiritual endorsement of corrupt rulers.
Yet this essay isn’t so much about the religious leaders as it is about the quality of leaders they have produced for our society. Many of their followers, one of whom is “brother” Goodluck Jonathan, have achieved new grades in public deceit.
Last Sunday, Mr Jonathan was in a church service to commemorate this year’s Fathers’ Day when the audacious Boko Haram – whose activities have come to assume the signature of his reign – struck in Kaduna, killing, as usual, scores of people. He betrayed his confusion, expressed how “thrilled” he was, and thereafter outsourced Nigeria’s security to God, declaring his hopes that God will heal the land.
Now this is where the paradox lies. Just three weeks earlier, the same brother Jonathan – a firm believer in God – refused to hand over the fight against corruption to God during another church service – at the Ecumenical centre, Abuja – to commemorate his one year anniversary. A consensus has long coalesced on corruption as the major cause of Nigeria’s dysfunction; some also believe that the fight against the societal cancer is quite herculean and may be requiring full time partnership with God to be successful. And when the opportunity came, to invoke the powers of the omnipotent in the destruction of that which is destroying the country which the “godly” president is ruling, he withdrew his trust, and withheld his stamp of approval, which was to come in the form of a simple “Amen”.
I imagine the president gauged the anger of the presiding Bishop and suspected the man was going to ask God to kill all those who steal from Nigeria’s common till. That must be why he refused to assent. That in itself questions the president’s sincerity in the task of governance. Yet when it involved the lives of others, he handed his job over to God.
The outsourcing offered him the convenience to jet off to Brazil two days later, while his country was boiling. When, last year, the president ferried 120 people to Australia to attend a Common Wealth Heads of Government Meeting in which the United Kingdom – which Queen, by the way, is the head of the Common Wealth – attended with just about 20 delegates; I described Mr. Jonathan’s government as a huge joke. In an essay titled “President Jonathan’s Fortune-120 Club” (Here: http://www.ekekeee.com//president-jonathan%e2%80%99s-fortune-120-club-%e2%80%93-by-c-c-ekeke/),I stated clearly that the president had no business leaving Nigeria for that meeting with more than ten delegates. I highlighted the position of profligacy and vanity in Mr Jonathan’s scale of preference. Today, that position has not changed. This president is mischievously wasteful and must be called to order.
The other day, his information Minister, the one whose mentor in making ridiculous utterances is Michael Aondoakaa of the Yar’Adua years, admonished journalists not to take their freedom for granted. He was actually alluding to the experiences of journalists in the dark years of military rule. But in the real sense, it is Mr Maku’s boss who is taking his job for granted. That unwarranted trip to Brazil underscored the troubling fact that President Jonathan takes Nigerians for granted. Let me not mention the number of people he took with him to that trip.
The carnage in Kaduna and Yobe which he ignored, as well as the many ones before them, are strong enough to cause impatient military men to strike. And if that had happened, Mr Maku, his boss, and every one of us, would have lost our freedom.
Those who consider themselves more God-trusting than the rest of us would argue that nothing in this world will ever succeed without God. I agree. I also understand that most things in this world weren’t done physically by God himself; humans he created did them. He had already formed us with intelligence and left us with the right to choose. This is why the Chinese who do not sleep in churches and mosques like we do are living better than us. Ditto for the Japanese, Indians and even the West. It is strange that we seek God to protect us in the face of physical attacks, and will not wait for him to equally transport us to Brazil or Australia. To be able to get to Brazil, the president used a new jet. He didn’t invoke God to throw him from Abuja to Rio de Janeiro.
This God logic didn’t begin today. For the operators of the criminal empire that Nigeria has become, God is the most convenient name to drop in the process of fraud. In the last thirteen years of our pseudo-democracy, I’ve not heard of any atheist who was a governor. They were all either Muslims or Christians. Yet trillions have been stolen, and as I type these words, more are being stolen.
The man who outsources his job to God must also understand that God doesn’t demand financial rewards for jobs he does. Someone, therefore, may need to remind the president that the one trillion naira appropriated for security in this year’s budget should be returned to the treasury.