Fighting corruption and protecting the treasury from looters alone cannot save Nigeria; it does not make a dent on the things troubling us .Nigeria is much more than a vehicle that is involved in a ghastly accident. Removing dents and replacing bolts here and there would not do the job. There must be a new awakening of faith, and one way to lose faith is to engage in stupendous lying.
This writer listened to a sermon being preached at the First United Methodist Church in Georgia, on Sunday, October 2, 2016 just a day after Nigerian and her people had celebrated the nation's birthday. It was a good discourse. The Pastor, a huge muscular African American, was preaching a sermon based on faith.
His topic was centered on "Increase Our faith." His Scriptures came from Luke 17: 5-10, where Jesus was teaching on the limitations of faith. If you are non-Christian and take offense at the mention of the name Jesus, perhaps you need to work on your faith. If your religion does not teach anything on faith, perhaps you need to change religion and cease being agnostic/disbeliever.
The Independence Day speeches of President Buhari and other well-wishers delivered on October 1, 2016 on the joyous occasion of the end of colonial rule in Nigeria seemed to center on faith, faithfulness, and the need for Nigerians to keep faith alive in their hearts. In his speech, Buhari declared: "I know that uppermost in your minds today is the common crisis. The recession for many individuals and families is real." The President expressed his faith in the country by stating: "I believe that this recession will not last."
Positive faith energizes a nation for faith has the might of a hydrogen bomb. However, faith based on mere words is rhetoric, oratory, publics speaking, speechmaking, or speechifying . Many people know, knew, and have known the importance of faith.
According to Apostle Paul, "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Read it in Epistle to the Hebrews chapter 11 at verse1. The First United Methodist Church Pastor said several things about faith. First, there are "seeds of faith." Secondly, there are steps to develop faith and thirdly, there are factors that militate against or stand in the way of developing faith.
The purpose of this essay is to struggle with the question of why faith is elusive in my country. Why do we continue to be a faithless nation, and why do we Nigerians continue to suffer hardships 56 years after emancipation from the thralldom of colonialism? We can safely state arguendo that the idea of faith expressed in the words and actions of President Buhari and the Buharians and all Nigerians who are reading this essay, is misplaced for obvious reasons.
Arguendo is a Latin tern meaning "for the sake of argument." The term indicates that this essay is written as a matter of argument or illustration only, It is not a call to take up arms against the Government of Nigeria. While we are still in pursuit of an argument, may we ask: what does it take to make us a faithful generation and to bring the Nigerians to the foot of mountainous faith? How can we develop faith that has been elusive in our nation for long? It is easy to answer the foregoing questions with: "we are faithless because we are faithless Nigerians, our nation is faithless, and Buhari and all of our leaders are all faithless."
If that is our position, then our position becomes a classic case of tautology, verbiage, circumlocution, or redundancy. These terms have shared meaning of the use of more words than are necessary, tautology meaning an unnecessary or meaningless repetition of an idea, statement or word. That is the problem with Nigerians: we talk too much and do too little.
Although we Nigerians go to houses of worship more frequently and build more churches and mosques than necessary, we are faithless because we lack spirituality, for faith belongs in the spiritual realm, We are all liars!. Our President is a liar, All governors of the 36 states of Nigeria are all liars. All of our government contractors are liars. In Nigeria, lies are commonplace, and there are lies anywhere Nigerians congregate in the market, at church, and in the bedroom.
All of our present and former leaders, including Obasanjo, Tinubu, Azikiwe, Ahmadu Bello, Akpabio, Jonathan and the rest of those masquerading as leaders are boldface liars. They are all awaiting the opportunities to squander the treasury or make our money disappear. The Igbo governors, including Okorocha (also known as OkoroHausa or OkoroFulani) are charades. A charade is a synonym for pretense, farce, travesty, imitation, simulation, or make-believe.
Former President Obasanjo deserved special condemnation. He creates more confusion than understanding, often encouraging African dictators (Zimbabwe's Joseph Mugabe and South Africa's Jacob Zuma, for instance) to stay in power by causing palaver (trouble). An elder statesman like Obasanjo ought to be a disciplined beacon of hope, inspiration, reconciliation, development, and understanding rather than boisterous king-maker Caesar to whom all things Africa belong. Obasanjo does not own my country, let alone put the world in selfish pockets. Let the truth be known!
The Igbo and Yoruba leaders tell lies through clenched teeth. It is safe to wager that we are faithless because we are untrue to an allegiance or duty, also false to promises. What happens to our old national anthem?. We Nigerians are false to a person, cause, or country when loyalty is due or expected.
Words used to describe us include traitorous, treacherous, faithless, and perfidious. Being traitorous involves the act of treason or any serious betrayal or breach of loyalty. One who is treacherous is likely to betray a trust or confidence. Look at Nigerians making away with millions of dollars and billons of Naira they cannot spend in several lifetimes or years.
Being faithless means being untrue to an allegiance, or duty, also, false to promises. Finally, a perfidious Nigerian is not only disloyal but also base or corrupt in character . How many of our politicians and judges have been accused of corruption?
Our Nigerian flag symbolizes corruption, oppression and tribalism. Our false religion creates strife and division. Our religious holidays are our most segregated days. They are scorching our children and making our youth seek ways to leave the country in droves to perish as okporoko (stockfish) in hot deserts or drown in deep seas . Why is the new national anthem telling me: " Arise, O compatriot"?
I Anyamiri am your compatriot? Stop kidding me! You have not made me feel like a neighbor, fellow citizen, or Nigerian national. Your claims are as false as a counterfeit dollar and as poisonous as a serpent's tongue.. Peace, justice and freedom are foreign to my trained Nigeria ear. Quit lying to me for once. Can't you tell why most Nigerian like the old national anthem and despise the new one? Consider our OLD NATIONAL ANTHEM
Nigeria we hail thee,
Our own dear native land,
Though tribe and tongue may differ,
In brotherhood we stand,
Nigerians all, and proud to serve
Our sovereign Motherland.
Our flag shall be a symbol
That truth and justice reign,
In peace or battle honour'd,
And this we count as gain,
To hand on to our children
A banner without stain.
O God of all creation,
Grant this our one request,
Help us to build a nation
Where no man is oppressed,
And so with peace and plenty
Nigeria may be blessed.
Consider our NEW NATIONAL ANTHEM:
Arise, O compatriots
Nigeria's call obey
To serve our fatherland
With love and strength and faith
The labour of our heroes past
Shall never be in vain
To serve with heart and might
One nation bound in freedom
Peace and unity.
Oh God of creation
Direct our noble cause
Guide our leaders right
Help our youth the truth to know
In love and honesty to grow
And living just and true
Great lofty heights attain
To build a nation where peace
And justice shall reign.
Going back to the sermon, the Pastor said that faith comes from a tiny mustard seed, that develops into a robust tree on which birds build their nests. From what seeds are Nigerians building their faith? There are three small steps to the development of robust faith. The first step has to do with learning, defined as a relatively permanent change in behavior (both overt and covert) that results from training or experience. Training is acquiring new skills through conscious efforts. So long as the Nigerians, including their government and politicians are unwilling to take advantage of learning, they shall continue on a long " trek of tears."
If Nigerians and their government and policy makers shall learn to sow seeds of love rather than hatred, trust rather than distrust, and belief rather than suspicion in the hearts of Nigerian citizens, things will turn around. Nigerians' faith in the nation shall not cease to be elusive so long as learning is not taking place as it should. We have mentioned seeds of faith. What seed? Nigerians have no seeds to plant during food production seasons let alone seeds to grow the nation. Don't Nigerians import seeds such as corn, rice, and beans form ndi ocha (white men)?
We Nigerians need to plant seeds of forgiveness. So a few Igbo men toppled the civilian government of Balewa-Ahmadu Bello? Is that the birth of Nigeria' s violence and brutality? So what did that mean? Is a government set up by one group expected to be go unchallenged and not vanquished by another? My elder brother tore down my father's old house built in 1920; he dismantled what took my father buckets of sweat and tears to build on a monthly salary of 10 pounds 10 shillings (one guinea or less that 15 dollars). The old house had to be torn down to make way for a modern edifice. We ought to initiate change. Change ought to occur and new learning ought to make change possible in our daily lives.
Changes in human affairs are accomplished either by peaceful means or by means that are not so peaceful. Give me the ballots or give me the gun. One way Nigerians can learn faith is for the people to practice to forgive their neighbors. Nigerians ought to forgive the excesses of Major General Nzeogwu his fellow Igbo soldiers who staged the first military coup that threw the country into the Nigeria-Biafra conflict (1967-1970).
Here is the significant point. Faith will not be achieved so long as a blanket of ill-will continues to flourish in the minds of some Nigerians, and this ill-will continues to poison hearts against a particular subset of citizens, namely, the Igbos against whom dangerous resentment and mistreatment are directed in many forms, including animosity, hostility, ill feeling, antagonism, malice, harshness, hard feelings, oppression, disenfranchisement , and denial of the opportunity to participate in governance and business as full citizens of the country.
Why must the behavior of Major General Kaduna Nzeogwu and his fellow Igbo soldiers who toppled the government of President Nnamdi Azkiwe and Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa, affect and continue to affect the lives of millions of Nigerian and former Biafran children. Some of these children have not heard of Biafra War, never participated in conflicts, and were born before Biafra .
Some innocent children were murdered in cold blood. Some were starved to death with kwashiorkor when food was wantonly withheld from ballooned stomachs. Others were cruelly gutted out of mothers' bellies in Northern Nigerian cities. An act is wanton when done without a thought or care given to the rights, feelings, or safety of others. Who told you that there is no life in blood? The ancient Hebrews were forbidden to eat blood because blood contains the very life Who says this blood is not rising to haunt the conscience of Nigerians? Call it superstition if you wish.
How can Nigeria and Nigerians move ahead if you continue to oppress and disenfranchise the Igbo people? How do you build national unity when you keep a tribe back based on the youthful exuberance of Major General Nzeogwu and a few Igbo soldiers? A behavior is considered exuberant when done by inexperienced and faithless young boys. Our cultist son Boyboy who carries a pot of juju to the WAEC examination hall is not different than Nzeogwu carrying mutiny to the Nigerian Army. Let's talk about it!
Here is a point of faith worthy of consideration: there will be an atmosphere of faithlessness (lack of faith) in Nigeria where there is the absence of a well articulated vision. The people (Nigerians) perish where there is no vision. A vision is the dream, hallucination, apparition, mental picture, image, revelation, or the big idea Nigerian leaders foster in the minds of citizens.
What do we expect Nigerians to become in 20 years? Nigerians can build factories to manufacture Japanese, Korean and Chinese vehicles. Nigerians can be assembling line workers for the millions of goods floating around the world. Nigerians can be in the forefront of efforts to defeat global warming and hunger in many parts of the world. There is no limit to the exploits of Nigerians if thoughts and plans are put into actions.
Here is another dimension of faith: there is no faith without a price tag, or without work. In other words, nothing ventured nothing have, If you , don't expect to harvest yams, do not plant yam seedlings. Faith is service in action. It is an obligation to give back to society what is owed.
Nigeria owes a lot to Nigeria and Nigerians owe a lot that cannot be easily repaid to their countrymen and women. How do we pay the debts? Nigerian ought see to it that Nigerians have opportunities to give back through gainful employment . You earn enough money to take care of your personal needs and pay your taxes for the uplift of the entire society. Igbos often say"Igwebuike," meaning there is strength in unity. The broom can sweep what a single reed cannot do.
It is reasonable to expect the minds of Nigeria and the lovers of Nigeria to be focused on how we ought to have faith and believe in our nation, despite all seemingly glaring pieces of evidence to the contrary, that all is well and shall be well with NIGERIA. Is faith enough to pull us through? How do we have faith in something we've not seen in 56 long years?"
Consider the case of a Nigerian secondary school boy we shall name Boyboy who is in intense horror of upcoming West African School Certificate Examination. Said to himself: "Faith, do not fail me." Boyboy needs some assurance (another name for faith) that he would be successful in the WASC examination.
During a trip to his juju man, Boyboy was assured that the little bundle of charms he has had paid for, would deliver good WASC results. All he had to do during the examinations was to stand up and give commands in a loud voice to the bundle of charms to split the examination paper into Section A (Questions) and Section B.(Answers) . The juju man's specific instruction was to copy the answers from Section B into his long foolscap paper. It was simple and clear cut. Our young secondary school student Boyboy had full faith in his juju. It would be wonderful if only Nigerians can have such faith in their country!
For all practical purposes, faith is not juju; it is not what you can buy from Ogbete Market or witchcraft market in Ogbomosho. The term faith is a misnomer; it is overused to the point it is becoming as useless as the term love. A misnomer is a misapplied or inappropriate name or designation. It is an error in the naming of a person or thing. Nobody knows what faith is, and few people can tell how we develop faith to overcome a violent crime of armed robbery, kidnapping , or malarial fever.
Isn't faith tantamount to the desire for an education? Faith is our hope to dig a deep well and find a clean water supply that is not mixed with sewage, What is our faith leading us to believe will happen in and to Nigeria in 100 years? Faith is active in that it is lively, vigorous, energetic, full of life, on the go, full of zip, or dynamic. No bomb is more powerful than faith when it is fully activated because the bomb itself is merely a single product of faith.
Our young examination Boyboy had strong faith that the bundle of charms he had paid twenty thousand Naira (N20,000 = 50 American dollars) would deliver ebenebe (unspeakable) results of distinction (A plus) in all the eight subjects. He stood up during the first examinations and began giving commands at first in a low voice. His voice rose higher and higher when the examination Question paper failed to split into two, when he did not see the answer portion to copy from.
His fear escalated as his desire to avoid 8 Failures soared and became murderous. Boyboy began shouting in the examination hall at the top of his lungs. A group of proctors/invigilators who served as examination police swooped down to tackle Boyboy. It was a stampede, a fight or mad rush, at a young, fragile boy. Swoop! Swoon! Plunge! Pounce! Chinekemoo (Oh, my God)!
It was similar to what happens at the goal area at Nigerian soccer match, or scrimmage at American football game. This is what you witness non-paying fans do at the entrance of a football stadiums at Lagos, Enugu, or Port Harcourt. They rush in as enyimba (big, stubborn elephant) to stampede an ant. You would think another Biafran War were being fought all over. Boyboy is thrown out bruised, humiliated, defeated, and without the WASC.
The next thing to happen was that our son Boyboy (who dreaded and was expecting 8 Failure grades) was thrown forcibly to the floor and dragged bleeding out of the large hall to the relief of other examination takers . "Get that fool out of here " was the general sigh of relief.
Is faith sufficient to carry us through recession, moral and economic crisis? Who is the father of faith and where does faith come from. Does faith exist in a vacuum like the genie in a bottle? Faith is a wonderful thing, isn't it?
Asked another way, do Buhari and his fellow citizens have what it takes to comprehend the unfathomable, often obscure phenomenon called belief? Asked rhetorically, didn't the examination boy's bundle of charms represent his faith/belief system, and why was it insufficient to produce the desired WAEC results he wanted? Rhetoric relates to or is concerned with the art of speaking or writing effectively. We must go beyond the rhetorical to the practical. Specific ways to instill (nay, invigorate, energize, refresh, rejuvenate, stimulate, or animate) faith in the fearful breasts of Nigerians may include:
Stop alternating Presidency between the Fulanis and the Yorubas; other tribes do matter.
Let the Presidency come from another minor tribe, such as the Tiv, Idoma, Ijaw, or Utogbono.
Destroy the dangerous attitude of NAIRA (Never Allow Igbo Rule Again); Igbos have not had the opportunity to serve as executive head.
Sunday, October 16, 2016
Dr. Agazie is Professor of Education and Psychology.