Nigerians and the irony of making God our goalkeeper

While growing up, we enjoyed playing football and particularly the type referred to as a set. We played in teams of five, six or seven players depending on the number of footballers available and the size of the football pitch. The major rules were simple, all members of the team were equal and no one was superior to the others. Order and sanity were based on the willingness of players to be civil and keep to the rules so as to enjoy good football. Deviants risked being beaten by a mob who would not allow anyone to disrupt the game.

The team that first scored a pre-determined number of goals – two or three won the set, and another team would enter to play the champion. It goes on and on until the night calls. How I wish we could go back to those days of unbridled happiness when all we thought about was football, food and such other things.

Many times during our games, everyone wanted to be a striker and nobody was willing to be a goalkeeper. We consequently often had to agree to make God the goalkeeper while we all played as strikers and defenders. It is a misnomer in football not to have a goalie who is by rule permitted to use his hands to prevent opponents from scoring goals against his team. Apart from the goalkeeper, other players are not so permitted and hand-touching of the ball by a player was punishable as a foul which in certain cases may even lead to a penalty against the team of the fouling player.

Most of the time when we made God our goalkeeper, it almost always resulted in a very poor outing for the team as goals were scored with ease than it would have happened should there be a goalkeeper manning the post. We always paid for our indiscretion of making God our goalkeeper.

It is ironic that human beings believe they could abdicate their roles on the football field to God. While the scripture records that God does not sleep nor slumber and that He is omnipresent, I do not think that His role includes preventing goals from entering the net when men would not do what they should.

A few days ago, I attended an event in Central Area, Abuja, that part of the city where international visitors would always love to be, and when it was time to go home, I discovered to my chagrin that my vehicle had been broken into; glass shattered and my Cambridge University branded bag containing my laptop, a very important notepad, bank cards, drivers’ license, voters’ card and other valuables had been stolen. The hoodlums had a field day while I was engrossed with the programme. Different strokes for different folks, as they say.

The development left me thoroughly devastated as I could not have imagined the wickedness that would make a man, without qualms visit another man with such wickedness. I thought to myself that only a person who has totally yielded his soul to the devil could have the mind to break the glass of a ‘big’ jeep just to steal and permanently deprive the owner of his items. I have been using my laptop that was stolen for ten years and it had become like the nails of my fingers. When a lawyer loses his laptop of ten years that was not backed-up, his pain could only be unimaginable.

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As a necessary post-crisis management procedure, I visited a Police Area Command in a high-brow area of the FCT to incident the development for record purposes. Meanwhile, I have not had any cause to visit any Police Station in a long time, and I must admit that this particular station is patently elitist in outlook.

Notwithstanding, I received a typical wetin-you-carry treatment from the gate; “Oga, wetin you want?” “from where?” “your boys dey here o, anything for your boys” “Oga go come”.

Eventually, I entered the station, made a formal complaint and was made to write my statement. It was in the course of writing the statement that the officers started talking about how unfortunate I was. One specifically told me that “mischievous car theft” is the latest crime in town. He boasted, “we have close to 100 of such cases every day in the whole of Abuja.” The ranting was on and on and in the midst of all these, I was advised to pray very well so that I would find my stolen items!

Curiously nobody said anything that sounded plausible, scientific or reasonably comforting. I didn’t hear anything like ‘we arrested some of those bad boys in Wuse last week’. Maybe my pain would have been somewhat alleviated and I would at least have had a basis to hope against hope. After everything, I was told to come back for the Police Extract. As I left the station, I was just wondering: Police telling me to pray? Should I also fast? Dry or wet? Seven days, twenty -one or forty? The advice gave me serious concern, I must confess.

When I retired to my bed after all the toiling of that day, the loss of my laptop would not allow me to sleep. So, I reflected on how my day went and in the final analysis, what struck me the most was how vulnerable we are in terms of security.

I remember that when we were young, my mother always warned us to be careful how we discussed government and political issues lest we speak into the hears of CID (as we generally call Intelligence Officers). I was thus wondering as to where our CIDs now live. They must all have been transferred to Sambisa Forest. What has happened to intelligence gathering in our Community Policing? How come our security intervention strategy has remained mostly reactionary, if at all? How come we do not have enough pro-active intelligence to deal with all the variants of security issues challenging us as a nation?

Then, I came to a very simple conclusion, like we used to do during our football games growing up, in Nigeria, we have also made God our criminal-keeper! It appears we have also handed our policing into the mighty hands of God since His abiding presence is enough to keep us safe from all evils. No be so? All our towns and cities are well covered by the blood of Moses.

It is only an unbeliever who would think that because there are no CCTV cameras in Central Area Abuja, then the people of Ogunmakin-Odeda of Ogun State, or of Akpugo in Nkanu West Local Government of Enugu State, or even those of Goronyo in Sokoto State will not be kept safe by God. An unbeliever cannot possibly understand that Angel Michael is able to keep watch over us all and in all our towns, cities and villages just with his flaming sword.

While I am not disparaging the power of prayers and believing that God can do all things, I nevertheless know also that community policing is not a subject of religiosity or superstition. Let us be frank and stop troubling God with our irresponsibility. It is not the duty of God to patrol our streets or gather intelligence while the policemen sleep. God is not our crime-keeper and will never be! He will never assume the business of policing a city when he has provided all the necessary resources and has given human beings the capacity to secure his society adequately.

Those thoughts kept me awake all through the night. I still have not got an answer to many of the questions troubling my mind on the issue. Maybe I am just an unbeliever, maybe I should desist from processing these wandering evil thoughts, maybe I should just heed the advice of the police ‘jeje’. Should I just resume prayer and fasting so that thunder will fire the hoodlums who stole my laptop, then they will return my items and I can be happy again?