In the most un-presidential response to a national challenge, President Muhammadu Buhari, while visiting Plateau State in June 2018, to commiserate with the government and people of the state over the dastardly killing of more than 150 people by Fulani herdsmen in 11 communities of Barkin-Ladi and Riyom Local Government areas of the state, had said, “there is nothing I can do to help the situation except to pray to God to help us out of the security challenges. Fulani herdsmen are used to carrying sticks during grazing, but the herders of these days carry AK 47.”
The president’s response to an obvious attack on his office and capacity as the nation’s Chief Security Officer and Commander-In-Chief by the uncouth and unschooled rabid gang that go about killing, maiming, robbing and raping people without justification was to shift focus from himself to God. The President sought to solve a problem that required determination, tact and strategy with prayers. Pray, was the President elected to pray?
Again, in his Easter message to Nigerians a couple of weeks back, President Muhammadu Buhari said, “On this holy occasion, I enjoin all Nigerians to intensify prayers for peace and security to return to all parts of the country… Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” How was the President’s message different from what the people heard in their church services? The people were looking forward to practical steps to take the nation out of its dire security situation but all the President could do was to quote a Bible verse. Was he elected to preach the gospel?
The President’s utterances and position about the nation’s security challenge speak of helplessness; but helplessness is too low to be found in high places, certainly not with presidents who have executive powers. Helplessness is out of place in places of power because it births fear. Fear takes the soul out of a being, and leaves a shell. Consequent upon the President’s mindset of helplessness, there have been meetings at the highest levels in the land without actions, reprimands without apprehensions, and motion without movement. Hence, the words of government have become inconsequential; and the actions of government have become ineffectual. Government has lost its power of coercion against those who torment the country and its people.
The government’s helplessness is not lost on the people who now look beyond the government for help and defence against the blood-thirsty and money-hungry marauding herders who seize people on the highway and the byway to arm-twist their relations to cough out money in millions of naira to secure their release. Having been failed by government, they turn to God for help. But is God the government? Every prayer meeting by Muslims and Christians alike is an opportunity to seek protection of God from the hands of kidnappers and the murderous marauders. While Christians pray to God to bind the kidnappers, their Muslim brothers beseech Allah to blind them. But the kidnappers are nether bound nor blinded, they still go about their demonic enterprise with the boldness of an invincible army.
But kidnapping is not the sole prayer point of Nigerians; they also pray that they will not be preyed upon by the police, the Customs, the NDLEA, EFCC, Civil Defence officers, and armed robbers. Nigerians pray against traffic jams, they pray for the electricity distribution companies to supply electricity, they also pray that the electricity company will not give them crazy bills. On a daily basis, Christians plead the blood of Jesus and soak themselves in the same, while their Muslim counterparts recite several surahs of the Quran over mundane and pedestrian issues. Pray, is God the government of Nigeria that He should supply electricity and fix the traffic?
Helplessness in Nigeria has reached such a disturbing height that people now believe that only the prayerful, and not the industrious, become successful. Nigerians have developed more confidence in the adroitness of spiritualists than the competence of professionals. Rather than go to maternity houses to be delivered of their babies, they throng prayer houses. When they are sick, they run to mountain tops for prayers instead of a hospital for treatment. When they make mistakes, rather than retrace their steps and do the right thing, they subject themselves to fasting.
But we miss the point by more than a mile. While it is good to pray and beseech God for support, it is out of place to expect God to do for us what He has given us capacity to do by ourselves. God won’t fix our roads, he won’t fix our hospitals, neither will he arrest the kidnappers plaguing our land. God won’t fix our economy, he won’t sort out our security challenge. We have to do all of these by ourselves. The longer it takes us to come into this understanding, the longer our stay in the wilderness of affliction would be. Nigerians, wake up, snap out of your hypnosis, God isn’t going to do for you what you can do by yourselves.
Jehovah didn’t fix the roads in Israel, neither did He fix their hospitals. He did not even sort out their security challenge. Allah didn’t fix the roads in Mecca, He didn’t build the hospitals in Medina, both the roads and the hospitals were built by the people. If God did not do these in Saudi Arabia or Israel, where we got our faiths, why on earth should we think He is going to fix our roads, hospitals or security situation?
People in the most advanced countries of the world spend their days in factories, not prayer houses; the most prosperous people on earth don’t invest the whole of their days in prayers, they invest them in working to create value; they also engage in creative thinking. We cannot achieve by praying what is meant to be accomplished through industry. Nigerians, wake up! Task your government to deliver on its responsibilities of securing life and property as well as the provision of basic amenities and give God a break.