Easter came with the usual greetings and exhortations from the rulers of Nigeria. Religious holidays always provide an occasion for the Nigerian ruling class to issue robotic and wooden exhortations asking the people to emulate the exemplary lives of Jesus or Mohammed. I’ve had to deal with such exhortations my entire life. This year, I have decided not to listen to President Yar’Adua and the thirty-six state Governors. Let them sell their exhortations to the marines. I have no intention of emulating Jesus this time around. Rather, I prefer to don my thinking cap and ask why I am always asked to emulate Jesus and Mohammed by rulers whose lifestyles and (mis)handling of our affairs are diametrically opposed to the prescriptions of both deities. Why are President Yar’Adua and the state Governors so anxious to have me emulate Jesus?
The more I think about it, the more it appears odd that we are not being asked to emulate the Nigerian sons of Jesus who, after all, are closer to the corridors of power in Abuja and the state capitals than Jesus and Mohammed combined. Why, for instance, would President Yar’Adua not ask me to emulate Chris Oyakhilome, one of Jesus’s more prominent Nigerian sons? Perhaps the President read it in my stars that I am allergic to Pastor Chris’s Savile Row suits? Or someone told him that I wouldn’t look cool in Pastor Kris Okotie’s Ferragamo shoes and designer wrist watches? I don’t even mind emulating Pastor Okotie’s jerry curls but I am growing bald. And how about trying to emulate travelling in style in private jets like Pastors Enoch Adeboye and David Oyedepo? Again, why would Abuja want me to emulate Jesus and not his abundantly-blessed Nigerian sons? In African culture, father’s pray for their sons to fare much better than them in life. Materially. That prayer has worked for the Nigerian sons of Jesus. Shouldn’t the prayer continue its logical progression by making sure that we, the grandsons, are even more materially successful than the pastors listed above?
I think I know why the rulers of Nigeria want to turn back the hands of the material clock by making us all look like Jesus and not his contemporary Nigerian sons. A good number of Nigerians already enjoy the standard of living Jesus had 2000 years ago and some even live below what Jesus would have considered the poverty level of his time, manger, warts and all. By constantly asking us to emulate him, the rulers of Nigeria are indirectly expressing their interest in the maintenance of the status quo. Consider transportation. Jesus covered extraordinary mileage on foot. The only time he got a ride was when he “chanced” somebody and conscripted a donkey for the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. So severe was the recession at the time that he couldn’t even afford to buy the donkey. And he was content to enter Jerusalem in a keteketecade and not a motorcade like the rulers of Nigeria. Imagine the problems we would solve for President Yar’Adua if we all agreed to emulate the transportation tastes of Jesus literally? He wouldn’t have to suffer the indignity of being asked to perform and rejig our corrupt and comatose petroleum industry. No more exportation of crude for re-importation for domestic use. We would all be riding donkeys. That would also boost the economy of his home state of Katsina since all the donkeys would come from northern Nigeria.
People have been complaining about an impending food doom. The predictions coming from the international community, the World Bank, Oxfam, Madonna, Bono, and Jeffrey Sachs are simply alarming. Every one is predicting massive food shortages for Africa in the near future. Nigeria is already having to import rice, beans, and virtually everything we eat. A good friend of mine here in Ottawa, Mazi Ebere, used to joke that Nigeria would soon import elubo and efo riro from China. Today, Mazi Ebere would be the first to confess that this is now a real possibility and no longer a joke. We all know that Jesus was constantly fasting. He once fasted for forty days and forty nights. Not even the brilliant Lucifer could tempt him to grab a bite with all the incentives in this world. Imagine the weight that would be lifted off President Yar’Adua’s shoulders if 150 million Nigerians decided to emulate the dietary practices of Jesus by fasting all the time, especially in the forty days and forty nights preceding the Presidential elections of 2011? Imagine if we all refused to eat even if President Yar’Adua bribed us with miracles such as regular electricity and respite from armed robbery? No more rice importation. No more worrying about performing in the agricultural sector! Surely, getting us to emulate Jesus is President Yar’Adua’s surest path to a second term in office! That’s why I will not emulate Jesus at all at all.