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On Nigeria: When Religious Leaders Too Have Become Pawns

April 6, 2010

It is not news that Nigerians are very religious. When matters of religion are discussed, most often, the Nigerian is very cautious, maybe to avoid “speaking against a man of God”; or to “avoid blasphemy.” In such discourses, even the bluntest public commentator finds his tongue stuck. I am writing what you are about to read in my capacity as a Nigerian; a Man of God; a public commentator; and a scholar.

It is not news that Nigerians are very religious. When matters of religion are discussed, most often, the Nigerian is very cautious, maybe to avoid “speaking against a man of God”; or to “avoid blasphemy.” In such discourses, even the bluntest public commentator finds his tongue stuck. I am writing what you are about to read in my capacity as a Nigerian; a Man of God; a public commentator; and a scholar.
I am writing as a man of God because I believe that I am one. I have not been appointed a Man of God by any man; after all, I am a Man of God, not Man of man. I am a Christian leader, a pastor, and preacher. I am also a scholar; and there is no contradiction. I happen to be taught in the word of God, and know enough to comment on the issue I am addressing here. I am compelled to write in order to save the simple the confusion caused by the recent visit on the ailing President Yar’Adua by some Muslim and Christian clerics. As a Christian, I shall quote some Bible passages to buttress some of the points I shall make.

It is not in itself wrong to visit an ailing man to pray for them. It is wonderful if the ailing has enough and correct faith to be healed. What is wrong, and even sinful, is when duplicity and falsehood are ignored by the religious as they seek healing for the sick. For months, Nigerians have witnessed and complained at the cavalier attitude with which the Nigerian first family treated them (and they are still being ignored). We were lied to severally; the stability of the nation was threatened by the negligence of this family. And I thought to myself; if the president’s people are claiming that the president was “recuperating”, “watching soccer”, “exercising for more than 20 minutes a day”, “walking around in Aso Rock garden, watching birds and playing with animals”, “taking coffee with cousins”, and “would resume work next week”, then why should I “pray for him”?

Truth has fallen on the ground in Nigeria! Even some religious leaders, to whom God has given the platform to rebuke, correct, and exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine have become pawns that can be used and dumped by people with no scruples. Let me tell a story from the Bible, which is similar to the Yar’Adua drama:

2 Kings 1: 1-8: “1Then Moab rebelled against Israel after the death of Ahab.
 2And Ahaziah fell down through a lattice in his upper chamber that was in Samaria, and was sick: and he sent messengers, and said unto them, Go, enquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron whether I shall recover of this disease.

 3But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say unto them, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that ye go to enquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron?

 4Now therefore thus saith the LORD, Thou shalt not come down from that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die. And Elijah departed.
 5And when the messengers turned back unto him, he said unto them, Why are ye now turned back?

 6And they said unto him, There came a man up to meet us, and said unto us, Go, turn again unto the king that sent you, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that thou sendest to enquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron? therefore thou shalt not come down from that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die.

 7And he said unto them, What manner of man was he which came up to meet you, and told you these words?

 8And they answered him, He was an hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins. And he said, It is Elijah the Tishbite.”

I must ask Pastor Oyedepo, Pastor Obaji, Pastor Kure, and Bishop Onayeikon if they are familiar with the above passage. Here are Christian leaders who should know that there can be no mixture of faith. The first family has been reported to have contacted Mara bouts and Islamic clerics in their quest for healing for President Yar’Adua. The emphases of all those contacts differ. I wonder whether they preached to the first family Jesus, whom they are called to preach. I wonder if they asked the first family to believe on Jesus the Christ for healing. I wonder if their “prayer” for the president was in the Name of Jesus, or they “prayed” like some cowardly and undependable Christian leaders pray without ending “in the Name of Jesus.” I wonder if they can with good conscience claim that the first family had genuine faith in Jesus Christ for healing, given that they had also contacted Islamic clerics to “pray” only few days ago. Is a mixture of faith permitted by Christ? Were they not used? Did they go at the bidding of God; if so did they preach to the first family Jesus and ask them to let Nigeria stabilize?

The first family appear to have a multifaceted faith. The four pastors have brought public shame on the Christian leadership, of whom I am part. I call on them to repent and publicly apologize to Nigerians. Enough of public shame on the body of Christ! Have those four rebuked the first family for the role they have played so far in defiance of the constitution of Nigeria?

Is there no God in Ekron that the first family is looking to the ends of the earth for healing? If President Yar’Adua rises up from his sickness without a public apology and repentance by both the first family and those who have been used to deceive the nation, then I am not a man of God. In fact, I make bold to say that the recent act of using religious leaders to create impeachable webs of deceit and distract the present tentative leadership has broken the camel’s back. Yar’Adua may die in a matter of days.

2 Kings 1: 17: “So he died according to the word of the LORD which Elijah had spoken. And Jehoram reigned in his stead in the second year of Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah; because he had no son.”
 King Ahaziah died! If you read the verses between Verses 8 and 17, you will see that King Ahaziah sent to arrest Prophet Elijah. But fire came down from heaven and consumed the soldiers. The solution to Yar’Adua’s problem is not arresting or killing those who have spoken the truth; for that would bring the first family and their collaborators more disaster. They must repent. But I see the end very close. Nigerians, it is time.

Leonard Karshima Shilgba is the President of the Nigeria Rally Movement (www.nigeriarally.org ) and Assistant Professor of Mathematics with the American University of Nigeria.
TEL: +234-8055024356; Email: [email protected]
 

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