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Opinion

Opinion: 2021, The year to pray for Nigeria

Nigeria

By Niran ADedokun

Opinion, Even I laugh at the cheekiness and audacity of this headline.

At this juncture, many Nigerians, including a lot of actively prayerful ones, are disillusioned with the idea of what role prayers could play in the development of the country.

It is the tradition of many worship centres to lift their voices in supplication for the country, and yours truly have seen many quiet protestations when such calls are made in recent years.

Even those who govern us hold may not hold different views. For instance, there’s a promo that plays repeatedly on Channels Television.

In it, a man who has been in public life for the better part of the last twenty years says something like: “there is too much God in our daily conversation at the moment…”

Every time I hear this sound bite, I shudder and wonder whether this man and his cohorts realise that they are responsible for the average Nigerian’s unwitting suspension of his rational faculty for the intangible, yet comforting hope that faith brings.

Do these guys tell themselves some home truths about how Nigerians are forced to pray for everything from food to money to electricity and even security?

Things that are taken for granted in well-governed societies. But I digress.

The point here is that the idea of relying on God to do what human beings apply themselves and the natural endowments of their countries to accomplish elsewhere, is rather lame and escapist!

Yet, something gives the impression that Nigeria, if it must survive, needs some divine intervention in the coming year.

I will explain. 2020 has been an especially tumultuous season when even those in charge of the country seem bewildered.

In November, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) announced that the country had fallen into its second economic recession in four years.

Economists attribute the economic contraction to the COVID-19 Pandemic and the prolonged fall in oil prices.

Although there is a N13.08 trillion 2021 budget with a N5.2 trillion deficit recently passed by the Senate; nothing gives any indication that the managers of the economy have any solid idea about how to make the economy better in the coming year.

Those prospects are further dimmed by the virulence of the second wave of COVID-19.

This has started to warrant an essential but gradual restriction of economic activities in certain sectors of the economy.

This may extend to other sectors of the economy given the failure of Nigerians to follow non-pharmaceutical protocols for the management of the pandemic, and government’s own failure to match words with action.

The controls are very likely to make life harder for the people and increase poverty. That is not to speak about the strain that the largely unprepared health sector will face from the unrelenting manifestation of the pandemic.

On Tuesday, Director-General of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu told Nigerians to get ready for a difficult January 2021.

At the press briefing of the Presidential Task Force, Ihekweazu said: “our treatment centres are filling up, we are struggling to keep up, we are struggling to find the facilities to manage, the oxygen to manage, every night we are faced with phone calls of patients desperate for care. So, unfortunately, January will be a tough month for all of us…” Hmmm.

There is also the overwhelming dimensions of crimes and criminality. There is no waking day in Nigeria when you do not hear about numerous premature deaths resulting from ethnic cleansings, banditry, kidnappings and other violent crimes gonewrong.

Nigeria has suddenly become a killing field where law enforcement agents look on helplessly.

This 2020, the country, in fact, witnessed a spectacle in which ransoms were believed to have been paid for the release of some policemen who were kidnapped. So, what could better indicate the helplessness of government and its agencies?

Last week, Chair of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Governor Kayode Fayemi, expressed the frustration of 36 state governors about the security situation in the country.

He spoke when he led three governors on a solidarity visit to Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina State, over the abduction of hundreds of students of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara.

His words: “ at the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), we believe that we not only have to be on top of banditry, kidnapping and criminality generally, but we also have to be on top of the causes of these problems social inequality and poverty are key issues.

We are all tired, we are all frustrated that these issues are happening.”

Even President Muhammadu Buhari is himself unsure of the way to go sometimes although he has remained unenthusiastic about suggestions on the need to consider a replacement of his topmost security advisors.

Things are now so bad that it is obvious to the entire world that Nigeria is indeed on the tethers of consuming crisis.

Did you read that Financial Times piece entitled: “Nigeria is at the risk of becoming a failed state?”

Oh well, the FT truly said nothing new in that article, but if we are, to be honest with ourselves, don’t we all feel like Nigeria is on the edge of the precipice? So, where does God come in?

The first point to make is that those who govern us are out of ideas, so who takes care of the flies that pester the life of a tailless cow but God?

Now, we should be clear that God is interested in the affairs of men.

God can inspire leaders who all seem to be at their wits’ end to find creative solutions to the country’s problems.

He can even force their hands like he forced the hands of Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar and Herod! Check Proverbs 21:1 which says “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.”

And 2 Chronicles 7:14 “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

And countries have evidence of God’s intervention in the modern times. There are stories about specific ways that prayers turned around similar situations in South Korea, America and a few other countries.

Nigeria cannot be different! However, should we just fold our arms and depend on prayers for the salvation of our country?

Absolutely not! First, we must all commit to doing the right things by our country. Righteousness not religion turns things around for a country.

This is why countries which do not even acknowledge God prosper!

Nigerians cannot continue to cut corners and cheat on themselves and hope for God’s intervention or that their country will change.

Even the Bible already eliminates that prospect or how do you interpret: “If I regard iniquity in my heart. The Lord will not hear.”

And there is no easier way to measure iniquity than the things we do to jeopardise the interests and wellbeing of fellow human beings. God says it is impossible for anyone who does not love the human being that he seems to claim to love God!

The measure of the love of God is the love you have for human beings, which makes you give consideration to them and all.

Secondly, we must play the citizen’s role by speaking out against misgovernance and insisting on Government’s fulfilment of their campaign promises.

And here I mean governments at the federal, state and local government levels. Nigeria needs more of the #ENDSARS protests, even if they do not happen on the streets this coming year.

The old and young must raise their voices however they can and put the governments on their toes all the time.

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What is clear is that Nigeria cannot continue the way it is going for much longer without becoming history or at least another trouble in the mould of Afghanistan and such other failed states to the world.

That is one truth we must honestly tell ourselves and do our best to avert. Wishing all readers, a productive, safe and happy 2021.

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