By Uche Chris
Nigerian elite do not stop to amaze me; often their words and action give clear indication of how removed they are from reality and their inconsideration and lack of empathy for the people they supposedly lead. Usually our pastime is the political elite who serve themselves and only remember the people during elections for their votes. So the enemies of the people are the politicians who we all love to hate because of our envy of their new status of power and wealth, and many would easily trade positions with them if given the slightest opportunity.
Even the preachers have found a new subject for popular sermons: Politician and the political crisis in the country. Preachers have become the unofficial opposition to the ills of politicians. A burial of an Ambassador last week in Ibadan proved this point: Virtually most people in the church were indifferent to the powerful sermon by the Anglican Bishop until he turned to the subject of thieving politicians and divine judgment awaiting them. Suddenly, the ‘Amen’ was ear-piercing.
Last week’s viral video of Pastor Paul Adefarasin of the House on the Rock church fits into this narrative. The man of God had in the video admonished his congregation and anybody, who cares to listen, after a careful review of the growing insecurity in the country, to develop a Plan B for surviving the Nigeria situation. Our situation is becoming so dire and intolerable that people should prepare to relocate to any other country around us for the peace and safety of their lives.
Coming from such a respected and high brow preacher makes the suggestion not only insensitive and perplexing, but indeed laughable. Comically, the suggestion may be the result of exasperation and impatience with the state of the nation and the indifference and incapacity of the government to deal decisively with it for whatever reasons.
Obviously most people are already fed up with the worsening situation, and desire an immediate response to halt further degeneration, as southern governors expressed last week after a meeting in Asaba Delta State.
However, Pastor Adefarasin’s Plan B is nothing but a disingenuous flight of faith and political cowardice. As a pastor and preacher of the gospel, he is not the expected person to advise such political capitulation and escapism from a problem that is both religious and political in nature. So, where is his faith in urging people to flee to neighbouring countries which are engrossed in even worse situations than Nigeria?
If every Nigerian were to leave the country for the marauders who are seeking to conquer the land, who would be there to defend it? He wants us to escape because we don’t want to die for our ancestral homes; yet we will return to inherit a country built on the blood of others. That is not only selfish but amoral; and completely unbecoming of a pastor.
While other pastors and preachers, such as Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, President of CAN, Bishop David Oyedepo, and even Rev. Father Mabkah, are challenging the government publicly at the risk to their lives and reputation, as their vocation demands, Adefarasin is asking us to become refugees in other countries, rather fighting to salvage ours. This is very curious.
At least, he could ask us to pray; or has God stopped answering prayers? Has Nigeria’s situation become so irredeemably hopeless that we should all pull stakes? There are dozens of countries even in Africa, which are not comparable in terms of social, economic and political conditions to Nigeria. Somalia has been on the violent boil for over 30 years, yet they are still hopeful of a resolution. Hope is the ultimate expression of faith, because faith without hope is useless – hope does not make ashamed.
It may be argued that he who fights and runs away lives to fight another day. But what if there is no other day to resume the unfinished fight? Nigeria is facing an existential threat and it is a once in a lifetime fight. Christians desire that Nigeria should remain a secular and multi-religious nation, but they have to fight for it; otherwise, they will lose both and there will be no second chance to fight for them. We should look at the history of Christianity in Africa and determine the future before us. As late Gen. Joshua Dogonyaro once declared, “This is the only country we have…”
About 1000 years ago the entire North Africa was Christian; even in the last century, Turkey and entire Eastern Europe, where Apostle Paul spent most of his ministry life, was Christian. Lebanon in my life time was Christian; today a Christian can never run the country again. Unless Christianity does not mean anything to Pastor Paul Adefarasin other than amassing wealth and building a huge cathedral, then his call for exodus of Christians from Nigeria is ungodly and irresponsible.
It means he does not understand the issues at stake and is only concerned with self preservation. After serving his God, does it bother him that his child may not be free to do so? Or is he among those who still deluded themselves that there is no religious agenda in the crisis? His position reflects the inanity and egotism of the Nigerian elite who are generally amoral and bereft of higher principles and ideals of better society.
It shows generally that a Nigerian is a Nigerian regardless of what he professes. Although this is not to paint everybody with a tar brush, but the fact remains that there are bad Nigerians in the church as there are also in politics; and he that is without sin let him cast the first stone. Come to think of it, how many Nigerians can afford to escape to another country in the present economic situation?
Pastor Paul does not know this because the church guarantees his income every Sunday. As one born with silver spoon, he may not understand what poverty looks like because he has never experienced it. Majority of the members of his church who come every Sunday to offer their Widow’s mite, are having sleepless nights on how to pay rent, school fees and even feed themselves.
This is the Nigerian situation and his Plan B is an illusion of which only very few can dream.