By Ose Oyamendan
You don’t have to be the devil to know that there’s trouble in the house of God in Nigeria. And, these are not troubles like drowning while attempting to walk on water or accidentally drinking a bottle of converted “ogogoro”, forgetting they’d just converted it from water. Nigerian men of God don’t waste their time messing with water; they walk on carpet of money and drink the finest wine. But this trouble is serious wahala. It’s so bad it must be a really trying time in heaven. When God peeks down and see what is being done in his name in Nigeria, he must shake his divine head and wonder why he took flooding off the table after that first epic flood. Maybe some angels forgot there would be a Lord Lugard and a Lord Harcourt and, between them, they would have this brilliant idea of creating a nation called Nigeria.
Imagine if these were the days of the Old Testament, there would be no Nigeria. Our men of God have sinned so much and led us down the path of sins so many times we would easily have replaced Sodom and Gomorrah. But, then it would have taken the mother of all floods to wash away Nigerian pastors since they’re always up there in the skies in their private jets. Maybe they should stay up there because if he was up there, Pastor T.B. Joshua, one of God’s biggest prophets on earth, would still be on the television handing out miracles like they’re candies in a store. This man of God who has cured all sorts of diseases that have confounded legions of well-trained physicians and scientists the world over and this prophet who saw the future could not see an infrastructural defect in his own house.
And it got bad quickly. According to the tall tales in Lagos which you know can’t be true, when the emergency workers came, the men under the man of God drove them away. Who knows what these men were thinking. Perhaps they thought since their heavenly mandate was to deliver souls to heaven here was one big chance to deliver hundreds at a go and they didn’t want “unbelievers” to stand in their way. Worse, the man of God was caught on tape encouraging nosy journalists to color the truth a lot so the mud from the crushed building and the blood of the dead washes off him. And, here I was all these years thinking one of God’s commandments were not to bear false witness.
This is when you feel all those angels in heaven are thinking maybe they should have asked Christ to re-classify that “turn the other cheek” command in the Bible into a country-by-country thing. I mean there has to be a different punishment for guys who steal the country’s money and for folks who tell folks to lie in the name of God. As if it wasn’t muddy enough in the Nigerian houses of God, every Christian in Nigeria suddenly discovered that their leader might have a side business. I was uncomfortable with the idea of Pastor Ayo Oristsejafor mingling with common folks in the first class cabin of airplanes. That is unbecoming for a faith whose founder and saviour walked some of the harshest terrain in the world with sandals as he won souls. But, gun running isn’t exactly winning souls, more like squashing souls.
For a moment, my faith was shaken. And, I’m a Catholic in America! I thought pedophiles were as low as it gets. I didn’t know in the house of God in Nigeria, the new fad was to line up weapons for bloody population control. But thank God, our leader-pastor came out and cleared up the mess. It was his private jet but he had no clue what was being done with it. Or, as Hitler would have said if he didn’t kill himself, it was his army but he had no clue what they were doing.
It was very heartening to see that both Pastors have the president’s support. The president visited Joshua in Lagos and Oritsejafor delivered the Independence Day sermon in Aso Villa. And, just to make sure this is a bi-partisan support, the usually infallible Governor Raji Fashola of Lagos also went and commiserated with Joshua, not the families of the hundreds who had died or in critical state in the hospital.
In some countries, these same leaders would have announced a commission of inquiry, throw their full weight behind the investigative forces. But other countries are not Nigeria and most countries don’t have superstar pastors who clean out the accounts of their followers in the name of salvation and, for good measure, splash mud on them at the bus stops, as they speed by in their luxury cars. And, you still wonder why Nigeria is the way it is and if God is angry at our country.
Somewhere in heaven, Ahmadu Bello, Obafemi Awolowo and Nnamdi Azikiwe are huddled together wondering how they will explain it to the angels that, on this anniversary of Nigeria’s independence, this is the country they fought for, the country of their dreams, the country where they did so much with so little but has now been reduced to an endless murky pit of corruption, ineptitude and poverty. There is God o!
A filmmaker and writer, Ose Oyamendan tweets @Iam_ose