By Patrick James
A few years back when I was still an undergraduate in the university, a very close friend of mine invited me to a three-day revival service in his church. I could still lucidly remember, it was on the 24th day in the month of August that year and the invited guest happened to be a very famous televangelist. When he came up to share his sermon for the day, he announced to the congregation that whoever wants a twenty-four-hour miracle should come forward to the altar with a twenty-four thousand naira seed in his or her hand.
A lot of congregants came out to sow the twenty-four thousand naira before the preacher man prayed a special prayer for a twenty-four-hour miracle on them. The preacher specifically prayed for those who had the twenty-four thousand naira in their hands, while praying, he called on the holy ghost to visit then and cause a twenty-four-hour miracle to occur in the lives of only those who have dropped the exact amount inside the offering basket.
Coming from an orthodox background, I was not shocked! – I was also confused. In my mind, a series of unanswered questions kept running through; “does it mean money can now be traded for a miracle? Are miracles now for sale? If God is the miracle worker, does it mean I have to bribe him with twenty-four thousand naira before He releases my miracle to me? What then would happen to those of us who do not have twenty-four kobo inside our pocket?”
If we cast our minds back a little bit to reflect on the missionaries who risked their dear lives, their health, their comfort and their well being to introduce both Islam and Christianity to Nigeria, you would discover that the emphasis was never on money or materialism. There was never anytime in the history books where we come across any of these missionaries demanding or requesting for mundane things from our forefathers – even though we know that our forefathers had nothing to offer them.
The preachers and the foreign missionaries were the once giving to our forefathers. With their money, they built missionary schools, hospitals, good roads, houses and provided food, clean water for free. Take a good look at the founders of these two giant religions in Nigeria, there was no time it was recorded that the Holy Prophet or Jesus Christ demanded anything from his disciples or the multitudes who followed him.
As a matter of fact, Jesus fed his disciples and five thousand faithful followers. He healed the blind, cured those with insanity, raised the death without collecting a penny from any before or after He performed the miracles. But today, it is so interesting to know that once the baton of religion (both Christianity and Islam) was passed down to Nigerians, it was monetized – it became somewhat like a business, like a trade, like merchandize or permit me to say like a commercial venture.
Since then, we witnessed the proliferation of worship centres in every nook and cranny all over the nation. Whoever becomes a religious leader is assumed to be wealthy; selling what? You may ask. RELIGION, MIRACLE or divine protection to the people in exchange for money. Most religion leaders now exploit religion for their own personal aggrandizement. Religion in Nigeria became profitable,
Let’s take a good look at politics in Nigeria, you would agree with me that those who introduced democracy to us did not play the game this dirty! The white men who ruled us during the colonial days never monetized politics. It was all about rendering quality services to the people. It was all about putting the interest of the people they serve first.
It was all about implementing the policies and the programs of the metropolitan over the colonies. Politics was absolute obedience and allegiance to the Queen of England. But immediately Nigerian got her independence in 1960, the baton of politics was handed over to the Nigerian politicians, politics became a dirty game. Our politicians commercialized and monetised politics.
Politics, just like when religion got into Nigeria, became a lucrative business in which whoever ventures into it becomes stupendously rich instantaneously. Bribery and corruption became the order of the day. The set of Nigerian politicians who took over from our colonial masters juxtaposed politics with looting public coffers which gave birth to the massive corruption that keeps on destroying the destiny of our great nation.
Now prior to the year 2009, we only heard of terrorist activities in countries like Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and some small countries around the middle east. Suicide bombing or terrorist activities were alien to us here in Nigeria. Only in the news did we hear of such negative occurrences. In the middle east, most young men and men became terrorist out of conviction, not out of necessity.
The guys you would find in top terrorist groups like; Al-Qaeda, Al-Shabab, ISIS didn’t enrol in it due to poverty, hardship, hunger, unemployment, starvation or environmental degradation. Most of them took the job as a calling, as their life’s mission, as a goal, as a divine destiny and something they were destined to fulfil.
Both from the part of the sponsors of these terrorist groups down to the commanders, the politicians, the leaders and the foot soldiers, a terrorist is who they were born to be. It is who they are. It is what they will do till they breathe their last breath. The monitory rewards or benefits are secondary to a middle east terrorist. Material rewards are never a problem for them joining to become suicide bombers. No! Rather, suicide bombing is for them a fulfilment of their destiny here on earth.
When the evil baton of terrorism/insurgency was extended down to Boko haram in 2009, we began to see the business aspect of the act of terrorism. In the usual manner of a typical Nigerian, money became the determining factor in the act of terrorism. From the sponsors to their leader to the foot soldiers (the insurgent) down o the Nigerian government (our avarice politicians) terrorism is now the most lucrative business with the highest returns on investment in the country – it has been commercialized and unfortunately, the commodity still remains the blood of innocent, poor, wretched Nigerians who get slaughtered like cows in their own fatherland.
It may interest you to know that because insurgency has now been commercialized in Nigeria, do not expect it to end anytime soon. Because it is this profitable, terrorism in Nigeria would continue to grow and grow. Both those in government and the terrorist are all benefiting from the blood bath in the country. Billions and billions of dollars are been budgeted to buy weapon which finds their ways into the pockets of our politicians.
The Nigerian soldier would not give in their best because they do not want the fight to stop for now! The huge daily allowances they get from the government for fighting insurgency would stop if they win the war against Boko haram. What about the heads of NGOs, the civil society organization and the red cross. They too would be out of jobs, out of funds, if the war is over.
The company supplying weapons would also be out of the market if the war stops. So whichever way you look at it, terrorism in Nigeria is now a big business. Just like religion and politics in Nigeria, terrorism has come to stay whether we like it or yes. Do not be deceived, it wouldn’t end anytime soon. We can only find a way to live with it or to deal with it.
The recent abduction drama of over three hundred students in Kankara, Katsina State, is an indication of how our politicians play politics even with the lives of its citizens. The show of shame from all those involved goes a long way to tell you the business of terrorism would continue to grow in this country. The governor came out to say that the number of abducted students was 333, while the principal of the school said it was 600 plus students.
The presidential spokesman who we all assumed should get his information right, came out to say that only ten students were abducted by the terrorists. After the release of the abducted students, the governor said no money was paid as a ransom to secure their release. This is a cheap lie from the pit of hell.
Is there any abductor or kidnapper who would free his victim just like that without any form of compensation? We all knew the millions of dollars that exchanged hands between Boko Haram and the government to secure the release of some Chibok girls in Maiduguri. May God safe the soul of our bleeding nation.