CASMIR IGBOKWE e-mail: email@example.com
I was listening to a phone-in radio programme anchored by a popular Lagos pastor the other day. A lot of people called to pour out their problems for which the pastor proffered solutions. There was this particular young lady who called. Immediately the pastor heard her voice, and without trying to find out what the woman’s headache was, he diagnosed lack of husband as the problem. He assured the lady that it would be well, and that soon, the man meant for her would locate her. When the woman finally spoke, it wasn’t husband that made her to call in the first place.
But of course, she was happy that a revered man of God spoke to her. She was asked to sow a seed as a first step towards solving her problems. In many parts of Nigeria, fake men of God are everywhere. They see vision. They predict the future. They tell people what they want to hear. They are not after the salvation of souls.
All they are after is to persuade people to submit their little earnings to them in the name of tithe. ‘Men of God’ are not the only culprits. Earlier this week, there were reports that a certain Martins Ugwu Okpeh from Ogbadibo Local Government Area of Benue State paraded himself as a medical doctor. For nine years, he worked in the Federal Ministry of Health and even became the branch chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) in 2008. He also participated as Ebola volunteer, saying, “Severally, there were biometrics verification, but I survived them. The ministry is porous.” What of fake police, fake soldiers, fake journalists and so on? Just the other day, the Police in Lagos arrested one Godwin Akhenamen for parading himself as a policeman.
He did this for 12 years without detection. And many people fell for his antics. He was always entering public transport without paying any fare. In Lagos, once you are in uniform, you choose to pay or not to pay transport fare. Some conductors like it because when they get to a police checkpoint, all they need to do is to shout ‘staff’ and they will be allowed to go without paying the usual bribes. When asked if he knew Solomon Arase, Akhenamen displayed his true colours. “Who is Arase? I don’t know him. Did the man accuse me of anything because that name sounds like my village people?
I am the only one who knows that I am a fake policeman,” he said. We find this type of character in many professions. Among lawyers, journalists, engineers and many others, they are there. A lot of the people who claim to be engineers are not. They collect building contracts and do sub-standard work. Sometimes they succeed. Sometimes, their buildings collapse. The fake journalists gatecrash at events and begin to ask for brown envelope before the event ends.
They have no shame, no reputation and bring bad image to the profession they are faking. The tragedy of this is that many Nigerians don’t ask questions. They don’t subject most claims to rational reasoning or logic. Some of them rationalise any action as the will of God. And because we are the most religious country in the world, most of us believe without question once God is mentioned.
That is why as early as 8am, some people congregate at a warehouse to disturb God in the name of prayers. Things are hard these days. But some people believe the solution is not in looking for what to do to earn a living but in praying, casting and binding imaginary enemies. They believe the cause of their problem is in the village. Spiritual attack is the word they mostly deploy. But even the bible tells us that people perish for lack of knowledge.
The point is, most Nigerians are perishing for lack of knowledge. Some people say if you want to hide anything from Nigerians, you put it in a book. We don’t read. We don’t show any interest to acquire knowledge. That is why we swallow whatever so-called men of God tell us as gospel truth. No doubt, there are genuine men of God. When you see such people, you know. They radiate honesty, humility and selflessness. They are not much after prosperity and the things of this world. To them, vanity upon vanity, all is vanity.
Let us begin to ask questions in this country because asking questions leads us to getting answers. If Thomas Edison did not ask questions, he would not have invented electric light bulb. Bill Gates founded Microsoft because he broke with tradition and asked questions. Aeroplanes, cars, phones and many other inventions were products of questions and research.
We are too docile, too fetish and too backward. When somebody comes to tell you that God told him certain things about you, why not interrogate the person to tell you how and when God spoke to him? When a job seeker comes with all manner of certificates, why not try to authenticate the originality of those certificates? A former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Salihu Buhari, presented fake certificates and became the number four citizen of this country for many months before he was exposed. The day we will learn to ask questions, and probe every claim from anybody, that day will be our liberation day.