GUEST COLUMNIST By Fredrick Nwabufo
It is the bounden duty of every citizen to hold the government to account. In fact, citizenship is a call to duty – for the state. And there is no compelling duty which supersedes citizens subjecting their employees – the government – to scrutiny and constant vigilance. Criticising the government is within the rights of every citizen, and active citizenship demands taking the government through its paces. No government is without criticism, and none is too special for criticism.
However, we must distinguish between any government and Nigeria as a country. Governments will come and go, but Nigeria remains. We must understand Nigeria is its people. So, when we cast pejoratives at the country we are only slinging shots at ourselves. If we say, ‘’Nigeria is a scam’’, inadvertently we are implying, ‘’Nigerians are scammers’’. Nigeria did not become a ‘’scam’’, as some of those reviling the nation say, by accident; it became whatever it is by the machination of all of us.
Nigeria is not a ‘’mere geographical expression’’. Nigeria is its people. The good, the bad and the ugly – we made it so. Whatever is ailing the country we are a vector of the causative factors. If Nigeria is a scam – as alleged by Pastor Paul Adefarasin — then we are all scammers. Though I concede that Adefarasin’s outburst might have come from a place of patriotism, his cataloguing of Nigeria as a ‘’scam and fraud’’ falls short of tact and critical reasoning. If Nigeria is a fraud; then we are all fraudsters – leaders and followers alike. We all have contributed in no small measure to the discomfiture of the entity.
We live in a country where pastors run their ministries like conglomerates. They run them like business enterprises — but evading tax in the process. CAMA; a law to regulate the business undertakings of the religious industry and to bring some transparency and accountability into the ‘’spiritual business’’ was introduced by the government. However, the staunchest antagonists of this law have been pastors. Yet, these same people who do not want to live by the law are the loudest voices when passing capital sentences on Nigeria. Interestingly, these pastors run their churches in conformity with the law in other countries. They submit their finances for regular checks by the authorities in the UK, the US and other places. But in Nigeria they live in triumph of the law.
Pastor Chris Oyakhilome has been spreading injurious falsehood regarding COVID vaccine. He claims it is the concoction of the anti-Christ. He was fined 125,000 pounds for making ‘’potentially harmful and unsubstantiated’’ claims about the vaccine by the UK. But in Nigeria where he continues to traffic in COVID conspiracies, he has not been made to account for his transgressions because he is a ‘’man of god’’. Perhaps, this is why Nigeria is a ‘’scam’’.
If Nigeria is a scam, then it is because of pastors who sit on high and trample on the laws governing the land. If Nigeria is a fraud, then it is because of pastors who go into concordats with politicians every election season; campaigning for them on the pulpit and commanding the bloodhounds of hell against those who do not accept their ‘’anointed candidates’’.
The clergy is as tainted as the political class.
Also, a civil servant, who earns N150,000 monthly but has kids in UK schools and with real estate dotting major cities in the country, will revile Nigeria submerging his own hypocrisy in lamentations and jibes at the state. He ignores conveniently his complicity in the corruption ravaging the country. In addition, some citizens spurn laws, rules and regulations. Where there are traffic lights, they ignore them; where there are procedures, they bypass them, and where there are standards put in place for effective service delivery and operations, they abandon them.
Yet, they all blame ‘’Nigeria’’ for the jeopardous status quo as if the country exists without its people. The problem with Nigeria is a people problem. But the tragedy is that no one wants to accept liability for the appalling state of things. We cast the blame at the feet of ‘’abstract Nigeria’’. We are all complicit in the degenerative emasculation of Nigeria.
Instead of abiding in wilful fatalism about Nigeria, we should project goodness and positivity into the system while working at making our country what we want it to be. Nigeria is what we make of it. The political class is flawed. But that is the reason a new generation of leaders must emerge and take the reins. None but ‘’ourselves can free our minds’’. Citizenship is a call to duty.
NIGERIA IS NOT A SCAM.
By Fredrick ‘Mr OneNigeria’ Nwabufo