It’s no news that Nigeria is a religious nation, with an almost equal split of the religious pie, Christians versus Muslims and a little piece of the pie left for the traditional worshippers and others to fight over.
In Nigeria, God decorates the streets, his name is screamed through loud speakers, slapped on car bumper stickers — “God fights for me”, pasted boldly on doors — “Dear God, 2019 is my year of wealth and Heavenly Blessings”, on bill boards — “The God of fire and brimstone…”, on pamphlets even in the dark corners of dingy bathrooms, God’s name reigns supreme, He has no place to hide in Nigeria. Ideally this would mean a good thing, perhaps a high and obvious moral level, visible in the day-to-day dealings amongst the populace but for the most part, the opposite plays out in Nigeria.
Nigerians have carefully perfected the act of using God freely but with no strings attached. However, they know when to pick up the strings to puppeteer him around town. Recently, I took a break from work and decided to travel a bit (travel is my favourite and my surest way of relaxing). Traveling through the North and into the South-Eastern part of the country, I was awaken to a reality that the busy-ness of Lagos most likely numbed off.
This is how Nigerians view God — A chronicle of experiences gathered in the cause of my travel and generally living in Nigeria.
God as a Currency for Business
At every corner, along every street, right in the center of every sandwich, there is a beggar, a random stranger, stranded and asking for funds to find his way home, all promising all but one thing “God will definitely bless you!”, fact, of course God will, but do I need to “provoke” God’s blessing by attending to each of every one of the thousand beggars flooding the Nigerian streets? I think not. This strategy is old also; we know that most church leaders in the past have promised their followers of numerous blessings when they give and “sow seed” to God. This may or may not be true, if we are to go by the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 5:45 [Paraphrased] “God causes the good sun to shine expressly on the Good, the bad and to the ugly, with no retrains…” Practically, you don’t have to provoke God with your goodness or generosity for him to send down the sun on you. Am I saying giving is bad? Of course not but all I’m saying is “isn’t reducing God to a business transaction a really poor sell?” You see, God is a transactional currency here, once you put him out on the table, you’re sure to get the best and the fastest service with no hassle.
The lowest blow for me was sitting in a bus in Enugu and being bombarded with an aggressive sermon I didn’t ask for, of which when the preacher finished, he took of his metaphorical pastoral cap, and took on that of a beggar “If you would like God to bless you today, then you have to give him, support his works…” I logged out, not like I was logged on in the first place, but hearing those words, I completely went dead as he spoke.
In this spirit of God as a currency, it is believed all across Nigeria that starting your day/month/year with God guarantees his surplus blessings through the day/month/year, so everyone morning/month/year shop owners, drivers, artisans, business men and women turn to God in front of their shop doors, in meeting halls, in their rooms to ask for his blessings irrespective of whether or not they are willing to obey or follow his instructions through the day or not cheat customers (as he commands), or at least be diligent in their jobs and not be completely inefficient at work (a trait Nigerians wear with pride). Following this format, Bus drivers begin their journeys with songs that give God praise, paying their little tribute to the big guy upstairs and once close to their location make a quick switch to any other tone that suits their mood. In my case, D’Banj’s 2015 Hit track “I love that booty, I love that booty, I love that booty, it’s a booty call!” snatched “Onise” off Nathaniel Bassey’s lips before he could land “Iyanu, as we slowly drew close to our destination, the driver had done his part, God was to take over and do his part while he enjoyed the very heavily decorated lines — “I love that booty, I love that booty, I love that booty, it’s a booty call!”
God as a Hit Man
God in Nigeria is really forced to go fight endless battles, with spirits, evil bosses, Uncles in villages, ex-girlfriends, gay people and everyone who dare stands in the way of those calling on his name. He is forced to spit fire on enemies and kill everyone who dares make a move against progress, be in a legal or illegal progress. No day would go by across the country without God being sent to punish or judge mercilessly or destroy fellow Nigerians “God punish you there!” “Holy Ghost fire destroy you there!” and etc.
God however has clearly said across many passages in the Bible and the Koran that he has no interest in killing or destroying people (leave the devil to his mastery), He is all about love, it is his nature and it is who he is. His love is there for everyone: Sex workers, witch doctors, murderers, everyone. No expectation. God really just wants to love and see people flourish, but No! Nigerians have gone ahead of him to edit his JD, forcing him to wear the hat labeled — Hit man.
It really makes me laugh when I hear non-Buddhist/Hiduist Nigerians who have no idea of what Karma is, force the Karma Philosophy on God. First of all Karma is majorly an Eastern (Indian mostly) ideology which in reality has little to do with immediate punishment for evil or good doers. For those who care much, check it up HERE. Sorry folks, your God doesn’t really work that way, or necessarily believe in Karma, at least not in the way you believe.
God as an Excuse
In the course of my travel, I decided to visit home and see my loved ones who I had not seen in months. Entering Enugu State, the very heart of South Eastern, the current Governor of the State announces in a huge billboard “Enugu State is in the Hands of God”. This on paper may seem really nice and sweet but nah, this is an old tactic Nigerians use to deflect any God given opportunity and responsibility back to him. At work, people who have no intention to deliver on projects will drag God in with lines like — “By God’s grace, I will deliver, only by God’s grace…”, making their insufficiencies look like God’s fault of not supplying enough Grace to carry out the project. Governor Ugwuanyi’s tactic is old but it works wonders in Nigeria. Others will go on to say “I am believing God for this situation”, the situation could be an examination that one did not study for, a job position that one is clearly not qualified for, a sickness that might need just a little medicine, all situations are clearly ones God has given men the grace to carry out, but No! “God’s grace” must be relied on. Even Nigerian security authorities have applied this to many physical and spiritual battles handing their responsibility back to God, with the Nigerian Army slogan being “Victory is from God alone” — This a caveat, if we ever lose any battle, Dear God, it’s your fault! Just as how an entire state has been re-dedicated back to God because an underperforming Governor knows how this development would excite Nigerians and did it excite them! He won, they lost.
God also makes the perfect excuse for everything even when caught in Crime, we return the responsibility back to him — he didn’t send enough grace to ensure the culprit didn’t rape, or steal… This works perfectly. Terrorists, murders, rapists and serial killers… in Nigeria most times all do so in the name of God, for his sake or on his behalf. Again, God repeats in all religions around here how he has no business in killing, stealing or destroying lives, but nah, he must be made a hit man here!
The name of God is also the perfect excuse for refusing any form of responsibility, take insurance for an example “Who needs these when you can flood the blood of Jesus on your car or house or business? All hogwash! Those insurance guys, All they do is market fear but we are more than conquerors!”
God as a Joke
Nigerians in their bad behavior have reduced God to a Joke, a laughing stock in most jokes. At best his name has become a safe word or a name to scream while cheating in bed with another partner. But do you blame those laughing? When those who carry the name of God on their heads like gala in Lagos traffic are dragging his name to the mud in all sorts of bad behavior. Who bears the slap of the Joke? God of cause, how can anybody take such a being seriously, seeing as he sits and allows Nigerians play him like cheap Ludo. However, I have news that might shock many Nigerians, God takes jokes (of course not at the expense of his authority), but he does take jokes, he laughs, he is not going to send down fire to destroy these men, he mostly will love them till they change or choose not to, he will love them still regardless (ouch! This must hurt) ‘You mean God won’t destroy these men and women making a mess of his name?’ Nope!
God as Fake Modesty
Indeed, all glory must be returned to God always. However, how about when invited to give a speech on how you built your successful business, Dear speaker, go to the point and forget stating the very obvious ‘Na God o!’, Can you just go on with facts, numbers and processes? Sure everyone knows God’s good hands were involved in your progress but can you keep the fake modesty aside and share tips for those coming behind you. Yes! We know you feel threatened and scared that sharing these details may mean these young underdogs will see the light into your secret and come overtake you. Well, how about you in the name of God work harder and stay steps ahead and quit the fake modesty?
God here will mostly be painted as the Christian God (probably because the writer is Christian), however whatever religion you ascribe (or do not ascribe) to, if the cap fits your reality, please do wear it boldly and make a fashion statement with it!