13th February, 2019
By John Odeyemi
Dear God: The creator, ever merciful, ever just and one who calls humanity to love,
Let me start by apologizing for burdening you or bothering you with this kind of missive that can be easily construed as an opprobrium. One cannot but be aware of your care for our universe and concern for the various parts of the world with serious natural disasters and the areas with humanly constructed carnage and violent upheavals. However, I am forced to appeal in this manner to your divine majesty as I have come to my wit’s end concerning the continuous unfolding of the drama of absurdities in Nigeria, my home and country. Things are at such moral and intellectual decline, I am always tempted to ask you, why you will, in your divine wisdom to create me and make me a Nigerian!? I know the ultra-optimists, the nationalists who pander to ‘stomach infrastructural governments’ and think Nigeria is still by far better than many other countries, will hiss and probably ask me to ship off. That as it may be, I am a self-acclaimed realist and existentialist, it makes it impossible for me not to critically examine the ludicrousness by which the ruling class rule and the docility by which the ruled succumb to bizarreness and atrociousness of governance and politics in Nigeria. I am particularly disturbed because you have created the average Nigerian to be smart, creative and resilient. Given the right environment, Nigerians will thrive and excel in any field of endeavor; it has been proven many times over around the world. Then I am perplexed at how inept we are on home turf. Some people have suggested that the best of us comes to fore in foreign countries and the worst of us in Nigeria once you breathe Nigeria air! Is this true Lord? Did you allow some kind of virus limited only to the Nigeria airspace to afflict us into some kind of schizophrenia? If NO as I suspect your response must be, what then makes us wild, unruly and not law abiding once we are in Nigeria? Why is this even right in our collective psyche?
As we come to yet another election year and month, Lord, I am seriously worried about my country, Nigeria and how things are playing out. I beg you to intervene. Apparently,we have allowed nepotism, ethnicism, myopic and ultra-religious fundamentalism becloud our judgement about public service, patriotism and common good. I dare not ask you to send us plagues like the headstrong and adamant Pharaoh in Egypt. However, at this point, a good smack upside the head to reset our brains may not be out of place. Perhaps, you can be so kind as to help us ‘retire’ all those who think it is their birthright to rule the nation and hand it over to their own children? Help Nigeria to exterminate the leeches who share the nation’s wealth among themselves and their cronies. If you do not feel inclined to ‘recalling’ them back to you – since you are merciful and kind to all, perhaps a stroke, acute osteoporosis, and multiple sclerosis – by now you get my drift. Something to keep them from emptying our treasury and siphoning our nation’s resources into septic tanks, graves, empty apartments etc. I am sure that once in awhile, when the angels present a situation report to you about the state of affairs in our country, you cannot but shake your hallowed head in wonder at the mischief Nigerians are capable of. I am yet to hear of a country where snakes and monkeys, swallow or make away with public funds, which becomes untraceable and irredeemable. Among other abstruseness of our nation is the unintelligent insistence on remaining in the dark ages – like, having herdsmen who carry AK 47s, the insistence on grazing routes while the rest of the world ranch their herds and the persistent and seeming lack of distinction between sharia laws and national constitution. If you, as creator, were to award prices or even punishment for our collective lack of fealty and respect to you and to each other, I doubt if any other nation on the continent will dare compete.
I have now come to understand that truly you are a patient God, whose mercy is everlasting. Sometimes, I wish you will let me be you just for a day? In that 24-hour window, I will make it my focus to find the people behind the Boko Haram and herdsmen menace, expose them and together with their bloodthirsty kinsmen, cast them into sheol for all eternity. I am ashamed to be a rational and civilized human being and see how much we waste human lives on daily basis in my country. I am even more disturbed because we seem to have become, habituated collectively to meaningless pogrom deaths that can be avoided. Lord, it is about time, that you allow innocent blood, like Abel’s, cry out from the earth. In your mercy also is your justice, both you extend to all. The poor have been marginalized for far too long, while those who occupy positions of power and privilege grow ever more brazen and audacious in the usurpation of common good. Mighty God, it is clear that our nation’s moral fabrics has been eroded to the point where we celebrate criminals and honesty is derided and mocked. You see O Lord, how the ignoramus are lawmakers, while professors and the intelligentsia fight only for higher pay. You see how traditional rulers are merely effigies and puppets in the hands of politicians without any courage or strength of character to call society back to uprightness. Nigeria is saturated with men and women of God, yet our religion is not liberating but another source of marginalizing the already pulverized poor.
Since you are omniscient, I suppose you know all these, and you give us an opportunity to turn away from sin and do right by ourselves. Somehow, my rationality and perception of my fellow citizens gives me a sense that we are far-gone to think of conversion and turning towards the light. Heavenly father, I trust that within your wisdom and vision lies the answers to the resurgence of a nation you destined to be great. From my human perspective, I ask you to please, help Nigeria not to (re)-elect a well-known ethnic and religious bigot as president. Help us also not to hand over the country’s treasury to a world known kleptomaniac. I ask you to give us a fresh start with men and women who have ideas, goodwill and the willingness to serve their nation. I will be grateful if you do this for us, so that people my age can go to our graves with hope alive that the future will be great for the next generation. I am not one of your children who declare or decree. I think all of that is up to your majesty. However, I trust in your infinite goodness and want to say thank you for the mighty ways in which you will clean our slate and recreate our nation. Thank you God, ever gracious, ever just. Amen
PS: I wish to thank you for Dino Melaiye, ‘Lying’ Mohammed, ‘Comrade’ Adams Oshiomhole, ‘Hon.’ Patrick Obahiagbon, Alh. Gudaji Kazaure, the dancing Senator Adeleke from Osun state; all these clowns makes very visible the character of those ruling and making laws in our country.
John Segun Odeyemi writes from Pittsburgh, PA USA