Nigerians are perhaps one of the most religious nations on earth. The religiousity of Nigerians manifests itself in diverse ways in everyday life. The most noticeable way Nigerians display their piousness, perhaps, is the attitude of Nigerians towards religious gatherings and the way they react to existential challenges which confront them as a people.
Nigerians arguably display outright zealousness concerning religious worship. This fact, like masquerades, can be seen on the streets on Sundays and on Fridays, when most Christians observe the Sabath, and the Muslims observe the Jumat. On these days a sudden silence grips the street, as owners of private businesses abandon their quest for money in search of eternity.
The Christians, with bible held in firm clasp, march to the house of God, where they dance, shout, pray, and donate to God. The Muslims, holding segmented prayer beads, and respledently attired in flowing white garb and satiny caps, bow down in groups with buttocks facing the heavens to worship Allah.
Every year, Nigerians swell the numbers of those who go on pilgrimage to Mecca and Jerusalem. Nigerian Christians seem to love the title ‘JP’ which is usually suffixed to the name of anyone who had gone on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
The Muslims, too, before they try their luck in the bloody politics played in Nigeria, often love to adopt the title of ‘Alhaji’ or ‘Alhaja’, which is often prefixed to the name of anyone who had gone on a Pilgrimage to Mecca. Pilgrimage had become so much a fancy in Nigeria that, in most cases, the government sponsors it with tax payer’s money and nobody raises objection.
The Edo state governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, came under fire recently when he refused to sponsor pilgrimage in Edo state with tax payer’s money. The uproar which Oshiomhole’s action erupted further portrays Nigerians as a very religious people.
With thousands of Nigerian churches overseas, a critic, in a recent article I read, observed that Nigeria has become the world’s foremost exporter of religion. And with uttermost objectivity, the observer’s view is not incorrect. Yesterday, the Vanguard captured an hilarious, yet exasperating headline, which announced that the NSCDC Commandant General, Dr. Ade Abolurin, is organizing seven days fasting and prayer to end the ASUU strike. That headline left me with no doubt about how entangled Nigerians have become in the net of religiousity.
Fasting and prayer, despite its spiritual merits, should never be seen as a possible solution to end industrial actions, and particularly the ASUU strike. The ASUU strike was not caused by misty demons, witches nor spirits, but by Government’s unwillingness to honour the agreement it signed with ASUU in 2009, to fund public universities across the country. So, it is arrant baloney for the leadership of the NSCDC to think or feel that the religious ritual of fasting and prayer would end the ongoing ASUU strike.
The decision to end the ASUU strike rests solely on the shoulders of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, and that decision, like every other routine decision the president takes on daily basis, does not need fasting and prayer to be executed. Permit me to explicitly explain myself.
It is my assumption that, without fasting and prayers, President Goodluck Jonathan takes his bath every morning. If this assumption is right, then, without fasting and prayers, too, the president can decide to end the four months old ASUU strike.
It is highly ludicrous that the NSCDC, which the government has used and are still using, to disrupt peaceful demonstrations staged by academics and students, would suddenly start to fast and pray to end the same strike which they have been used to fuel. Is the NSCDC boss saying that peaceful protests are of lesser consequence in the quelling of strikes than fasting and prayers? Is the NSCDC saying that guns and ammunitions are of lesser conseqence in the war fronts than fasting and prayers?
The move to organize fasting and prayers by the NSCDC boss is a deceitfully calculated attempt to lure millions of pious Nigerians into believing that only ‘God’ could end the lingering ASUU strike.
But the NSCDC boss, however, should know that his ruse would have held sway if God were to be the one who presents the budget of Nigeria to the national assembly. Nigerians, despite their piousness, ought to know by now that the 21st century God does not interfere in frivolous issues like putting an end to a well-deserved strike.
In conclusion, fasting and prayers, though potent for casting and binding demons, would never end the ASUU strike. The ASUU strike would only end when the president, like he takes other routine decisions, decides to end the lingering strike.
Ademule David Oluwashina, A Social Critic, Wrote From Ebonyi State
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