By Promise Adiele
I have always maintained that an inexorable proximity exists between politics and religion – we cannot completely separate them from each other. Although Archbishop Thomas Becket, the unwavering protagonist in T. S Eliot’s _Murder in the Cathedral_ tried unsuccessfully to divest himself and the church of England of all the appurtenances of politics, he paid the ultimate price through a self-imposed martyrdom.
First, following his inevitable face-off with King Henry II, he resigned as the Chancellor and fled to an exile where he gained political protection from the king of France. Also, he embraced martyrdom riding at the back of political provenance within the church of England. Although the Archbishop tried to discredit circular politics, he got entangled in its intransigent, encircling thicket.
While one can profitably argue that there is a thin line between circular politics and religion, one can also argue against turning the pulpit into a political platform where preachers nurture, groom, and harvest sundry, divisive seeds of politics to the detriment of moral, and religious doctrine.The argument is not whether politics and religion can cohere – of course, they can, but the big question is how.
It is a bit difficult to explain or arrive at a consensus about the accurate definition of a prophet. How can one designate the identity of a prophet without committing heresy or blasphemy? Who is a prophet? Are prophets only located within the precincts of religious organizations? But in literature, we regard poets as prophets – their source is the muse, that covetous goddess of inspiration and creativity. Can we call Niyi Osundare a prophet since he accurately captured the prevailing decay in Nigeria’s judiciary in his poem “My Lord, Tell Me Where To Keep Your Bribe”.
Poets have the uncanny ability to see the future but in different ways. Is prophecy the same thing as prediction? Can we regard a madman who predicts future events precisely as a prophet? Can we, in good conscience, say that any prediction of future events with a degree of exactitude equates to prophecy? Of course, I am aware of the stale rhetoric that a prophet is different because he hears from God. Who did Osundare hear from before writing his poem referenced above about the Nigerian judiciary where boundaries of ethics and professionalism have become suspect?
But some self-acclaimed prophets have also _prophelied_ , in which case they missed the target of their prediction after regaling people with how they clearly heard from God. No, they must have heard from apparitions or perhaps, the fake pronouncements were the products of hallucinatory, conflicting, warring impulses of their mental state. Let us agree that there are fake prophets, those who hear from the devil and there are genuine prophets, those who hear directly from God. Some prophets _prophelied_ that Donald Trump would win the last presidential election in the US, but he lost. The prophets stated unambiguously that they heard from God. But Trump lost woefully. Some prophets _prophelied_ that France would win the last World Cup, they lost, and Argentina won. I remember Brother Jero, the mirthful, whimsical character in Wole Soyinka’s _The Trials of Brother Jero._ In the play, Brother Jero proudly declares to the audience “I am a prophet, a prophet by birth and by inclination”. Events in the play prove Jero to be a fake, spurious prophet of the white garment classification. Certainly, the Christian religion accommodates prophets and prophecies more than any other faith. Therefore, let us situate prophecy in this essay strictly within the Christian faith.
The Nigerian economy is in the doldrums under the APC government. That is a fact, never mind the sophistry spined by accolades and accomplices of the current macabre dance of hardship in the land. In Nigeria now, it is a case of ‘suffering and smiling’ like the late Afrobeat prophet Fela succinctly puts it in the musical track by that title. However, someone in Nigeria prophesied about the present parlous condition of the land. Should we regard him as the best, most efficient prophet to emerge from Nigeria or should we dismiss his prophecy as the rantings of an informed observer who saw into the future? What should we do with this man? Should we call him the man who saw tomorrow? Should we consult him for more insight into the future seeing that he seems to have heard from the Supreme, Almighty God? Why is nobody talking about this man? Why are journalists ignoring him? And who is this man? What is the name of his church, and whence does he reside? In this era of fake prophets when prophecies are motivated by avarice and material advancement, this man deserves our attention given his accurate prophecy.
Before the last election, I saw a video of an unidentified man in a church pulpit issuing prophecies about what may happen in the event APC and Bola Tinubu win the election. He spoke Yoruba while an interpreter relayed the message in English to the non-Yoruba audience. At some point, he decided to speak in English and spoke with such conviction comparable to a declaration that tomorrow will come. Long after the election, the same video surfaced again but with more insight and creepy immediacy that unsettles the mind. Here is the full transcription of the prophecy:
_If you decide to vote, if Tinubu wins, all of you are going into mourning. That is what God has spoken. Let it go viral, God has spoken. Let me say it in English so that everyone will understand what I am saying. If Nigerians vote for APC, Nigeria will sink. People will be swimming in poverty. The economy will be in shambles(sic). If the government of APC continues, Nigeria will suffer extraordinarily. I am not in support of anybody. As a matter of fact, I don’t vote and I will never vote. I am telling you that we have never seen hardship before, this is when we will experience more hardship. We will be sick, the economy will be sick. I am not saying anybody should like me._
Millions of Nigerians should decide if this man’s prophecy is accurate or not. While certain parts of the prophecy have come to pass and have become aspects of the Nigerian daily reality, some parts are yet to materialize. People are mourning every day in Nigeria, poverty-induced mourning. People are swimming in poverty. Nigerians are suffering extraordinarily. Nigerians are experiencing more hardship than ever before. People are sick and the economy is sick. The economy is in a shambles too. But he said Nigeria will sink. If all his prophecies have come to pass, then everyone should worry about the prophecy that Nigeria will sink. Is Nigeria sinking? God forbid. Will Nigeria sink under the APC government? God forbid. But it is one thing to gleefully echo “God forbid” by faith and another thing to be confronted by the economic and political realities in the country. The palliative of pain has not achieved any demonstrable positive purpose. Some people have described the five-billion-naira palliative gift as a way to induce the state governors and ingratiate them towards the federal government. The food items shared by the state governors to their people is disgraceful.
Some documents currently circulating on social media allege that the presidency spent a benumbing amount of 507,000,000 (Five Hundred and Seven Million) on hotel bills in seven days during the recently concluded UNGA summit in New York. In Abuja, lawmakers will each receive a Prado car worth 160,000,000 (One Hundred and Sixty Million). There are 270 lawmakers in Nigeria. Mathematicians kindly multiply 160,000,000 by 270 and give us the answer. This is happening in a country where the health sector is a crying necropolis. This is happening in a country where police barracks are comparable to rat holes. This is happening in a country where university lecturers earn peanuts and their conditions of service redolent with austerity and frustration. All these are in a country where poverty is a uniting factor among the populace. Is Nigeria sinking? Is the prophet correct? What must we do to save the situation? APC government, under the unfortunate administration of Buhari borrowed money to an embarrassing level. The current government had promised to continue where Buhari stopped and has made good its promise. The naira dwarfs daily in comparison to the almighty dollar. Prices of basic needs continue to soar as the people groan under the excruciating yoke of poor economic policies. Is Nigeria sinking? That is the big question. I rest my case.
*Promise Adiele PhD
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