This question demands answers because in understanding this, we will begin to respond appropriately in a godly manner to the challenges that bedevil our society. This very question is submerged in that ultimate question, who rules the world? How you answer this question will decide your leanings in the face of political realities.
Living in Africa exposes you to a world enshrouded in mysteries, beliefs, superstitions, and conspiracy theories. I do not know about other continents of the world. I have not really studied them. But Africa has been a subject of passion for me. Everyone in Africa learns to believe that he is subject to forces beyond him. He believes that the reason behind where he is and whatever is happening towards him is a product of some forces beyond him and some powerful personalities. Now there would not have been a problem if God was the person we were talking about, but the challenge is that we do not talk about the Almighty God, but some evil, satanic forces somewhere controlled by some evil satanic personalities manipulating us. Hence, the average African develops a ‘victim’ mindset that tells him that he is the way he is today because of some personalities somewhere, and once those personalities can leave him alone, or at least die, he will be able to achieve his maximum potential.
He may not know it, but this perspective colours many of the agitations and issues that go around in the continent today, and especially in its giant country – Nigeria. We always feel that someone is pursuing us, someone is against us, and we must watch our backs otherwise that person will finish us. Thus, the south of Nigeria has issues with the North of Nigeria, and vice versa. It has grown to the point where we attribute our challenges to the other tribes. The drilling of oil in Niger-Delta without commensurate development in the region is attributed to the wickedness of the Northern cabals. The poor state of infrastructure in South-East Nigeria is attributed to the wickedness of the North. The terrorism in Northern Nigeria is attributed to the neglect of the region by the southern leaders who have ruled Nigeria for a major part of the current democratic dispensation (roughly 13 out of 18 years of democracy). Whatever problems bedeviling any region is traceable to the other region, and the region that bears the brunt of blames the most is the region whose ‘brother’ is in power.
Be patient with me as I set to answer the question, who rules in Nigeria? Is it Buhari? Is it the North? Is it the cabals? Who rules in the world at large? Is it US president? Or UN secretary General? Is it the devil? Or the Almighty God? The truth is that the way you answer this question will colour all your judgments as you face the daily realities of African politics and lifestyles.
When Nebuchadnezzar’s sentence of judgment was being passed by the angels of God, they read him the riot act, and gave their rationale for the judgment they meted on that tyrant. The last part of the decree reads, “The purpose of this decree is that all the world may understand that the Most High dominates the kingdoms of the world, and gives them to anyone he wants to, even the lowliest of men”. (Daniel 4 vs. 17b).
What does this passage teach me? In simple terms, God rules in the affairs of men. Now does it mean he tells them what to do and not to do? No. Man has his free will and can use it to do whatever he wants. It was God who gave Nebuchadnezzar his throne, but was it God who told him to make a golden image and worship it? Of course not. But, the fact that the man became a leader of the then known world, was not purely because he knew how to plot and plan, but because God gave it to him. It pleased the Almighty God to give him that position.
So, this is what I believe. Men do not climb into power solely because they plotted and planned. It is God who gives men their offices. When the current president of Nigeria entered office, I laughed to see some men boasting of how they plotted and sacked a sitting president. I laughed because they forgot that it was not that year that they started planning to be in power. For all their noise making and plotting, for all the Islamic agenda and northern agenda, the politics of Nigeria had remained largely in the hands of southern Christians for a major portion of the current republic. Does that not show us something? The Lord is not responsible for the daily stupid decisions our leaders take, be it to marginalize people, steal public funds, etc; but He is generally responsible for the overall picture of the Nation in the area of giving us leaders.
If it is God who is responsible, then why is He giving us irresponsible leaders? This is the reason why I actually wrote this post. Because of the state of our hearts. Nigeria generally honour and highly esteem ungodliness and corruption in their lands. How many politicians in Nigeria will garner the support of the populace if they do not share money, rice etc. and make bogus promises? How many Nigerians can boast of the fact that they have not been involved in eating politician’s money in order to vote in a man who they knew will not perform well, but at least he shared more money than the rest. We are not by any means prepared for responsible leadership. We are not by any means interested in a political landscape free from bribery and corruption, nepotism and tribalism. When we complain about marginalization, bribery and corruption, we are only complaining because we are not the ones gaining from the wicked enterprise. If we were, we would never complain against it. We would never call that evil, which benefits us.
Oil has been drilled for years in Niger-Delta, yet the region remains largely underdeveloped. Why is this so? The North? I doubt so. It is the very people of Niger-Delta. Companies and government will come into their lands, and after giving huge sums of money to community leaders, and youth leaders, they will be given the go-ahead to drill oil without making any contribution to the community. For 5 years their own son was in power, they never complained about the state of their community, majorly because money was flowing in one way or the other into the pockets of those who would have spoken up. That is the stark truth! The roads in South-eastern Nigeria are bad. Whose fault is it? The current president? I doubt. The North? Of course not. It is their leaders who would have done something about it a long time ago, but kept quiet. It is their brothers who were given contracts for these roads, and they ate the money, and did little or nothing on those roads. The terrorism in the North was it because of neglect? I doubt so; but it stemmed from a desire from one tribe to frustrate the government of one from another tribe, which went out of control. The Northern leaders failed to speak out early against these terrorists till they became an absolute monster destroying their land.
While we complain, our major work should be to search ourselves. Where did we err in judgment? God gave us a promise in 1 Chron. 7 vs. 14, that if we will humble ourselves, and pray, and seek His face, and turn away from our wicked ways, then He (God) will look down from heaven, and forgive our sins (of bribery, of supporting evil, of nepotism and tribalism, of corruption), and heal our lands. No matter who is in power, no matter which tribe he comes from, we all can prosper in this land. We all can have a peaceful and blessed land, if only we can turn to the real ruler of the heavens and the earth and acknowledge that we have sinned; and turn away from our wickedness.
This is the Panacea for the problems bedeviling our societies today, not agitations, not secession, but repentance before God, and a commitment to do what is right in all circumstances.
IN HOPE OF ETERNAL LIFE
J. M. OBODOZIE