By Goodluck Edafe
I Read the statement credited to Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa “Nigeria needs prayers to survive economic distress”. I beg to differ with the governor. Instead of requesting for prayers that do not ascend beyond rooftop, I think what Nigeria needs is good hearted leaders, moral leaders, problems-solving leaders. I mean leaders who define paths to greatness, leaders who create wealth out of nothing, leaders who identify the opportunities in their state and dormant potentials in their people. Yes, leaders who galvanize and turn idleness and innate energies into productivity and wealth creation.
Governor Okowa in a message to the Anglican Church, the papers reported declared, “The Nigerian economy was in a shamble and that Christian leader must pray for Nigeria to survive the unfavourable economic indices staring the nation and its people in the face”. Okowa’s resort to prayer request is a sign of helplessness and wont of ideas of what to do to put the state back on track. Leaders, who lament over situations, create fear and hopelessness. The common saying, ‘Heaven helps those who help themselves” resonates here. There is no record of any nation that prayers have solved its problems whether economic downturn or political hoopla without it manipulating some key economic variables. The wall of Jericho did not fall down by the exercise of prayer. It fell by obedience of the army of Israel to God’s word. They walked round the city seven times and then they blew the trumpet of confusion and victory as God instructed them. Obviously, obedience mingled with physical attacks was their cause of victory, not prayer.
Far back 1st Century, Apostle Paul rebuked some Thessalonians who thought that becoming Christians was all that they need to enjoy miraculous prosperity or have food fall on their tables like rain drops. Paul rebuked their attitude of laziness and industrial inactivity. “For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not willing to work at all, but are busybodies. Those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work and eat their own bread” 2Thess 3:11-12. Only the lazy seeks prayer as solution for situations that God had given man ability and power to overcome. Disciplined and hard working nations don’t rely on prayers to sort out economic or political issues. They deal with them with laws and penalties. Some Nigerian Christians as told by acclaimed men of God have since the last ten years locked themselves up in prayer for breakthrough; they have rejected poverty and all its consequences. Today, they are still sunk in poverty whereas Alhaji Aliko Dangote, who perhaps prays less, grows in millions of naira and dollars every day. Was God unkind to them or love Dangote more? It is the folly of seeking God without seeking His wisdom. God does not bless laziness and therefore whoever uses industrial hours to pray and shed crocodile tears does not do God’s will. He simply walks in a “disorderly manner” according to Apostle Paul. If prayer can make rich, for sure, no Nigerian will be poor. We pray in the morning, pray in the noontime, pray in the evening. Some even pray through the night. Yet, nothing has changed in their economic life. As it was ten years ago, so it remains now. And it is rightly so because prayer without a drop of righteousness does not attract the glory of heaven.
Okowa missed it. There is no miracle that God can do in a nation that chooses unrighteousness over good. Or what quality of prayers could leaders who feed themselves alone, who embezzle and deliberately plunder their nation’s wealth pray to God that he could answer? If at the time crude oil was selling for $100, $110 per barrel, Nigerian leaders could not build economic safeguards or translate the windfall into physical infrastructure but chose corruption and squander, what amount of prayer could the church pray now and crude oil will sell for $200 per barrel? Haven’t Okowa heard of the advice of the Ecclesiastics? The Ecclesiastics challenged humanity to learn from the wisdom of the little ant who gathers its food in the days of plenty as against the days of scarcity and want. Apparently, God does not waste precious time with unserious nations who rejected the blessings of wisdom. But what else does Nigeria need from God after blessing the country with a land flowing with essential crude oil, solid minerals, best farming weather in the world and best arable soil for food production? Israel has no good soil for farming. It farms on house decking yet is a world food producer. The UAE built the tallest building (828 meter high or 350 stories) in the world with proceeds from crude oil. Saudi Arabia built a very comfortable country for citizens with the beauty of crude oil. India has no crude oil but one of the most stable economy in the world. Chief Economic Adviser, Arvind Subramanian said, “India is the most stable economy in the world and the government is committed to doing what is best in the nation’s interest”. What did Nigeria build with crude oil proceed? It built leaders who had field-day sharing $2.1billion loan money among themselves while a deadly Boko Haram is maiming and killing innocent and helpless citizens and shredding a section of the country; leaders who attempted to chew their confessional statement like common criminals; leaders who are millionaires and billionaires yet have no established sources of income, no history of tax payment and no evidence of legitimacy of earnings. It’s a case of overnight contracts, overnight billionaires; leaders who pray all the time sometimes with fasting and tears yet in corruption and unrighteousness. It is a spiritual paradox – hypocrisy mixed with holiness. Okowa wants Christian leaders to pray for Nigeria to survive unfavourable economic indices. I cannot understand him. Why should Christian leaders be the ones to pray for Nigeria’s economic recovery? Does the economy boom India enjoys come from prayer? If prayer is essential for economic survival, don’t politicians have mouth to pray? Or is the duty of one to steal and of another to pray? The same Apostle Paul told the Hebrews, “If we sin willfully after we have come to the knowledge of truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sin but fearful expectation of judgment that would come upon all evildoers”.
Today men of God have not helped matters. They make Christianity to appear it exists to solve the problems of the world. That is not true. Though, the church has a duty to pray even for government, prayers are not intended to purge the effect of corruption and evil. Men of God should be bold enough like John the Baptist to speak truth to powers – tell politicians who steal and impoverish the nation to steal no more and our economy will naturally flourish. I am of the philosophy that government should shy away from attending certain events if they lack idea of what inspires rather than say things that do not appeal to good conscience and reason. I do not know what the prayer of few Rev Fathers could do in a nation where individuals who do not have factories but mere public fund thieves are richer than some of the states. I do not know what level of economic recovery that few minutes of prayer could bring in a country where government has not provided even drinking water but $2.1 billion can disappear into private pockets. What economic recovery can prayer bring to a reckless nation where one individual can loot a whooping N400million to buy just three cars when the people cannot buy even a motorcycle? What moral energy do we have to pray to face God to pray in a country where majority of those declared governors and honourable members are not true winners at the elections? In a nation where judges are heavily corrupt and partial reaping the states of billions of naira to murder justice, what miracles can prayer perform? What will God do with a nation that takes delights in unrighteousness, plunder and waste? It is evident that in Delta State for example, the amount of money stolen and frittered away by few individuals in the last sixteen years put together is fairly higher than the amount used to work for the entire state. God warned the nations, “Righteousness exalts but sin is a reproach”. Prayer for Nigeria over the years have not transformed politicians nor solved our socio-economic and political problems. Fund looters are still looting, election riggers are still rigging, and corrupt judges are still delivering injustice. Our country presents a scenario where immorality benched integrity, hard work and fear of God.
Looted fund is needed to fix our economy but not prayer. Millions of naira diverted by state administrators is needed to add value to the economy. We need economic diversification at this time but not prayer. The prayer of sinners is abomination the bible declared categorically. Our country did not jump into economic hardship; people propelled her into it and Okowa, as a Knight of the Anglican Church, he should know that God wants every offender of law to be punished. That means, if prayer is needed, our only prayer could be that God’s spirit should strengthen President Muhammadu Buhari to bring all looters to book and govern Nigeria well. That is the only prayer that could pacify the anger of God against our leaders.