In the constitution of our nation religion feature prominently at the very beginning. I the preamble to the 199 constitution, it is affirmed and solemnly resolved that we intend to live in hrity and harmony as one indivisible and in dissolvable fevereigh nation under God. Indeed the overwhelming mighty of Nigerian are religions people we believe in the supremacy of God, we believe that God is the very basis of our individual lives and our corporate existence.
We believe in and relate with supernatural realities through prayers and supplications and through the offering of sacrifices find churches, musgus shrines and Sunday prayer houses everywhere in the land we take part in crusades, worship sessions and might rights, we offer sacrifices and observe fasting days and religions holidays, and we so in large numbers on religion is pilgrimages to Jerusalem and mecca, taking pride in being called Jerusalem pilgrims (JP) or Alhaji throughout our lives.
While thee is noticeable decline in religion farour in may parts of the world to lay the religion inter praise seem to thrive very much in Nigeria, as more and more company ware houses private buildings, schools, and our spirit stadia are being courted to prayer arena, and the stadia hort more religion crusades than for spiriting events. It is noticeable that street within our town and villages as well as inter-state highways are often blocked these days by enthusiastic worshippers who flock to church and camp meetings.
It is not and exaggeration to state that there are as many churches and Mosques as there are streets in our urban areas. According to Norimitsa Onishi in an article in new York times march 13,2002 “Christianity is growing faster in sub-Saharan Africa than in any other place on earth. Roman Catholicism and the other Major protestant denomination are gaing mine follows everyday, but new churches are leading the boom.
Within this religion firmament, bishops, evangelists pastors, prophet, faith leaders and visionaries, as well as sheikhs, mams and gurus of all sorts are swelling in number and having a failed day in recent past a new dimension has been added to the throwing religions enterprise. And this is the increased patronage of high ranking public official who not openly call for and sponsm regular prayers sessions in different churches and prayer houses have themselves become born again Christians and prayer erchants, often appearing at church crusades and prayer vigils with all the paraphernalia of public office and sometimes grabbing the microphone to render sanctiononion homilies and earthshaking prayers. Also worthy of note is that these days prayer and preaulims sessions are no longer limited to churches, Mosques and homes, but they are held in government offices, in commercial buses, corporate boardrooms and in open markets. Nigerian going about their daily businesses are seen brandishing the Bible Wkoran, the Rosary or Islamic prayer beads.
The langeil bill boards in our town and cities are those colvertising upcoming religions crusades are faith healing carnivals. The exclamations, to God be the glory, praise the Lord, the Lord is God, Bless you, “ and Alaahu wa K’bar,” are often on the lips of Nigeria at worker at play from the exacted members of the National Executive council or Council of State to the young own who are about to sick common entrance examination.
Succinctly put from all outward indication Nigerians are a chronically religions people. Unarguably one can perrps say about there is no nation in the modem world unit as muner religiosity as contemporary Nigerian . Now how do you place the religion piety of Nigeria with the endemic corruption in our society ? With all the show of religiosity one would have expected to see a very high degree of social morality in Nigeria, since all world religions generally promote truth, justice, honesty and probity.
But this is a reverse case withy us. The is an embarrassing contradiction between the high ethical demands of the religion profess by majority of Nigerian and the phenomenon of corruption greed and graft that has earned our country one of the most corrupt nation in the world. Some observes of the phenomenon actually say that corruption is so endemic in the Nigeria society that the society economic and political system can almost not tinetion without it.
Along side religiosity corruption in its many shapes and sizes is becoming in Nigeria- from the petty bribery taken in the work in the office or the policeman at the check point, to the grand corruption by which huge project contract are hurriedly awarded, not for the sake of common good, but because of the greed awarding official, who requires some money via contract “kick-baiks” The Nigeria society is prevalence with frauct, thievery and roguery even as our environment is a wash with prayers and ritual sacrifices to the God of truth, justice and holiness.
Doesn’t it seen a contradictory to many highly placed Nigeria hat they embezzle and misappropriate stupendous amounts of public and company, and even church funds while at the same time trying to occupy the front seats and even struggle or pray to take religion titles in their churches corruption is so perverse that it has infiltrated every facet of the Nigeria society procure medical certificates of fitness from hospitals when they have not undergone any medicate testy obtain sick leave permits from doctors when they hale and hearty, falsify the age of their children obtain fake certificate in order to gel them to school or obtain jobs for them, routinely swear to false affidavit in order to obtain false age declarations when seeking employment etc. it is a statement or fast that many or those who today and drivers licence have never been to a drawing school. They simply pay for the license and declare themselves drivers thereby putting the lives of genuine drivers into jeopardy.
Many of our country men who flock our churches on Sundays and fill the mosque on Fridays are constantly involve in such fraudulent activities as evading tax, issuing and obtaining of take receipts, over invoicing and under –invoicing importation of take drugs, petty and large scale bribery, take anclit report, adverse fee frond, ete. All these practices are so common place so inside spread that many Nigerian youths can not decipher between good eril or between what is right and wrong. As a result, corruption in Nigeria has been described as system, and the consequence are legion corruption has bred in efficiency and diminished productivity in both the public and private sectors of the economy.
It has discourage investment, fuelled capital flight, increased unemployment and inflation, created and acute degree of poverty, brought about a severe decline in the quality of life and life expectancy in Nigeria and given Nigeria and Nigeria a terribly bad image in the cornity of Nations. Infant corruption is an affront on human dignity and an assault on the human conscience apart from being a negation of the Christian rocation to promote holiness and righteousness in the world. Are they truly Christians? This question is pertinent and fundamental because many of our people who engage in the sharp practices enumerated above would like to be seen as pious Christians. But really are they?
Do they really know the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of holiness and righteousness, who in Leviticus 19:2 says” be holy for the Lord am holy” Do they really know the God of Moses and Joshua who on mount Siriat presented the ten commandment as the tempt of his contract with him people insisting that fidelity to this ethical code is what will distinguish his people from others? Do Nigerian who claim to worship God, but who at the same time offer and take bribe, defraud, evade tax and circumvent justice know the God of Mosses who in Exodus 22:8 says “ You will accept no bribes, for a bribe blinds the clear sighted and is the cause of the ruin of the upright.
Do they know the God of the prophets who in Isaiah 33:15 says that the person who will be qualified to be in his presence is the one who “acts uprightly and speaks honestly, who scorns to be rich by extortion, who rejects bribes out of hand, who refuses to listen to plan involving bloodshed and shuts his eyes rather than countenance crime. Do Nigerian worshippers who make a daily show of their religiosity known that what the Lord truly require of us is to love terekerly, to do justice and to work humbly by me God (Micah6:8 John the Baptist while preparing for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ crudemned the kind of religion that thrives side by side with corruption as empty ritualism.
In his addrer to those who gathered to listen to him, amongst whom were solders and tax collectors, he admonished “Exalt no more than the appointed rate… No intimidation. No Excntinu be content with your pay” Luke 3:13-14. Jesus himself denounced the kind of religions practice that was not matched by high moral and ethical standards in realize that not all those who claim to be Christians will enter the kingdom of heaven but only those who do the will of the father Mathew 5. This Christianity make no room for crooks and fraudsters. It has no place for those who offered take bribes. Genuine Christianity does not accommodate the cnetire of “ settlement” in Nigeria to day.
Therefore, faced with the contradiction and the embarrassment of a booming Christianity in the most of an environment that stinks with corruption and indiscipline, one is poise to conclude that what is spreading like wildfire in contemporary Nigeria is not genuine Christianity at all, but a masc movement with elements of Christian ritualism, one that is in large measure shallow, superficial, noisy and devoid of substance and depth. Popular Christianity in Nigeria is often Materialistic and individualistic in orientation, with an in credibly high sense of devotion to the cult of material and physical prosperity, success and healing, and with little or no attention at all given to the social morality of the believing persons.