Have you heard about ‘payola’? Payola is the term used for money collected under the table by ‘On Air Personalities’ in broadcasting stations in order that certain recorded music is broadcast more times than normal. In many countries, payola is a crime. In Nigeria, it now appears to be a crime if you are a poor budding artiste and you come to a station to promote your music without bringing payola. The thing has taken root so badly that I hear that a lot of guys and girls now look for jobs in radio stations not because of the salary but the expected payola.
Have you tried to get into an office to see a big man in Nigeria lately? Stoneface at the gate will bark at you, ‘Oga no dey!’ Quietly pass a few naira notes in his direction and Stoneface will suddenly become Smilingface! Quickly, he would remember, ‘E be like say Oga don come back. I think, Oga dey!’
Do you think there is any group of people anywhere in the world who talk about God more than Nigerians? Ask any Nigerian whether he might go to work the following day and he starts his long reply with ‘by the grace of God’. Ask him about the club meeting you scheduled for Wednesday, and he would reply, ‘God willing, I will be there’ Check out our names: Onyekachukwu, Chukwudi, Chukwuemeka, Oluwadare, Oluwatosin, Enobong, Imaobong, Abdullah, Wosilatu, Osaze, Idahosa, etc. Even our once first lady could not help but exclaim, ‘Chai, there is God o!’ and people who do not understand the Nigerian mentality want to make fun of her. Na grammar we go chop? Tell me, how many of those people who made fun of our first lady have had the patience to stand behind a man who had no shoes and push him on to become the President of the biggest black nation on earth? Tell me that it is not God at work.
Have you wondered why for a group of people who talk so much about God, there is little God in how we deal with each other and how we run our country? Every chance we get, we steal the nation dry. Have you given any thought to what will happen if ten million naira in cash was placed before an average Nigerian, and he was asked to choose between the ten million and heaven? I can bet you that even though the guy’s name might be Godwin, he would not hesitate in grabbing the money. And he would justify his choice! Godwin will tell you that it was God that sent him the money … after all God wins in heaven and money wins on earth. Is the money not proof that there is God o?! At the back of Godwin’s mind is the fact that he can have as much fun as he wants with his ten million naira and still have enough change to bribe the gateman in heaven, especially if the gateman is a Nigerian. By the way, have you heard of a rich pastor in Nigeria going to the home of a dying poor man to pray that his soul be accepted into heaven?
I was born into the Catholic Church, and I can see how people are fleeing the church. What does the average reverend father in the Catholic Church own? His white cassock, a few books and his weather-beaten old Volkswagen Beetle… and he thinks he can inspire people to attend church? Let the reverend father take a little time off his message of a heaven in the skies and attend a ‘real’ church on a Sunday. He will see an all-marble edifice with chilled air-conditioning. He will see a pastor with swagger, crisp jerry curled hair, gold cuff links, a Rolls Royce car parked at the entrance and a glittering Range Rover as escort car. Everywhere he looks, he will see the bevy of beautiful women with three quarters of their bosoms in full display and constantly reminding Pastor that the real heaven is popping out of their braziers, here and now and not in the skies.
Nigerians cannot wait for a heaven in the skies or wherever else. We want our heaven here and now so we can rollick and frolic in it. We want to go to church where on New Year’s Day, our pastor, in the most glittering designer suit money can buy assures us that God has told him that this is the year that every member of the church will be handed the key to the Central Bank and we all shout ‘Alleluia!’ and dance like mad. It does not matter that Pastor said something similar last New Year’s Day and the one before. This is the same guy who warns you that only God can protect your life but goes around with five hefty bodyguards. Who argues with a man who owns a glittering Rolls Royce car and has first class tickets to every enchanting city in the world?
In Nigeria, we have been well taught that a God who cannot make you rich is no God at all and the time you spend worshiping Him is wasted time. Same goes for a God who cannot help you rig elections. That is why our armed robbers go to church and pray before they set out to steal and kill.
Just think about it: the man who was supposed to protect our money at the Central Bank is now in detention and the man who was supposed to catch the thieves stealing our money is also in detention. Oh Nigeria!
I beg you, who in Nigeria really wants to wait for a God in heaven?