Phenomenon of spiritual corruption in Nigeria
Nigeria is a very religious society no doubt. Churches, mosques and shrines dot the country’s landscape. The atheist population in Nigeria is very insignificant as many of the citizens are adherents of Christianity, Islam or African Indigenous Religions. Our religiosity reflects not only in our modes of worship but also in our names and ways of dressing. Religious festivals are commonplace here. The Osun Osogbo Festival holds every August in Osogbo. There is the Olojo Festival in Ile-ife. The Ojude Oba Festival is celebrated in Ijebu-ode on the second day of the Eid el Kabir festival. Easter and Christmas celebrations are observed annually by Christians. These are apart from the annual church congresses and conventions.
Last Saturday, December 7, I was one of the guest speakers at the Abuja Christian Youth Parley on anticorruption organised by the Arojah Theatre group. There, i presented a paper on “Diminishing Corruption in Nigeria”. In the course of the programme, the Director of Arojah Theatre, Prince Jerry Adesewo, said something instructive which stuck with me. The word is “Spiritual Corruption”. He said Wole Soyinka’s 1960 classic play, “The Trials of Brother Jero”, alludes to this phenomenon.
Encyclopedia.com describes the book as “a light satiric comedy that takes aim at religious hypocrisy in the form of a charlatan, or fraud, named Brother Jero, who preaches to his followers on Bar Beach in Lagos, Nigeria. Jero is a master of manipulation and keeps his followers in a subservient position because he understands what they long for-money, social status, and power-and convinces them that they will soon be able to fulfil these materialistic desires.” That got me thinking. indeed, spiritual corruption thrives in this country with millions of people being daily scammed by supposed religious leaders.
In order to be convinced of this assertion, what is corruption? Wikipedia defines it as a form of dishonesty or criminal activity undertaken by a person or organisation entrusted with a position of authority, often to acquire illicit benefit, or, abuse of entrusted power for one’s private gain. According to the Berlin-based international anti-corruption agency, Transparency international, “generally speaking, HIS latest study claiming the evolution of humanity occurred in a huge lake that previously existed in Botswana overlooks a fundamental requirement that the environment should be salty marine water as well as have a freshwater source due to the physiological makeup of Man that includes some salts. No other subregion in Africa has the necessary environmental conditions, apart from Southern Nigeria with the largest continental mangrove and freshwater swamp and lowland Rainforest in Africa.
Unlike with the theoretical Botswana lake that can only occur within a short timeframe by stretching the 26,000 year precession of the equinox, in Nigeria, for millions of years, a majority of the rain from the Atlantic Ocean, especially from Guinean highlands and Jos Plateau watersheds, is funnelled out back to the Atlantic Ocean through Nigeria’s permanent continental freshwater and mangrove swamps.
Nigeria is also the centre of the Yam belt known to be the food of evolution picked in the wild by our first ancestors that were hunter gatherers. When initially suggested that Man evolved in a rainforest, due to the fact that all hominids skeletons unearthed had dental markings that showed a previous rainforest habitat, what became known as the Wild Yam question was raised that Man couldn’t have survived on wild yams alone through various seasons without savanna grains agriculture. However, it has recently
Tcorruption is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain”.
I recall an incident in Prof. Akinwumi Ishola’s epic novel, “Oleku”. A typical spiritual corruption took place when Asake’s father’s younger brother whom she’s living with alongside with her mum sent her to a financially induced prophet whom he had colluded with to tell the belle that the lady’s preferred choice of husband, Ajani, is not divinely approved. Rather God’s choice for her is a rich, dashing young man whom the lady did not love. That singular false prophesy threw spanner in the marriage plan of Asake to Ajani which led her to a tragic end.
As it was in that book, many fake prophets are out there giving false prophesies to hoodwink unsuspecting members of the public. Religion has been so commercialised and commoditised to the extent that we now have “prayer consultants and contractors” whose task is to assist spiritually “weak” people to fast and pray for divine solutions to their problems. Their trademark is to see scary visions about their victims whom they will ask to go on fasting and intense prayers to ward off the looming danger on their lives or those of their family. If the victim says they do not have the strength for such a spiritual exercise, they will offer to help out for a fee. Oftentimes, the so-called vision is a figment of imagination of these fraudsters masquerading as men of God.
A case of spiritual corruption in the Bible was the action of Gehazi, one of the servants of Prophet Elisha. Naaman, an Army commander in Aram, received healing through the divine guidance from Elisha. He was so joyous that he offered precious gifts to the prophet which he declined. Gehazi, out of greed, ran after Naaman and lied that the prophet had asked him to collect some of the earlier rejected gifts. This warranted a curse of leprosy on Gehazi and his descendants from the Prophet Elisha. Details of this spiritual corruption can be found in 2 Kings Chapter 5
There are several Ifa priests out there who would lie on the oracle that it had asked the client to bring sacrificial items like goat or ram, money, food items, among others in order for the patron to have solutions to their problems. This, sometimes, is untrue. These items prescribed for sacrifice are just to quash the hunger of the family of the priests. There are many herbalists who would lie about their skill for money ritual or good luck charm. Knowing full well how many of my compatriots are gullible about ‘free money’, they will make heavy financial demands on these poor folk with the hope of making them rich which is blatant lie and a rip-off.
Recently, when government started to smash many of the religious rehabilitation centres, it came to the fore that some of the Alfas lured parents of those ‘patients’ to bring them to their ‘healing homes’ where they would pay monthly maintenance fees. Many of these spiritualists laid claims to celestial powers they did not have all in a bid to bamboozle people to patronise them. it is not uncommon for these fake priests, prophets and alfas to stage-manage miracles. This newspaper in its December 4 edition reported how “Personnel of the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department of the Lagos State Police Command have arrested four suspects, including two pastors, for allegedly staging fake miracles to defraud unsuspecting members of the public in the Lekki and Epe areas of the state. The alleged pastors, Favour David and Favour Chimobi, were said to have connived with Rukayat Folawewo and Bunmi Joshua to perpetrate the crime.”
Lying in the name of God for pecuniary purposes is spiritual corruption. However, there are those who are genuine servants of God who also engage in corrupt enrichment. Some of them steal from the church’s till. When they are caught, they claim it was the devil that pushed them to do it.
It is quite unfortunate that corruption is today festering in religious houses where God is supposed to be served and worshiped in the beauty of His holiness. It is heart-rending that the places of redemption for sinners are themselves turning to centres of grand corruption where the name of God is being used to defraud, disorient and mislead the congregants.
The irony of it all is that many of these “Men of God” hold their members spellbound by their oratoral prowess and deep understanding of spiritual matters so much so that it is very difficult to fault them. By the time they are found out, they must have successfully defrauded a lot of people including misleading them spiritually. That’s sometimes why some congregants part ways with religious matters having been long deceived. It is important for the adherents of every religion to have an independent understanding of their religion beyond that which is being interpreted to them by their spiritual leaders.
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