One of the best statements from any Nigerian leader since independence was reportedly made recently by Theodore Orji, the present governor of Abia state. He is said to have attributed underdevelopment to these small-letter-‘g’ gods the people are following and serving. Nothing can be truer. And we were told that he discouraged this foolish practice and promised to do his bit accordingly. Nothing can be more encouraging. And in an era many see the hand of God in Nigeria and in the emergence of Goodluck Jonathan as president of this country, nothing can be timelier.
Except that things graciously ‘fell apart’ with the region that is today Nigeria when the God of Heaven sent his Christian missionaries here, the likes of Chinua Achebes would have today been some chief priests in ‘Umuofia- village’ in South Eastern Nigeria. Think about it: This man who is today Ivy League-sort-after! Achebe would have been one wretched human routinely thrilling other ‘Umuofians’ with fire-side stories. And perhaps that fire would have been lit by striking stones and the villagers, perhaps, all leaf-clothed. But no: Today Achebe has been put in the class of Charles Dickens by some. Thank God things fell apart. But we want it complete; the centre must be totally brought to ruin and never, never to hold. And this I suppose is also the dream of Orji. Good and well.
So, though Orji was more or less concerned about his Abia state, we beg to go national. We also hope to extend the borders of our reach that is beyond Orji’s apparent knowledge of the gods and their roles and tentacles. Orji may be very concern about the fetishes, sorcery, witchcraft and mysticism, wicked covenants and bondage – in short, the Satanism – that go with the worship of these gods in the village shrines and other places and how all of that sells out the environment to these demons; but he may be ostensibly oblivious of another level where the gods and demons also operate, and perhaps with far more damning effect on society.
Yes, it is terrible with all these shrines we still have around, and we agree with Orji that it is high time we got rid of them by any religious and or civilized way as possible if we must know real and total development. But sorcery and all that are not exclusive to those shrines and ancestral worships. What happens to other realms – the cults that go with different fraternal names especially – where the gods, demons or Satanism towers to Everest, and from where national leaders are sadly made, emptied into our national life, becomes semi-gods and untouchable even in the face of heinous crimes?
I hope Orji is aware that the gods, demons and Satanism, through international cults led by Masonic lodge and others; the traditional cults led by Ogboni fraternity and others, student cults led by Wole Soyinka’s Pyrate fraternity and its splinter groups and others, and post-campus cults led by Wole Soyinka’s so-called National Seadogs fraternity are far deadlier and ruinous to our national life and progress? As we speak Mason, Ogboni and now Pyrate-cum-Seadogs hold the nation captive. If you want to know how ruinous Pyrate-Seadogs is, you need to ask Godwin Daboh; you may want to know the devilish aliases of members of this very dangerous group (and its splinter groups) that Soyinka apparently has mandate to use to destroy our campuses, youths and nation; and you may care to browse the internet. Do this and you may want to be weary of those governments attracting his visits, praises and support. The insidious mandate of Pyrate-cum-Seadogs is not in question. To clean up sorcery at one level as Orji tends to suggest is not enough. We must be total.
In my widely published piece, “Rebranding Nigeria: Why Dora absconded” I wrote that grapevine says we cannot home in on any meaningful result in our so-called bid to rebrand Nigeria and indeed leadership without focusing on this critical angle of cultism and overcoming it. This is the heart of the problem we have in Nigeria. To think of rebranding Nigeria and ostensibly leaving out the place were almost all of societal ills is brewed or concocted is beating about the bush. And Yar’Adua, Jonathan and Akinyili did exactly that.
Let’s lay it bare the way it is voiced on our streets: Cultism is the strength and defense of the corruption that has peaked at Everest in this country; this is why the thieves are escaping justice; why nothing seems to work in Nigeria; why the rule of law is rubbished; why democracy is demonized. If there is only one reason why things are not working in Nigeria, this is it. If there is only one reason why the problem with Nigeria is the problem of leadership, this is it. If there is only one reason why crooks have lost heart and conscience and stole our treasuries dry, this is it.
To belong is to be a semi-god; and whatever the scale of thievery and other havocs, you are uncharged; if charged, acquitted; if not acquitted, unshackled before one could say Jack Robinson; and if he cannot be all together unshackled, plea bargain (the practice of arranging with the prosecution, or sometimes with the judge for a defendant to plead guilty to a less serious charge rather than be tried for a more serious one) is arranged; that is, the big, big thief is allowed to go with all his big, big loots in his big, big robberies and pleads guilty to the ‘crumbs’.
It never rains but it pours, goes the old English idiom which means: Things never happen singly or on their own. Nigeria cannot be altered unless there is full scale war against cultism. If Jonathan, Orji and others want to hit the high spot in turning the country around they must not hit below the belt, but fight decisively. And that may mean many of them stepping down in the first place. Not to reasonably make away with cultism is to continue to deceive ourselves in our development promises. And Jonathan cannot promise to lead with the fear of God and does nothing about this.
To tackle the problems of this country is to tackle the problem of bad leadership and to tackle the problem of bad leadership is to tackle the cults squarely. There is no better way any Nigerian leadership can signpost success than in this. So, in addition to Orji’s dream for this country we are also looking forward to fighting cultism with the last of our breath. If Jonathan must succeed, there is no better way.
Igho writes from Warri.