This weekend’s trending topic on Twitter is Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor and his new private jet. If you haven’t read the story, you can read it here. Some consider this right, others wrong. For the purposes of this bit, I’m not as interested in the jet as I am about Nigerians and the fact that we are finally beginning to question, debate and argue the things we have always taken for granted.
Finally, we are beginning to explore people’s actions within the context of their function or office and we are beginning to validate or negate their actions based on these contexts. While there will always be some who will base their unquestioning acceptance on either “the Pastor is a man like the rest of us”, or “God says “touch not my anointed””, I am glad that there are some who are beginning to explore their beliefs and the reasons why they exist.
I’m not condoning insults, but when Nigerians – arguably one of the most religious people in the world, start to question their religious leaders, perhaps change is coming. The kind of change that will determine whether we will ever have a leader who we have elected based not on the fact that he is from our tribe, but based on the fact that we have explored and dissected his manifesto and plans and have declared them satisfactory. We have a bad habit of accepting that everything our leaders do is right, particularly our religious leaders. We listen to their CDs, do as they tell us do and create a way of life culled from the weekly sermons from the pulpit. Too many of us throw in our offerings not based on the fact that we seek to obey God, but in an almost talismanic effort to chase away poverty and gain wealth. And even though we cheat and lie our way through the rest of the week, even though we refuse to aspire and better ourselves, even though we have made no other investment to prepare our lives to be blessed, we nonetheless remain convinced that our seed will grant us wealth that we could never imagine.
I’m not asking us not to listen to our men and women of God, far from it; but perhaps it is time for us to let go of this unquestioning acceptance of everything we see or are told. It is a passive way of life that keeps us victims, that keeps us subject to the whims and caprices of those in authority over us. Paul preached to a group of people in a city called Berea, and the Bible tells us how they explored the Scriptures daily to see whether the things that Paul said were true. For many of us, our beliefs and principles are based on what Papa said in church last week Sunday; we could no more explain the basis of our beliefs than we could explain the theory of relativity. What is our church’s position on community service? Involvement with politics? What do our men of God believe? Why do they believe what they believe and more importantly, do those beliefs tie in with what we think or believe to be true? How many of us explore what we learn in church every day, seeking not only the promises that apply to us and our future prosperity, but how they relate to the Bible?
So it cheers me that people are asking questions. It cheers me that people are giving opinions and reasons for their beliefs. It cheers me that people are debating the merits and demerits of this private jet, with its implications for Christians and Christianity, especially in the context of Nigeria and our poverty/income level. It cheers me because as long as we continue to debate, to ask questions and to come to conclusions, we empower ourselves with knowledge. Not a jumble of words fed to an unquestioning crowd, but a well thought out and detailed meal offered to a discerning people. The more we ask questions, the more enlightened we will become. Until who knows, one day, we will watch Presidential debates where 2 aspirants have armed themselves with facts, plans and statistics; because they know that their victory will be based on their ability to convince 170 million people that they have what it takes to run a country. Perhaps one day, we will have leaders with proven ability, instead of the doubtful qualification of being from our local government area. If we continue to ask questions, one day, we will have Presidents that will take off their jackets and go into flood regions to hand out care packages to displaced people and thereafter, give a clearly thought out plan with strategies to ensure that such incidents never happen again. If we ask questions, one day, we will follow our electoral process with the same concentration and interest with which we followed the American elections, debating each point raised with its implications for our policies, polity and trade and with the satisfaction at the end of the day that the man elected to power was indisputably the best man for the job.
For Nigeria to ever become the nation that it can be, the nation that it has the potential to be, we must continue to ask questions. As we ask, our questions will become more relevant, more discerning, more in line with not only our realities but the future that we desire for our country.
I don’t believe that Nigeria’s revolution will be one fought on the streets; I honestly don’t think that it will follow from raised placards and chants. I believe that Nigeria’s revolution will be one of knowledge. When we begin to question everything that we have hitherto accepted as fact, and begin to make valid and balanced opinions based on the evidence before us and its relevance to us as a people.
So I’m excited about this private jet and all the questions it is raising. Who knows, we might eventually start to demand answers; the kind of answers that will usher in change.