Nigerians know how to lurch from the pulpit to the podium sometimes like a canine futilely chasing its tails. Perhaps, since Lord Lugard`s disingenuous throw of the dice in 1914 to roll the Northern and Southern Protectorates into union of two thrashing and venomous snakes, save for the months between July 1967 and January 1970, Nigeria has never been in such dire straits.
The rains which were long held up as the skies inexplicably closed up are not just falling now, they are pouring and from Owo, to Birnin- Gwari to Maradun to Isulo to Lugbe, it seems the time will be any moment now before the floods sweep away a country that once promised so much.
As the country has continued to shrink within itself, the ancient tug of war between the priesthood and statehood has continued to grow tighter. In a deeply religious country, religion has often proven a fire escape for many Nigerians from the problems that confront them here. In nights full of darkness, sweltering heat and mosquitos which incessantly buzz because there is no light, many know to reach for a God who is invisible but invincible.
Confronted by marauding killers with neither security post nor personnel in sight, many secretly pray for protection from above as bullets rain. With 91 million people steeped in excruciating poverty, many in Nigeria find refuge in what the holy books consolingly say about the poor. Faced with the fathomless wickedness of their leaders, many recall the doom the holy books predict for wicked rulers.
Thieving public officers know to pour stolen funds into religious purposes both to salvage their consciences and appear pious in a country where religion has become as much a gag as a mask. At such times, power of pulpit meets political power with their copulation or confrontation leaving many in a state of disillusionment or indecision.
Nigeria is awash with as many prophets as it is with politicians and while the prophets always have a vision for Nigeria, the politicians are always on a mission to rescue Nigeria. Many times, Nigerian politicians flock to these prophets to seek political prophecies. Around elections, it is certainly no mere coincidence that the visions of these prophets grow clearer as patronage soars.
In 2015, ahead of the ascension to power of the All Progressives Congress (APC), many `prophets’ in Nigeria divined that a new, bright dawn was on the horizons. So excited was a particular ‘prophet’ in the Southeast that he not only lashed out at the then president who was of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), but predicted that the All Progressives Congress would come to power. When less than six months later, the APC won historic elections, his followers hailed him as the man who really heard from God. It did not take him long to be at it again when he successfully predicted the unfathomable judgment of the Supreme Court that replaced a Governor the people of Imo State loved with all their hearts with one they loath with everything in them. It will be a euphemism to say that the relationship between prophet and benefactors has since gone sour.
On March 17, 2022, Mr. Charles Chukwuma Soludo, eminent Professor of Economics and winner of the November,6 2021 Governorship polls, was sworn in amidst a rain of fisticuffs from two former ‘first’ ladies who quickly became ‘fist’ ladies as what began as a friendly exchange quickly grew out of control and went viral.
If Anambra State was already ‘The Light of the Nation,’ Mr. Soludo entrance into the Government House set the hearts the people alight with hope. A former Central Bank of Nigeria Governor who is also one of Nigeria`s brightest bulbs, he was expected to set the ball rolling immediately. That has simply not happened. The early grumbles have been as loud as the gunshots of the gunmen who are poised to ground the state to a halt.
It is no exaggeration to say that since Mr. Soludo assumed power, Anambra State has become the epicenter of violent crimes in the Southeast. It is not to say he is the cause or he could have done much more than he is doing to check the situation because many of the root causes of the trouble long predate his administration. Some of the crimes, so chilling in their conception and execution, like the killing of Harira Jubril and her four children in Isulo, take the breath away even from people who witnessed and survived the Nigerian Civil War.
Mr. Soludo was barely two months in office when the headquarters of his Aguata Local Government Area went up in flames. Since then, the secretariat of at least three other Local Government Areas have gone up in flames as well and those yet untouched have received threatening letters that their turn would yet come.
Thus, when in one of his programmes held last week, Emmanuel Obimma, a catholic priest and Spiritual Director of the Holy Ghost Adoration Ministry which draws huge crowds in Anambra State, said he was shown in a vision the invasion of the Anambra State Government House by Fulani herdsmen, Mr. Soludo could not help a fit of conniptions.
While it was not clear what exactly irked Mr. Soludo the most, between the revealed invasion and the fact of him in flight under a hail of bullets, the statement from the governor betrayed his impatience with such messages he dismissed as coated with too much politics, paranoia and drama.
In the statement, the Governor also took umbrage at the fact that the clergy man had publicly expressed dissatisfaction with the pace of the change promised in Anambra State since he assumed office.
For Mr. Soludo, at the end of the day, it is the morning that will tell the day. While it is true that there are many religious merchants and mercenaries who peddle mendacity and mischief while parading themselves as being among those who falling down see visions of the Almighty, he must remember that he is also considered some kind of prophet by the people of Anambra State who supported him during the last elections largely because of his ideas, and the visionary shift he put in while he was at the helm of affairs at Nigeria`s Central Bank. These people expect him to get to work. They want to see that the State under him is going in the right direction even if it is too early in the day to seek tangible results.
While it is true that the security situation in Anambra State has barely given him breathing space, at the end of the day, the people who made their votes count in his favour during the last elections would want to count meaningful projects executed by his administration and not excuses or prophecies for that matter, whether they are political or not.
Whether any other person is a charlatan or not, or episodically conceives apocalyptic prophecies to sustain waning attention or not, will not unduly bother the good people of Anambra State if their standards of living shoot up at the end of the day.
If that happens, Mr. Soludo would have become the prophet he balks at now and most importantly, he will be known in his own land.