THE saying that religion is the opium by which the masses are held down in perpetual subjugation remains valid in contemporary Nigeria, as self-styled and professed men and women of God have been manipulating unwary adherents and individuals within and outside their folds for economic reasons. Apart from the foregoing, we are miffed by the fact that religious places have been turned to spheres of rape, scam, and disorientation, with the increasing economic disorientation in the country continuously providing fillip to the atrocious attitudes of the religious merchants. Given the unregulated nature of religious practices, churches are irresponsibly proliferated and used to manipulate uninformed Nigerians, as the unlicensed operate freely.
WITH the highly religious socialisation of the Nigeria space, Christianity and its practices have been made vexatious, as Pentecostalism and Orthodoxy are locked in constant war of words. The uncoordinated centre of Christian religious worships has, therefore, led to multiplication of doctrines and divergence of opinions, with the implication of variegated public engagements.
THE Hope notes with concern one of the negative manifestations of the personalisation of Christian religious leadership to be the commoditisation of prophecies by religious leaders. Given the predilection of so many Nigerians to know the future, which could be a matter of sequence and connecting predictability when certain indices are available, the fixation of Nigerians on unmasking the spiritual aspect of their relationship with the Supreme God has made them susceptible to the antics of religious merchants, who claim to see into the future, in order to sustain the awe they enjoy from their followers, who are often times not just lazy but gullible.
IN recent times, most religious clerics, particularly Christian self-made leaders, have been churning out several predictions, most of which did not come to pass. The Hope is particularly worried that the predictions made, which later turned out to be fake in most cases, about the 2023 presidential election were principally responsible for the false hope that supporters of certain presidential candidates had about the outcome of the election. For instance, while Elijah Ayodele, Emmanuel Chukwudi, and Christopher Olabisi were quoted to have tipped Atiku Abubakah of the PDP as winner, Chris Oyakhilome and Jerry Nwachukwu either metaphorically or overtly touted Peter Obi as the winner. This is not to say that others similarly predicted Bola Tinubu as the rightful winner.
WHILE there are copious biblical instances of prophecies that aligned with the Jewish tradition, and came to fruition, based on the sacrosanct nature of God who is the source of all secret things, contemporary prophets in Nigeria are mostly imprecise, speculative, and conjectural to the point of deploring the ‘if” conditional element in English grammatical constructions to achieve ambivalence and play safe. It is, therefore, not out of place to state, unequivocally, that the outlandish predictions given by these individuals are fake, exploitative, and manipulative, and consequently nothing but fraud. Nigerians have taken to lampooning these scandalous prophets, as the social media were awash in the past with the castigation of David Elijah who had predicted the victory of Donald Trump in the presidential election that was later won by Joe Biden.
IT may be true that God has an axe to grind with these fake prophets, but failing to tame their spiritual rapacious tendencies expeditiously will make many more malleable Nigerians fall into their traps of exploitation, with many lives marred in the process. The Hope, therefore, calls on the government to rise to contend with the issue of outlandish prophecies, to mitigate the scandalous, manipulative and exploitative criminal preponderance thereof. This is more so as some clerics have been known to support criminals or even provide weapons for them.
WE similarly call on Nigerians to avoid physical and spiritual laziness, as they are also circumspect in dealing with these religious merchants. Nigerians should be reminded that religion is a personal affair with God, and notating false go-betweens is not only sacrilegious but spiritually poisonous, given the fact that the odious attributes of these self-acclaimed seers are antithetical to the purity that the Supreme God centralises in the Holy Bible.
WE are emphatic about the fact that fake prophecies are anti development, as they exploit the vulnerability of helpless Nigerians. Given the above, there should be sustained reorientation of the people, to discern between the good and the bad ones, as government is proactive on the matter. The minds of the people need to be liberated, with the focus to destroy the perchance of Nigerians for prophecies. To cure people’s laziness, they must be gainfully employed, with the economy recalibrated, and thereby solving problems that are more physical than spiritual, as they have been made to look and severally manipulated.