A disturbing reality of the Nigerian socio-political experience is that at the beginning of each year, all manners of self-acclaimed prophets inundate the air with prophecies. It wouldn’t have been disturbing if such attempts to probe into the future are called predictions, the way analysts predict the team to win a football match or a party to lose an election based on some factors and data. But these characters who call themselves prophets lay claim to divine revelation, saying they are speaking on behalf of God.
The year 2015 was especially characterised by prolific false prophesies. A national newspaper recently gave a list of some prophets who gave false prophecies about the 2015 elections. The list included Prophet Olaniyi Odutayo of the World Prophetic Church, Ikeja, who prophesised that former President Jonathan would win the last election and Prophet Joseph Oladipupo of the Faith and Victory Church, Akure, who said God revealed to him President Muhammadu Buhari would not win.
Besides, while Pastor Elijah Oyedele had prophesised since January 2013 that the then President Jonathan would continue to rule till 2019, Apostle Johnson Suleman of Omegoa Fire Ministry in Auchi last year claimed to speak divinely that the man who would win would not “govern or rule”, just like another June 12. Both Prophet Michael Olubode of the Celestial Church of Christ and Sat Guru Maharaji of the One Love Family also said former President Jonathan would win the election with the latter affirming that “there is no vacancy for Buhari at Aso Rock”.
There are many other fake Prophets who competed last year with one another in dishing out false prophesies that eventually shaped the course of desperation that characterised the days leading to the election. Afterall, it was Voltaire who said, “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” The atrocities committed with regard to the diversion of public funds and life-costing illegalities could be partly traced to the false prophecies churned out to sway the gullible and goad the desperate.
The relationship between prophecies and atrocities is not new even in literature. In Williams Shakespeare’s classic tragedy, “Macbeth”, the witches and their prophesies actually drove and propelled Macbeth’s ambition and destruction, even if Shakespeare's witches were more clairvoyant than our today’s prophets. It was the ambition to actualise the witches’ prophecies that drove Macbeth to commit murder and other atrocities, aided and abetted by Lady Macbeth, who reincarnated in a Dame. It was the same ambition that would make billions meant for prosecuting war against Boko Haram end up in private pockets.
I believe that a serious intervention is needed against false prophesies and a new year offers another opportunity for such since it is at the beginning that the "prophets" are often on their most active mode. The issue is that if a person says God reveals to him to say something which eventually does not happen, after misleading people into taking wrong steps, such a person should offer explanations through an enabling legislation. The public deserves the right to be protected from false prophecies and the National Assembly should act accordingly in that direction, at least for change.
The fear is that if the tide is not checked, as it is happening now, anybody can wake up anyday and speak on behalf of God and his followers will want to “assist” in making the prophecy happen as a face saving strategy. It is not a small matter but an issue that may portend danger for social wellbeing and national security.
It is well acclaimed that Nigerians are the most religious people in the world and as such, what religious figures say, predict, prophesise or pontificate on is often taken hook, line and sinker by many people. For the discerning though, prophecies are mere puffs of smoke without any solidity. No one knows tomorrow and the knowledge of what is to come is in God’s own exclusive list.
In other words, regardless of pretenses and pretensions, there are certain things that are beyond the ken of human beings. These include the knowledge of what is to happen to one tomorrow or where one will die. Such prophecies are therefore not taken seriously as they are at best mere projections, which can be valid or not. The past is history, the future is mystery; we should be more concerned with our present and do away with prophecies.
Therefore, rather than dissipate energy on gagging the press, the National Assembly should initiate a process that will punish anyone who uses religion to misdirect or misinform the public about future activities especially when his “prophecy” eventually turns out to be false. Fake prophecies are like fake drugs, they kill the consumers instantly or cause trouble to the human system.
STILL ON BUHARI’S MEDIA CHAT
Of all the interventions I have read on President Muhammadu Buhari’s last week media chat, the one that is most balanced in my view is that of a former Editor of the Punch newspaper, Mr Bola Bolawole. His article, “Buhari’s first media chat”, which appeared on the back page of “New Telegraph” this Tuesday (January 5, 2016) is apt in bifurcating the chat analysts into hailers and critics while submitting that “somewhere in-between both extremes lay the truth of the matter.”
According to the author, “we must give it to Buhari that as president, he should have far more head-spinning information on Dasukigate as well as other pernicious rape of the country. Not only Buhari but many other citizens, in these cases, want to jettison the niceties of due process and rule of law to have thieves and robbers of our common patrimony in gaol without the annoying, time-wasting, and ridiculous acrobatic displays trending in the courtrooms.”
Extra-ordinary circumstances require extra-ordinary measures. Nigeria had had been violated extra-ordinarily and to return the country to the path of sanity, sacrifices are required, even if they are “niceties of due process”. I think the Nigeria we know has conditioned us to believe that ours is a country where the rich and powerful are beyond reproach.
If the President continues to lead with honesty, sincerity and commitment to the public good, as demonstrated in his media chat, Nigerians can cope with his weak points. All we want is a Nigeria where stealing is corruption and where some goats will not be allowed to eat our collective yams with impunity.