Wednesday 2 December 2009

Nigeria: A motion to pray is rejected

Motion to pray rejected

It is with utter amusement that I read the proceedings yesterday regarding a motion in the Nigerian Senate called to pray for the President [1] who supposedly is recuperating from acute pericarditis in hospital in Saudi Arabia after having apparently performed Hajj last week.

Now, I do not take the matter of prayer lightly, I believe in prayer, I am a man of faith, I would even say, I believe in the efficacy of prayer and the ability to bring that efficacy to bear on our everyday issues.

I believe in prayer

As a Christian, Jesus Christ provides a general template for prayer in the Lord’s prayer [Public Domain] which basically involves acknowledging God, submitting to His will, seeing Him as your provider, recognising the need to act justly, compassionately and considerately with your fellowman, knowing your fallibility and recognising His power to uphold you and finally recognising the eternal “God-ship” of God. Other religions might have their own examples.

However, with that template, just as we have with courts, there are procedures, processes, rules and orders, prayers cannot be frivolous for starters and generally the Christian purpose expects prayers to be aligned with the will of God generally outlined in the Bible, lest we pray amiss and in praying as one apostle proffered, we pray to consume it upon our lusts – by implication, there is a selfish intention to have prayers answered without acknowledging the how, why and who of the answered prayer.

Confusion of process

In general, it is not so much complex but confused, we have complicated the simplicity of that template into ritual evocating dramatic action without essential power and defaulted on the uncertainty of whether our prayers would even get the hearing of God.

Now, when it comes to health, anyone would indeed pray from good health and when you are sick you do need much more help in being sustained through the ordeal to the time when there is a full recovery which might be natural, sometimes with the help of medicine and that recovery can also be speeded up and result in what is a miracle – you do not have to believe in that, but the person affected does know what has happened to them and that is their fact and their truth, no matter how unbelievable it is to others.

Preponderance of God without virtue

However, the motion to pray for the President was rejected twice with a voice vote, the preamble to the motion was considered superfluous and really the President of the Senate had only 24 hours before called for nine days of prayer regarding the health of the President of the nation.

At the risk of being flippant and irreverent, Nigeria probably has more churches and mosques per capita than any other place in the world. We portend to be religious; it permeates every facet of life but the religiosity itself does not necessarily equate to any form of godly virtue, rather, it has become a facade to deploy and ward off issues of personal character and responsibility, the antagonist at the mention of God must immediately acquiesce regardless of the facts at hand.

Lifting up our voice as a nation should make much power for change available if we were doing things properly, rightly, justly, honestly, responsibly and meticulously in faith – I would not cast doubt but one wonders if those boxes are ticked when prayer is made.

Get good health but resign still

It is my hope and wish that the President recover from his condition and be nursed back to full health, however, I am not sure that the same President is equipped even if he gains his full strength to continue to operate in the office that he has held for almost 3 years.

In all honesty, the President should and must consider the good option to resign and allow other possibly capable Nigerians to steer this great ship of state, his resignation should not deflect the fact that our prayers are still out there for his full recovery.

The dearth of healthcare infrastructure in Nigeria

One interesting thing to note which was not really voiced is the fact that the Nigerian Senate does not constitute an assembly of faith healers, rejecting the motion at least helps stress that as an acknowledgement of the limit of their powers to effect that kind of change.

What is however damning of our houses of representative assembly is that our President is not in Nigeria receiving adequate treatment; implying Nigeria with all its medical doctors, teaching hospitals, hospitals, clinics and medical centres there is no expertise to attend to the critical needs of keeping our leadership well and able to do their jobs. It is unlikely you will find the leader of any Western nation seeking medical attention in a hospital outside their country, why can we in Nigeria not aspire to that kind of national pride, self-reliance and confidence?

Whilst they were debating on the budget, this might have been an opportunity to lament the fact that in a country as ours where resources abound but opportunity is restricted to the apathetic elite; people of privilege who still think having their health matters managed by foreign doctors in faraway hospitals is better than having fully equipped hospitals at home.

Give public service the determination of public office

One would think with the way people fight for public office for great personal gain some of that fervour would spill into the public service of creating institutions of excellence at home manned by nepotistic but qualified or sometimes unqualified countrymen, which is what we condone and promote for everything to do with public office but never demand for public service.

The shame is really ours and one wonders if the prayers when prayed should include that for real wisdom as to how the ship of state of Nigeria should be steered, who should be in charge, what should be their priorities and well, that they might be fully capable to despatch their duties diligently, efficiently, properly and honestly.

Whilst we contemplate, let us once again, pray.


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