Less of a country, more a crime scene

Nigeria is in the grip of a kidnapping epidemic.  “From the fluvial habitats of the Niger Delta to the hubs of Lagos,” no citizen is safe from this menace. More than 1,500 people are kidnapped every year, “either to be held hostage until ransomed by moneyed relatives” or to be killed by ritualists who believe human sacrifice is a way to earn favour with the gods.

This scourge is a consequence of our society’s insatiable lust for money. “Nigeria has a culture that deifies the rich, and so everyone is looking for quick wealth one way or another.” In churches and mosques across the country, worshippers lower their heads and pray for a bigger bank balance. There is a consensus among Pentecostal churches here that material wealth is a sign of God’s love, and that if any congregants have the misfortune to be poor, well, they simply need to work harder at striking a deal with the Lord. No wonder the country has become associated with “get-rich-quick schemes like kidnapping, cybercrime and robbery”. Officials can condemn the evil deeds of kidnappers all they want, but nothing will change until we mend our warped value system.   (Olaniyi Olayemi, The Guardian, Lagos).

Years ago my company exported to Nigeria.  I delegated sales there to an independent agent, who  did well until the naira collapsed.  The actual customers paid what they owed, a lot by our standards,  but the money disappeared in the Central Bank of Nigeria, never to reach our bank account.  Too late I discovered that it is impossible to do business there in an honest or rational way.  The financial rewards seem tasty, but are mostly gained, however much at arms length, by dubious means.  Of all the societies to prate on about God I think the Nigeroans make the tribal christians in countries like the United States look like genuine saints, which tends to be hard.  Nigeria still owes me a lot of money, but I treat it as a lesson – do not deal with religious hypocrites.

  • Owen Bell

    I think the gospel of prosperity, or the use of religion in the hope of personal gain, is a distortion of religion- and so do all of the Christians I know. Jesus threw out the money lenders from the temple for a reason. If you want to get rich, you should rely on your own efforts. The idea that God controls the distribution of material resources is an awful idea. Why would he choose to bestow riches upon a select few when the population of Nigeria is largely poor? Perhaps one of the benefits of organised religion is its capacity to help the poor. Religion should stick to that, and leave the rich well alone.