Posted on: 2016-04-09

How do we manage?

Most people would admit that for some time now things have become pretty bad in Nigeria. Many affirm that things have really never been so bad. The current excruciating scarcity of fuel, has worsened a woeful economic situation whereby workers can either not receive full wages for their labour or receive none altogether. To add insult to injury is the obvious bungling remarks from the Minister of State for Petroleum who  did not assuage the problem. His "I am not a magician" remark got a good rebuff and tongue-lashing all around and more from even stalwarts of his ruling party. That was no comfort to millions of trustful Nigerians who believed that the party in power has come to do everything humanly possible to set right a woeful situation in the oil sector. To be fed with such an insensitive and reckless remark while many queue for days to get fuel was like a terrorist bomb to the public psyche. Even the electric power situation has got much worse. The social media recently reported how Nigeria was mocked on an international channel as Africa's most populous country which made history by producing for an entire twenty four hours, zero electric power for its 170 million people. Such infamous history! These woes, complicated by culpable silence or gaffes by officials and leaders who should inspire public confidence, drown out the apparent successes of the government in curbing insurgency and the recovery of looted public funds.  Indeed anyone can pose the obvious question: "How on earth have we managed in this situation?

Lead kindly light

Millions of Nigerians have unfortunately taken other options among which is seeking greener pastures in other countries. No one needs to be reminded of the terrible fate which many of them come to, drowning in foreign seas and dying painfully in the desert. Yet more of those who actually do arrive foreign shores go through hell as illegal immigrants and face all sorts of exploitation and dehumanization. Some simply die in the hands of robbers or hostile company. Among millions of Nigerians who either have nowhere to go or choose to stay we sadly also see those who give up and commit suicide. Those numbers, though small are regrettably increasing. Those who keep on trying to live must surely have something in them which keeps them going. In the outline to the tenacity of these "toughies", faith must be a strong factor. They must be people who, in spite of all the bad government, evil policies, lack of the rule of law, the corruption, the manipulation and so on, believe that some superior power exists that can turn everything around when all else fails. Hanging on in a country like Nigeria requires an act of real faith in a force that has a higher claim to ownership and lordship of the land than any other bumbling force of the present. The psalmist, contributing an eloquent expression of such sentiments, wrote: " The earth and its fullness belong to the Lord, the world and all that dwell in it. He has founded it upon the ocean and set it firmly upon the waters" (Ps. 24: 1-2). Holy Job got more than more than a mouthful of that when he denounced God for allowing his sufferings. "Gird up your loins like a man.: I must question you and you must answer. Where were you when I founded the earth. Answer me and show me your knowledge" (Job 38: Such revealing inspirations even in the midst of chaos should simply make us submit in supplication: "Lead kindly light amidst the encircling gloom". 

The Christian Mandate

Of course not all Nigerians take such a meek option when they face starvation in daily life. Some resort to violence and armed struggle thereby complicating the bad situation. Christians are clearly not called to such reactions. Nor are they called to passive existence however! The Christian mandate is to actively struggle to see to a positive transformation of the world. Christians must embrace and model this responsibility. Saint Peter wrote in his first letter: "...share each other's troubles with mutual affection, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil for evil or answer one insult with another. Give a blessing,  instead, since this is what you are called to do, and so you will receive the blessing" (1Pet. 3:8-9).  

When shall I see him face to face

Christians find the strength to  be committed to such standards however only because they have hope. Hope remains the powerful survival force for millions, especially Christians, all over the world who live in dire and extreme circumstances. Without hope human beings simply shrivel, the human soul atrophies and dies. The psalmist yet again has an appropriate expression of undying hope, fitting for difficult times: "Why are you cast down my soul, why groan within me? Hope in God I will praise him still, my saviour and my God".  A recent Nigerian newspaper cartoon character put it very neatly for the Nigerian situation: "Finally, brethren  when situations are like this, when you have padded budget, padded poverty and pains, padded fuel shortage and power outage, then even your faith needs to be padded". Humorously put but so realistic. I say, "Yes indeed, Lord help our faith"!