Nigeria is a technical country. No, don’t misconstrue that to mean Nigerians love techniques: we are only a technical people because we resort easily to technicalities. Imagine, the Federal Government once quipped that Boko Haram had been technically defeated. That was the genesis of ‘technically’ as a metaphor, in Nigeria, for ‘it’s a goal, but no!’
Recently, another front bencher in the same central government said something capable of several technical connotations. Works and Housing Minister, Babatunde Fashola, told Hardcopy, a beautiful even if too short interview programme on Channels television, that Nigerians must stop what he called over-reliance on God. Hard -and but true- and but mischievous. To be sure, the Lagos former governor was detailed, barely intelligible and displayed trademark clarity of thought.
But, in Nigeria, to technically understanding something requires no details, explanation or context. Yes, because the way President Muhammadu Buhari (I think) and Information and Culture Minister, Lai Mohammed, first employed ‘technically,’ the word cannot in Nigeria mean what the dictionary says. If we were told Boko Haram had been technically defeated only for the bad guys to resurface, ‘technically’ cannot mean ‘strictly,’ can it? It is the brunt of this dilemma that Minister Fashola must bear.
Now, let’s hear it for the minister. ‘There is enough work for God to do but we have not done our own share. When our children pass examination, we thank God. When we build a house, we thank God.
‘When we win a match, we thank God. When we do anything; in our daily conversation, there’s too much God. In my view, it doesn’t give you confidence that you achieved anything if everything has been done by God. God says, ‘work and pray,’ but are we working?
‘We should get to work. It’s a mindset thing. We want to win a sport event or a match, we don’t prepare, we pray. No, it won’t happen.
‘We want to make money. God didn’t make money, it was man that made money. Money is not part of what he created on creation day. It’s governments who made money so don’t go and pray for money, go and work for money.’
Also, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria said his 2017/2018 surveys counter popular claims Nigeria is too divided. He maintained that 72% of Nigerians see ourselves first as Nigerians compared to about 25% who are ethnocentric. He lost it though when he noted that secession cacophonies notwithstanding, inter-ethnic marriages are still happening across the country. We’d return to the main issue presently, meanwhile let’s asterisk this particular argument by asking the lawyer-cum-politician: does Nigerians and Cameroonians intermarrying make their two countries one physically?
And, while we are at that, why should we trust his surveys when he couldn’t repeat his 2007-2015 Lagos magic during his 2015-2019 Works, Housing and Power federal superintendency? We appointed him to do roads, build houses and give us power, not surveys. Or are surveys, technically, part of his ministerial brief? Does unity directly affect our roads, houses and electricity?
I know Nigerians can panel beat anything to fit anywhere, anyhow, anytime. I won’t be surprised if this brilliant minister generates cogent explanations. Plus, he’s a lawyer. Time we moved from surveys, back to winning ways.
Yet, with more questions for Mr. Fashola. Since life abhors vacuum and mankind cannot not rely on at least one master, should Nigerians then turn to Satan? Or, should we cut out God and Satan and depend more on our strength? Is God not fundamentally thankable for human success?
Furthermore, doing some quick thinking together, Nigerians are unanimous that Fashola as governor performed A+ but hitherto a D or weak C as minister. If we concede that the man balances his reliance on God with working hard, then it must be that some extraneous factors also impede success. In his case (and this is just an aside) the snag could be working under someone. Has Nigeria not hit the sky flying because of successive corrupt, incompetent, weak, lazy and sectionalist leaders?
But, beyond the foregoing technicalities, the Fashola observation is a matter of urgent national importance. The question is: has over-reliance on God been a talisman or jinx, weighing our national development, integration and cohesion? As a smart Christian -taught to see things that be not as though they were- I can only answer that question euphemistically. I am not proud of where our hypocritical godliness has kept us.
Alas, since there are two sides to every coin, would Nigeria have fared better if Nigerians relied wholly on Satan? Or, if we worked harder and sincerer, that is matching our reliance on God with action, commitment and love? If yes, does that mean that faith in or God has no role in human success? Is yes not too satanic an answer to contemplate in the circumstance?
I mean, if God has no role in my life or success, what else? Now, wait, are we saying that my biological parent who saw me through school but didn’t help me to get the job or connection which gave me success deserves no thankyou or place on my appreciation roll call? So, if we honour earthly parents, what about God who owns heaven, earth and everybody and everything in them? For me -directly and indirectly, technically and untechnically, God has a finger, indeed a hand, in every human affair.
In conclusion, the sense to glean from Minister Fashola is that Nigerians must over-work the same way we over-rely on God. It’s the only or best way to evade the faith-without-work conundrum and simultaneously achieve faster and better results. Perhaps, Babatunde Fashola (SAN) achieved A+ in Lagos because he employed this strategy but currently draws blank in Abuja because in addition to working under a supervisor who confines or restricts him, he now believes more in the arm of (his) flesh. God bless Nigeria!