It is no news that one of the greatest problems of Nigeria is corruption. Some have said it is over estimated but I have often said it is under reported and it’s effect underestimated. There was an uproar when the former prime minister of Great Britain, David Cameron, said Nigeria is “fantastically corrupt”. Was he right? I think the information and the experience here will answer that question.
Every problem you can point to in Nigeria is not unrelated to corruption. In a country where money budgeted for buying arms to prosecute a war against insurgency was diverted into private pockets, a country where a man saddled with the responsibility of resettling those displaced by insurgents awards himself (or maybe his cronies) a grossly inflated grass cutting contract worth two hundred million Naira, you know there is an urgent need to address the endemic problem holistically. The devilish impact of corruption is perfectly summed up in the words of Jose Ugaz, the chair of Transparency international:
“In too many countries, people are deprived of their most basic needs and go to bed hungry every night because of corruption, while the powerful and corrupt enjoy a lavish lifestyle with impunity”
To think that a country this impoverished by corruption is one of the most religious nations is what I just can’t wrap round my brain. I know there is no reliable data out there, but Information from all surveys I have seen shows that at least 90% of Nigeria’s 180 Million people subscribes to one of the two major religions. Going by this information, it means there are at least 70 million Christians in Nigeria since it is believed that about 50% of Nigerians are Christians.
The question then is, why is the level of corruption so high in Nigeria if we have such a high number of Christian faithfuls? Every time I hear a new case of corruption uncovered I ask myself, why so much corruption if we have so many Christians? Something must be wrong. The Bible describes we Christians as the light of the world in Matthew 5: 14, “Ye are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid”. If we have 70 million people shinning the light of God, why do we grope in the darkness of corruption? Something must be really wrong.
Just last week, in the news was a former JTF commander, a certain retired major General that was alleged to have stolen 8.5 billion Naira in less than one year in that capacity. The most heart breaking news is that the witness called up by the prosecutors, EFCC, said he and the retired met and bonded in Church, in fact, they host night vigils at his home three times a week. He is so ‘devoted’ to God that he donated 30 million Naira to the Church from the proceeds of his corrupt dealings. Why should a man this ‘devoted’ be involved in diversion of public funds? One of the reasons I think is hypocrisy, or do you want to tell me in his years of ‘service’ to God he never heard it’s a sin to enrich oneself through fraudulent means? I think people profess to be Christians just to be accepted than for being followers of Christ. The Master’s words in Matthew 15:8 says it all:
“This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.”
It is hypocrisy to claim to belong to Christ and enrich yourself with ‘government money’ when given the opportunity to serve in any capacity. It is a sin against God and humanity, we shouldn’t pretend otherwise. Every time you steal a Naira or maybe a dollar (because it seems they are tired of stealing in Naira now) especially from the government, you are depriving child in Abakiliki of good health care, you are depriving that woman and her children in Borno of good accommodation, you are depriving that little boy in Kwara who aspires to be a doctor access to good public education. Think within yourself, does that look godly?
The scriptures are not just there for us to read and memorize, we must adhere to its teachings. There should be a difference between a Christian in a position of authority and an unbeliever. Christians should be the most sought after leaders in the world because no religion teaches about good leadership like Christianity. There are scriptures that teaches against corruption, if you need to read and memorize them do. I will show a few of them.
“Ill-gotten treasures have no lasting value, but righteousness delivers from death.” – Proverbs 10:2 (NIV)
“Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.” – Proverbs 13:11 (NIV)
“The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death.” – Proverbs 21:6
“He that is greedy of gain troubles his own house; but he that hates bribes shall live.” – Proverbs 15:27
“Like a partridge that hatches eggs it did not lay are those who gain riches by unjust means. When their lives are half gone, their riches will desert them, and in the end they will prove to be fools.” – Jeremiah 17:11 (NIV)
“Woe to him who builds his palace by unrighteousness, his upper rooms by injustice, making his own people work for nothing, not paying them for their labor.” – Jeremiah 22:13 (NIV)
“But your eyes and your heart are set only on dishonest gain, on shedding innocent blood and on oppression and extortion.” – Jeremiah 22:17 (NIV)
“There is a great evil which I have seen under the sun, namely, riches kept by their owners to their hurt.” – Ecclesiastes 5:13
The Church must take a stand
The purpose of the Church is to encourage its members to do the will of God. This is what the bible call the perfecting of the saints.
“For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” – Ephesians 4:12
Is the Church doing enough? No. Considering the amount of havoc corruption have done to this country and the fact that it is against the teachings of the gospel, the Church should be at the fore-front of the fight against it.
Every time I see in the news corruption cases against ‘believers’ I feel ashamed and I think the Church’s reaction should be much the same if not worse. I saw in the news the other day, an ex-governor of a state in Nigeria who happens to be a Reverend being tried for corrupt practices during his tenure. It really breaks my heart.
The Church in Nigeria needs to stand up against the monster called corruption. The Church must not only condemn it in its totality, it must teach its followers that engaging in corrupt practice while privileged to handle any position of authority in the private or public sector is a SIN. Christians should be taught that enriching oneself through dubious means will ultimately land one in HELL. You never can tell some people do not know this is a great atrocity.
“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” – Romans 10:14
Nigerian Churches should please teach its members of the evil of corruption like they do about fornication, adultery, idolater, backbiting, not paying of tithes, failing to come to church, teach about it until there is no excuse from anyone.
The Church and the leaders must also lead by example, the Church should stop making mockery of itself by ignorantly endorsing corruption. Most of the politicians that come to Church for prayers do not really need your prayers, they already visited the witch doctor the night before, what they are yearning for is your public endorsement and acceptance by your many members. It is time for the Church to lead from the front the fight against corruption.