As it is common with this season, we have in the past two days been treated to a deluge of prophecies from religious clerics about what will happen this year in our country with specific reference to the 16th February presidential election. While many of these clerics have boldly told us what God told them about who will win the election that is barely six weeks away, it is interesting that only two candidates are in the agenda of God if one believes these prophecies: The incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. That should worry all the other presidential candidates.
It is also instructive that while God told many of these clerics certain things about Olusegun Obasanjo, Goodluck Jonathan, Rotimi Amaechi, Abdullahi Ganduje, Bola Tinubu, Bukola Saraki, Godswill Akpabio et al as well as the banks that need prayers, the same God had no message for the displaced people in Borno who are running from the deadly Boko Haram insurgents or the desperate villagers in Zamfara State who are now at the mercy of bandits. Against the background that recent tragedies in our country diminish all of us and corrode the fabric of our society, it is apparent that the God who spoke to these seers, apostles, prophets etc have little or no time for poor and vulnerable people. But first let us sample a few of the election prophecies.
Following his communion with God, the founder of the Divine Hand of God Prophetic Ministry, Abuja, Dr. Emmanuel Omale does not see much prospect in the aspiration of Atiku who “will show amazing efforts in the coming elections but I see President Buhari ruling again.” But Apostle Joshua Mone, General Overseer of Voice of Liberty Intercessors Ministry in Delta State who sees “Chief James Ibori being celebrated” (that must be for his local audience) has a contrary prophecy regarding the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential aspirant: “I see the nation Atikulated in 2019.”
That suggests very strongly that being ‘Atikulated’ is now a heavenly language!
The General Overseer of Omega Fire Ministries International, Apostle Johnson Suleman who is not known to dissemble in matters of prophecy was direct in his message: “Muhammadu Buhari needs prayer, please Sir, go and rest. Abubakar Atiku should focus on the North during campaign. I see an Igbo Presidency in 2023 but they must not have any deal with present government. Tinubu should forget 2023.” As it would happen, Apostle Suleman does not have the last say on that because the spiritual leader of Christ Deliverance Ministries Inc. (CDM) Lagos, His Grace, Prophet Ekong Ituen sees no vacancy in Aso Rock in the next four years. And for effect, he warns ‘looters’ to expect a hard time during Buhari’s second term when he “is going to be ruthless in fighting corruption.” Prophet Ituen, I must add, did not forget to enjoin Nigerian politicians to emulate the good virtues of Senator Godswill Akpabio whom he described as a natural giver and “an ardent advocate to the poor.”
The founder and General Overseer of the Excellent Christian Ministry International, Prophet Ugochukwu Tochukwu Amaukwu predicts that the PDP will dispute the presidential election result as the “ruling party retains power by all means”, which can be interpreted to mean that President Buhari will rig himself back to power regardless of how Nigerians vote. Incidentally, that is not what God told the General Overseer, Christ Apostolic Church, Ori Oke Irapada, Prophet Christopher Owolabi. He said: “The present leadership in piloting the affairs of this great nation as was revealed to me will extend beyond 2019 and there is going to be a brighter light at the end of the tunnel, socially and economically.”
In a frontal prophecy, the General Overseer of Freedom for all Nations Outreach (FANO), Prophet Samuel Akinbodunse has a word for fellow citizens regarding the president: “Please Nigerians, warn Buhari that he is going beyond his boundaries. The Lord said his tenure is once, not twice.” That is contrary to the revelation from the Spiritual Director, Adoration Ministry, Enugu, Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka who said, “Among all the presidential aspirants, Buhari stands in the best position in winning the presidential election” in what can be described a coded prophecy before urging Nigerians “to vote President Buhari in order to complete his eight-year tenure after which he will hand over to a younger candidate.”
Interestingly, these predictions are not limited to Christian clerics. The Grand Imam of Shafaudeen in Islam Worldwide, in Oyo State, Prof. Sabit Olagoke, has declared that Buhari will be victorious at the February election, following what he described as a period of confinement and fasting as well as prayer for the country. “APC as a party would have some threat and surprises but election would tend to favour the incumbent president” said Olagoke.
As I leave readers to search for more of these prophecies online, one of the most robust findings in the psychology of prediction, according to David Arnor and Shelley Taylor in their essay, ‘When Predictions Fail: The dilemma of unrealistic optimism’ is that the forecasts most people make “tend to be optimistically biased”. Some psychologists have amplified that to mean being ‘in league with the future’ predicted. “By a number of metrics and across a variety of domains, people have been found to assign higher probabilities to their attainment of desirable outcomes than either objective criteria or logical analysis warrants” Arnor and Taylor argued.
It is within this context that one can easily situate the prophecies about elections in Nigeria by clerics and marabouts. Most of these people predict their expectations while using the name of God, who is not an author of confusion, to back their claims. But let me also say very quickly that as a Christian, I believe in the ministry of prophecy as the Bible in 1st Thessalonians 5: 21 enjoins us to “Despise not prophesyings”, though we are also expected to verify them. That is perhaps because prophecy can be a tool for manipulation as we can see from the account in Nehemiah 6:12: “I realized that God had not spoken to him, but that he had uttered this prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him.”
That then leaves us with the question: How many of these prophecies are divine communications and how many are procured or conjured to suit the biases of the prophets for or against a presidential candidate?
While faith should never be a weapon of manipulation, there seems to be but a thin line between religion, politics and business in our country such that a commentator, Obinna Akukwe once wrote: “…God hears the personal prayers of Nigerians for a better personal life but when it comes to extending such to national life, the same God shuts the door. Something is wrong somewhere.” Yet, in one Tweet last weekend, Ayo Sogunro summed up the problem of our country and it has nothing to do with God: “The most expensive cars on the worst roads. The most modern gadgets on poor power supply. The most impressive buildings with little security. Individually great but collectively poor. The Nigerian state is proof that the whole can be lesser than the sum of its parts.”
Meanwhile, the interconnection between religion and politics in Nigeria is the central thesis in Ebenezer Obadare’s recent and most enjoyable book, Pentecostal Republics: Religion and the struggle for state power in Nigeria”. Although Obadare, a Professor of Sociology at Kansas University, dwells more on the influence of Pentecostalism and its adherents, he still provides a window into understanding how the interplay between religion and politics remains “integral to Nigeria’s democratic process, and are fundamental to understanding its future.” The challenge of our country today is that rather than address the problems confronting us, we have perfected the art of outsourcing the solutions to God.
As I pointed out in a previous column on this page, before every federal executive council session (and I guess it is the same in the states), prayers are said by both Islamic and Christian adherents to commit deliberations into the hands of God, even when the outcome might have already been predetermined by the hands of men! But this is not restricted to government. In some of the banks that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had to take over in recent years as a result of the greed of their CEOs, there were daily corporate supplications to God before commencement of business. At motor parks, there are all manners of charlatans who hawk the name of God and at markets, there are also prayer warriors who have no qualms cheating customers after their profession of holiness.
Unfortunately, while there should be a higher purpose to seeking public office than the prospect of winning elections, it is clear from the prophecies that men of God who should ordinarily be showing the way have elected to be part of the problem of our country. But the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) has taken a contrary stand. “We look forward with hope to 2019, a year when Nigerians will judge the quality of the candidates for political offices through their track records and not votes based on declaration of prophecy by men of God” their statement said.
I hope Nigerians are listening.
2019 and The Father’s Hand
There is this story of a little boy who visited the village store with his father. On their way out after shopping, they encountered the owner of the store who offered the little boy some free candy. “Get a hand full of candy” the store’s proprietor said to the boy. But rather than act as directed and scoop the candy, the boy just stood there looking up at his father. Apparently thinking the boy didn’t get his message, the owner repeated himself, “Son, get a hand full of candy, it’s free.” Again the boy did not move as he continued to look up to his father.
Finally, the father reached into the jar and got a hand full of candy and gave it to his son who beamed with smiles. But as they walked back home, the father stopped and asked his son why he had to rely on him rather than scoop a handful of the free candy by himself. With another big smile on his face, the boy looked up to his father and said: “Because I know that your hand is bigger than mine.”
Whatever may be the challenges we face in 2019, for those of us who believe in Higher Power, we must learn to place them in His hand. Because His hand is bigger than ours.