SUNDAY NARRATIVE: Prophecies That Dogged 2015
IT might take a while to comprehensively do an inventory of all the events and pronouncements that shaped the 2015 general elections. Different stakeholders in and outside government played different roles, either positively or negatively, to prepare the stage for the elections. One group whose contributions must not be forgotten so early is the camp of ‘men of God’ who made sundry prophetic utterances on what would be or refuse to be. We heard and read a lot from this group and I think the electoral system might benefit in future if good analyses of such interventions are done, to separate the chaff from the real thing.
The Electoral Act and the 1999 Constitution (as amended) do not have provisions for clerics, who wish to make esoteric contributions to the electoral process. As processes located within the realm of social science, elections are not designed to benefit from projections that are not backed by data. Little wonder that some of the prophecies were wild and off target and others helping to accentuate strife.
But that is not to say that the process has no place for those who have something meaningful to contribute. The civil society is a wide spectrum that can accommodate all who want to legitimately and scientifically engage the process. The Independent National electoral Commission (INEC) has a register of civil society groups it partners to ensure a robust and participatory electoral process. Some of these are community-based and others are faith-based, which brings onboard religious groups such as, the JDPC and FOMWAN.
The Justice Development and Peace Commission, an arm of the Catholic Church has as “vision to bring about the Kingdom of God within the Church and the society, liberating all people from every oppressive force that keeps them under bondage, and building a society in which all enjoy their human rights irrespective of race, creed, or gender.” This it pursues rigorously through education, particularly voter education and efforts that have to do with equipping the people for participatory governance.
The Federation of Muslim Women of Nigeria is also at the top of the game when you talk of voter awareness and election monitoring. These are two faith-based groups that are well known all through the electoral system for their practical and survey-based interventions. They operate nationally and regionally and at community levels. They do not foist any forecasts on the system and do not raise hell for the fun of it.
There are others in religious circles, which operate from the flanks, having no patience to undergo electoral education, but working very hard to make contributions. They find a short cut, which is to assist with prophecies. For some in this group, the more red herrings they spew, the more attention they extract from the system.
Let’s take a look at some of the 2015 prophecies. We do not need to name the owners, because they know themselves.
One warned that the 2015 elections may not hold and if the elections hold at all, it may be stalemated. This ‘man of God’ said if the elections held, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would win in Lagos State, while the All Progressives Congress (APC) will retain Rivers, Ogun and Oyo. This man also said the seat of the President was not vacant. God revealed to him that if at all there was going to be presidential elections, it would be inconclusive, just like the June 12, 1993 election.
As it turned out, the elections did take place and a winner emerged, very unlike June 12. Again, PDP did not win Lagos and APC did not retain Rivers. As for Oyo and Ogun, even a Sunday school pupil in an average Bible believing Church knew where the tide was headed.
Of recent, when real prophecies tend to be few and very far apart, it is the vogue for some prophets to do circumlocution in the manner of kalokalo players. They use words that suggest probability, so that you may not pin them to what they say.
Another ‘man of God’ very notable for claiming knowledge of events after they had occurred and using library tapes to buttress his claims appeared very careful with 2015. He was as slippery as ever, when he said a dark cloud hung over the nation. He said the cloud would get darker as if it wanted to rain and you cannot see the front. Well, there was indeed some cloud that hung over 2015, but it did rain and now we can all see clearly. This man was neither here nor there as far as 2015 prophecies went. He, however, declared that we should fast and pray. And we did all that.
Another acclaimed prophet warned that Jonathan (president) should be prayerful as there were plans to kill him. Thank God Jonathan is very safe and there is no reason now for anybody to kill him. The man will retire home peacefully and a thanksgiving service will hold to celebrate him. Let’s add that this prophet has also predicted the death of two personalities, one in the UK and another in Sokoto. One is 89 years old and the other is 90. As for soothsaying dear reader, what is the next thing after 70 good years? May God bless us with long life!
Another has boastfully said he told President Jonathan to concede victory, as if he is the GEJ’s spiritual father. This is the same man of God, who said Jonathan would not win in 2011, but the man won. He predicted Nasir eL Rufai would not win the Kaduna governorship because he tweeted insults about Jesus. Rufai won by a wide margin. His consolation is that he predicted that Ibikunle Amosun and Nyesom Wike would win in Ogun and Rivers respectively, and they won. That to him is pass mark, 40 out of 50. The good thing here is that this preacher has admitted he is not God. He said, “When 100 percent of your prophecies are fulfilled, you are not a human being, you have become God and when you have become God, you don’t need to be in this world anymore.”
True talk. But as long as we remain in this world and are subjects of nations and laws, we need to self-regulate so that we do not mislead anybody. Elections are physical processes by which people participate in choosing their leaders. The basis for such choice is performance, which is not immediately a spiritual thing. It is there for all to see if a government has done well or not. It is there for all to see if a political party and candidates are trustworthy. It is the business of men of God and the Churches to call a spade a spade and to go out and educate voters on the basis of their immediate and long term needs.
The build up to elections in this country is scary enough without men of God adding their dimension of prophetic conflagrations that never accurately add up. Remember that Pastor Tunde Bakare in 1999 stunned the nation when he predicted the death of Obasanjo, who had just won an election. That did not happen. But in 2015, Bakare, now a politician, has become wiser. Instead of making prophetic announcements, he did a State of The Nation address, which is a scientific assessment of the politics of the moment. He called for a postponement of the elections by six months and urged INEC to review the timetable. He was equally worried by the possibility of disenfranchisement of many Nigerians because of what he thought was inability on the part of the electoral management body to effectively distribute permanent voter cards.
Even though Bakare’s address was dramatic and as he predicted Armageddon, going by its title (The Gathering Storm and Avoidable Shipwreck: How to Avoid Catasrophic Euroclydon), he did not prophesy, he only warned. He must have based his warnings on intelligence and some obvious goings-on, which again did not hit bull’s eye. But he did far better than his outing in 1999.
Other more shrewd men of God would rather not go near 2015 with predictions. They were more sanguine in their interventions. Pastor Enock Adeboye kept urging for prayers for peaceful elections. Bishop Oyedepo, despite misrepresentations in the social media kept assuring and reassuring that Nigeria would not break up. These men would rather spread the Balm of Gilead instead of starry-eyed prophecies that would further heighten fears and uncertainties.
There is room for religion in politics, no mistake about that. To deny that is to be unrealistic. Even the British Prime Minister Cameron, who just won a re-election had to take his campaign to churches and temples. In the Southeast, the Church plays a central role in influencing voters. Churches will be highly useful in supporting CSOs and CBOs that are involved in voter education. On their own, Churches can spread awareness. They can affect the system more in doing that, than looking for cheap publicity for self. Ultimately, if the glory does not go to God, it will come to naught.