[There have been various write-ups lately on corruption as a war that cannot be won in Nigeria after Transparency International reported how Nigeria’s rating had gotten worse. When The Guardian carried Laolu Akande’s report of November 9 stating how civil servants stole N3b through bribery last year, this Blog reproduced the story as http://emotanafricana.com/2011/11/09/corruption-a-war-that-cannot-be-won-in-nigeria/.
Like most things Nigerian, the story of corruption has taken the usual religious route. Below is Dr. Ajetunmobi’s contribution to the discussion among members of a social group to which he belongs which grew out of past educational association.
Ajetunmobi contributes regularly to this Blog on various issues, and his objective and dispassionate views are always welcome breath of fresh air. TOLA.]
I regard X’s new comment on the causes and consequences of corruption in Nigeria as, again, wide of the mark. In the first place, there is no empirical connection between personal or experiential spirituality and corrupt practices in Nigeria. Exploratory survey suggests that corruption, as a global social phenomenon, was not invented by, nor is it peculiar to Nigerians. However, to combat corruption in the country, it requires neither spirituality nor occultism, but rather a popular participatory democracy that is able to monitor and hold to account those in charge of the state and the treasury.
I am not prepared to accept the distinction being drawn between spirituality and religion as the two are concomitant of each other. Of course, it is arguable that unlike religion which calls attention to institutional beliefs and affiliation with an identifiable group, the locus of spirituality resides in the individual. Nevertheless, what are called spiritualistic phenomena, such as apparitions, hauntings, informative dreams, premonitions, prophecies, and the like, are nurtured through the doctrine and institutions of organised religion. Indeed, the concepts of spirituality and religion converge because they share a sacred core and search process. In this sense, sacred refers to those things that are set apart as holy from the ordinary, and are therefore worthy of reverence. Search process is simply an approach through which people seek to discover, hold on to, and, when necessary, transform whatever they hold sacred in their lives.
X’s claim that “Jesus the Christ [is] working consciously out of Himself because He was a Part and still a Part of God the Father” is no less irrational to behold than African traditional worshipers’ claim that participating in the pouring of libations to the spirits of our ancestors on ceremonial occasions or thinking that our departed ancestors continue to hover around in some rarefied form ready now and then to take a sip of the ceremonial schnapps. All such claims are influenced by the anecdotes of others, by coincidences and by one-off experiences. Belief grounded in anecdotes, coincidences and personal experiences is one of the most deceptive forces in folk logic. Eat an oyster and get ill, you’ll probably never fancy oysters again; or, face a seemingly impossible problem and ask a priest to offer prayers and you’re relieved of that problem, you’ll probably like to commune close to that cleric – yet, without any evidence that the illness was caused by the oyster or the problem was actually solved by the prayers, respectively.
I recognise that some people may relish the notion of “all the undistorted teachings of the prophets and the Son of God” in order to attain spiritualism, but that exhibits no supremacy over the indigenous Yoruba delight for babalawos (the traditional priests)’s amulets to combat witches (aje) malicious sorcerers (oso) and evil spirits (anjonu). In other words, a formula can still be constructed by babalawos out of the elements of the human mind which can give as high average results as the prayers or anointings of the so-called “prophets and the Son of God.” This means that the very many so-called miracles and inspired dreams that are usually advanced through the organised faith or the so-called spiritualism can be paralleled, toto caelo, with the pretences of charm-sellers, occultists, palmists, clairvoyants and other soothsayers. And so, it is in this light I want us to understand the reason that lies behind my endeavous. The aim is to expose myth and superstition, and establish the truth.