Nigerians In Search Of The Messiah – By Anthony Akinwale, Guest Writer

Our lives are not safe. Neither are our belongings. We are not at peace. There is war on every part of our land. We are afraid. We are unemployed. We are poor. We are hungry. We are deeply religious. We are in search of a Messiah. Some of us say they have found one. We are Nigerians.

As the 2023 elections approach, many are Nigerians who believe Nigeria needs a Messiah. And many are those who believe that the Messiah they are searching for has been found.  Some say it is one candidate, others say it is another. Those who think they have found a Messiah believe that the candidate of their choice is the Messiah. If you tell them that he is not, they will thoroughly insult you. For we live in a land where civility is taboo. Freedom of thought is a right only of members of my political camp.  Whoever holds a dissenting opinion must be ready to be branded unpatriotic, insulted and ostracized, if he is fortunate, or eliminated if he is less than fortunate.

Christianity teaches that there is only one Messiah, and he is not a politician. We need to learn this in Nigeria.  Politicians asking for our votes are like applicants looking for a job. Their credentials need to be scrutinized. Their antecedents must not be glossed over. They must be interrogated. They need to answer vital questions for us to ascertain their suitability or otherwise for the job.

But, because of our inability or unwillingness to transcend our biases and stubborn myths, many have, on the grounds of ethnic and religious affiliation, deified and anointed their Messianic President. Even an ardent supporter of a politician has a moral obligation to be sober and restrained.   But sobriety and restraint have been banished from Nigeria. That is why we often trade insults and not ideas.

Once the conclusion is drawn that we have found a Messiah of our own making, he is deified, his co-contestants demonized. Nigeria is a land where we hero worship politicians and pastors. And they (politicians and pastors), in turn, exploit the obsequious attitude of Nigerians to create and sustain a culture of feudalism. My candidate is God-sent. My pastor is a man of God. We call the name of God in vain.

One thing is sure: God is not going to cast a vote in the next elections.  He does not have a PVC. He is not going to send any of us an SMS or email dictating to us whom to vote for. He is not going to campaign for any political party or candidate. He has given us intellective faculties to study and analyse our situation, the candidates and their political parties, and he has given us a will with which we are in a position to choose the good presented us by our intellect. It is up to us to use our intellect well so that we can make right choices. But if we intend to follow the path of intellectual laziness and depraved affectivity, let us not bring God into our laziness and depravity.

Pilate asked Jesus: “What is truth?” We Nigerians should ask ourselves: “Where is truth?” Where is truth in our politics? Where is truth in this season of electioneering campaign? Where is truth when candidates tell blatant lies conceal their antecedents and intentions? Where is truth when they make promises that they are neither able nor willing to keep? Is my candidate speaking or pretending to speak the truth? Niccolò Machiavelli wrote that his prince does not have to be good. He only needs to pretend to be good.  Is that what we are seeing in our politics? And, are we not enabling and encouraging our candidates to pretend to be good when we hero worship them? Did we not say we have found the Messiah in 2015?  If we found one in 2015, why are we still looking for a Messiah in 2023?

Answer to the last question: we have an uncanny capacity to deceive and console ourselves simultaneously. So, we are victims and perpetrators of our politics without morality. Telling lies has become a national pastime.  We have become a country where when you are greeted, “Good morning,” it is an invitation to take a good look at your watch.

It is not only the politician. The voter too is full of deceit. Our country is a land of intrigues, not only among, but even within our ethnic and religious communities. We will say anything to get what we want.  In our chameleonic character, we are adept at changing our garments at will.  And from chameleonic citizens emerge chameleonic politicians. We have, many times, acted in many ways to show that we do not believe truth has a place in politics. Now that the consequences stare us in the face, we are searching for a Messiah among the contestants or we believe we have found one.

Our country is what we and our political elite have made of it, a land where honesty is punished while dishonesty is rewarded, a land where what’s right is wrong and what’s wrong is right, a land where to be fraudulent is to be smart while to refrain from fraud is to be an imbecile, a land where integrity is not valued.

Pilate, in veiled cynicism asked Jesus: “What is truth?”  His cynicism represents the cynicism of the politician who does not care about truth in politics, who thinks politics and morality are totally unrelated and unrelatable.

Jesus Christ is the answer to Pilate’s question. He is the truth. As he stood in front of Pilate, Pilate was on trial. Truth places the politician on trial.  Truth stood before Pilate. Yet, Pilate was looking for him. The truth we seek is not a proposition but a person. He was confronting Pilate. But power blinded Pilate the politician, as it blinds politicians and their fanatical supporters today.

Jesus teaches politicians. He confronts them. He does not play their game.  Yes, his kingdom is not of this world. But the kingdoms of this world are subject to his power and authority. King Herod was troubled at the news of his birth. Kings must bow before him in fear and trembling.  Politicians will all be judged by him.

Here then is the news: whoever will be elected or declared as elected President of Nigeria on February 25, 2023 will not be the solution to Nigeria’s problems. We would be fortunate if he turns out to be someone who would begin to seek honest answers to Nigeria’s problems.  That is, if he is a lover of truth. He will have to operate with a dangerously flawed constitution. He will therefore need, as a matter of honesty, to lead Nigeria on the path of far-reaching constitutional amendments. For the current constitution only serves the political elite. It leaves the ordinary Nigerian sprawling in the dust of poverty, corruption, insecurity and disability. And young Nigerian, seeing no hope in the horizon, are opting to ja pa.

May we Nigerians learn that no politician is a Messiah. For there is danger when any politician is deified. There is only one Messiah, and he is not a politician.


© Rev. Fr. (Prof.) Anthony Akinwale was pioneer Vice-Chancellor, Dominican University, Ibadan, Nigeria.



2 Comments on “Nigerians In Search Of The Messiah – By Anthony Akinwale, Guest Writer”

  1. Words on Marble:

    “May we Nigerians learn that no politician is a Messiah. For there is danger when any politician is deified. There is only one Messiah, and he is not a politician”.

  2. Messiah? Really? Are they really searching for a ‘Messiah’ ? I don’t think so, rather, Nigerians are yearning for leaders, leaders who will walk their talk.Nigerians desire for their society to function like in other climes,Nigerians want to be heard,they want their votes to count.They want things to work,they want the educational system to work,they desire that jobs are created for the teeming youths,they desire for mere basics that make lives meaningful.No not a ‘Messiah’ but a leader.We can only have one ‘Messiah’Jesus Christ crucified,who rose and lives with us.The Messiah we left to go our separate ways,the Messiah we replaced with ethnicity, religion and other forms of classes, stereotypes and all worth not.No ,not a Messiah but a leader,leaders both in our families,in the churches,in our communities ,at the local government councils,in the states and of course at the national level.

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