By Farooq Kperogi
People are understandably getting bent out of shape about Zamfara State Governor Abdul’aziz Yari’s cruelly insensitive claim that the meningitis devastating thousands of poor people in his state is “divine” wrath against them for their moral transgressions. But the truth is, in Nigeria, there is practically no distinction in the quality of mind between most people at the upper end of the social scale and people at the lower end of the social scale. They are equally sunk in crying ignorance, superstition, atavism, and irrationality, causing one British expat to characterize Nigeria as a perversely “classless” society.
Does anyone remember a Professor Chinedu Nebo, former VC of UNN, who, during a senate confirmation hearing in January 2013, said Nigeria’s perpetual power outages were caused by “witches and demons”? “If the President deploys me in the power sector, I believe that given my performance at the University of Nigeria Nsukka, where I drove out the witches and demons, God will also give me the power to drive out the demons in the power sector,” he said. And that’s a professor!
In November 2012, a minister of state for power by the name of Hajiya Zainab Kuchi told a South African delegation that “evil spirits” were responsible for Nigeria’s electricity problems. You can’t make this stuff up!
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was right when he said, “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” But I think it’s too gracious to attribute the backward, superstitious mindset of our leaders to mere “sincere ignorance” and “conscientious stupidity.” Why don’t they attribute their own sicknesses—and the sicknesses of their close family members—to divine retribution? Why do they go abroad to treat the littlest illness?
Buhari goes to London to treat his illnesses, including mere ear infections. His Chief of Staff recently went to London to treat “breathing problems.” And while northern Nigerian Muslim masses were slaughtering rams and getting rapturous in prayers for Buhari’s recovery, the man was receiving modern, world-class treatment in London at the cost of millions of dollars from the public treasury. When he returned home, he rhapsodized over the medical advances in UK hospitals, as if to mock everyday Nigerians who can’t afford the luxury to go to London to treat their illnesses.
In Nigeria, when the rich are sick, they seek the best medical treatment abroad while the poor pray for them to recover, but when the poor are sick, the rich tell them they are suffering divine punishment for their moral failings. But between the rich and the poor in Nigeria, who are more morally degenerate? Why are the poor the disproportionate target of “divine” wrath? Does God hate the poor for being poor?
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