Opinion: Things You Shouldn't Be Praying For...


Nigerians today boasts of the biggest churches in the world. For the members of those ministries, it is a huge achievement. For many who understand the dynamics, it is a sign of endemic poverty, deprivation and bad governance.

Let me try to explain. Some of the most pressing things that force our people to churches are basic needs that are essentially the responsibility of government. Health, security, education, housing, food, and money. Our people go to pray for what their government is meant to provide for them. They even pray fervently for the thieves who have stolen their dues.

Let's take examples from a place where the government is functional.

In the USA for example, public schools from pre-kindergarten to high school are free and don't need prayer and fasting for a child to be in school. There are no hidden charges by teachers. In college, if you have made good grades, there are scholarships for you to the university for free. And there are well established government scholarships too for Masters degrees that you may not have to pay a Dollar till you finish. 

But if you do not qualify for scholarships then you will get a grant, and grant is free money. Depending on the type of university that you enrolled in, the grant might be able to cover your tuition and some fees. The rest you could take a student loan to make that up. It is a federal government loan. You will start paying the loan small small every month, six months after your graduation and starting a job.

It is college fees that are typically paid for by students and the way college fees are paid can vary widely depending on the individual circumstances of each student and their family. It could be paid by your parents or via student loans which could come from the government (federal loans) or private lenders or scholarships and grants, which could come from the college itself, private organizations, or government sources, or by work-study programs, where students work part-time jobs on campus to help cover their expenses, or from other sources such as contributions from relatives, crowdfunding campaigns, or other creative ways to cover their college expenses.

But on the whole, public schools provide free education to children in the United States. They are paid for by the government with local taxes, State money, and federal resources. Any child can attend public school. There are children from different cultures who speak many different languages in public schools across the USA. Even if you bring in your child for vacation and decide not to return the child back to Nigeria, the child will be enrolled in school for free. So if you were in the US, your children's school fees prayer point and fasting is useless because there is a functional government.

On health, kids in the US have health insurance either through their parents jobs or the government issues a health insurance policy for the kids within a certain age bracket. Even if that is not the case, no hospital has the right to refuse a child treatment. You treat and send the bill to the home address. The parents will take it to what they call "Charity Care" and address it with the department. It could be cancelled or reduced or you will be asked to pay in small instalments.

For adults, there are senior citizens. Those ones are seen and cared for with what they call Medicare Supplementary Insurance. This comes from what the government took from you during your working days. This will be used when you retire from work at 65 years. But you could even use it at your young age depending on the situation that you are in. But for the younger adults from 18 years of age, it is expected that you should be working and most jobs will insure you. If that isn't the case, your parents can resubmit your birth certificate to their job and the child will be included in parents insurance. So if you were in the US and you are sick, it is not Olive oil you will carry or phone your pastor, you will call the hospital and emergency services will come over.

On housing, even with all the homeless immigrants you see on TV, there are over 95 thousand immigrants in New York today as we speak. They live in government shelters for free until their documents are ready. If you engage in drugs or other crimes, you may not qualify to get a room. But the government is providing shelters for the citizens.

Typically, when Americans go to Church, their prayers revolve around thanksgiving. They have food, shelter and still have public assistance(money) from the State. It is because your government has abdicated its functions and resorted to palliatives that don't even get to the citizens, that is why our churches are still filled up with people shouting at God, everyday of the week to do things we are supposed to hold government accountable for. We pray even more fervently for thieves we are meant to hold accountable.

America is not even the best example. The Scandinavian nations provide adequate welfare for their citizens from cradle to death. They have the lowest church attendance in the world. So the halls, domes and auditoriums in Nigeria are filled up not because our people are filled with God. On the contrary, the more the crowds, the more the poverty and wickedness in the land. It is because the government has failed the people. It is because the basic needs of the people aren't met and there are no jobs to go to, so people have time in their hands to loiter around. When these problems are fixed, if they ever will, then we will return to this conversation again to compare notes.

Yours sincerely,

Citizen Agba Jalingo.

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