Dr. Charles Jagun is a US- based Nigerian specialist in pharmaceutical regulation with vast experience of the US, EU and global expansion in the pharmaceutical industry. An entrepreneur with business interest in agriculture, mining and food processing, Jagun is a passionate advocate of developmental projects to uplift standard of living. In this piece he surmises on the insights he gained when he visited Nigeria during the Yuletide season and the misplacement of priorities particularly the neglect of STEM by both the government and the governed in Nigeria.
I recently embarked on a road trip to Akoko-Edo, and to be specific, Igarra in the northern part of Edo State and I would say the most underdeveloped LGA in the country today when compared with its peers like Asaba, Uyo, Osogbo, and Gombe in the 1970s that were all LGA headquarters. That’s a story for another day so that I don’t derail my fantastic road trip experience.
Alas! the first thought that flashed through my mind was the recent quote attributed to our revered General Overseer (GO) Pastor E. A. Adeboye as the COVID-19 (sorry, Omicron strain) pandemic rages on “they have the technology, but we have God”; hence we do not need to worry about developing our STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) but focus on expanding things of the spiritual and that is why my road trip is a confirmation of the mindset of most of us called Nigerians. I began musing about the sight and sounds of a road trip in Nigeria and a similar drive in the western world.
Right from the corridor of Lagos up to one of the most maltreated and abused LGAs in Nigeria in terms of development, it was palpable that our revered GO was speaking the minds of the people just as Trump was saying the minds of the “deplorable” of the United States (thanks to Hilary Clinton). The number of churches and other worship centers can be used as a comparative metaphor of a road trip across similar countrysides in the US, UK, EU, South Africa, etc. In those places what you see is farms, ranches, warehouses, factories, and giant malls.
Hardly will you see any of such along the so-called or war-ravaged-like federal roads linking the Nigerian states. Instead, the entire stretch of highway is replete with all shades, sizes, and names of churches that will make you wonder if Nigeria is the Mecca of Christianity. If the number and “rainbows” of churches are directly proportional to the populace’s development and well-being, then Nigerians and visitors would call for more of those religious places as part of the travel experience on those highways. Instead, the opposite is what we see in Nigeria, where the country has been rated as the poverty capital of the world, one of the most corrupt nations in the world, with high infant mortality, poor healthcare, to mention a few.
What this metaphor of churches on the highways on this road trip suggests is that the rainbow of churches rather than facilitate development and moral uprightness to achieve the desired growth of the country and wellness of the people has become an albatross pulling the people further into underdevelopment. This negation of science and technology required to catapult the country to the miracle Eldorado as promoted by the GOs, Mommy GOs is constantly watered and nurtured through the charismatic verbiage, highfalutin hot air which agents of “Christ” spew out.
Contrary to the sights and sounds of religious houses along Nigerian highways, in countries at par with Nigeria 40 years ago, and developed nations of the world, you see acres of farmlands, ranches accompanied by the animal waste flavor. Sights of technology abound as you enjoy the drive on their highways. Hardly will you find churches along the roads if not passing directly through the towns because they have technology and they believe in working to get results, not in reliance on phantom miracles. Those countries keep sending to Nigeria manna, finished used products, and more, thereby creating employment through their warehouses, factories, farms, and running machines visible on the highways.
No wonder we have an unbearable unemployment rate as we have been conditioned to live on miracles. At the same time, we convert warehouses to worship centers or even obtain loans for auditoriums to propagate the ideology of miracles for development. Conversely, the true entrepreneurs or researchers languish at the mercy of the miracle-believing bankers to shore up their capital.
Finally, a road trip to experience the sights and sounds of Nigeria provided insight into why the country is in a state of permanent underdevelopment, lack of industrial or technological push, and where the people’s priorities lie. Religion, the way it’s being propagated in recent times in Nigeria, has become an agent of Nigeria’s decay on all fronts.