In the first part of this article I talked about the polity and how we follow our leaders stupidly; now let me talk about how we follow our religious leaders…
The political leaders are not the only ones who dictate the happenings in our society; the spiritual leaders too contribute in no small measure. The spiritual leaders not only teach morals according to the teachings of the Holy Books, they also help to motivate our spirit through their teachings when the storms of life come knocking and as well shape our general belief. Thus, they have enormous influence on our way of life and also command lots of respect amongst us. In fact, the impact of the spiritual leaders on the people cannot be over emphasized. Even without taking time to digest it, the words of our spiritual leaders carries a lot of weight particularly among their members. Our perspectives on various issues as it affects the society and our general beliefs are most times influenced by our professed faith. Also, some of us tend to imitate our spiritual leaders in talking, walking, dressing etc. Mere physical appearance of some people is enough to tell you where they belong.
Considering the level of our religiosity as evident by the crowd at the various religious gatherings, one would have thought that our society should be free from certain ills that have continued to ravage our nation. That our nation is still one of the most corrupt in the world, and the fact that we continue to kill one another on the altar of ethnicity and religion either means that we are not being fed with the right spiritual and moral foods or we refuse to abide by the teachings of our spiritual leaders.
Though, there are followers who have sworn to take the path of destruction despite the warning and advice of our spiritual fathers, but then, judging by the way we imitate our spiritual leaders, I think we are good followers. Through the teachings and the way of life of a few of our spiritual leaders, they have proved to us that we must pursue the good things of life at all costs without first pursuing the giver of all good things. Just the same way some of our religious leaders are ready to do whatever it takes to increase their congregation and in-turn accumulate enormous wealth and influence in the society, the people too are ready to do just anything to acquire wealth and power.
Already we know that most of our political leaders accused of embezzling our common wealth are members of the two dominant religions. Regrettably, they always occupy the front seat at our religious gatherings, even if they come late because their pockets are deep enough to make big donations. Rather than condemn their evil acts and ask them to repent, some of our spiritual leaders use their position as the spiritual head to request the congregation to pray for them so that they can move up the political ladder. Ours is a pathetic situation, where political officers swear by the holy books (Bible and Qur’an), and walk into their offices only to steal funds meant to provide infrastructure for the masses. It is pitiful to know that government funds are stolen to sponsor party supporters and family members to religious pilgrimages in Mecca and Jerusalem. This is a clear case of stealing from man to give God. May God save us from our Saviours!
Furthermore, many at times, the messages of some of our spiritual leaders have further helped to divide the country along religious and ethnic lines. I wonder how the nation would make progress, if we do not work together, irrespective of our religious and ethnic affiliation. Even amongst those who profess the same faith, there is division arising as a result of differences in the mode of worship. Those who do not belief in a particular style of worship are tagged “unbelievers”. Considering that the level of moral decadence in our society has continued to rise despite our claim of religiosity, it would not be wrong to say we are simply following our leaders. After all, some of those who are supposed to set the pace are themselves involved in more despicable acts than their followers (Apostle Johnson Suleiman of Omega Fire Ministries is an example here; but with a caveat. What if the man is innocent? What if he has settled his mistakes with his God? What if anyone who emulates him wrongly fails to settle with God and eventually end up in hell?).
At the peak of insurgency in the northeast, it was on the news that one of the states affected by the crisis budgeted millions of Naira to offer prayers for the state. This goes to show how much we belief in the Supreme Being as a people. Therefore our spiritual fathers have a duty to feed us with the right teachings that would not only nourish our spirit being but would also translate to national unity and progress. Much of the vices in our society would not have come to being, if those charged with the responsibilities of upholding morals are not setting bad examples themselves. It’s high time our spiritual leaders walked their talk, so that the people, particularly the youths, who see them as role models would not be misled. The foundation of a peaceful and prosperous nation heavily rest on the shoulder of our spiritual fathers.
Shola Olayiwola is a freelance writer. He loves to write and defend the course of his country.