One popular cartoon that many of us know is that of a man who was facing a python on a tree. At the foot of the tree is a lion waiting for him, and crocodiles are seen in the nearby river waiting to devour him if he decides to jump into the water. Many Nigerians find themselves in such a situation right now.
How else can one describe the situation of a man who has no money to pay his house rent, and the same time is faced with the school fees wahala of his children. The same man needs to go for a surgery to save his eyes. Added to these, there is no food in the house. He has just lost his job and there’s no one to assist him. In that helpless and hopeless situation, he is ready to do anything that will make him forget his problems at least for 5 minutes. Many in such a situati
on may end up committing suicide, others end up becoming drug addicts, while many others search for some respite in religion. Many of the socalled men and women of God understand this. That is the reason the number of both gospelpreneurs and their adherents increase as poverty and hopelessness increase. That is the reason they demand from their members all sorts of bizarre things because they know these souls are trapped and have no options.
In developed countries, despite the fact that joblessness is almost non existent, the government has provisions for people who face financial difficulties. Besides, there are medical assistance for those who have collapsed under the weight of psychological burden. In the UK, with the population of 67 million people, there are over 47 thousand councellors/ clinical psychologists/ psychotherapists; whereas in Nigeria with over 200 million people, there are only 150 (one hundred and fifty) of them in 2019.
In 2015 Prof. Chinedu Nebo said that over 64 million Nigerians suffer from one kind of mental disorder or the other. With the present situation of things now, that number has increased considerably. Well, if pastors were to double as psychologists then they will come to the truth that most of these problems are fundamentally economic issues. Most of these can be solved by good governance that has the wellbeing of the people as its one and only priority. If we can agree on that, then it is sad to note that Nigerians may not be really religious as many think.
Nigeria has simply a lot of “hopeless” people seeking for solace in religion. That is why many Nigerians stop going to Church once they travel abroad and start doing better. When you see someone believing that his tithes will open economic doors for him, or that his pastor’s sticker will protect him from accident and from kidnappers, or that using anointing oil will make her pregnant or help her find work, then don’t forget that he or she may be standing between the python, lion and crocodile. He or she is most likely psychologically trapped. Such persons need help. Nigerians need help.
Fr Angelo Chidi Unegbu