Ifeanyi Okoli: The cost of three bottles of blessings

by Ifeanyi Okoli

The pulpit I sincerely believe is the most lucrative segment of our national economy and its not rocket science to keep the money coming…

Nigerians are very smart people, we are a nation of profound happiness. No matter what you do to us, we tend to forget in a manner of great similarity to retrograde amnesia. We may bicker, we may bark or even bite but slowly and surely, we always forget and forge on with our paths.

Push a Nigerian to the wall, instead of fighting back,he will break the wall, battered and bruised he may be, but he wears the characteristic smile of “a happy people” and tumbles on.

So it was so un-Nigerian when we had a monumental though transient mass action against our oppressive government when they surprised us with a subsidy removal new year gift early this year. But that’s not even the bone of contention.

Our smartness is so profound especially when it comes to negotiation and manipulation which are essential parts of our everyday life. The average Nigerian man knows that days are hard especially when every man has to cater for himself, you either make your bread or you starve, you either fuel your “I pass my neighbor” or you grope in darkness,you either pay your two years rent in advance or you and your household will sleep in the streets, they operate the almighty OYO (on your own) mentality since the government has failed woefully in all ramifications,empowering them to be their own government. Yes, why not, when they provide their own accommodation, pay their children’s school fees, provide security for themselves,generate their own electricity and fight to have their own comfort. The Nigerian government seems to have abandoned its people with nothing but fools hopes and not even a can of water in the middle of a steaming hot one hundred degrees centigrade desert. But that’s not even the bone of contention here.

Therefore, the Nigerian people must find a way to survive. They must be highly creative to eat, they must device ways to eke out a living,regardless of how and how not, even if it means swindling everyone else. This could be the reason why swindlers have festered all over the place, every nook and cranny of the Nigerian society is jammed with swindlers trying to con his fellow citizen to part with something substantial. From the market woman who sells fruits who will chip in a rotten bunch when you are caught napping because business isn’t booming allowing a basket of fruits to last weeks in her stall due to lack of patronage (after all who cares about eating fruits when affording two meals per day is already an impossible mission for most families) to an Agege bread baker who will throw all sorts of chemicals of which bromate is the one we know just to make a dough of bread rise like balloon to raise the market value.

I have been swindled too many times that any time I want to purchase an item, I put on the FBI demeanor. Why won’t I? I fell for buying a big tuber of yam for 600 naira sometime ago,got back home, realized the yam was coated by a layer of clay which absolutely seemed normal since its exhumed from mother earth, but what was very abnormal was that I washed off the clay to realize it had more clay. Kept washing and washing for over twenty minutes. I had been swindled, when I was done washing, clay clogged my sink and I had a yam the size of a potato, thank you.

But would I blame these Nigerian merchants? No, not when they lay out the options for you. There is something about us,something that makes us crave ostentation, something that makes the best products in the market become so inferior because there is a cheap price tag on it. Lay out three articles of the same make,size and quality but different price tags for a Nigerian man, he will naturally get curious why one is more expensive the other two. He immediately assumes that something must have given,then throw in the word “China” at the other cheap ones and boom you got him. Nothing on earth will make him not buy the expensive item despite being one and same with the other two.

This psychology is what drives the swindlers market today and artisans who know this fact have exploited it time over time to create a vibrant economy for themselves to fund the fourth tier of government in Nigeria, the SELF government and who are you to blame them for trying to survive the violent heat and dangerous animals prowling the habitat our government abandoned us in?

But the bone of contention here is that the pulpit has also tapped into this very resourceful scheme in the everyday swindle they mete out on their congregation. Its not a shocker that blessings, prosperity, success, protection, marital bliss, fruitfulness (in fact the list is endless) are all stored up in bottles these day, and they are all up for sale to highest bidders, “if you are in dire need of it, you better pay for it”

Since nothing good comes easy; since the most expensive bottle can only bring the most bountiful  blessings, the pulpit has become a money spilling ground, “to hell with crude.”

Since problems abound in a country so richly and materially blessed; since government has failed the people and politics has not solved their problems, people have turned en mass to the supreme deity. With all shades of “men of god” blossoming from every street, all colors of tailor made suits, all kinds of names for their piggy bank, photo shopped and crystal clear imaged posters of them and their wives, the pulpit I sincerely believe is the most lucrative segment of our national economy and its not rocket science to keep the money coming after all the artisans do it, three bottles of blessings is all it takes, simple!

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Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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