Laying curses is the latest trend in the incompetence playbook

To err is human, and to pray for the basic necessities of governance like the security of life and property is Nigerian.

‘Pray for …’ has been the go-to of Nigeria’s ruling elite for generations. Kano Governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, has put in a fresh spin to the age-old scam by laying curses instead.

In a condolence message to the family of the 16 Kano men who lost their lives to what has been gathered to be a bandit attack on their way back from a business trip in Abuja, the governor invoked the judgement of Allah on the perpetrator of the attack. Ironically, in the speech delivered by his spokesman, Abba Anwar, the Governor did not mention a thing about the need for the Commander-In-Chief of the armed forces to amp up security along the now-notorious Abuja-Kaduna expressway.

As tragic as that is, it is worth noting that the Commander-In-Chief himself is not exempt from this disgraceful trend.

The President, in his Easter address in 2019, had called on Nigerians to intensify prayers for peace and security to return to all parts of the country. Over a year later, the country is still fighting the same insecurity battles, albeit now on more fronts than just insurgency. And it gets worse.

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, called for prayers in January 2018, for “soldiers who are poised more than ever to wipe out the insurgents and other criminals in the country.”

What all these men have in common is apathy for taking responsibility. 

For whatever reason, Ganduje does not seem to feel the need to call on the President to do his job and deliver the government’s primary function – protecting the lives and properties of Nigerians.

The President can afford to call for prayers, safely stowed away in the presidential villa, while his state-men in Katsina are terrorised regularly by rampaging armed bandits.

General Buratai is not entirely concerned with anything beyond optics.

After calling on the country to pray, the Chief of Army Staff went on to gag a number of his staff for crying out about the lack of equipment to fight the ‘insurgents and criminals’ whose defeat he called on Nigerians to pray for.

These antics by Nigerian leaders is dangerous for many reasons, chief among which is that it gives legitimacy to insurgents the country continues to fight over a decade since the inception of Boko Haram.

The army, it would have been said has an understanding of this. Lt. Gen. Buratai organised a seminar  ‘Waging Spiritual Warfare’ on the insurgency bedevilling the nation. At its core, the seminar is based on the understanding that fighting religion-motivated terrorism requires an ideological approach that will address the root cause of radicalisation. It is, however, counterproductive to do one right thing, and say a hundred wrong things and then expect good results.

The same thing happens all across the North West region. Kano State government, for instance, through Hisbah Commission (Shari’a police),  does the job of Muslim radicals every time it confiscates and destroys alcohol going into or out of Kano.

It is a befuddling policy that is annoying when one realises that the same state will benefit –  through federal allocation, from the tax revenue generated from the sales of liquor in the rest of the country. But it stops being befuddling once you understand the politics behind it.

The tenuous peace the state enjoys stems from a confidence in the government to do the dirty work many believing Muslims will happily do given the chance – enforcing Islamic ethics. But is that not exactly what Islamist terror groups do all over the world?

When a ‘secular’ nation continues to invoke God for things it should be able to use the instruments of state at its disposal to achieve, radicalised groups are paying attention. And when they hit at us, it will be with the boldness of knowing that they are not alone in believing in the supremacy of their version of God.

Nigeria needs to divest itself from state religiosity and focus on creating systems that respond to the best of our human ability. The heavens have heard enough of our prayers, and at this point, we have to start showing workings or we are all doomed.

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