YESUHA: A PANACEA FOR NIGERIAN POLITICAL TURMOIL
Thoughtfully and truly speaking, the Egyptian-like political rule in all tiers of government in Nigeria is burdensome, worrisome and awesome. No local governments and even state administrations are delivering on the dividends of democracy to the electorates. Rather, these governments are characterized with oppression, corruption, extortion, distortion and the likes just like Egyptian rule under Pharaoh. The Federal government of Nigerian is no exception in this case. Hence, the imperativeness of this paper that intended to examine the collective method adopted by the then Israeli to free themselves from the political upheavals, oppression and even destruction of Pharaoh who did not know Joseph then as a panacea to our contemporary national political turmoil.
The concept of salvation runs through all religions as against the submission of some people that salvation is limited to a particular religion. As the concept relates to individuals, so it relates to a group of people. The implication of the idea is that human beings, either collectively or individually, are occasionally in some kind of unfortunate conditions or may achieve an ultimately good state either by their own effort or through the intervention of some divine powers. Very commonly, there is a belief in a saviour God whose special concern is the welfare of human race. Examples of this idea in the ancient world are Isis, Mithra, and Jesus Christ in the far east; Amida, Budha in Japan and Kuan-yin in China; and Krishna and Ramah in the Hindu tradition.1
The notion that people need salvation implies a defective condition and the religions have differing views as to the root of such problem. Thus, many Indian systems ascribe man's ultimate troubles to ignorance. By contrast, there is a Christian doctrine of original sin in which the human race is implicated through the primordial acts of Adam and Eve. 2 Additionally, there are varying conceptions of how human life works. For instance, in Judaism, Christianity and Islam as well as in indigenous Chinese religion and in various others, life stretches essentially from conception to death and even beyond and then the question arises about the status of postmortem existence, if any. It is however the interest of this paper to examine the Old Testament salvation as a panacea to Nigerian political problem.
The English term 'Salvation' is derived from the Latin salvare which means to save and salus meaning breath or help. It also translates Greek soteriameaning cure, recovery, redemption etc. Salvation therefore means the action or result of deliverance or preservation from danger or disease implying safety, health, and prosperity 3. According to the Dictionary of Biblical Theology, to be saved is to be taken out of a dangerous situation in which one risked perishing. 4
Yesuha is the Hebrew term for salvation. Salvation is used in the Old Testament to translate different Hebrew words among which are yhw, h, and ys from the stem which is niphiland hiphil. 5The hiphil has the sense of 'to deliver'. The root ys has the fundamental meaning of 'to be broad' and 'to become spacious', carrying the sense of deliverance. The most significant proper name derived from this root is yhwswy. Saviour to the translation of the hiphil particle of ys (Judg. 3:9,15, Isa. 19:20). The son of God through whom the spiritual salvation is made real is called 'leosus' (Jesus), saviour in Greek (Matt 1:21), Hebrew Yesuha or Yehosu'a (Num 13:16). It may also be rendered as English Joshua. Salvation will however be defined in this context as a spiritual decisive step(s) taken to emancipate oneself from captivity and oppressive rule.
The Old Testament Salvation
Theologically, salvation in the Old Testament revolves around Yahweh (God). Despite the efforts made by the Israelites which involved heart-cries in prayer towards God, it was still God who made their efforts profitable. Pressing home this assertion, Ogendengbe posits that:
Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnance. All the arrogant (disobedient generation) and every evil doer will stumble, and the upcoming day will set them on fire, says the Lord Almighty. Not a root or a branch will be left to them. But for you (i. e the obedient ones) who revere my name, the sin of righteousness will rise with healing in its wing and you will go out leaping like claves released (i. e saved) from the stall. 6
Obviously, the above statements actually reveal that salvation revolved around God in OT with the latter promise that those who revere his name would enjoy the sun of righteousness and equally ensured their safety and salvation. It is however noted, that the promise came after wrathful, displeasurable and judgemental words.
Worthy of note also was the sojourn of Israelites in Egypt, the main salvation story of the OT. Here, it was the children of Israel who called on Yahweh to save them when their situation became unbearably and unendurably burdensome just as it is for the poor masses in Nigeria today. In response to their cries, God appeared to Moses through a burning bush that was not consuming and spoke to him thus:
I have indeed seen the agony (affliction, troubles) of my people in Egypt; I have heard their crying out because of their taskmasters and I am concerned about their suffering. So, I have come down to rescue (i.e save, deliver) them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up from out of that land (Egypt) into a spacious and good land, a land flowing with milk and honey Ex 3:7-8.
In a nutshell, salvation of the Israelites in the OT was orchestrated by God, who after making the people to realize their sins and condition, caused them to cry out into him and eventually sent them a deliver. All this attests to the fact that salvation is entirely the gift of God. However, the people equally played their role in the sense that; they prayed and moved out of the city when Yahweh through Moses told them to do so.
Political Upheavals in Nigeria
Nigerian society, especially politically, is beclouded with precarious peace. This situation is connected with the undemocratic, infidel, and disloyal attitude of our political leaders which in turn is leading the entire nation in a mess. Political corruptive upheaval is wide spread in Nigeria. This was said to have preceded colonization. In fact, the British colonial Administration had to remove some native Fulani office-holders who were considered most venal. This was between 1900 and 1920. Nevertheless, they tolerated daily corruption in their administration. 7
The situation went out of hand in the 70s when, due to the middle East war of 1973, there was an astronomical rise in oil prices and revenues which paved way for the unprecedented lavish of national expenditure at the expense of the poor masses .8 The situation is not different till date. There was a new dimension to the problem in the 1980s as the period witnessed a myriad of money skimming stratagems with the opening of 'dedicated account' with the central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to fund developmental projects. In the long run, these funds disappeared without any trace.9 The fertilizer factory located at Onne near Port Harcourt was mismanaged 10; the telecommunication system as well as the energy sector consumed valuable amount of money with no improvement over their services for over three decades rather they name and re-name them incessantly; Ajaokuta steel works which has the capacity to absorb thousands of jobless Nigerians remains moribund up till now just to mention a few.
With the above political upheavals, Nigeria society is now full of peasant masses; the underprivileged, unqualified job seekers, the homeless, the sick and destitute, armed robbers (both licensed and unlicensed), area boys, political thugs different tribal terrorists to mention a few. It is no gainsaying that the nation is immersed in abject poverty as more that 90% of her citizen live in poverty 11 because the nation is being governed in all her tiers by corrupt, oppressive, selfish rulers just like Pharaoh who did not know Joseph in Egypt. To add insult to the injury, the elitist looters of the nation' treasures shamelessly, smartly and proudly display their ill-gotten wealth like kitchen cockroaches and mice.
According to the Senator representing Ekiti Central, Babafemi Ojudu, corruption remains the major ills of the country as well as the nation's woes. He said the Federal Government needs to take steps that would stamp out corruption which he said has caused the multidimensional problems militating against Nigeria's progress.
In a statement by his media aids, Dimeji Daniels, the senator noted that if countervailing measures are not instituted against the malaise, the country and its citizens may be engulfed soon. Hence, the need for this ecclesiastical drastic measure to nip the country's upheavals in the bud.
Toward Ensuring Social Order
Going through the history of the Old Testament salvation of the Israelites as earlier pointed out we would recall that it was the people themselves, especially those who felt they needed freedom that cried genuinely unto Yahweh who could save them. And if it true that there is nothing new under the sun, it means that the unpleasant situation in Nigeria is not new. Hence, its solution cannot be new. It is in view of this that, this work wishes to suggest national repentance which is the onus of salvation as a way out.
National repentance in this case can be defined as a genuine repentance and turning to God with a penitent heart that is ready to ignore absolutely what ought not to be and accept what ought to be as corruption itself can be defined as doing what ought not to be done and leaving undone what ought to be done. Buttressing this view, II chronicles 7:14-15 says:
If my people who are called by name shall humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked way; then will I hear from heaven, and forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes shall be open and my ear be attentive to their prayer12
Besides, national repentance is the activity of reviewing national actions and programmes, politics inclusive, with the view of making adjustments where necessary. This kind of activity involves a commitment to personal change and resolving to live a more responsible life. In Hebrew, the idea of repentance is represented by two verbs namely shuv meaning to return and nicham which means to feel sorrow. In Greek, the word translated as repentance is metanoiameaning after or behind.13 From both languages therefore, repentance may be seen primarily as after-thought; a change of mind accompanied by regret and a change of conduct towards either personal or national growth. But the clamour of this work is both attitudinal and latitudinal change towards having an economic buoyant and true democratically governed country.
It is therefore the onus of this work to suggest a change of conduct from corruption to commitment, wastage of national resources to prudent management of Nigerian resources, infidelity to fidelity, do or die political affairs to free and fair political affairs and the like by the Nigerians, most especially the political office holders. The emphasis is laid on the political office holders because the elephant portion of the national turmoil is political as most of the politicians are perpetrators of evils and these evil acts are numberless. A few of them are corruption, mismanagement of public funds, illegal conversion of public projects to personal projects with former operation feed the nation project now known as 'ota farm' as a clear cut example, killings, kidnappings, oppressing the poor and exploiting the masses and so on. It is no gainsaying that election periods in the country are dreadful periods because of the massive employment of thugs known as political thugs by political aspirants with all kinds of sophisticated weapons and ammunition not for defense against national foes but against fellow aspirants and Nigerians. If an aspirant does not hesitate to kill many people just to attain a position, we can imagine the number he/she will not hesitate to murder to sustain himself/herself in the position. Hence, the reason there is always many killings before, during and even after elections in the country.
Furthermore, there is a need to de-emphasis the concentration of power allotted to political offices such that, a few politicians say local government chairmen, governors, president etc control the destiny of so many people by being the only people who control allocations and national cake. They decide to pay workers at will and withhold masses legal rights such as good road networks, electricity, security, conducive or better condition, affordable standard of living, equipped schools and hospitals just to mention a few without any penalty being taken against them since they are the movers and the shakers of the country. If the powers of politicians are reduced to the level whereby the opinions or views of electorates carry weight such that, the power to shake and move national resources reside with the masses or public, killings and corruption by politicians will drastically reduced. This suggests true federalism as against militocracy, and dictotacracy in operation in Nigeria.
It is note worthy that the saviour of the world did not leave us with a blue print on how political systems should be organized for optimum attainment of individual salvation.14 No, he did not put us in a straight jacket. It becomes our duty then to design our political system to ensure attainment at God's purpose of salvation. Hence, the need for Nigerians, especially those who are not comfortable with the current situations of the nation, to rise and redesign the political map of the nation in such a way that life will henceforth be bearable for every tom, dick and harry and even generations yet unborn will laugh later. In redesigning the political structure, genuine convention whereby genuine pray to God will be made with utmost readiness to ignore sins and embrace righteousness that exalts nation (Pro. 14:34) in addition to the aforementioned panaceas will be relevant. By genuine prayer unto God, we mean a focused, purposeful and targeted prayer from a clean, pure and sincere heart as against political propaganda prayers often and mostly offered politicians and their loyalists, pastors, Imam etc inclusive. Rather, this kind of prayer must emanate from a repentant heart. The electorates are not left out in this kind of genuine prayer for a necessary change as they should, in their privacies, be soberly penitent unto God and heartily bless the country continually instead of describing her with all kinds of negative words. This is because there is power of life and death (i.e. power to make and mar) on the tongue as opined in Proverbs 18v21. Besides, it buttresses the popular saying that 'little prayers are far better than big curses. Hence, it is hoped that it will soon be well with the country in all facets if the citizens can have their tongues repented from cursing to blessing.
This paper has examined the concept of Yesuha as a panacea to the political turmoil in the country through national repentance which is the core value or onus of salvation especially in Christianity. It substantiated this position with the instance of the freedom or emancipation of the Israelites from Egypt under the tyrannical, oppressive, and haramic rule of Pharaoh who decided not to recognize the assistance of the Jews through Joseph Jacob in sustaining their country during their time(s) of ordeals. The work however opined that everybody (i.e. both the ruled and the rulers, or both the so called upright and the stained) must be return to God in solemn prayer with the utmost readiness to uphold righteousness in all their endeavours. The work did not fail to admonish the public to cultivate the habit of blessing the country with their tongues in lieu of describing her with negative words which in turn, I believe, is adding to her turmoil.
1. P.O Iroegbu, Appropriate Ecclesiology, (Owerri: University Press Ltd 2008), 3
2. M. Eliade, Encyclopedia of Religion, vol.13 (New York: Macmillian Press, 2000) 354-355
3. J.O Douglas, Bible Dictionary 6th Ed.), (England: Inter-varsity Press, 2009), 1048
4. T. Maxey, Dictionary of Theology, (London: Dolley Press, 2000), 67
5. G.O Abe, Perspective in Religious studies vol.2,(Ikare: Amure Press 2008) 41
6. B.G Ogedengbe, Salvation: The Central Theme of the Old Testament, (Abraka: Apex Publishing Ltd, 2007), 8
7. M.A Noibi, Political Corruption and the Nigerian Democratic Environment in Journal of Religion and African culture (JORAC) VOL III, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, 2011
8. M.A Noibi, 13
9. J.S Nye, Corruption and Political Development: A cost-benefit Analysis. The Aerical Political Science Review. vol 61, no 2., 2007, 419
10. J.S Nye. 420.
11. G.O Abe, Yahwist Traditional vis-à-vis African Culture: The Nigerian Milieu: First Inaugural Lecture Delivered at Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba Akoko on 17thMarch, 2004.
12. The Holy Bible (KJV)
13. http/www.sacred languages. com
14. Nwokolo, M, Basic World Political Theories (Owerri: Claretian Institute of Philosophy, 2008), 37.