• Nnaemeka Ali, O.M.I - Black and Missionary

Everybody, including women, is engaged in the debate over women's dressing code. But unfortunately, our society seems to be perpetually transfixed on their outfit. It looks like the entire problem of our communities is linked to their butt and bust. And the consequence is that we keep on equating societal decadence to their physical appearance. Unfortunately, we have so repeated it to a point where women themselves are now playing to it. They have joined in this culturally orchestrated policing mechanism and are often harsher on their fellow women, even without understanding why men are obsessed with women's outfits and bodies.

Yet, the truth is that, comparatively, it is not women that dress more loosely but men. The problem is that we have so much underlined women's dressing to a point where it appears to be an empirical truth. More ever, it is now known that many men feel that women dress either to be admired by men or for men to lust after them. At the same time, a quick look at how men dress in different areas of life shows that men have more tendency to officially exhibit their bodies in public than women. So, while a woman's show of graciousness appears to be the measure of femininity, the male folks are, from their childhood, thought to express their masculinity as proof of their virility. And while we keep on accusing women of trying to seduce men, men are praised for their ability to reinforce their strength, energy and improve their sex drive - virility.

And despite that, our society continues to regulate women's dress code in universities, religious circles, workplaces, etc. And whenever we make those rules, they are generally for the women because men can virtually come to work almost with anything they want. And their female counterparts are often asked not to wear (short) skirts, put on this or that trousers, don this or that colour of bra, etc.

In religious places, the rules are even divinely motivated that not obeying them means offending God or the gods, like they can't see through our suits and women's long skirts. Funny enough, no religion makes any exception here. In different Christian groups, women can't attend one activity or the other either on trousers or in one form of top, or the other. And both in African and in North American indigenous religious circles, women have one code of dressing or the other. They have to dress either in long skirts or uncover their hair, for example. In Islam, and likely in Judaism, the codes are of another dimension.

Yet no one cares to ask:

1. Do women dress to seduce or impress men?

2. Why don't, [or better put, do] women feel seduced when men dress loosely?

3. Should we control how women dress, or rather men's relationship with women's dresses?

4. Can our society allow women to be women instead of policing their dressing and body?

5. Are women aware that they also help in perpetuating the socially constructed sexualization of their bodies?

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  • Nnaemeka Ali, O.M.I - Black and Missionary

Last Sunday, some youths wearing #BuhariMustGo T-shirts were arrested at Dunamis Church International Gospel Centre, Abuja. The youths attended one of the three services officiated by the Church on Sundays. They were said to be demanding that President Muhammed Buhari go. Though some media houses had it that either the church handed the protesters over to the the elements of the Department of State Security, DSS, or invited the DSS to arrest the protesters, they claimed they had no hand in their arrest.

Assuming the church is right, should we believe the pastor's declaration aligns with his role as a prophet? I said a prophet because all Nigerian "men and women of God" generously attribute to themselves the role of prophets and prophetesses. But is it right that Dr. Enenche disassociates himself from those fighting for the truth? Does he really mean that the temple is not a place to denounce a corrupt and mortiferous government?

One might quickly answer yes, but it is essential to think twice before replying. During Israeli exile in Jerusalem, to be left alone, many prophets and priests continued misleading the people to believe that things were right. At the same time, they aligned with the ruling class, abandoning the people's cry. And the prophet said:

"Because they (the prophets) lead my people astray, saying, 'Peace,' when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall. Rain will come in torrents, and I will send hailstones hurtling down, and violent winds will burst forth. When the wall collapses, will people not ask you, 'Where is the whitewash you covered it with?' (Ezekiel 13:10–12).

So, the real question is, who should be speaking against this devilish regime holding Nigeria in chains? Whose duty is it to denounce the rampant killing going on in the whole nation? What is Dr. Enenche preaching in those three services he holds in Abuja while, like Nebuchadnezzar, Buhari keeps sending young Nigerians to their early graves? Do we think that those youths would have endangered their lives if Enenche and all the other pastors and bishops were doing their job?

Therefore, let pastor Enenche and the other bishops, priests and pastors, hear what prophet Ezekiel had for their colleagues:

'If the watchman sees the enemy coming and doesn't sound the alarm to warn the people, he is responsible for their captivity. They will die in their sins, but I will hold the watchman responsible for their deaths.' (Ezekiel 33:6).

Hence, even if the pastor didn't call the DSS, the simple fact that he aligned with them to prosecute the people asking for an end to a regime destroying the nation, he failed in his prophetic call. For Ezekiel, even if the people are sinners, the prophet should sound an alarm. He has to be a watchman and not take sides with the enemy.

How can he pretend like "No one knew the organization they represented or their ultimate agenda until the DSS apprehended them?"

How can he say they don't know their plan when it was boldly written on their T-shirt that they represent the voice of the truth? This government is devilish, and keeping quiet is already going against the truth Enenche claims to be the objective of his church. So, the protesters were, as a matter of fact, at the right place since they represented the truth: any government that defends only the people killing or rubbing the nation is not worth supporting.

Besides, he pretends that “No standard rule of engagement was followed as they merely sneaked into the church and swung into protest on a holy day of service.”

Which day is the right day to fight against injustice? This government is holding the people down and like Jesus asked, "Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?", (Mark 3:4), we also ask Enenche what is wrong in protesting against injustice on a holy day?

Furthermore, the pastor also claims that “the church is not an activism ground but a centre for the projection of truth against all forms of evil.” Which place should they have projected this eternal truth than at a church ground? What does he call asking Buhari to go if not speaking the truth to the authority? Shouldn't he have thanked these young fellows for doing the job he was supposed to do? Dr. Enenche, like every other shepherd in Nigeria, has abdicated from their duty. They have abandoned their call and are now serving their own interest. And so, the prophet denounces them, saying:

Nigerian pastors, bishops, priests are blind, they are all oblivious; they are all mute dogs who cannot bark; they are dreamers lying around, loving to slumber.
Like greedy dogs, they are never satisfied. They are shepherds with no discernment; they all turn to their own way, each one seeking his own gain: "Come, let me get the wine, let us imbibe the strong drink, and tomorrow will be like today, only far better!" (Isaiah 56:10–12)

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  • Nnaemeka Ali, O.M.I - Black and Missionary

At a critical moment of Israeli history, Prophet Jeremiah, exasperated by the social and spiritual situation of the Nation, prophesied, warning his people of a looming exile. He started before the fall of Jerusalem during the reign of King Josiah and later under King Hezekiah after the destruction of the first temple by King Nebuchadnezzar. Initially, he concentrated his effort in denouncing the corruption in the Nation, calling to order both political and religious leaders. And despite his predictions that Jerusalem was about to fall (Jeremiah 6:1–5), they kept on living like there was no problem until Nebuchadnezzar attacked. Then, they carried a large part of the population into exile in Babylon.

Jeremiah kept on speaking to his people both at home and in exile. His prophetic mission was from 627 to 586 BC but compared to Nigeria of 2021, and we have the same if not the worst scenario. A close look at this Nation and its politico-religious situation brings to mind the words of prophet Jeremiah:

Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people? (Jeremiah 8:22)

The prophet asked this question after observing, with disdain, the constant degradation of the nation, the usurpation of authority, the abandonment of the youths, and the luxurious lifestyle of both religious and political leaders. He expressed his chagrin in these words

From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain, prophets and priests alike, all practice fraud. They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace. (Jeremiah 6:13-14).

Is there no balm in Gilead?

During the time of Jeremiah, Gilead was still an important city and was known for its advancement in commerce and medicine. Gilead exported balms to Egypt and Babylon (Genesis 37:25; Genesis 43:11; Jeremiah 46:11; Jeremiah 51:8), yet its people died without treatment. It was also the home of prophet Elijah (1 King 17:1), yet no one was healed, and the prophets were all living big. The priests, political leaders and intellectuals were parading themselves in Gilead while the population was being exploited and neglected.

Like in Gilead, Nigeria also has many natural and Human Resources; she has the highest number of Christians and Muslims in the entire continent, yet poverty has its capital in our country. The country continues to export oil, medical doctors, engineers, professors, and name it. In contrast, our universities are in a dilapidated state, and our hospitals are like a war-torn nation.

Faced with such degradation, prophet Jeremiah called out religious leaders, denouncing their lifestyle, “from the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit.” (6:13). In Nigeria, too, bishops, priests, pastors and all men and women of God have become business moguls; they are preaching peace when the Nation is on fire: They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. “Peace, peace,” they say, when there is no peace.” (6:14).

For these reasons, the Lord declares to Nigerian religious leader:

“Your churches and mosques will be turned over to others, together with your private jets and your ill-gotten wealth, when I stretch out my hand against those who live in the land (6:12), because you are not ashamed of your conduct, no, you are not ashamed at all. You do not even know how to blush. So, you will fall among the fallen; you will be brought down when I punish this Nation, says the Lord (6:15).

And to you, political leaders, hear what the Lord says:

Look, armed bandits and terrorists have taken over the land of the north; different armed factions are being stirred up from all tribes in the Nation. Unknown gunmen are already in the East; they roam the cities, sowing terror. They are armed with guns and talismans. Headsmen, armed with Ak-47, are everywhere in the land; they are cruel and show no mercy. They sound like the roaring sea as they move with their cows; they come like thieves in the fall of the day to attack you and your people.” (6:22–23).

It might sound like an apocalyptic text, but it is what awaits this Nation if she does not wake up. Voices are rising in high places, asking for a referendum or justice in the land. In the East, the IPOB and their leader, Nnamdi Kanu, are reminding us of an Igbo Nation tired of being neglected, insulted, and brutalized by the leading class. In Yoruba land, Sunday Igboho with his sympathizers also echoes the imminent arrival of this exile in the loom. Niger-Delta people are tired of crying out. The Tiv people are under the siege of the headsmen and organized bandits, and kidnappers roam the Nation like free elements.

And while the population is denouncing the hardship in the country, pastors, imams, bishops, and priests are feasting with these cabals holding the Nation hostage. They keep on sucking the population off the little they have, organizing fake miracles and baseless prophesies to maintain their followers on chains.

And hear these words, says the Lord:

Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Nigeria. Say unto them: woe to the shepherds of Nigeria who have been pasturing themselves! Should not shepherd instead pasture sheep?
You have fed yourselves and your family with tithes, spent from the offerings, but the sheep you have not pastured […]
As I live, says the Lord God, because my sheep have been giving over to bandits, abandoned to kidnappers, massacred by terrorists, raped and killed by headsmen, […] the wrath of the poor masses will first fall on you.” (Ezekiel 34:2–10).

Is there no balm in Nigeria, are there no prophets there? Why then is there no one fighting for my people?