Is there no Balm in Nigeria?
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?