Monday, 6 February 2017

Religion and Poverty in Nigeria.


I read somewhere recently that religiosity declines as worldly prosperity of individual rises. I couldn’t agree more. For instance, most Nigerians - placed at 93% religious on a recent survey by Pew - would loose their faith and stop being religious once they relocate to the West. This is mainly because of economic pressure, change in prosperity expectation and the attendant pressure to maintain it. Also seeing for the first time that impossibilities (like underground travel, air travel, first class medical centres curing the 'incurables', autopsy revealing exact cause of deaths, illnesses having a medical explanation and not as a result of ‘juju’ or ‘obia’ from your father’s second wife or neighbour) are possible in the West could lead to this situation.

In the West and specifically in the United Kingdom, to make money in order to pay your bills, you will need to give less time to faith and more time to work. Mind you, paying bills like TV license, road tax, council tax, gas, electricity and water rates, transport fares, etc. are still foreign to most Nigerians. In fact, in Nigeria most of these are taken for granted. It is normal to drive without insurance and if you are lucky to have electricity in your house collecting the bill by the power company would be as difficult as looking for a needle in a haystack.

While, most Nigerians would spend an average of three hours in places of worship in Nigeria, once they relocate to the West, this trend is immediately reversed because their work pattern would change to meet up with the gigantic bills they would have to pay monthly. They would need to pay loads of taxes, feed and cloth themselves and therefore cannot afford to spend a whole day in the places of worship. In fact, they would oftentimes need to do a rotating shift and that could mean that they are more likely to work on Sundays and Fridays too and even put more effort at home to fine-tune their works in order not to be sued by their clients or patients for negligent advice or treatment or performing below the expectation imposed on them by the rule of duty of care. Even poor customer service could lead to numerous complaints and reflect badly on the individual in particular and the company in general.

The implication of this is very clear. Nigeria may be a very religious country but religiosity is linked to the fact that they have no too many bills to pay like their western counterparts and can therefore afford to sleep in places of worship.

In fact, in Nigeria people spend more time in places of worship (mind you that most government offices are partially closed daily and mainly on Fridays for the Muslims to pray) and therefore less productive, whereas in the West the reverse is the case (you dare not leave your job to go and pray or close any government office for any religious reason during the week or you would be cited for breach of contract or negligence of duty) hence the reason Nigeria and Nigerians are less productive, poor and will continue to be compared to their western counterparts.

But the good news is that this situation could be reversed. That is, if Nigerians could learn to spend less time on their knees and more time on their feet being productive after all it is said eloquently that heaven helps only those who help themselves.  

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