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Praying nation and failing health system

PRAYER is a feature of human life and there is God factor in the affairs of men. There is nothing wrong praying for health, money and good fortune. But there is everything wrong with relying on prayers to achieve our desires, including those that God has given us brain and talent to accomplish. Our people in their despondency and helplessness, have resigned to fate through prayers.

They attribute everything they achieve including those they can actually do, to prayers. They exist because of their prayers. In Nigeria, prayer is food and medicine combined. We have pastors that hawk prayers and miracles.  Do you blame them when they are suffering under the yoke of failed but preying leadership and political system that alienate the citizens?

A political system that is not inclusive. Whether we like it or not, we cannot pray into existence good roads, world class hospitals, qualitative universities, and credible leaders as we have in Europe, America and Asia.  These are what we can produce with our effort. We cannot pray into existence the production of palm oil, rice, yam, cocoa and other exportable crops. We can only produce them. Good enough, God gave us enough arable land to do so.

The obsession of most Nigerians with prayers can be said to be cultural and religious. The indigenous African religion and received religions of Christianity and Islam lay emphasis on prayers and hard work as well. But it appears we have chosen the easier path of intense prayer and less work. We cannot develop our nation with only prayers. Our prayers must be accompanied with more hard work. It is common knowledge that prayer without work is useless. Work is a form of prayer. Work is prayer in action.

Our obsession with prayer is perhaps why peace and development continue to elude us. We must work for our peace and prosperity. They are not something we can get through prayers. Apart from politics, music, films, and football, prayer, a product of religion, is another big industry in Nigeria. Prayer provides jobs to many Nigerians. That is why we have mega churches and super rich men of God. The proliferation of prayer houses and worship centres in Nigeria shows that we are indeed a praying nation. Nigeria has more churches and mosques than industries. As at the time of writing this article, more worship centres are still being contemplated. Politicians patronize these prayer houses more especially during elections.  Our footballers, especially the men and women national teams, pray at every match, whether we win or lost. With less work and more prayers, our football fortunes have declined over the years.

Our students pray to pass examination, whether they read well or not. They pray to pass WAEC, NECO and JAMB exams. We pray to scale through visa interviews, and when we get the visa, we go for testimony service. With a failing health system, most Nigerians now rely on prayers and miracles to remain healthy. Even when a Nigerian is hospitalized, he still solicits for prayers for a cure. They might have taken a cue from a foremost health institution in Lagos whose motto is: ‘We Care, God Heals’ to evoke miraculous prayers for cure.  They shout Holy Ghost fire to consume those illnesses, especially those that defy orthodox medicine and traditional cures. For the nation to progress, we should do more work to fix our health system and pray less in an effort to cure the sick. We should fix all sectors of the economy, power, water, roads, education, health, transportation, agriculture, industrialization and many others.

Since a healthy nation is a wealthy nation, let us fix the healthcare system first because a healthy citizen makes a healthy nation. All our citizens require world class healthcare, the type our leaders receive abroad via medical tourism. Poor healthcare system is gradually killing Nigerians apart from those killed by terrorists, kidnappers, armed robbers, killer herdsmen, and road accidents. Hunger kills Nigerians these days.

We should start funding the health sector very well. We should allocate up to 15 percent of our annual budget to health than the less than five percent that we have presently. After health, education deserves good funding as well. Everything is wrong with spending billions of dollars annually on medical tourism. We can channel such hefty money to develop the nation’s health sector.

Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson have observed in Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty, that “the most common reason why nations fail is because they have extractive institutions.” They also pointed out that “nations fail today because their extractive economic institutions do not create the incentives needed for people to save, invest, and innovate.”

Other observable factors that signpost a failing nation, they stated, include a deterioration in living standards, deterioration in the health services, mass unemployment, muzzling of the opposition and sliding into one-party state, corruption and the inability of the nation to provide basic public services.  Other factors why nation fails, they listed, include fiscal crisis, lack of competitive elections, elections marred by irregularities, inflation, especially hyperinflation. In failing nations, they also claim that, there are violation of civil liberties and extrajudicial executions. Let me underline that kidnapping and insurgencies are equally markers of a failing nation. Without doubt, everything they said about a failing nation is reflective of the Nigerian situation. We do not need seers to confirm and validate their thesis.

We have states that cannot pay workers salaries. Inflation is at a high level at about 18 percent. The unemployment situation in the country has been regarded as a ticking time bomb. We do not have potable water and our electricity supply is epileptic.

The killing of peaceful protesters like the IPOB and Shi’ites members represent extra-judicial executions. The education and health sectors are in shambles and our living standard is deteriorating with each passing day.

So many Nigerians die every year of preventable and curable diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis.  Others die of cancer, diabetes, hypertension, HIV/AIDS just to mention a few.

Many women in Nigeria die during childbirth. Many under-5 children die of vaccine preventable child killer diseases like diphtheria, measles, chickenpox, hepatitis, tuberculosis, tetanus, jaundice, and whooping cough. With the near death of the crisis-torn PDP and the riotous cross-carpeting to the ruling APC, Nigeria is almost a one-party state.

Now that our president has come back from extended medical vacation hale and hearty and has since Monday resumed work, he should address his mind to tackling these problems that are dragging us towards a failed state. He can start with fixing the health and education sectors first.

Fixing the health sector will halt the tide of medical tourism and save us scarce foreign exchange. Fixing the education sector will have far-reaching effect on other sectors of the economy. No doubt, a healthy and well educated citizenry can leapfrog Nigeria to quantum development.

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