Are you familiar with the picture below? Yeah. That was the feature picture of my last article titled ‘Miracle: I drove from Ibadan to Kaduna on an Empty Fuel Tank.’ The article was a satire intended to mock the comical claim by Pastor E. A. Adeboye in 2013. But Nigerians surprised me (or didn’t surprise me). Their reaction was interesting and deserves another write-up of its own. And yes, I’m bringing the pastors in again.
In 2013, Pastor E. A. Adeboye said he drove from Benin to Lagos without petrol. Millions of Nigerians (including professionals and intellectuals) applauded the so-called miracle. The man has even said it several other times and the response has always been the same: strong belief and screams of Alleluia!
Ever since then, we, who still have some modicum of common sense left, have criticized that story. We’ve poured so much ink asking people why on earth they would believe such a thing. We raised so many questions. We even feared that any country whose engineers and scientists believed that kind of story would never advance technologically and otherwise. All they did was call us all manners of names.
So we gave up and thought Nigerians were not and could never be smart. Some people even concluded that perhaps Nigerians are by nature people of lower intelligence quotients. Or we’re irreparably brain-damaged. Or whatever.
So I got tired of insulting people who believe that cock-and-bull story. For a long time, I stopped talking about it. But day before yesterday, I remembered the issue and felt I would change my strategy. Instead of lambasting people, I’d just write a satire. I’d try to create a caricature of Daddy G. O.’s story and see whether my points would be better passed across this time around. I wrote the article with all signs of sarcasm and satire all over it.
But I was wrong. Nigerians flooded the post and hurled insults at me. All manners of insults. So instead of getting disturbed about it, I converted it to a social experiment and the following were my results.
60% of the people didn’t read the article. They saw the headline and just began to comment. That’s typical of Nigerians anyway. They don’t open links. They feel they’re busy to read articles. But they’re not busy to place comments on those articles. How can you be too busy to read an article that you won’t be too busy to comment on? No wonder it’s very easy to spread lies and propaganda among Nigerians. Of course, these 60% missed the whole point of the article. They missed the intended sarcasm and satire. They took the article seriously.
We can further break that 60% down. Some 55% doubted my story. They said I was a liar. Or my gauge was bad. Or I was drunk. Some of them cursed me. Some people got annoyed about me lying to people in the name of God. All manners of negative comments descended on me like torrents.
But the other 5% believed. They believed it was true. They believed that I actually miraculously drove without petrol. In fact, one of them fought those who doubted me. They said if God could raise a 4-day old corpse, he could make me drive without petrol. Wonderful!
These ones even tried to read the article but they didn’t understand that the article was a satire. How they read the article and missed out on the sarcasm still baffles me! We can break that down too. How could you see the owner of a blog address himself as a ‘freethinker’ in the bio section and you didn’t know the article was a satire? Anyway, of the 30% that read the article and didn’t understand what it was all about, 25% still doubted me while only 5% believed me.
These ones either read or didn’t read the article but it didn’t matter. They actually did understand the article. They saw that it was a satire from the title. Perhaps they were the ones that were more observant or they were more conversant with me and my ideas, I don’t know. But they knew I was just being sarcastic. Of this 10%, 5% hailed the sarcasm while 5% cursed me for trying to mock God and his servant, Daddy G. O.
In summary, we can divide everybody into 2 groups: those who believed that it was possible to miraculously drive a car without petrol and those who thought it’s insane to believe that kind of nonsense. Summarizing the above data,
55 + 25 + 5 = 85
85% of my readers actually doubted the story. They believed it could’ve been a faulty fuel gauge or an outright lie. They just didn’t believe that a human being could drive a car without petrol. Only 15% believed that it was possible because with God, all things are possible.
So I’m happy in a way. Nigerians aren’t dullards after all. If I extrapolate these data, I can say that 85% of Nigerians actually have their brains fully functioning. They’re intelligent people who have retained their ability to separate facts from fiction, lies from truths, and fantasies from realities.
But on the other hand, I’m not happy. This country doesn’t look like one with 85% of the population being intelligent. It appears like it’s the other way round — like it’s only 15% that still have their common sense intact. So something must be responsible for this disparity in the intellectual output of the citizenry of Nigeria.
What is missing from my data is what percentage of those who doubted my story would’ve believed if it was a popular pastor that narrated it. As I said in that write-up, millions of Nigerians believed and applauded the story when Daddy G. O. narrated his version in 2013. So most likely, a large percentage of those who doubted my own story would’ve believed it if it came from a popular pastor. I don’t have the data to support this conjecture but I might not be wrong in the end.
Click here to see the Facebook thread where all the comments went down.
This brings me to the agenda of today. Nigerians are smart. The smartness just doesn’t manifest in the way they act because some things cover that smartness and prevents it from shining. And religious belief is one of such things. With religious belief, you’ll see a professor behave like a primary school dropout. It’s religious belief that makes educated people behave like stark illiterates.
People will ask questions except when it comes to what their pastors say. With religious belief, the curiosity and incisiveness of Nigerians fade out very fast. In church, people fall for all manners of fraud they wouldn’t fall for outside the church. The name of God in the mouth of a skilled pastorpreneur is the most powerful defrauding tool in the universe. Of course, you need to lower your smartness to follow these pastors. And the pastors know it. That’s why they stifle critical thinking and sound reasoning. And that’s one of the reasons why I will find it difficult to stop talking about the pastors. Nigerians have released a portion of their lives and thinking to their pastors.
Even in politics, it’s the same thing. People will have very lovely comments about a political topic but that’s before religion gets introduced into the discussion. Bring the name of a religion or a pastor into any discussion and watch the IQ of the Nigerian commenters drop by so many units.
I’m optimistic. I know we’ll make it. One day. Surely.
If you want the methodology of how I came about these stats, you can see me inbox.