There is a theory known as framing in the field of mass communication. One of those communication theories with sociological and psychological roots, framing speaks to how the media packages and presents information within a particular context that encourages or discourages definite interpretations. In other words, it is about how information presented to the audience, influences the choices people make about how to process, see, and continue to hold that piece of information.
This has been my thought since the one-minute video where Pastor Paul Adefarasin of the House on the Rock Church advised his congregation to get a Plan B. The media continues to feast on the video while Nigerians fall over themselves to have their say on Adefarasin’s unequivocal comments therein.
Of course, as it is with us, a lot of the comments have condemned him for not sharing hope, despite his calling. Fortunately, the man himself understood the place of faith in all of this as he says in the video, “I know you have faith, I also have faith, but I have a Plan B…”
Here, the pastor shows that he knows the need to trust in God, but he also understands that God has a place for pragmatism in solving problems. After all, God had all the powers to keep Jesus Christ and his parents safe from the evil machinations of King Herod, yet, he sent an angel to instruct Joseph to flee into Egypt with his new family and “remain there until I tell you…” But here is one problem with a lot of us in Nigeria; we are at best, religious without knowledge or at worst, hypocritical.
I understand the part where we hold spiritual leaders as pillars of courage and hope but how do we also forget that they are only mortals. In any case, do we not realise that the charge of a spiritual leader is not just about the spiritual wellness of his flock, but also of their physical and emotional wellbeing? Wouldn’t that be why Apostle John prayed in his third epistle that: “…you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers?”
Adefarasin hinted that his wife was already working on the family’s Plan B, meaning something might happen soon. So, how does a pastor do that without letting his congregation know his plans and possibly consider the need to take care of themselves as well? Wouldn’t he be selfish, unworthy of his calling and even ungodly, if he planned an exit out of Nigeria without giving a heads-up to the people who have trusted him?
And if you are wondering why a man of God should be a fear monger, you possibly don’t live in Nigeria. Recall that just a few weeks ago, two sets of members of the Redeemed Christian Church of God were abducted in Kaduna State within days. On Tuesday, a pastor with the Deeper Life Bible Church was abducted before his wife on the premises of the church at Irese, Ondo State. Two days earlier, gunmen attacked a mosque somewhere in Zamfara State. They were said to have killed five people and taken 40 others away. The madness in Nigeria is now so fierce it neither has respect for the house of God, nor the Aso Rock abode of temporal gods like the Chief of Staff to the President, allegedly visited by armed robbers earlier this week.
A survey published by Vanguard on March 1, 2021 indicated that at least 1,525 lives were lost to Boko Haram insurgency, banditry, armed robbery, and brutality of security agents in the first six weeks of this year. Nigeria is in a precarious place where only the foolish would claim not to see the sense in having a plan B, no matter how inelaborate that plan may be. No one is safe anywhere as nowhere is too sacred for these servants of evil; be it school, work, worship centre or home.
What is worse is that our leaders seem to be at their wits end. Recently, thecable.ng published a report that should get every Nigerian thinking twice. Entitled: Then and now, how FG went from threatening to ‘crush’ bandits to begging them, chronicles the transition of the Presiden, Major General Muhammadu Buhari(retd.), from a tough talking honcho threatening to rain fire on criminals into a subdued leader now sermonising and appealing to bandits to reconsider their ways.
Adefarasin was therefore expressing the state of mind of Nigerians who do not see their political leaders live up to the responsibility of their offices. His outburst was an expression of national frustration at the fast rate in which Nigeria is becoming a hopeless society. It is a signal of the lack of the coordination of generic thought amongst our political, economic, and spiritual leaders for a harmonious equilibrium on the very urgent need of our country. It is the manifestation of what The PUNCH editorial recently described as Nigeria’s “sleepwalking into war.”
Now, back to that video and framing. On Adefarasin’s Instagram handle, there is a 13-minute video from the same event from which the “get a Plan B” soundbite was taken. In this video, he spoke about most of Nigeria’s problems and how citizens must stand up to be counted in the development of the country.
From the fact that Nigeria cannot afford another civil war, to the reality that the country has never had what he called a decent census, the man of God sensitised the congregation to how to help Nigeria. At some point, he charged: “You should continue to join me praying and preaching about what the next President of Nigeria should look like…”
He then lists the criteria to look out for starting with, “We don’t care what part of the country that person comes from. We care about competence, vision, understanding how to lead a nation and building a country after so much debilitation.” Secondly, he says the next president must be given to development and must have a track record, public sector, or private sector, that they can deliver and have delivered development. He says Nigeria needs to develop road, healthcare, education and that the lack of education is why we have as much incompetence in leadership today. He explains that Nigeria spends over $2billion on educating children in the western hemisphere and that we end up losing these children to those countries.
Adefarasin says Nigeria does not need a President who is a genderist.“We must embrace both genders. Families need mothers and fathers; a nation needs men and women to parent the next generation.” He says Nigeria doesn’t need tribalists or religionists at any level of government and the people must ensure this.
He speaks about the need for the next President to be someone who has brilliance, who is well-educated and “has not left his education in the theoretical realm.” This, according to him, would make such a leader deliver and embrace everyone, even opponents who can help deliver his vision.
He says Nigeria’s next President must have the capacity to assemble people like him, with competence, brilliance, and vision to deliver a country where justice, freedom, peace, development, and happiness will abound just as Abraham Lincoln delivered to America.
He speaks about the problem with Nigeria’s structure. The fact that the centre is too powerful and how the states have become beggarly and uncreative even though they sit on gold. He encourages his congregation to encourage others to lock out people whose motive for power is personal aggrandisement and the allure of power and money and notes that the purpose of power and money is the service of people. He blames government for all of Nigeria’s problems but is conscientious enough to point out that it is not just about the current administration but governments from the colonial period. He asks Nigerians to seek for a visionary leader who sees, lives, and breathes a Nigeria, better than any other country on the face of this earth. Then, he ends on the positive note that it is possible!
To suggest that the man whose mouth speaks all of this is unpatriotic or unfaithful to his calling is indeed laughable. But then, most of his message flew past most Nigerians who chose to stay with the frame that the media presented.
Now, even though that part of the event had its impact, Adefarasin said much more that would bless all Nigerians, whether they plan to seek a Plan B or not. Those offended by the Plan B advice will do well to go look for the entire message while the leaders who got us into this mess, who are clueless about how to take us out of the wood, work on their own plans B up unto plan Z
Adedokun tweets @niranadedokun