Theres something disturbingly enchanting about the reception of prophecies from men of God in Nigeria, and it has bred a political monster.
In January 2018, the General Overseer of Freedom For all Nations Outreach (FANO), Prophet Samuel Akinbodunse, declared that President Muhammadu Buhari will die if he seeks reelection in 2019.
"The Lord said his tenure is once, not twice; if not, he'll not make the election. If he made (sic) a mistake to campaign for election, before the vote, he'll die," the South African-based Nigerian prophet frenetically announced to his enthusiastic congregation.
In January 2017, Prophet Emmanuel Chukwudi of King of Kings Deliverance Church said the president's definite death will spark a power tussle.
He said, "But towards 2019, the president's health shall fail him, and he shall go the way of all men. But VP Yemi Osinbajo shall wrestle with the soldiers. They shall try to seize power and Osinbajo shall prevail. He shall lead Nigeria into 2019."
In the months that followed, he doubled down on the prophecy, expressed dismay at the president's improved health at some point and suggested he can only escape death by reaching out to him.
"Long time ago, I asked all to pray for their master, that he needed urgent prayers to avert the calamity of death at Aso Rock, but they were lazy.
"No one has bothered to reach me, now see what is happening. They don’t want to come for prayers. Things will get worse.
"He shall certainly die in office, says the Lord, unless I am not God, says the Lord," he said.
Also in January 2017, the founder of Glorious Word Ministry International, Prophet Isaac Owusu Bempah, predicted the "Death of Nigeria's president".
Even before Buhari became president early in January 2015, the spiritual leader of the Celestial Church of Christ, Elisha Parish, Marcus Korede Tibetan, prophesied that he would win the election and die before the end of his term.
"He will win the election; he may not even finish his term. He may die. He is going to die in between. That is what the Lord has revealed," he said.
With the number of prophecies out there predicting the president's death, it doesn't hurt to take a close look at what might be responsible for the trend.
History of dead presidents
In just under the past two decades, Nigeria has experienced the death of two presidents.
Military Head of State, Sani Abacha, died under mysterious circumstances on June 8, 1998; while democratically elected president, Umaru Yar'adua, died on May 5, 2010, after a protracted illness that created a power vacuum mess in government.
Yar'adua's death, most especially, has led to the focus of Nigerians on the health of candidates contesting for the presidency.
Buhari bore the brunt of this as a 72-year-old candidate in the 2015 presidential election as it was the stick with which many detractors beat him with.
One of them, Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose, went as far as to take to the front page of a national daily newspaper to equate the choice of Buhari to the choice for death in a public show of shame.
For good reason, Nigerians are concerned about the state of health of the man who is leading a demanding nation; and much of the apprehension about Buhari was vindicated by the breakdown in his health that resulted in months of absence from the country in 2017 when he holed up in the United Kingdom treating an undisclosed illness.
The president has not helped ease the concerns with how he's been deliberately evasive about the state of his health especially throughout last year's crisis.
However, the obsession by so-called men of God to press the big red button over the president's continued survival needs to be addressed.
Why are men of God obsessed with Buhari's death?
Nigeria is, undeniably, a deeply religious country. This is responsible for why religious leaders enjoy a considerable amount of influence on the Nigerian public.
How they have decided to wield that influence has depended on whatever agenda they are pursuing because God's position over the president's death appears to not have a unanimous divine consensus.
For example, while there are parties that are strongly convinced of the president's eventual death in office, someone else, like the founder of Grace and Great Kings Christian Ministry, Obinna Omerie, is convinced those parties are spiritually blindfolded and speaking from revelations backed by satanic sources.
"God revealed to me as His prophet that Buhari will complete his tenure in 2019," he declared last year.
Buhari's old age has painted a large target on his back and made it easy for critics, whether they be ordinary bench warmers or pulpit merchants, to use the d-word to whip up sentiment.
The president's tenure has been divisive and public opinion has been wretched against him, and this, coupled with his old age, appears to be a thing that 'seers' are latching onto.
In contrast, during Jonathan's tenure that was just as divisive, there were not these many prophecies about him dying in office simply because it was very hard to believe due to his relatively young age.
Most of the prophecies circled around him being embarrassed out of the Presidential Villa, but his exit prophecies were usually missing a coffin.
I won't pretend to be absolutely sure of what the intention here is; but when you eliminate the fact that these prophecies might, in fact, be nonsense that's not 'divinely' moulded in God's seal of approval, all you're left with are men of great influence recklessly abusing their authority.
If there's a common thread between most of the seers mentioned, it is that they are largely unknown in the grand scheme of things so much that the only time people, outside of their congregations, hear from them is when they make outrageous prophecies.
Men of God of bigger stock, that don't need to be named, have largely held their influential roles with thoughtful grace and competence, enough to know not to threaten the country's highest political seat with fire and brimstone.
The most important thing to note here is that threatening the president's death by way of prophecy, as an apparent solution to whatever problem you think ails the country, adds absolutely nothing to the conversation on how to move the country forward.
If anything, it sets the course for a whole different conversation that detracts from the important one of seeking real political solutions.
President Buhari is 75 years old and will encounter health problems that are peculiar to his age, especially with the burden of Nigeria on his shoulders. If anything happens to him, it won't be because a man of God proclaims it, it'll be because these things happen.
There's really no need to engineer divine stamps to prop up what appears to be nothing but personal sentiments to titillate the country's disenchanted crowd.
Let's all stay guarded and shy away from ill-advised divine recklessness.