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General News of Friday, 8 February 2019


Atta Mills, other African presidents who opted for prayers in the face of tough economic times

There is a general saying that prayers without hard work would not solve a nation’s problems. But most African countries, in recent years, have proven to have none of that.

When faced with tough economic troubles, their leaders turn to prayers for a miracle to change the situation instead of tackling the matter head-on with prudent initiatives and other financial measures.

They even go as far as ordering a shutdown of other activities for a daily or a weekly national prayer for divine intervention.

Prayers are good, but critics say they won’t change a country’s economic position if they are not backed with hard work. The following leaders disagree and have once proposed prayers in times of economic difficulties:

George Weah, Liberia

After being in the news recently for opening his own church, Liberia’s president, George Weah, is making headlines again for asking his citizens to pray for two hours every day for God’s intervention in solving some of the country’s enormous economic problems.

The former football star further urged his countrymen and women to hold an all-night prayer vigil on the final Friday of each month for God’s blessings and guidance. When Weah assumed power in Liberia in January this year, he promised to reform the economy that has been struggling to recover following the 2014-15 Ebola crisis, to fight corruption and nepotism and bring in a new era for the West African country.

Critics say these are yet to materialize, adding that the president should think of practical ways of tackling the problems instead of asking for divine intervention.

Peter Mutharika, Malawi

In January 2018, there were reports that a dry spell and pest infestation had begun threatening Malawi’s staple maize crop. This compelled the country’s leader, Peter Mutharika to call for a national prayer for rain. He asked cabinet ministers and government officials to lead the prayers. Many people at the time questioned this move.

Edgar Lungu, Zambia

Zambia, in October 2015, announced a cancellation of football matches and closing of bars to make way for a day of prayer and fasting. This was after the president, Edgar Lungu, ordered his country to pray as Zambia’s currency, kwacha, came under pressure, falling 45 per cent against the dollar.

This was due to a sharp drop in the price of copper, the country’s main export. The economy was struggling as food prices had shot up and businesses were crumbling due to an erratic power supply. Critics of the government accused Lungu of failing to tackle the causes of country’s economic troubles, adding that the prayer day was a distraction.

Atta Mills, Ghana’s former president

Before the passing away of Ghana’s former president in 2012 that cut short his administration, Mills was often criticized for turning the Castle, the seat of government into a prayer camp.

He had stressed the need for Ghanaians to continue to pray for the government for divine direction to enable it to lead the state effectively. Mills even went ahead to propose an annual national prayer and thanksgiving day by Muslims on every last Friday in January and first Sunday in February for Christians.

When criticized over this, he allegedly stated that he wouldn’t mind turning the whole nation into a prayer camp.

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