Posted on: 2015-09-17

The head beneath the crown

We live in times that demand a lot from our leaders. President Muhammadu Buhari does not have an enviable job especially if he is truly resolved to be a good leader. Nigerians seek to be led from barren grounds to green pastures, from scarcity to prosperity and from turbulence to peaceful times. Because of the complexity of Nigeria's problems we all seem to agree that prayer is needed in abundance. Most Nigerians seem to agree that endemic, systemic corruption is the biggest monster threatening to devour Nigeria and that Nigeria's brand of corruption seems to be altogether special. We agree with President Buhari that we either kill corruption or corruption will kill Nigeria. What we do  not seem to agree upon however, is how to achieve this or exactly from where to begin. Debate is  on whether the government should plead, bargain or negotiate with looters. Some see no sense at all in granting suspected looters any courtesy or rights. Simply grab them and squeeze them hard until they yield all they have looted. The Labor Union is even reported to have proposed capital punishment as sentence for corruption. Clearly, the leader at the helm of affairs in Nigeria will need all the goodwill and prayers that he can get to correctly discern in what way to lead the nation. That is why it simply is best to say everyday: "God, bless our President".

CBCN speaks again

The President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) and archbishop of Jos, Most Reverend Ignatius Kaigama, delivering his opening address at the second plenary meeting of the Bishops last week at the Diocesan Pastoral Centre, Igwuruta, Port Harcourt, expressed strong views on the challenges facing Nigeria. Speaking in the presence of the Vice President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osibajo and the Rivers State Governor, Barrister Nyesom Wike, the archbishop called for a new attitude of patriotism and altruism and a conversion of heart in all Nigerians. "I wish to again hereby invite Nigerians not merely to "change" but also to have a "conversion of heart"  because change without interior conversion is only cosmetic and superficial. Our wasted opportunities must be recovered. This should include every Nigerian, and not only those in government". The archbishop advocated conversion on the social economic, political, moral, judicial and  spiritual levels. His speech several times elicited spontaneous applause from the huge crowd present. He was obviously touching the right chords that resonated with the people's yearnings. More highlights of the address deserve public attention:

Moral and spiritual conversion

"We need moral conversion whereby  we do not practice external, religious piety while condoning extortion by security agents on the high way, the embarrassment of our international visitors  through greedy and corrupt demands and activities at international airports or borders and  ports, where illegal/harmful items are allowed into the country as long as the owners can pay sufficient bribes. Enough of the antics of psychedelic, manipulative religious leaders who pontificate on morality but see nothing wrong in scandalously enriching themselves and corruptly supporting  those who mismanage our public affairs and then rob our country blind.
We need spiritual conversion where religion is not all about money-making and prosperity or determined by the wealth of  a religious leader. We know that  some preachers centre their message on making  their followers  astoundingly and miraculously rich and insist that prosperity is a sign of  God's blessings,  because God  is not a poor God, instead of focusing  on true worship, fraternity and the common good. It is perhaps only in Nigeria that a comedian, a singer, a shrewd business person,  a motivational speaker, a house wife, a politician or an ex civil servant can wake up and  declare himself or herself a "man" or "woman" of God, i.e. a religious leader.

Judicial conversion

 We need judicial conversion, a situation where we shall have courageous judges who judge wrong and right with the fear of God. (Dt. 2:16-17) I charge your judges, 'Listen to complaints among your kinsmen, and administer true justice to both parties even if one of them is an alien. In rendering judgment, do not consider who a person is; give ear to the lowly and to the great alike, fearing no man, for judgment is God’s". Prophet Micah in chapter 3  warns  leaders and rulers to abhor injustice, crying out that the leaders of Zion pervert all that is right; render judgment for a bribe, her priests give decisions for a salary, her prophets divine for money'".

Need for collaboration in repentance

The foregoing and more emphasize why President Buhari was elected to lead Nigeria. Undoubtedly, he needs more than the wisdom of Solomon to succeed. He needs God's help to make Nigerians to transcend tribe, region, religion and personal interest, not only to work with him but to allow him do the work. Needless to say he must transcend those pitfalls as well.  King Solomon's words in the Bible, when confronted with the challenges of ruling Israel, fit well our President: "And here is your servant, surrounded with your people whom you have chosen, a people so numerous that its number cannot be counted or reckoned. So give your servant, a heart to understand how to govern your people, how to discern between good and evil, for how could one otherwise govern such a great people as yours?" (IIKgs. 3:9). As Archbishop Kaigama noted,  the Nigerian condition is complicated by the cynicism of Nigerians who have disengaged from the destiny of their country and often deliberately wage war against her in words, attitude and action. From those kind of tendencies, Nigerians must repent. This persistent voice of reason must not be ignored. The very soul of Nigeria depends on adherence to it and  it is impossible to say that too often in our situation.