In an interesting article captioned “Is Nigeria a toilet of a country?” (Sunday Sun, September 30, 2012), Femi Fani-Kayode, former minister of aviation, quoted one Lord Apsley to have said that “Nigeria is a toilet of a country where evil reigns”. In his descriptive and prescriptive analysis of events in the country, Fani-Kayode did not exonerate the British from any evil that may have befallen Nigeria. Among other things, he wrote: “Those who have a clear vision about the way Nigeria needs to go have no say, and those who have a say have no vision. Our country is in the hands and grip of mediocres that just don’t care and the Nigerian people seem to have been so traumatised, demoralised and subjugated in the last 50 years that they have lost the will to resist inequity, tyranny and injustice.”
The above postulation is a truism. In the past 50 years Nigeria has been in a mishmash of evil because of the subterfuge of retrogressive principalities and powers that has the country at the jugular. Through their shenanigans, majority of Nigerians have been relegated to the periphery of the periphery. The powers have built an evil fortress, a wall of Jericho of sorts around power centres because evil forces tend to gravitate and converge at power centres the way vultures converge around carnage. And the only way to break their fortress is through the potent combination of spiritual ballistic missiles and purposeful civil activism, the type demonstrated by the vociferous Tunde Bakare when he moved to the streets with the Save Nigeria Group to address a certain injustice – and the result was evident.
The concept of nationhood was authored by the Almighty God and it started at the Tower of Babel. His desire is for nations to prosper and be exalted through righteousness. But because man has the propensity to gravitate towards evil, preferring darkness to light, he chooses to disobey his Creator and so instead of ascending, he descends, and stagnates instead of progressing. When nations dwell in unrighteousness, they will not prosper because the exaltation of nations is hinged on righteousness, which explains why even the most endowed nations continue to perambulate and circumnavigate in the wilderness and wallowing in poverty in the midst of abundance insofar as they prefer unrighteousness. The Biblical nation of Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years as a result of their stiff neck, faithlessness and disobedience, all of which connote unrighteousness.
There are two types of righteousness, namely, positional righteousness and experimental righteousness, and both can exalt a nation. The former is the thrust of the gospel of grace espoused in the Pauline gospel by the radical Apostle Paul. It encapsulates the latter. Positional righteousness is necessary for the manifestation of experimental righteousness, though it may not always be so. The focus of this article, however, will be experimental righteousness which simply means doing the right things as it relates to the laws of the land, leadership and governance, followership and nation-building.
All nations are under the sovereignty of God and leaders are God’s representatives on earth. They are His ambassadors. As a result, He is particularly mindful and watchful of their intentions and actions towards their subjects. And for this reason, it behoves leaders to lead with a paradoxical combination of dominion intelligence and slavery intelligence, which simply means that as they exercise their authority sure-footedly, it should also be with total submission and humility to God. Leaders should have the fear of God in all their intents, purposes and actions. To fear God is not necessarily to shake and vibrate with knocked knees before Him. No, even though the Ancient of Days, Yeshua Mawsheeakh Adonai is great and terrible. And who can stand His wrath? But to fear God is to love God, and to love God is to do things that are pleasing to Him, that is to be righteous; to love justice, equity, fairness, having compassion for the weak and poor, to cover their nakedness and to generally be one’s brother’s keeper like the Biblical Good Samaritan. In turn, the followers or subjects are commanded to obey and respect their leaders and to even pray for them for peace to reign. As such, God takes the issue of lawlessness and lack of submission to constituted authority very seriously, which was why the earth opened up and swallowed the sons of Korah and the others, as recorded in the Book of Exodus, when they challenged the authority of Moses out of jealousy.
The irony, however, is that in many nations of the world, but particularly in Africa, most leaders are steeped in unrighteousness, featuring greed, avarice, ineptitude, massive corruption, selfishness; being highly aggrandised, thieving and swimming in filthy lucre. After stealing the people blind, they pauperise and dehumanise them.
The Garden of Eden with all the necessary provisions made for Adam and Eve was a prototype of how God expects leaders to build their nations with every basic amenities provided for the people so they can say, “Our leaders are our shepherds, we shall not want.” But instead, what do we find in most African nations? Inflation and food scarcity, poor and inadequate housing, cities without electricity, non-existent or dilapidated infrastructure, poverty and stagnation, short life expectancy, a frustrated citizenry, socio-economic disequilibrium, insecurity, crisis and disorder.
Leadership is a serious business. It is sacrificial and not for personal aggrandisement. It is not for amassing wealth, nor just being cocooned in luxurious palaces feeling invulnerable and callous to the plight and needs of the people. A leader is a steward, a servant, a caretaker who is accountable. Good leadership demands authority, compassion and empathy for the people who should be provided with the enabling environment to be the very best they can be. If truth be told, Nigeria has not been too lucky with a truly compassionate, creative and dynamic leadership at the centre.
With due respect, most of our past leaders lacked a global vision of what nation-building entails, which is why history recorded some of them to have made some outrageous and most unpatriotic utterances, failing to realise that the tongue has an immense power to light a big fire of discord and anomie.
Though President Jonathan will not solve all our problems in his tenure, he is expected to leave his footprints in the sands of time. He appears willing, but he needs to be more upbeat, as in hitting the ground and really running. He is a living testimony of God’s uncommon favour. With the massive outpouring of goodwill he enjoyed prior to his election, how else can he appreciate God’s favour and say thank you to the people for the too much love they gave him than to leave enduring legacies? The choice is his to make. As history beckons, God is watching.
Nwobu is the ‘Cattle Rearer’ at The Beautiful Gate and the lead consultant, Charterstock, an advisory firm in Investor Relations, Research and Strategic Communications