• Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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BusinessDay

Prayer for my country, Nigeria

Prayer

With a contrite heart, a humble spirit and on bended knees I come to you, O God, our Creator, our Father and our unfailing Guide to pray for Nigeria, the only country I can call my own. Let me first of all fully appreciate your uncommon favour by blessing us with abundant human and natural resources. Our young men and women with brilliant and creative minds are breaking academic and professional barriersand doing us proud in various spheres of human endeavor across the globe. Only you could have done this for us.

I must thank you too for freely giving to us oil and gas, several solid minerals and vast arable land, scenic and breath-taking tourist attractions, traversing rolling hills and vales, waterfalls and the aquatic splendor of the rivers and lakes flowing into the vast Atlantic Ocean. What about the clement climate of all-year round sunshine and the seasonal rains? We are grateful for all these great potentialities, even though many of us take them for granted. Honestly, I know that you are never a joker to have blessed us so richly. It is all because you have a special interest in this country; to take it to heights beyond our human imagination. But only a few know this.

Our dearly beloved Father, let me admit the bitter truth, that we have failed you in several ways by not appreciating what you have given us for free.Worse still, we have beenmisusing them in more ways than one. With profound reminiscences, during my strange encounter with you back in October 2002 you described Nigeria to my humble self as “an irritating sore by your side”! And when I asked what it was all about, you took me round this same country to pin-point sundry crimes and criminalities that trigger your angst. Was it bestiality, sodomy or homo-sexualism? What about ritual murders, involving innocent children, importing arms and ammunition and worshipping lesser gods?What about the crop of power-poaching politicians who have sold their souls to the devil and see money and material acquisition as the be-all and end-all to life? These are just some of the ways we have irked you.

Let your Spirit begin with the people’s mindset, to understand that in a democracy political power truly belongs to them. They should not sell their votes in exchange for peanuts and enthrone their very enemies as their leaders. They should ask that their votes count as freely cast at the polls. They should know their rights and responsibilities and stand firm in asking for good governance. They should not view those voted into power as ‘they’ and as people to be feared or worshipped but politicians to be accountable to them. Indeed, they should be servant-leaders as former President, Umar Yar’Ardua rightly highlighted.

Touch our leaders’ hearts never to forget that power belongs to you and that they are but the chosen channels to deploy that power in the service of the people, instead of satisfying their whims and caprices. Let them value the sanctity of human life. Let them not erroneously believe that they could intimidate, torture, maim and kill fellow human beings, to satiate their ego and go Scot-free. They should understand that might is not right in a democracy, as we are not instinct-driven animals hounding for survival in a jungle!

Let them earn whatever they want not by using the Machiavellian tactics thatonly the end justifies the means.Let them remember what you asked Cain in the Biblical time and that the voice of the blood of their voiceless victims cries unto you on daily basis. They should remember that you will ask them to account for the innocent souls they have killed, openly or done in secrecy on the Judgment Day, as no human action and antics is hidden from you.

Let our current leaders inculcate in us a sense of history, and that of allegiance to the country called Nigeria. Let the people understand the sacrifices made by our founding fathers and mothers too. That once upon a time, precisely on August 13, 1947, a group of Nigerian patriots was at the London Office of the British Colonial Secretary, Arthur Creech-Jones to demand for the country’s political independence. They also used the opportunity to openly criticize the anti-people’s Richards Constitution.

These worthy Nigerians included Dr. NnamdiAzikiwe, Nyong Essien, P.M. Kale (from the Eastern Region).Others were  Abubakar Dipcharima (Northern Region), Mrs. Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Dr. Olorun-Nimbe and Adeleke Adedoyin (Western Region). They were delegates of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) political party.

That they were not discouraged by the colonial masters who told them to “go home and cooperate with the colonial government,” Instead, they held several meetings in places such as London, Oxford, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dublin to convince the British public that they meant serious business-that Nigeria was ripe enough for independence. Interestingly, they had tacit support from the West African Students Union, the Pan African Federation and the League of Coloured People.

Let our children know that none of Nigeria’s founding fathers who opposed the British, especially the Jajas, Zuberus and Ovaremis was spared. Let them know that our soldiers who they used to fight the First and Second World Wars against the Germans were neglected thereafter. And that Herbert Macaulay, the great intellectual who formed the first political party, the Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP) in 1922 was equally antagonised by the colonialists.

Let not our politicians become intoxicated by transient power once they mount the pedestal of power, at the local, state or federal level. Let them not forget the people or begin to play God because of the dire consequences of their evil deeds.Let them have a sense of history and remember howAdolf Hitler, Paul Pot, KertusodiroSuharto, Saddam Hussein, Idi Dada Amin, Nero, Haiti’s Jean Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, Ethiopia’s Mengistu Haile Mariamall ended with disgrace and death!

Indeed, no reasonable political leader would want to be equated with Paraguary’sAlferedoStoessner, Liberia’s ex-warlord Charles Taylor, Chile’s Pinochet, Central African Republic’s BedelBokassa and Zaire’s Mobutu SeseSeko.

Guide our leaders right to act as the father-figures that provide and provide for the citizens and never to tread the ignoble paths that led to the clearly avoidable Biafra war. Instead, let them be patriotic, selfless, ensure inter-ethnic equity and harmony. Let them respect the constitutional provisions, the separation of power and the rule of law they swore to uphold. Let them be reminded always of the inspiring words of our first National Anthem:

“Though tribe and tongue may differ,

In brotherhood we stand,

Nigerians all, are proud to serve

Our sovereign Motherland.

Our flag shall be a symbol

That truth and justice reign.”

And above all, let them imbibe in our youth the fear of you!

Thank you, Father for listening to my prayers.

 

Ayo OyozeBaje