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Nigeria @ 60 in the eyes of members of the clergy

As we continue with the 60th independence anniversary celebration of Nigeria, BDSUNDAY went to town sampling views of religious leaders about the anniversary and what the citizenry should expect from the nation state. SEYI JOHN SALAU

Our best is yet to come – The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins

We thank God that we are alive to mark the Diamond Jubilee of our country’s independence. We are an independent country still searching for how to become a nation where no one is oppressed, and everyone feels a sense of belonging. In spite of all odds we have survived for 60 years and so we must thank God and praise the resilience of Nigerians. However, this year of our Diamond Jubilee has turned out to be one of the most challenging for most Nigerians. We were still battling with the effects of insecurities in the land when Covid-19 struck and made life impossible for those who lost their jobs and sources of livelihood. To make life even more difficult, there was an increase in the rate of VAT only to be followed by the imposition of stamp duty on house rent and Certificates of Occupancy. The dust raised by that had hardly settled when we were slapped with an increase in electricity tariffs which was followed a couple of weeks later by an increase in the pump price of petrol.

Life is becoming harder and harder for majority of Nigerians and government needs to take radical steps to ease the burdens they are carrying. Everyone, led by Civil Society Organisations and NGOs and the Labour movement, needs to do something in their areas of competencies in order to bring the suffering of people home to government. If people must bear the burdens of the day, government must also show good faith by cutting down on the cost of governance.

The landmark celebration of 60 years should make us reflect on the reality of our existence as a country. A cursory reflection shows that we are far below where we ought to be if we take into consideration the human and natural resources with which the country is blessed. It would seem that the structure of our country that was distorted with the advent of the military into governance has remained the obstacle to our growth. Selfishness and lack of regard for common good that covers all the different nationalities that make up our country has made it impossible for us to be the Federal Republic that we were meant to be at independence.

It is necessary to continue to harp on the need to return to the original concept of Nigeria as a Federation that recognises the uniqueness of the federating units and gives each its right to govern aspects of its life while we remain one country, united in our diversities.

The current structure, as many have rightly pointed out, has given too much power to the centre that the states and local governments have been reduced to appendages that go cap-in-hand to Abuja to seek for their survival from the Federal Government. We must return to a true federalism in order to become the nation that we want to be.

Nigerians are indeed a special breed of people blessed by God. That is why we excel in almost all spheres of human endeavour at the international level. What we need here at home is an enabling environment that would bring out the best in us. As it is, our best is yet to come.

We need Godly leaders – Bishop Sola Ore, Chairman, PFN Lagos

We must continue to pray that God will continue to give us Godly leaders; people who fear God, we are not talking about religion but leaders who fear God; those who will have the fear of God in all their dealings. It is apparent that many of our leaders do not have the fear of God at all, so we keep praying that God will give us godly leaders.

At the moment, the place of intercession cannot be undermined; we really need intercessors for this nation. Sometimes, it looks like the more we pray the worse things are getting but, we must continue to intercede because intercession is very important. This is a critical time that people will need to rise up and intercede for this nation.

We should be thankful to God – Rev. Olusola Idowu, Pastor, The Ajayi Dahunsi Memorial Baptist Church, Lagos

Firstly, I believe we should be thankful to the Lord God Almighty for keeping this nation together for 60 years in spite of our differences in terms of culture, tribe, language and religion. We must be thankful to God for helping us to come out of the civil war and other inter-tribal wars.

Secondly, I believe we should seize the moment to do some reflections. Our past and present leaders need to take time to reflect on the leadership they have provided in the last six decades. They should sincerely ask themselves the question: “Have we done well?” Majority of these past leaders are still alive and they are not even willing to quit the political stage. I think they need to begin to vacate the stage for younger people to take over the stage. In addition, the populace also needs to take time to reflect on the state of the nation. We need to ask ourselves the question: “Is this the best this nation can be?” I believe our nation can be far better than what it is today.

Thirdly, our political leaders must be more committed to the task of governance more than ever before. They must be committed to fulfilling their campaign promises. They should be selfless. The political class needs to stop emphasising on issues that divide us as people, but those that unite us so that this nation can move forward.

Fourthly, the political leaders must be committed to working on the infrastructural deficit in the country. We need to fix the roads, hospitals, schools and so on and so forth.

Fifthly, each and every one of us must realize that the situation of this country cannot be solved by a quick-fix. We must be willing to allow the process to run through for us to get out of this painful situation we currently find ourselves. Let us not be in a hurry to become rich. Let us play our own part in fixing this nation. The leaders alone cannot fix this nation; we must all be involved in all our little corners as we live responsibly.

The best is yet to come – Bishop Isaac Idahosa, General Overseer of God First Ministry, popularly known as Illumination Church

At 60; we just have to obey God’s word that says in everything, give thanks. But, we can’t say so much has been achieved but that we are still together as one is enough reason to give thanks. Our prayers is that God will help us to see the dividends of democracy; that God will grant our leaders all the wisdom they require to handle all the affairs of this nation, and we the followers must be patient to follow and to have in mind what we must contribute to make Nigeria a great nation.

Is it celebration or remembrance? – Archbishop Joseph Imariabe Ojo, Calvary Kingdom Church (CKC), Lagos:

Nigeria at 60 is an interesting story. I will liken it to the biblical little sister of Solomon. ‘We have a little sister, and her breasts are not yet grown. What shall we do for our sister on the day she is spoken for?’ (Songs of Solomon 8:8).

Now, to answer your question, as to how do we celebrate Nigeria at 60? I will begin by saying what we should do is remembrance and not celebration.

What do we celebrate in a country that cannot breastfeed her children? What do we celebrate in a sixty-year-old woman that has no breast? What do we celebrate in a country though divinely endowed with so many mineral and human resources, yet cannot harness them? It is better to talk of remembrance rather than celebration. Do people outside this country and in civilised countries celebrate mediocrity? Do people celebrate thieves and corruption in a sane society? Do we celebrate Nigeria for not being able to fix power supply after sixty years of independence? Or we should start celebrating pot holes and bad roads? Do we begin to celebrate lawless driving and corrupt policemen and women? Do we celebrate a corrupt Judiciary of cash and carry? Do we celebrate the political class that is so corrupt and shameless? I was eleven years old (11) in 1960 when Nigeria gained independence. We ate independence rice freely given to all students and pupils in the country. I was in Primary five (5).

May be, we should be celebrating the Naira that is above 400 to one US dollar. When I first went to the United States for studies in February 1983 my full return ticket was (N1,500) one thousand five hundred Naira, the Naira was stronger than the US dollar. And you are talking of celebration? We bought a brand new Peugeot 505 saloon car in 1985 for N18,000 and you want me to celebrate when that money cannot buy one tyre today. Where are the replacements for Odutola rubber factory where tubes and tyres were made? The GB Olivant and so many more? Where are the various Vehicle assembly plants?

I think what we should do for Nigeria is to keep praying that God will save us from bad leaders, and from selfish and shameless politicians and their bad advisers and praise singers. It is a sad thing that our little sister (Nigeria) has no breast at 60.

There’s nothing to celebrate – Rev Femi Popoola, Pastor, Divine Mercy Baptist Church, Ikosi, Ketu, Lagos

To have existed for 60 good years is not a joke at all; that is a diamond age! Counting the number of years the Nigerian nation has been in existence should therefore, call for great celebrations. But what are we to celebrate as an independent nation since 1960? At 60, Nigeria has been plunged into a state of insecurity where both security officials and civilians are sacrificed at will. Or what can we say about the recent experiences of the incumbent Governor of Borno State whose convoy has been ambushed repeatedly and in quick successions, by the Boko Haram insurgents not minding his heavily-armed security details? If a sitting governor could experience such, what then is the fate of a common man in Nigeria?

Coming to politics at 60, Nigeria is yet to get it right. The only achievement in this area that is worth celebrating is that we can be identified among the nations that practice civil rule, even though the rule of law is less regarded or given no chance to thrive. Politics in Nigeria has become a do or die affairs and politicians can do anything to retain power when it is obvious that they are not performing.

At 60, the educational system in Nigeria is in a sorry state from the primary to tertiary level. In fact as of today, our nation cannot boast of good public schools at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. The standard of our education has fallen abysmally. What a terrible situation for us! To get quality education today, students have to travel far to Europe and America at very exorbitant fees. To worsen the matter, the ruling class and those who have the financial means have taken this to be a fashionable thing in that they send their children abroad for schooling while education at home remains in shambles with no serious concern.

Economy is another thing that calls for serious attention at 60. It would be incredible to note that one naira of the Nigerian currency had been equivalent to two dollars of the American currency in the past, but what has the situation turned to today? One American dollar is equivalent to four hundred and fifty naira if not more. No wonder many young Nigerians desire and employ all means possible to get out of Nigeria in search of greener pastures. The number of Nigerians that move out of Nigeria every day to such countries as U.K., USA, Canada, and other places in Europe is so alarming! The situation is so bad that even our young ones who could have brought great productivity to Nigerian society emigrate to such countries as Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, and other Asian countries where they are treated less than human beings.

At 60 what is the state of infrastructure in Nigeria? The Nigerian roads are nothing but death traps. Accidents claim the lives of people and cause permanent disability to others every day. Public facilities are in a state of disrepair. Electricity has become very scarce commodity in Nigeria. The government agencies and the electricity providing companies have to depend on alternative sources of electricity to provide power supply even in running their own services. What a lamentable situation for my beloved country at 60. Our hospitals lack modern equipment and most of these hospitals are better labelled as mortuaries rather than hospitals.

At 60, Nigeria has lost her moral and religious values. Moral virtues as honesty, integrity, love, kindness, patriotism, hard work and more have given way to such vices as ethnic bigotry, kidnapping, ritual killings, rape, fraud, corruption and many more. The focus now is about how much a person has and can flaunt around, no more about how much one can contribute to the development and building of a great nation. People use both political and religious offices to amass wealth for themselves at the expense of the generality.

Nigeria at 60 lacks direction and is clueless about her future. There are no plans for her teeming youth population. There is need for both political and moral will to lift Nigeria out of the mud she has found herself presently. Unless and until we change the present course of action, Nigeria may be heading towards destruction before the next 60 years, God forbid!

Nigeria needs divine paradigm shifts – Apostle Princess Oluwagbemiga

A fundamental change is coming to Nigeria! Nigeria at 60, I speak as a mother in Israel; the old Nigeria must die/leave its evil practices and influences and allow a new Nigeria take over.

As a metaphor, I like to compare our paradigms to the lenses in our glasses. Nigeria is unique with its tribal platforms making us see differently, it is shaped by our attitudes and perceptions. The question we must all answer is: what type of lenses are in your eyes glass?

Every individual and sector must begin to think things differently, and see differently, rule differently, and behave differently about this country.

At 60: We are seen as a failed nation but we must remember the bigger script is written by God, if we don’t stop evil manipulative acts of wickedness, the bigger script will over rule at the end.

At 60, let’s put our house in order, 60 years old father disintegrated and disconnected with his youth children has no future successor: let’s empower the youth more and carry them along in governance, let’s stop mistreating some tribes and work together at what could work for us. We didn’t see the pandemic coming and it has effected nations economy badly, as we celebrate this 60th anniversary, let’s synergise with experts for a gradual come back by making use of what is left rather than tasking the poor masses, when you over push a hungry man, he will get back at you to hurt you, sure we are tired of crimes in this nation already, no one is free, every problem has a solution and good catalyst too.

Let’s give thanks to God – Pastor Tope Ilesanmi, PFN Coordinator, Ikeja Province, Lagos:

Let’s begin by giving thanks to the Lord because there is still a nation called Nigeria. If it had not been the Lord, who was on our side, this nation would have gone under. (Ps124.) Imagine the level of wickedness, oppression, in-fighting, maiming, killing, kidnapping, corruption, insecurity going on repeatedly, in Nigeria for the past decades. These are enough to disintegrate any nation.

Being the 60th Independence Anniversary of our dear country, we perceive a great indifference in the citizens attitude to the plight of Nigeria this time around compared with the 50th anniversary when everywhere was agog with prayers, fun fares and well wishes. It suggests that we are giving up on Nigeria? No! It shouldn’t be. Lest we miss, for the second time, our season of divine visitation, we must keep our watch.

To this effect, God has prompted this non-denominational group, made up of inter-denominational members to mobilize Apostles and Prophets to exercise their mandates over Nigeria. We are to equally mobilize you as an individual to be part of this historic move of God!

In proffering solution to the multifaceted problems of Nigeria, It’s important to go back to the origin of the problems. From there we shall be able to identify where we are coming from, what went wrong along the way, and the destination to which we are heading. I hereby list three factors for this step-retracing:

The 1903 conquest of Fulani Empire versus Independence eve sell out!

The 1914 amalgamation versus the name – Nigeria.

So, what’s the essence of this lengthy story? The developmental growth of Nigeria, the entrepreneurial minds that transformed Lagos, and the genius that confronted the Colonial Masters for the independence; were the positive effects of the Labour of those old Christians.

The church missed it when we began to preach that “heaven-bound Christians should not dare politics” We held a wrong doctrine against governance that Church members can’t survive political wars because of diabolical threat!

We left governance for pigs, and they have squandered it. Nigeria will never go forward till the Church raises disciples and fields them to take her place in governance.

We need to give all glory to Almighty God- Rev Adepoju Ademola, First Love Apostolic Outreach

Nigeria at 60 we need to give all glory to the Almighty God for His faithfulness and mercy over this nation surely we’ve through thick and thin. I pray God will give us leaders who will have the fear of God and love for the masses not selfish people who always want to take the wealth of the nation at the detriment of the masses.

It has been God all the way if we allow the fear of the Lord which is the beginning of wisdom, the wealth of this nation will spread out to everyone.

We need to develop the man power mostly of our youth and get them involved; many of our rulers came in as youth and still want to die there or replace themselves with their children instead of making it a neutral ground for all.

Our total focus should not be on oil when there was no oil farming was building the nation we need to go back to the drawing board. Every graduate want a white collar job but we can be successful as entrepreneurs.,

In 1973, Nigeria and Korea were at the same level of development, today they’ve gone ahead while we’re doing same thing over and over again with no progress. I pray God will deliver our nation Nigeria from the hand of nation wealth-eater politicians, Amen.

 

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