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Nigeria needs moral leaders, patriots to function as a nation – Rev. Kasali

Nigeria needs moral leaders, patriots to function as a nation – Rev. Kasali

It was a moment of truth on Tuesday 12 December, 2023, when the media engaged the church on the post-election mood of the nation and how to get the Nigeria move away from the socio-cultural and socio-economic strain caused by the last election circle.

“Elections are very important to Nigerians today. Nigerians are being more active and involved in the process to choosing leaders to that point of leadership because of the state of the economy and security,” Yomi Kasali, senior pastor, Foundation of Truth Assembly (FOTA), said during the end of year forum of the Association of Christian Correspondents of Nigeria (ACCoN), held at the Vineyard Christian Ministry, Lagos.

Themed, ‘Sustaining Peace and Unity in Nigeria in the Post-Election Era: Role of the Church and the Media’, Kasali said Nigeria has witnessed successive government, and not due successful elections and electoral processes.

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He said that in the last 24 years, Nigeria has witnessed successive transitions of government from one administration to another; however, not much can be said about the electoral process both at the state and federal level.

According to him, the state of the economy and insecurity has been the two major factors that stimulate the interest of Nigerians in arriving at their electoral choices. “Really, education should be pivotal, but if I have money I would be able to perform and afford good education,” he said.

He further said that politicians who understand the dynamics usually promise to put money in the people’s pocket, with assurance of safeguarding their lives. “In our Nigeria today, there are two things that are important – first is the state of the economy (personal economy, which is my pocket) and security.”

According to him, both the church and the media have roles to play in both the pre and post-election process. He said further that the church and the media have to be involved in the education process on how to prepare in every election circle, and how to respond to election outcomes either as winners or losers.“

Jummy Adetoyese-Olagunju, senior pastor, Praise Arena, Kingdom Light Christian Centre, Lekki Lagos, said that the Church should rediscover and focus on her purpose with respect to the kingdom assignment.

According to him, the Church has allowed herself to be relegated to the background in terms of championing the right values in the society. He equally disclosed that structured efforts are not being made to address the disunity in the country.

Kasali calls for more patriots, not politicians

Speaking on how to get Nigeria working again after the strained socio-political atmosphere on the back of the 2023 general election, Kasali said that Nigeria needed patriots, and not politicians. According to him, patriots build a nation not politicians.

“Nigeria in post-election needs moral leaders. This country needs two things for our nation to get better – first Nigeria needs moral leaders; second, Nigeria needs patriots,” Kasali said.

According to him, Nigeria will not get better by looking to politicians for solutions to national issues; rather she must look for patriots who are detribalised, with some sense of moral uprightness. “Politicians know we have been bought over – what I am simply saying is that we are all involved. We lack moral leaders in Nigeria,” he said.

He is of the view that people can effect change, especially for the cause of the people without holding political offices. “Christian journalists must become moral leaders. When we have patriots in politics, it’s better. But, when we have politicians forming patriots, it’s terrible. Because basically politicians build parties for themselves; patriots build nations – that is why it’s easier for patriots to work with the winning side even when they lose,” Kasali said.

On the other hand, Adetoyese-Olagunju said that the media should rediscover and focus on their purpose as light to the world.

“Place little or no emphasis on the things you are displeased with before or during the election, where necessary, constructively do and say things that will promote peace and unity,” he said.

According to him, the media should be consistent and persistent in emphasising on the message of unity and love. He said that the media must be innovative in disseminating messages that can unite the people to promote peace and love.

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The Church as change agent

Kasali disclosed that about 12 years ago while he was working on a project tagged, ‘Church for change’, it was discovered that Nigeria had less than 1, 800 active politicians in electoral (political) offices both at the states and federal level.

According to him, the idea of the project was to leverage the church as moral agents to drive change in the polity.

“1, 800 people should not hold 200 million Nigerians to ransom,” he said. He said further that less than 2000 people should not carry the responsibilities and the future of the entire nation on their shoulders.

He disclosed that the plan behind the project then was to meet with about 1000 of the politicians holding political offices as ‘Church for Change’ and as Christians to speak directly as moral institution, leveraging moral and persuasive force for social transformation.

According to him, the church for change project was birthed by the need to create a progressive change agenda that people can see and measure tangibly.

“Some of us run churches with 8000 members – if you look at 2000 people, we should be able to communicate, speak to these 2000 people. Those that you and I through the ballot box put into offices to run the affairs of the state and Federal Government,” Kasali said.

According to him, the church as a moral institution must speak truth to power, and must be non-partisan. He said further that the church was not a business enterprise, hence, the need to maintain its non-partisan nature by avoiding using the pulpit for partisan activities.

However, speaking on the role of the media in sustaining the peace in the post-election era, Kasali said that the media must maintain a non-partisan position, and must understand that the people are their employers; not the publishers or owners of the various media platforms.

“A partisan media is a corrupt media. Christian journalists must see themselves as moral agents, and must understand that the people are their employers,” Kasali said.

However, Adetoyese-Olagunju challenged the Church to come up with a working tool to take up the responsibility of rebuilding Nigeria. “We take ownership of the whole process to be the light of the world.

“Misplaced priority on building of leadership as a position instead of building leadership in people, anchored on being humane, which is one of the main roles of the Church.

“Church should champion the move to institutionalize the right values in the educational system without sounding religious,” Adetoyese-Olagunju said.

The Ark of Nigeria will rest on solid rock – Archbishop Ojo

Joseph Ojo, the presiding archbishop of Calvary Kingdom Church (CKC), quoted from Genesis; “The ark rested on the seventh month; on the seventh day of the seventh month upon the Mount Ararat”. According to him, the Tinubu administration will be celebrating seven months in office by December 29.

He prayed that the ark of Nigeria will begin to rest on the solid rock. According to him, the foundation of the current administration will be solid enough to withstand all the political floods ahead of it, and that it will not get carried away by the floods.

Ojo, who was represented by Best Ojo, the national overseer of CKC, said that God is raising men in journalism, in the church that will always come with the olive leaf. “The dove signifies the Holy Spirit, and the olive leaf signifies the truth. The truth is that our waters will abate in this country,” he said.

According to him, the church has a critical to play in Nigeria’s socio-political and socio-economic narrative. He said that the church must appear to be blameless in all circumstances, and that church leaders and journalists will be blameless in carrying out their day-to-day activities.

Rhoda Jatau: why should we beg the govt – Bishop Robertson, former PFN chairman

Robertson Akwazi, presiding bishop, City Gate Int Church, Calabar, said the Church has failed in playing its primary role of defending Christians and other vulnerable individuals in the country.

“I am glad that we have Christians today that are rising to the challenge, and I say congratulations. For so long we have been silent – we have been intimidated. For so long we have refused to speak, we have been afraid,” he said.

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According to him, the Nigerian state must answer the moral question on what happen to the perpetrators of the Sokoto killing; and that if the question is left unanswered, it means there is a problem in Nigeria.

He said further that Rhoda Jatau was not meant to have been jailed, and that whoever jailed her should have been the first person CAN should have gone after to ensure that justice is served. “And, if that is not done it means we are just hypocrites,” he said.

According to him, Jatau was bold enough to speak up when Christian leaders in the country were afraid to speak.

He said: “Are you saying that as Christians in Nigeria we can no longer cry out against injustice?”

Was she wrong to have asked why a young girl would be murdered for a crime she never committed?