By Matthew Ozah
The Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo’s speech at the inauguration of the auditorium of the Deeper Christian Life ministry in Lagos the other day, indeed, calls for a deeper reflection. Osinbajo says Christians in government are sometimes referred to as Esther in the Bible and urged Nigerians, especially Christians to gather around the table of brotherhood with burning zeal of patriotism and pray fervently for Nigeria’s leaders because governance in Nigeria is spiritual warfare. Hear him: “Those of us Christians in government, we are sometimes referred to as Esther. We are told that we are in office for such a time as this….This I say to the church as well, it is the duty of the church to pray for those in government, not by complaining, but by supporting us in the place of prayer. Governance is spiritual warfare. Anyone who does not know that, I know that governance is spiritual warfare and I ask you to pray for us who are in position of authority in this land.”
We should reflect on the above statement and pry into the correlation between spiritual warfare and governance as claimed by the Vice President. I recall that, not too long ago, Reuben Abati confessed! Ooh sorry, gave a testimony of his encounter with spirituality in government in an article titled ‘The spiritual side of Aso Rock’ where he wrote: “…. I am ordinarily not a superstitious person, but working in the villa, I eventually became convinced that there must be something supernatural about power and closeness to it.” I shall return to this.
In the first place, the Vice President’s call for prayers seems a preposterous suggestion. But, yes! why not? We must pray for our dear leaders and nation to prosper because we do not have another to call our country. However, as important as prayer is in one’s life and that of a nation, Nigeria’s leaders do not need prayers to spearhead social and political change in the country. What they need is to set the pace, show a good example and things will fall in shape. For instance, the Buhari and Idiagbon regime’s “War against indiscipline” is a classical experiment that proves that mass behaviour will ultimately entrench the norms, values and practice in a society if only the government would not only follow, but also seen to obey its own rules. Therefore, if Buhari’s administration wants to develop the institutions and custom necessary for a competitive democracy and market economy, it will require a ‘genuine’ accent to obey the constitution and at all times follow due process. In this regard, Nigeria’s political leaders do not necessarily need prayers as called by Osinbajo but sincere action on the side of government.
Really, Buhari’s administration is indeed facing the most demanding and symbolic test of his ‘change agenda’ in such a time as this. But, do leaders want Nigerians to become prayer warriors before they can tackle the rampaging herdsmen who are killing people across the country? Do they want Nigerians to pray without ceasing before they can see the rot in the nation’s education and health sectors and do something tangible about them? Why must Nigerians pray ceaselessly for political leaders before they can make electricity stable and fix bad roads all over the country? It is shameful for government officials in Nigeria to always blame the script and not the actor. Even at that, the actors ask the spectators not to complain about their poor performance but pray for them to overcome their failure. Some leaders challenge the people to undertake a daunting task like the Benue governor who asked his people to defend themselves with stones against herdsmen wielding automatic rifles. Of course, this nonchalant attitude of political leaders gave meat to the saying that, a proud man is indeed, capable of doing anything to avoid embarrassment.
Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely goes the old saying. Muhammadu Buhari’s presidency is the opposite of what many believed it to be. On several occasions, it drove towards a head-on collision with the rule of law. Recently, Buhari was alleged to have violated his oath of office by withdrawing and spending one billion dollar from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) without the constitutionally required legislative appropriation. Rather than blame the government for not following the law and due process, many boot-lickers saw it as common sense and a patriotic endeavour. Even, the Senate is not spared from the presidential bluff. Its recent call on Buhari to relive the service chiefs of their position due to their inability to subdue insecurity in the country fell on deaf ears. This therefore reflects a dumbfounding reality from a government’s lack of political will and insensitivity of the people’s plight. Perhaps, this could be attributed to lack of communication between and within the three arms of government. More often than not, Nigerians hear different version of same issue from the tiers of government. For instance, the Senate recently warned the judiciary not to give any contrary interpretation to Omo-Agege’s suspension because it is their internal affairs. Government’s inability to call a spade a spade in the face of injustice before a people is not only disheartening but shameful.
The APC as a political party was known to always criticize government, especially former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration until APC won a ticket to be in government. Ever since then, the narrative has changed because their being in government gave a chance to “change” and it’s benefiting a few against the many. I think this is not only wrong, but it is beneath the dignity and character of the man behind the mask. The amusing question hanging over the APC-led government at the moment is whether they would ask Nigerians to pray for them to win the 2019 elections. This is because, the clouds of confetti and pyrotechnics that greeted the All Progressives Party (APC) after winning the 2015 elections may be seen ushering them out of the seat of power.
Now back to Abati who again, wrote: “Since Buhari government assumed office, it has been one mistake after another. These mistakes don’t look normal, the same way they didn’t look normal under President Jonathan. I am therefore convinced that there is an evil spell enveloping this country. We need to rescue Nigeria from the forces of darkness…” Of course, Osinbajo seem to agree with the above prophesy when he said: “The crisis in the North East and parts of the country are caused by Satan’s opposition to the spread of the gospel….the enemy wants us to stand on our pulpit and preach hate. But we will not. We will obey our Lord Jesus Christ”. Indeed, Nigeria’s leaders must obey our Lord Jesus Christ as well as our constitution at all times. Even as Buhari did say in a recent interview with Voice of America (VOA) that God will judge past Nigeria’s leaders.