@ 55, Nigeria Should Turn To God, Work Hard — Clerics

NIGERIAN religious leaders, as important stakeholders with enormous influence, are suggesting the way forward, even as they try to analyse the numerous challenges inhibiting the growth of Nigeria at 55. OMIKO AWA, ISSAC TAIWO and PAUL ADUNWOKE write.

Call Town Hall Meetings And Declare A Day For Fasting And Praying’
(Pastor Chris, Ekejekwu (National/International Coordinator, Obedience To God Assembly, Lagos)

AS we look forward to celebrating the 55th Independence anniversary of this country, there is not much to gladden one’s heart. After 55 years, Nigerians are crying over poverty, unemployment, injustice, lack of enabling environment to do any prosperous business, insecurity, dearth of infrastructure and religious bigotry.

At a time like this and with so much complaint over the state of the nation, we should cry to God, because we are still far from celebrating true freedom. But God will show mercy, if the leaders and people seek Him. Joel 2:12-17, Jonah 3: 4-9. At this juncture, the president should do the following three things for divine help and healing of the land:
• He should call for town hall meetings in the six geo-political zones and dialogue with the people. This will enable the people bare their minds and needs.
• He should speak more and directly to the people, bare his mind on what he is doing rather than making his spokespersons to almost always do the talking for him. He should increase his direct communication potency to the nation. This will make the people to trust and believe in him.
• The president should declare every first day of every month a fasting and praying day. It should begin by 6:00am and there should be a two-hour midnight prayer to end it. During the day, while the fasting is on, there should be no movement. The people are to pray to God for: personal repentance of all who are engaged in any evil; healing of the land; dethronement of evil centres, exposing and dealing with all those that are dragging the country backwards; upturn every wickedness and unfold Nigeria deliverance process. They should also pray so that all crooked people in authority won’t prosper; all powers affecting the leaders and the led negatively be destroyed; every foreign evil consultation interfering in our activities, as a sovereign country be crushed; and for God to deliver and grant Nigeria real freedom that follows independence.

Having done this, the people should have faith in God, trust in the president and be patient.

‘The Leadership And Citizenry Need A Change Of Mindset’
(Dr. Saheed Ahmad Rufai. Ag. Dean, Faculty of Education, Sokoto State University, Nigeria.)
MY own characterisation of our country’s state in the face of the incessant imbroglio, continued quagmire and pervasive pitfalls that seem a source of drawbacks in all fronts, is that the unpalatable national experience offers a rationale for the deployment of resources towards the facilitation of a change in the mindset of both the leadership and the citizenry. I recommend the use of two tools in the pursuit of the much-desired change, namely: value-laden education and scripture-based religious orientation. And my proposal is grounded in the injunction contained in the Holy Qur’an Chapter 13 Verse 11 that, “Allah will not change the state of a people until they change their own mindset.”

So, as a curricularist and Muslim scholar, I favour the interplay of these two perspectives, namely: education and religion for a mindset-changing blueprint for Nigeria.

I, in specific terms, enjoin the government to employ early educational curricular and pedagogical tools in its reforms. Let there be a decisive value-laden curriculum reorientation with the primary level as the starting point. The implication of this is that the teacher will be reoriented through the instrumentality of curriculum and pedagogical innovations to now fulfill the role of an advocate of a national rebirth or resurgence through a systematic direction of learning activities.

This way, the colossal deficiency of both the Nigerian primary school teacher and pupil in the affective domain can be remedied or ameliorated, at least, to an appreciable extent.

The projection is that the use or implementation of this proposed value-laden primary educational blue-print across a period of 10 years will inject new blood and bring some academic and moral sanity into secondary level of education, a considerable proportion of whose manpower, too, may be exposed to a value-oriented secondary curriculum and pedagogy for operation during the first 10 years of primary curricular reorientation. It should be pointed out that this line of thinking is not interrogative of the existing school curriculum in the country and, therefore, does not advocate its rejection, at least, for now. It rather emphasises the need for what professional curricularists call curriculum reorientation for ideological independence and social reform.

Of course, there may be need to reconstruct some introductory paragraphs or prefatory notes that constitute the prologue to the educational blue-print in question, the amendments required are just minor and capable of changing the landscape of education in the country in a manner that can facilitate change a la present government’s mantra.

Unless the drift of value-free education is arrested in Nigeria, our schools stand the risk of producing unscrupulous elements for various sectors and the possible havoc may be too colossal for the country to bear.

While a reoriented education is targeted at children and the youth, religion may be an efficacious tool to reorient parents. At least, it may not be arguable that an average Nigerian is either a Muslim or a Christian, though there are few exceptions. Accordingly, all the roads leading to Nigerian mosques are stampeded on Fridays in the same manner that all the directions leading to Nigerian churches are crowded on Sundays.

The implication of this is that Nigerians, especially adults, are strong believers in religious institutions, for whatever reasons that we may not want to address here. As such, our places of worship have a significant role to fulfill in the national pursuit of the long-felt and much desired change, reform or rebirth.
However, most of the preaching and supposed mosque or church-based religious enlightenment seems either ineffective or counterproductive, probably owing to failure to match actions with scriptural provisions. I am not oblivious of the autonomous status of religious institutions as non-governmental bodies in Nigeria.

Yet, I venture to state that given that they have the potential to contribute to the change of the mindset of the citizenry, the government should not overlook or take lightly any atrocity perpetrated in the name of God in order for such an experience not to be a justification for the promotion of vices in our society.

Yet, I must not fail to say that I am not advocating a compulsory religious education in schools. Experience has shown that this has not made much significant difference, as most teachers, and students too, of religious studies in today’s Nigeria have not been meeting minimum moral standards among their peers, in recent times. And this revelation is supported by data from four Nigerian universities of my acquaintance.

So, most of them relate with religion as an academic discipline and not necessarily a divine calling or revealed territory and may be credulous high academic achievers on religious matters, and yet be linked to heavy ethical liabilities or associated with an incredible record of moral bankruptcy. Such religion experts may truncate rather than facilitate the change process. And Nigeria cannot afford the catastrophic effect of the handiwork of any unscrupulous element now.

Pastor Odesola

Pastor Odesola

We Need Communal Effort, Spirit Of Oneness To Build
The Nation’
(Pastor Johnson Odesola, Personal Assistant (Admin & Personnel) to the General Overseer, The Redeemed Christian Church of God.)
THERE is nothing to be compared to freedom. Prior to our attaining independence, we had our challenges of living under the colonial masters without having our say. After independence, however, we began to have another form of challenges. The problem we had before independence bordered on living under dictatorship. If there was any Nigerian appointed to be in a position to leadership, he could only play second fiddle.

Today, the greatest challenge confronting our nation is corruption and this has been manifesting in various ways. This has been holding the nation back, as it seems to have transcended from small to big because of lack of checks and balances to root out the evil.

Another undoing is tribalism. It is apparent that Nigerians are still battling with tribalism, which would never make any country to move forward. It seriously manifests, when a particular tribe is in leadership position. Nomination of ministers and other office holders would be tilting on the head. There is need for the citizens of this great country to live as one and look at what joins us together at the centre and jettison the spirit of tribalism for the nation to move forward.

However, in spite of all, Nigeria is still rated as the greatest economy in Africa and the nation is not bad in education, which means Nigeria has something to offer.

I believe all we need is to re-think and as we celebrate the independence this year, we need a fresh approach to build the nation, which requires communal effort with spirit of oneness. We are to be brothers and sisters in this nation, despite our tribal and religious differences. Without love, we cannot build this nation on a solid rock and this would require having a good conscience. We need to start from our families, to the compound where we live, which is the way forward.



‘Forget The Past And Allow Brotherly Love In All We Do’
(Archbishop Magnus Atilade, Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) for the Southwest.)
AS Nigeria celebrates this year’s independence, we should forget the past and move forward with the spirit of love and integrity. Corruption has dominated the nation and thwarted our focus as a nation. There is, therefore, the need to rid the nation of corruption. As we are about to celebrate our independence, it is necessary to look into the health, education and welfare of the people.

Nigeria should also do away with many acts and vices, which include kidnapping and Boko Haram insurgency among others. The kidnapping of Chief Olu Falae is still fresh, while Nigeria is still groaning from the abduction of the Chibok girls.

Another thing worth noting is the fear of God despite our religious differences. I also use this opportunity to challenge all Christians to be one. There should be total eradication of all the vices noted above, as we celebrate this year’s independence and we should allow brotherly love to continue.

‘Let’s Diversify The Economy And Create More Jobs’
(Bishop Oluranti Odubogun, Bishop of the Diocese of Ife, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion.)
NIGERIANS of old did everything to get freedom and be free of the British colonial masters. There were visionary leaders in the three major tribes namely: Awolowo from the West; Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe from the East and Sadauna of Sokoto from the North. Eventually, we obtained independence and the British favoured the North for whatever reasons known to them. Disunity ensued and the leaders started pulling the nation in different directions. Military, which was an aberration came in and remained until 1999.

The way forward is not only fighting corruption, but also ensuring that we make progress by being one. Nigerians should join forces with the present administration to fight corruption. Lack of good administration brought in soldiers. Military incursion produced and celebrated corruption, which we are facing up till today. True democracy started in 1999.

To move the economy forward and provide job for the teeming Nigerian youths, the leadership should come out of mono-product economy and engage in multi-product economy through diversification. Nigeria should stop depending only on oil. We should re-visit the agricultural sector and go back to the farm. As Nigerians come together and become more focused, the nation will be the better for it

‘We Need To Fear God And Jettison Tribal Politics’
(Rev. Pastor Akikolue, Ayobo)
WE got independence like other nations that had challenges, but quickly surmounted these challenges, as well as and claimed their destiny.

Nigeria was on the same path, but lost control due to corruption. The truth is that a nation without God will not be able to make a remarkable progress.
The Lord, who made Nigeria to exist, also provided a lot of resources to take care of the teeming population. However, due to the lack of fear of God, the resources have been mismanaged. Seeds of discord have been sown to tear the nation apart, but thanks to God, Who is still pulling the nation together today. To move forward, Nigerians should go back to fearing God, as fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Tribal politics should be jettisoned and leaders should know that the resources of Nigeria belong to every Nigerian. I pray that God would continue to support us as a nation.

‘We Need To Cooperate With
Government To Move forward’
(Alhaji Yusuf Okunnu, Chief Imam, Nawir-Ud-Deen Society of Nigeria, Oshodi/ Mushin branch.)
WE thank Almighty Allah for making us to be alive to witness this year’s Independence celebration. We give glory to Almighty Allah to keep us alive to witness more independence celebrations to come.

We pray Almighty Allah would assist our President, Muhammadu Buhari, in all his endeavours, as he pilots the affairs of our dear country. We pray for sincere efforts at ensuring transparency in all aspects of his government. May Almighty Allah assist him to achieve this.

We need transparency at all levels of government. May Almighty Allah bless our great nation. We want government to put more efforts into carrying everybody along and ensure that Nigeria would never be divided.

We need adequate security, as well as good road networking that would connect our cities to rural areas, where our foodstuff is grown. There are farmers that produce abundant food in rural areas, but because of bad roads, there is no means of transportation, resulting in the waste of the farm produce. Government should make citizens’ lives more meaningful by providing social amenities.

For us to get good roads and make more progress in every sphere of our life, as a nation, every citizen must contribute his or her quota by paying taxes. If we fail to do this, then we should not expect our government to deliver on its own part of the contract.

As a leader of Nawir-Ud-Deen Society of Nigeria, I have been educating my members on the need to be law-abiding, because nobody is above the law. I would love other clerics to educate their own members to be law abiding, too. In this mosque, we have a particular set of people that are in charge of paying electricity bills and Lagos State Waste Management (LAWMA) bills among others. So, there is need for us to support our government. Clerics should educate their members not to vandalise public properties or damage the roads.

In Lagos State, we need the government to build more roads; the inner roads in our city are so bad and we need government to rehabilitate them and the link roads. We pray for our governor, Mr. Akinwumi Ambode, that Almighty Allah will assist him in all his effort. We hope that by next year, things will be better for the people of Lagos State.



‘We Want Good Governance, Cleric Should Impact Members To Be Patriotic’
(Rev Gabriel Agbo is of the Assemblies of God Nigeria.)
WE expect this government to make Nigeria more peaceful, more united and prosperous. We expect the government to include all parts of the country in its programme and to be fair to all Nigerians.

Nigeria has made progress, but there is still room to do better. Our resources have not been well managed all these years. So, we are asking God to give us good and kind managers of resources. We have all it takes to be great, but wickedness and greed have not allowed us to attain our rightful place in the comity of nations. There is so much corruption and wickedness in the land.

We want government to create jobs, work on electric power supply, amend our roads and provide infrastructures. We want government to take Nigerians out of the woods, restore our dignity and get us back to out rightful place. Nigeria is a great nation. God has blessed us in every way – abundant resources, intelligent citizens, fertile land, water and good weather; in fact God has given us all we need to be great. But we are wicked and greedy. Look at Japan and some of these other countries: they have little or no natural resources, but they have attained greatness, by harnessing their human resources and being focused and honest. They are blessed with good, sincere and patriotic leaders. This is what we lack here.

The citizens should also be patriotic, law abiding and dedicated. These are the qualities that build great nations. Any nation gets the leaders it deserves. It is the citizens that produce the leaders. Good citizens graduate to good leaders. You don’t import leaders; you get them from the citizenry. Let’s support our leaders. Let’s pray for them and for our country. Let’s encourage them by being law abiding and patriotic, and by paying our taxes. Nigeria can still be great.

The clerics have a great role to play here. We must preach the true gospel. The gospel has tremendous power to direct the citizens and, even the leadership. We must not misuse or abuse that privilege. We must lead by example. Some so-called clerics are a big disgrace to the society. They have nothing to offer. Some of us are just interested in money, running after those in government for our own gains.

Many that parades themselves, today, as clerics are not even called to the office. Those that are called are careful, silently doing their bit. You may not even be hearing about them, but God who called them sees their works. The cleric must speak the truth at all times. We must always pray for our country and our leaders. We must, through our sermons and deeds, direct our citizens to good and patriotic actions. We are the priests and the Bible says the priest stand between God and men, between heaven and earth and between the living and the dead. This is a great and noble calling. We should not abuse it.

‘Clerics Should Urge Members To Be
Diligent And Law Abiding’
(Prophet Chukwuemeka Samuel Odigbo, General Overseer, Land of Grace Ministry, Lagos.)
WE expect that the transformation agenda of the government be pursued sincerely, to put smiles on the faces of Nigerians. We have not faired badly, with reference to Ecclesiastes. 4: 12: “And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” We are still en bloc, as a nation, which calls for a better hope. Government should create more jobs, by revamping the manufacturing sector; encourage massive interest on agriculture and partnering effectively with the private sector. Government should also mend our fractured social amenities, give succour to the common man and solve security challenges, so that we can all walk on the streets without fear of being abducted.
Apart from interceding in prayers for our nation, the clerics should counsel their folds to be diligent and hard working, because Jesus worked: John 9 verse 4. They should urge their members to be law abiding so as to revamp the nation.

‘Government Should Provide Enabling
Environment For Citizens To Develop
(Ojulari Surajudeen Ademola is a Missioner and member, governing board Nasiru-llahi Fatir Society of Nigeria (NASFAT), Oshodi branch.)
The primary aim of government is to provide the much-needed enabling environment for its citizens to develop their potentials and that is what is expected from the government and country. This will translate to: Security of lives and property, good and accessible roads, free basic and quality education, affordable and quality secondary and post-secondary education, constant electricity supply, justice for the oppressed, reward for the just, equality before the law, protection for the weak and affordable maternal and child health care.

Nigeria as a country has not performed well because all the basic necessities of life are not within the reach of the common man. The illiteracy, poverty and unemployment levels are alarming. Furthermore, the indices of a country in progress are missing.

The areas of governance, which clerics want government to put more effort are those of provision of basic amenities of life, security, bringing criminals to book to serve as a deterrence to others and building strong institutions, the existence of which will go beyond the present generation.

The citizens should be more concerned about governance and participate fully in the process that produces their leaders, while also giving objective criticisms to what people in government do.

Clerics have the unique opportunity in having the greatest assembly or number of the citizenry through their religious organisations. No other organisation brings people together more than religious organisations and they thus have a great role to play. Majorly, they should continue to exhort adherents of their different faiths to hold tenaciously to the teachings of their religions.

The Clerics must also have the needed will to be able to turn down people who are of questionable characters and those, whose cases of crime have been established.

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