Let Nigerians say amen! (1)
IN his address to the members of the Christian Legislators Fellowship of Nigeria at their Sixth Annual Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, October 22, in Abuja, President Muhammadu Buhari is quoted to have said: “The time has come for Nigeria to have godly leaders in a permanently changing world. Change, though usually resisted, is the most constant component of life.
Thus, the need of a Godly leader in our ever-changing world cannot be over- emphasised. Whenever God’s people have been without godly leadership, the result has been disastrous.”(The Nation).
With this statement, the President has given an indication of what he expects of all he has invited to participate in his government specifically and Nigerians in general. In a private audience with him last July, this writer, after listening to him speak on the state of the nation prayed for him this prayer, “Allah shi taya ka riko” and he responded very quickly: “Allah shi taya mu riko”! Meaning: “Mr. President, may God assist you in this mission” to which he responded, “ May God help us in this assignment.” Again, it is clear, this is a mission of rescue and restoration to decency in which all Nigerians are invited to participate. All who have been studying the body language of President Buhari would have seen that he is committed to zero tolerance for corruption from all those who are in this government and believe that it is their turn to loot the wealth of this nation and enrich themselves. So, the President has made his clarion call, let Nigerians say, ‘amen’ in whatever language but be prepared to live it out!
The President is not “going spiritually”, he is only appealing to all : Muslims and Christians to live out what their scriptures command them to do, it is not a matter of preaching or seeing visions and predicting whether he is going to succeed or not, the President is not calling for the living out our religious beliefs. It is a call and a challenge to put into practice what our holy books teach us. No matter whichever faith you profess, the challenge before all Nigerians in this new dispensation is that, everyone should follow what his holy books prescribe. For those who promoted the slogan, ‘ Buhari is not an option;’ ‘Buhari will Islamise the country;’ Buhari, by his body language is calling on all to show that it is not the religion one professes that this country needs today, rather, it is the praxis that will bring sanity and international respect to a country that has been raped by false and selfish religious bigots who have enriched themselves with the wealth of the country and hope to live sumptuously at the expense of millions of hard working Nigerians.
Our common values as Christians and Muslims: Our two major religions share many values between them and enjoin their adherents to live out these values. Because of the almost equal number of adherents of both faiths in this country, Nigeria could have been one of the advanced and business-friendly nations of the world. President Buhari desires to take us there, even if he does not get us there; he has made an honest call and challenged us all to follow his good example. What are these common values both Muslims and Christians share together? Hopefully, those who are being called to be ministers and those who are already sworn-in and already serving as leaders will have a re-think after reading this article and follow the godly leadership example of President Buhari.
What is our understanding of Good Leadership? According to the teachings in the Bible, the Qur’an and Hadith, the two primary roles of a leader are those of servant-leader and guardian-leader.
The concept of serving is fundamental in the role of any leader. Good leadership involves serving the people you represent. Ineffective leaders tend to invert this principle and consider merely that the leader must be served by the people. Jesus Christ said, “I am among you as your servant”. The leader is the servant of his followers: sayyid al qanat khadimuhum. (Kasule:1998:3). The leader is to seek their welfare and guide them towards the good. The notion in Nigeria that leadership is an opportunity to take, to acquire personal status, advantage, gain, etc at the expense of others is grossly wrong and it is what has brought us to where we are today.
Leadership, therefore, is and should be an opportunity to give and to serve the people and this is what we need today in Nigeria. We need to restore it, it agrees with our two main religions!
Godly leadership to which the President refers demands emotional strengths and behavioural characteristics which can draw deeply on a leader’s mental and spiritual reserves. This is where ethical values are of utmost importance. Leadership relies most on things like trust, inspiration, attitude, decision-making and personal character.
A second major role of the Christian ( Ezekiel 34, John 10), and the Muslim leader is to protect his community against tyranny and oppression, to encourage God-consciousness and taqwa, and to promote justice.
“A commander (of the Muslims) is a shield for them”. (Sahih Muslim: 4542).
The Way Forward
President Buhari’s call is to be seen as a pragmatic solution to the problem of ungodly leadership that has plagued and continues to plague Nigeria; his call, therefore, is to be welcomed as an antidote to bad leadership. I propose the following as modest ways to actualising the challenge President Buhari is placing before Nigerians, irrespective of religion or political affiliation.
• To be continued tomorrow.
• Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon Ph.D (ABU) is the Anglican Archbishop of the Province of Kaduna and Bishop of Kaduna diocese.