Let Nigerians say amen! (2)
Continued from yesterday
THERE is no doubt that productive leadership has eluded Nigeria for decades, its consequences are therefore grave for sustainable development. It is the assumption of this writer that President Buhari has appointed his cabinet in order to move Nigeria forward. Nigerians therefore expect this team to be leaders who will be accountable to the people, leaders who are prepared to listen and be just in governance. Our leaders must, as a matter of urgency, bring their religious convictions into governance and prove that they are “women and men with godly leadership qualities.” Nigerians, whether Muslims or Christians expect all who have accepted to serve in this Buhari administration to work together on the common religious ethics of both Islam and Christianity and support the President in his fight against corruption and the negative use of religion.
Whether we play politics or not with the religious composition of this country, the fact remains, Nigerians are a very religious people and for every 10 Nigerians randomly selected, eight would jointly profess the religions of Islam and Christianity while the other two would tell you they believe in God but would not identify with either of the two major faith communities.
The challenge this writer is placing before those in this new administration is that they should put their belief in God into action and stop living as what the French Catholic Philosopher, Jacques Maritain calls ‘practical atheists’ that is:
“Those who profess belief in God, but who in actual fact deny His existence by their deeds and the testimony of their behaviour…In other words, they intellectually affirm the existence of God, but live as if there were no God, often contrary to God’s commandments. They profess the right God with their words, yet they deny God with their lives”. ( Volf:115).
It is worth mentioning here that this attitude is also condemned in both the Bible ( Isa.58: 3-7) and the Qur’an (Baqarah, 2:177).
A call for a new leadership style in Nigeria:
What I propose as panacea for a successful Buhari administration is nothing new, rather it is a fresh and genuine call on Nigerian Muslims and Christians to, for a change, honestly and faithfully make an attempt to obey what their Scriptures teach on Leadership. I now offer the following as a gentle reminder of what both of our scriptures enjoin us to do as adherents in order to usher in an era of a positive change in governance in Nigeria.
Muslims and Christians base their behaviour as leader and/or as follower upon the Word of God as revealed in their holy books, the Qur’an and the Bible.
The Christians are exhorted by Jesus Christ to keep His commandments: “If you love me, keep my Commandments”. ( Matt20:28)
Muslims, on the other hand also teach that the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (saw), has modelled the way for Muslim leaders and followers for all times. This belief is supported when God says the following about Muhammad (saw):
“And you stand an exalted standard of character.”(Qalam, 68:4)
The example of Prophet Muhammad (saw) then, is what both Muslim leaders and followers seek to emulate. According to Prophet Muhammad (saw), leadership in Islam is not reserved for a small elite. Rather, depending upon the situation, every person is the “shepherd” of a flock, and occupies a position of leadership.
Prophet Muhammad (saw) is reported to have said: “Each of you is a guardian, and each of you will be asked about his subjects.”( Sahih Bukhari, 3:733).
This supports what President Buhari had in mind when he changed my prayer for him to a prayer for all Nigerians: “Allah shi taya mu riko.” For his call to “godly leadership” to have any impact on this country for a long time, every citizen of this country has a role to play in the call to cleanse the country of corruption, daylight roguery, rascality, impunity and greed that have characterised leadership in our country. We are enjoined by our holy books to speak out and expose irreligious practices.
Proposed key parameters of behaviour in response to President Buhari’s call for godly leadership
According to Umar -Ud-din, justice is a dynamic characteristic which each Muslim must strive to develop whether he is a leader or a follower. (1991:24)
“O you who believe! Stand out firmly for God as witnesses to fair dealing and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice”. (Q:5:8)
God instructs Moses to remind those who believe in Him: “Do not put your hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness. You shall not follow the crowd to do evil, nor will you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice…keep yourself far from a false matter ; do not kill the innocent and righteous” (Ex. 23:1-2, 7-8).
The principle of justice must be observed by all who profess to be Muslims or Christians whether in public office or private. For example, God admonishes Muslims thus:
“God does command you to render back your trusts to those to whom they are due; and when you judge between man and man that you judge with justice” (Q.4:58)
Similarly, Christians are commanded:
“You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, …you shall follow what is altogether just, that you may live and inherit the land which the LORD your God is giving you” ( Dt. 16:18-20).
This is why the Prophet of Islam (saw) emphasised that justice must never be compromised by personal affiliations or other considerations.
• To be continued tomorrow.
• Archbishop Idowu-Fearon Ph.D (ABU) is the Anglican Archbishop of the Province of Kaduna and Bishop of Kaduna diocese.