By Casmir Igbokwe
Our dear Yemi Osinbajo is not an ordinary Vice-President. He is not just a professor but also a pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God. In his sermon at an interdenominational church service to commemorate Nigeria’s 60th Independence Day anniversary penultimate Sunday, he warned that the present cracks in the walls of Nigeria may lead to its break-up. He referred Nigerians to the story of biblical Nehemiah who played a significant role in the rebuilding of the broken walls of Jerusalem.
Osinbajo said, “There is an urgent need for a Nehemiah in our country, Nigeria, today. And like Nehemiah faced opposition in his efforts to rebuild the walls, any Nigerian that desires to rebuild Nigeria must also be ready to face stiffer opposition, which will come in torrents. It can only be diffused by consistent focus and prayers.”
The Vice-President has a point here. But, how far will prayer take us in the efforts to correct these cracks? We have been praying since God knows when. For years now, the Catholic Church faithful have continued to pray against Nigeria in distress. This has not yielded much fruits.
I can understand Nigerians’ resort to prayers all the time. We have tried our human efforts but they seem not to be working. For instance, some RevolutionNow protesters who tried to call the attention of our rulers to some ills in our system were harassed, arrested and detained on Independence Day.
There is nothing wrong with prayers per se. But any individual or nation that has turned a blind eye to the ideals of a good society may pray without success till kingdom come. We need to take practical decisions first before resorting to disturbing God. Nehemiah, whom Osinbajo referred us to, did not rebuild the walls of Jerusalem with only prayers. He assembled men and materials. The High Priest Eliashib and his fellow priests rebuilt the Sheep Gate. The men of Jericho built the next section. The clan of Hassenaah built the Fish Gate, the beams, the bolts and bars for locking the gate. Different people built different other sections of the wall.
There is a major lesson to learn here. And it is the fact that Nehemiah was not selfish. During the 12 years he was the governor of the land of Judah, neither he nor his relatives ate the food he was entitled to have as governor. He put all his energies in rebuilding the wall and did not acquire any property. He made the rebuilding of the wall a team work, involving many clans and people. That was how he overcame his enemies and opposition to his work. On the contrary, his predecessors were a serious burden to the people and had demanded 40 silver coins a day for food and wine.
The questions are: how have our present leaders galvanised all the sections and peoples of Nigeria to rebuild our falling wall? Can one tribe or section do it alone? Can we overcome our adversaries and opposition by elevating injustice over equity and fairness?
With the present configuration of Nigeria, we can’t. Even after the Nigerian Civil War of 1967 to 1970, the fault lines have continued to widen. The United States of America fought its own civil war between 1861 and 1865. Soon after the war, it abolished slavery, guaranteed equal protection under the law for citizens and granted black men the right to vote.
For us in Nigeria, the first step should be to elevate merit over nepotism. We can draw a lesson from the recent nomination of the Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, Justice Ishaq Bello, for election to the International Criminal Court (ICC) jury in 2020 by President Muhammadu Buhari. In an assessment exercise, the court ranked Bello very low among the 20 contenders for the job. The assessors said he lacked the knowledge of the workings of the court. Here is a man who has chaired election petition tribunals in Nigeria, a man whose ruling freed a police officer who allegedly ordered the shooting of six persons also known as ‘Apo Six’ in Abuja in 2005. The said police officer, Danjuma Ibrahim, has since been promoted from deputy commissioner of police he was then to assistant inspector-general of police.
Well, civilised societies don’t operate the way we do. That is why many bright Nigerians, who may have been denied opportunities in Nigeria because of where they come from, are doing wonderfully well in different parts of the world. In the United States and United Kingdom, for instance, Nigerians have excelled in the field of medicine, law, engineering, and even the academia. Nigerian immigrants are the most educated among the racial or ethnic groups in the United States. Recently, a Nigerian, Professor Charles Egbu, was appointed the vice-chancellor of Leeds Trinity University in the UK, the first black man to be so appointed in the history of the institution. A Nigerian, Imelme A. Umana, is the first black woman to be president of the Harvard Law Review. There are many other examples. Were these people to be in Nigeria, chances are that they would not have occupied such positions.
Rather than do introspection and try to correct the ills of the Nigerian society, the powers that be resort to living in denial. In his Independence Day broadcast to the nation last Thursday, President Buhari blamed every other leader but himself for the problems besetting our country. According to him, “those in the previous government from 1999 to 2015, who presided over the near destruction of the country, have now the impudence to attempt to criticise our efforts.”
Yes, these past leaders share in the blame of poor governance that has crippled Nigeria. But for how long shall we continue to dwell in this blame game?
If Osinbajo still has any influence in this government, what he should do is to advise his boss, the President, to rule with love and fairness. It is worrisome when influential people like him, rather than take action, ask us to pray our way out of our problems. Since God does not belong to Nigeria alone, it may take Him longer time to address our problems because He will need to address the problems of over five billion other people in the world as well.
China did not need to wait for God before dealing decisively with issues of corruption in that country. Death sentence awaits whoever corruptly enriches himself to the detriment of other citizens.
It is high time we stopped playing the Ostrich. Prayers alone will not cement the cracks in our wall. What will do the magic are conscious efforts by those in authority to embrace restructuring that will entrench equity, fairness and justice in the country.
Re: Mr. President, give Nigerians real independence
Dear Casy, an adage says, “You don’t give what you don’t have.” President Buhari has nothing to offer Nigerians, except propaganda, which flows freely from his image handlers. From the economy to security, to fighting corruption, etc, tell me just one that we have had it so good? I, therefore, suggest you direct your expectations and pen to God almighty for our further salvation because, without God, we would have long perished.
– Steve Okoye, Awka, +23408036630731
Casmir, Nigeria was formed out of deceit ab initio. It was meant to serve the extension of British colonialism through the enthronement of less productive part of the country over the more productive part as rulers. With power control, all wealth of the country on the side of the rulers, the more productive parts become slaves in their own land. Definitely, it cannot continue this way.
– Pharm. Okwuchukwu Njike, +234 803 885 4922
Dear Casmir, if you think that PMB is capable, willing and ready to give Nigerians real independence, you have another think coming. The rumble and tumble will continue. But to get Nigeria out of the present messy “pot pourri” situation requires a radical, super-patriotic approach, and a brainwave solution. If there is a way we can get Mr. Peter Obi and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, to exchange roles and run as presidential and vice-presidential candidates, under any party, I bet you that Nigerians will, within 10 years, advance to that state of “Eldorado” in all spheres of human endeavour, and our national life.
– Chuka Nwosu, PhD, Port Harcourt, 08085914645
Buhari’s administration has offered Nigeria a new beginning in poverty, hunger and starvation, marginalisation, terrorism, suicide, unemployment, lopsided appointments and hate speech. He also caused a new beginning in agitation for self-determination and divided-we-stand by some interest groups in South-East, South-West, Middle Belt and North-Central.
– Mr. Chinedu Ekwuno (JP), 08063730644
Dear Casmir, according to Max Weber, a society develops from simplicity to complexity. As it becomes complex, differences will appear among its people and, at this, common values such as national vernacular, common mode of dressing, and social justice have to be ensured.
– Cletus Frenchman, Enugu, +2349095385215
Dear Casy, Nigerian rulers converged in Abuja to celebrate their cesspit of corruption and shame. Ninety per cent of our youths have no access to jobs, the few among them in employment are under slave contract since 2015. Our education, health, economy and all critical sectors of the economy are dead since this government assumed office. The tribe that invaded this geo space called Nigeria had declared war on other ethnic groups and has continued to kill other Nigerians without federal government intervention. I congratulate the Oduduwa nation in their nationhood agitation. While the pretenders are in Abuja celebrating their corruption and evil, the world is watching. Nigeria has turned the British chalice of poison.
– Eze Chima, Lagos, +2347036225495
Our President gave us the hope of a new beginning at the inception of his administration. Still remember his ‘I’m for everybody and for nobody’ mantra? Corruption has many facets: even our current constitution is a fraudulent contraption. The courts have been cowed: the process of Onnoghen’s removal still stands out as the mother of all frauds. The Supreme Court now ‘appoints’ governors against the people’s voice. Now, some APC bigwigs who are frustrated by the Edo insistence for Obaseki say ‘Edo no be Lagos’ will be reversed at the Supreme Court.
– Edet Essien Esq., +2348037952470
Nigeria at 60, there is nothing to show for development but corruption in high places. We need to go back to the drawing board and know where we are doing badly and find solution to it.
– Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535
- Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, October 5, 2020