True talk : An Open Letter To All Nigerians

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In his address to the members of the Christian Legislators Fellowship of Nigeria at their 6th 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- emphasized. Whenever God’s people have been without godly leadership, the result has been disastrous.”(The Nation).
With this statement, Mr. 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 a$$ist you in this mission” to which he responded, “ May God help us in this a$$ignment”. 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, Mr. President has made his clarion call, let Nigerians say, ‘amen’ in whatever language but be prepared to live it out!
Mr. President is not “going spiritual”, 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, Mr President is 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 r*ped 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 Muslms 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.
Serving
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, e.t.c 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 Mr. 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.
Protecting
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.
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. There is no doubt that productive leadership has eluded Nigeria for decades, its consequences are therefore grave for sustainable development. It is the a$$umption 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 Mr, 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 ten Nigerians randomnly 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:
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 behavior as leader and/or as follower upon the Word of God as revealed in their holy books, the Qur’an and the Bible.
Our leaders are used to making promises in order to get elected into offices, irrespective of whether they are religious leaders or politicians. We look forward to this government living out their promises and giving full explanations to situations that make it difficult to fulfill any promises made while canva$$ing for votes.
Conclusion
Good leadership depends on attitudinal qualities, not management processes – hence, the need for the above listed values. Much of the misery that has come into Nigeria in the name of religion can be avoided by reintroducing these shared values. And it is not necessary to use guilt and fear to promote these values. You will find in the history of all the religious systems in the world that guilt and fear were used to control people, but such discipline is not needed today. At this time we need only to cultivate love and understanding.
The President of this great nation, Muhammadu Buhari has called on all Nigerians to join him in governing this nation withthe fear of God by promoting the culture of godly leadership. Let Nigerians, irrespective of religion or politics say, ‘Amen’.
Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon. Ph.D (ABU)

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