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Cover Ike's Column Opinion Politics

Leadership Without God: Nigeria Example 

“The people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. – Daniel 11.32b 

The travails of the Ekweremadus of Enugu State have thrown up so much in the public space about the official conduct of politicians and operatives of governance. We will return to that later in this piece

Numerous Nigerian leaders often carry on in unwitting disregard for the Almighty One. This particularly shows in their treatment of lesser mortals. They also play God and hardly care about the consequences of their actions and or inactions. 

In Israel in the 8th century BC, injustice was pervasive as it is in today’s Nigeria. The wealthy cared less about the poor and underprivileged. Then God raised a social justice crusader in the prophet Amos who conveyed His feelings about the selfishness of the rich: 

“I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” [Amos 5 Vs 21-24]

The God factor is way beyond our trust in him; God ought to take the centre stage in our lives and all activities.

Omitting the God factor in what we do or say is akin to leaving him behind only to look back when we hit a dead end. The God factor made the apostle Peter walk on water, so says the scripture. The import of Peter’s feat is that those who believe can do the miraculous. When God is factored into our doings, the work comes out as designed, if not better. The God factor should humble the public servant to appreciate the virtue of meekness and that little good comes from sheer human effort. 

The reason leaders fail in their responsibilities is that they often ignore the God factor. If only leaders know and embrace the fact that God, the creator, is the all-knowing, all-powerful, and ultimate dogooder, they will be more gracious and meek. Only God and no other grants and guarantees power for everything. Nigerians pray a lot.

Churches and Mosques are flooded every Sunday and Friday and even daily for all kinds of supplications but hardly do they allow the God factor in what they do. God is almost always remembered when we hit the wall as a result of nemesis and carelessness. If only we put God first in all things, the stress would be preventable.

In Nigeria, we often hear political and spiritual leaders admonish and remind us that it is God who gives power and resources and that both leaders and the people should acknowledge God in all things. That notwithstanding we are regularly seeking both power and resources in violation of God’s injunctions.

Because God’s way is not our way, he often looks away while we roll in our greedy elements. Being most gracious and most merciful, he grants us the time we don’t deserve in the hope that we can retrace our steps. The scripture tells us that God is always happier with one stray sheep in his flock that returns than with the other 99 in the fold. In climes like ours, this abounding grace of God is taken for granted. How much God factor do you bring into your affairs? It’s not enough to pay lip service to Jesus’s name or Insha Allah and then ungodly things ever after.

Our conversation this week will focus on the consequences of shunning God in our political life. Nigeria’s political leaders have all carried on in clear disregard for God. That’s why corruption in high places has become endemic. People are excessively and in an unusually brazen manner acquiring what they do not need. Minister of or Commissioner for Health, for instance, embezzles money meant to build and equip hospitals and watch people die while they ferry their people out for treatment in a saner society where public funds are judiciously deployed.

The Minister of or Commissioner for Works diverts money meant to construct and maintain the highways, connives with contractors to do a shoddy job, and watches people perish in road accidents while they fly around the country avoiding the roads.

Public officers in charge of the security apparatuses divert funds meant for the procurement of equipment and troops and operatives’ welfare and expect to tackle terrorists and other criminals operating with better weaponry. Only in a country like Nigeria where leaders lack integrity and disregard the God factor would nearly ₦1.85 billion be found in a private home in a country that operates mobile banking. This huge sum is supposed to be for buying weapons to fight terrorism.

You are a political leader as President, Governor, and lawmaker and you do nothing to enhance your country’s economy, create jobs and reduce youth unemployment. Instead, you grow fat on public funds and expect to sleep with both eyes closed. One can go on and on listing what our political leaders do that undermines society and is in violation of the God factor.

Once in a while, God throws up incidents to teach lessons to his errant children, but does greed allow such lessons to sink? Looking at unfolding events around Enugu-born Senator Ike Ekweremadu, you would want to ask yourself, why the  National Assembly of a country as rich as Nigeria should not have a standard well-equipped health facility that can cater to the needs of nearly 500 MPs, their staff members, and families. If there was such a hospital, a serving senator, who was Deputy President for years, would not have been subjected to his current travails.

With nearly 20 years in the Senate, if Ekweremadu and his colleagues had fashioned a better Nigeria through good legislation and genuine oversight duties, the environment would have been better for his family to live in. But what most do is buy homes and relocate abroad, using our resources to serve themselves in another country. When we ignore the God factor for too long, he comes to show us that he is still omnipresent and omnipotent.

Among the many thoughts going through the minds of the Ekweremadus in the UK detention camp by now will be, if only we had good health facilities in our country. God in his magnanimity had occasionally shown us some instances to draw lessons from and avert the coming Armageddon of the revolt of the poor and deprived.

Once upon a time under this administration, there was a very powerful man in the political space of this country, the President’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari. He was so powerful that he was seen as the de facto President. He was everywhere and involved in everything. Under his position as CoS to the Commander-in-Chief, he was in charge of the administration of the Aso Rock Villa.

Every year, huge budgetary allocations were set aside for the running of the Villa, including the State House Health Clinic. The clinic was designed to even attend to presidents, vice presidents, and their families. By the confession of the loquacious, inextinguishable First Lady Aisha Buhari, there were no basic drugs such as analgesics found in the clinic when Kyari held sway. There was no working X-ray equipment.

The clinic was just there a glorified clinic to syphon funds yearly. Who cares when public funds were always handy for them to fly to better places outside these shores. All this happened because there was no God factor in their considerations even as they enjoyed the elasticity of God’s patience. Since God’s patience is not indefinite whenever he decides to act, the message is usually heavy and grievous.

For instance, during the era of Coronavirus when there was no global movement, Abba Kyari contracted the virus with the underlying ailment he has been suppressing by going abroad for treatment. There were no local and outbound flights then and only the Aso Rock Villa Clinic could have saved him.

Lo and behold, there was no oxygen in the place. COVID-19 protocol was broken as they rushed him from Abuja to a Lagos private clinic so they could go in search of oxygen and better medical equipment but he died in the process. Even with that costly lesson, the Aso Rock Villa Clinic is still not equipped to treat presidents and co.

There is also another Abba Kyari, not a politician, not a blood relative of the other. This time, a police officer who didn’t consider the God factor and did all he could to deceive the public, appeared as a super cop, a rarity, and a marvellous officer from the camp of the not-so-saintly Nigeria Police Force. While he was catching criminals and at it winning awards for it, he was also helping himself. There was no God factor in him but God gave him a second and even third chance before he removed the hold-up for the great fall. He is better than the other Kyari because being alive, he still has the opportunity of repentance and making heaven. Who knows?

With all this prefacing our political journey to 2023, we should worry that lessons are not yet being learned for us to know that without the God factor we are headed nowhere. The talk everywhere is about money and structure, going the same old way that brought us to the sorry pass where we are. Nobody is putting the God factor even when they know that when God is ready he can do extraordinary things. We have continued to behave as if the scripture has not let us into what God can do, and the consequences of ignoring him.

Are we not told that nothing is impossible before God? Why are we making it look like getting it right is such a Herculean task? Good governance looks impossible to us essentially because the God factor is missing in our politics and until we consider God in our affairs so long will our politics be stumbling. It is, therefore, necessary to conclude this conversation by drawing our attention to the opening quote from the book of Daniel in the Holy Bible 11.32b.

May God help us. 

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