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Why integrity, diligence, performance should define tomorrow’s voting

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quran“Any man whom Allah has given the authority of ruling some people and he does not look after them in an honest manner, will never feel even the smell of Paradise.” – Prophet Muhammad

BRETHREN, it would be an understatement for me to tell you that I am a Muslim by choice and a Nigerian by chance. However, my ‘Nigerianity’ is probably different from yours for many reasons. This might be for the simple reason that I adore and adulate logic and performance wherever I come across it. Like Mustafa Sa’eed in Tayyeb Salih’s Season of Migration to the North (1969), I do not relate to people based on their colour or ethnic background. I see things neither as black nor white. I know that truth, in line with the text message sent to me weeks ago by one of the friends of Friday Sermon, has no ‘religion’.

In fact, I had cause to argue in a public lecture on the University campus (in Ibadan) here a couple of weeks ago, that there is no “Islamic” hunger nor “Christian” danger; there is no “Islamic” fear nor “Christian” insecurity. The irony of our life is that we are all ‘condemned’ to live together here on earth before we take our different paths in the hereafter – some to hell and eternal damnation, others to eternal bliss and commendation.

Brethren, it is based on the above that I pride myself as a complete Nigerian. In Kano, I appreciate performance the day I experienced it in parts of the state. In Nassarawa, I beheld humanity and genuine care for the masses on the path of those who are superintending the affairs of the state. In Rivers, I loathed and detested the suffering my people had to go through as a result of the failure of Federal roads in the state particularly the East-West Road. Then I ventured to Edo. For years, Benin had laid comatose in expectation of its own Prince who would take it on the golden road to Samarkand. Roads were impassable. It was a city in hunger: hungry for food, water and light. Then suddenly the city now feels good. The last time I was there, the roads I travelled on reminded me of the best I saw in Kuala Lumpur.

Brethren, the story in Edo is similar to the ones in some other parts of the country. Some compatriots came all the way from Kano to attend a conference in Ijebu-Ode two years ago. When they saw the bridge being constructed on some of the roads in the city, they thought they all belonged to the Federal Government. “No! This is a project being executed by the State government” they were informed. Brethren, at the risk of being accused of partisanship, fidelity to truth demands that I note that most of the states, especially in the South-Western part of this country, have been lucky. They have been led by men and women of vision who understood what it takes to live in the 21st century. They have been led by men who believed that where there is the will, there would be a way.

Brethren, the Presidential election we had two weeks ago turned out to be about ‘Buharimania’. Some of the candidates who contested for positions in the Senate and the House of Representative benefited from the ‘Buhari-effect’. They were elected just because in the celestial world, it was time for Buhari to be crowned the “King”. Now, tomorrow, Buhari is not contesting. But indeed tomorrow, Buhari is still contesting.

In other words, if the consensus in this village is that Buhari has the ‘presidential’ gravitas to take this nation out of the abyss in which it is presently steeped, it stands to reason therefore that you vote individuals who would add value to federal governance at the state levels. Put differently, 16 years after the beginning of “democracy”, only about half a dozen of our state governors could be commended for embarking on foundational programmes with great impacts on the masses. The achievements of some of these governors in the areas of infrastructure constantly strengthen the argument that what Nigeria lacks is not the resources but the brain that could turn the resources into means of comfort for the masses. What Nigeria lacks is not the ‘ingredients’ but the ‘chefs’ who would turn these ingredients into wonderful dishes of development and progress.

Thus we arrive at the shore of today’s sermon. As you proceed to the polling booth tomorrow, have the intention to cast your vote for those who would consolidate on the achievements already recorded in some of the states mentioned above; have the intention to cast your vote to individuals you know would add value to the new government we shall have at the centre come May 29 this year.

Remember, dear sister, my people in villages across this nation still trek kilometers in search of water. My brothers keep ‘migrating’ away from the village because of lack of basic infrastructures. Young women in the cities are selling their pregnancies not for millions but for less than fifty thousand naira. Great minds and young scholars keep running away from my country because the home is largely unhomely. Brethren, it is only in your country that the wife of a village-head, seated as it were in her saloon of arrogance, marooned as it were in the perfidious lucre of her infamy, would send a memo to the ‘Oga’ in that ministry to provide 800 million to oil her fancies and fantasies, to lubricate the illusion and delusion of her Excellency. It is only in Nigeria.

Brethren, I do admit that some of our under-performing politicians are good-natured at “bottom” only to become ill-natured at the top. Meet them on a podium, they would dispute with you in order to show their superiority. If your arguments happen to be weak, they would dismiss you as a fool; if you happen to defeat them, they become scurrilous.

The Almighty has said in Q12:13 that he would not change the evil condition of a people for good until they themselves take steps to change it. Thus, tomorrow, use your Permanent Voter Card (PVC) to effect the change in states across the nation. Use your vote to change the underperformers in corridors of power. Use your vote to elect those who would not cause hours of traffic jam just because the first lady needs to pick an item in the market. Let us take our destinies in our hands.

At the microcosm level, the change we are all talking about should also be seen in our families too. In other words, begin with your family. Show your children you are the best ‘governor’ they could ever have. Teach them, in words and action, the greatest virtues of Islam- of taqwa (God-consciousness). Teach them the value of accountability and integrity. If your home and mine is good this country will be on the road to effective change. (08122465111 for texts only)


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