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A new us is possible in Nigeria

By Felix Ajakaye
04 June 2023   |   3:00 am
The Message of Pope Francis at this Year’s World Communications Day, with the Theme: Speaking with the heart, “The truth in love” (Eph 4:15), is a real challenge to us here in Nigeria. I tend to believe that when we reflect sincerely on the message and we begin gradually to listen to ourselves and to one another, heart to heart, then, we will become new people with new orientation.

Nigeria President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu arrives to attend swearing-in ceremony at Eagle Square venue in the capital, Abuja, Nigeria on May 29, 2023. (Photo by KOLA SULAIMON/AFP)

Value has a value, only if its value is valued — Rev. Fr James Valladares

The Message of Pope Francis at this Year’s World Communications Day, with the Theme: Speaking with the heart, “The truth in love” (Eph 4:15), is a real challenge to us here in Nigeria. I tend to believe that when we reflect sincerely on the message and we begin gradually to listen to ourselves and to one another, heart to heart, then, we will become new people with new orientation. This is because new Nigerians make new Nigeria, new country. A country is a reflection of its people.

As Nigerians, we should learn to be humble to listen to one another. In fact, in listening, we learn. No person is an island. No person knows everything. We must also note that listening demands waiting and patience. Remember, a child learns to walk well by crawling, by falling. He first starts to walk before running.

As we welcome another government in Nigeria, let us think and act positively for positive things to come our ways. Let us begin to own our country, Nigeria, and let us begin to be more of realists, rather than idealists. Quality ideas become meaningful when they are actualised. In other words, let us go beyond ideas.

Let us note that we cannot be doing the same things in the same ways without practical new insights and expect a positive difference, new developments. In his book, A Drop of INK Can Make Millions Think, Rev. Fr James Valladares states emphatically: “Value has a value only if its value is valued.” Let us value ourselves and one another and learn from other people. Let us always strive to think positively and positive things will come our ways. Inevitably, it is what one sows that one reaps.

Fr Valladares tells a parable a Hasidic teacher told his class: “A man was exploring a forest, when he lost his bearings and was unable to find his way out. No matter which way he turned, he seemed to be running into a blind alley (path). Suddenly, he spotted another explorer in the distance approaching him. His heart beat with eager anticipation as the distance between them closed with every step. When they did meet, the man politely greeted the other and asked for directions: ‘Brother, will you please tell me the way out of the forest? I have been wandering about in here for several days and I am unable to find my way out.’

“Said the other to him: ‘Brother, I do not know the way out either, for I too have been wandering about in this forest for many days. But this much I can tell you. Do not go the way that I have gone, for I know that it is not the way. Now come, let us search for the way out together.’ The Hasidic teacher then added: ‘So is it with us. The one thing that each one of us knows is that the way we have been going until now is not the way. Now come, let us join hands and look for the right way together.”

This is the core of my message to all and sundry. In Nigeria, we should begin to do things in new and right ways. We can only make positive difference when we do things new. That is, doing things in new and right ways consistently for a better Nigeria. At the end, principle and truth will always prevail.

I respect and understand the opinion of the people asking for the suspension of the inauguration of President Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, because the results of the Presidential Election of 25 February 2023, declared by the recognised body, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), are recently being challenged by few aggrieved Presidential candidates of their political parties in another recognised body, the Court, the Judiciary.

Really, in the game of football, the positions of the goalposts cannot be changed when the game has started. However, the goalpost can be changed when there is a damage to it, or even to both goalposts, during the match. Thus, the call for the suspension of the inauguration of the President-elect on 29 May, 2023, portends a great danger to our country, Nigeria.

Now that the calls were ignored because it would lead to constitutional crisis and the inauguration had taken place, I would reiterate that a new us is possible in Nigeria.

I would like to suggest here that until we fashion out a lawful way or lawful ways of addressing legion of electoral matters before the stipulated date of 29 May of any Electoral Year, all those inaugurated on the day and their elections are subsequently nullified by the Court, up to the Supreme Court, such people must refund their salaries and other emoluments within the period they have held forth illegally. Not only that, such people are not to be addressed as former this, former that, because the Courts have ruled against them.

The portraits of such dismissed governors and presidents should not be displayed in the State Houses and Secretariats. Not only that, they are not to be entitled to any benefit. After the nullifications of such people’s elections, the winners at the Courts will start their fresh mandate. They not continue with the ‘mandate’ of the dismissed people.

We need to continue to emphasize internal democracy in all the political parties for real democracy to be an avenue of good governance in Nigeria. Independent candidacy is needed now more than ever before. I encourage the new administration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to promote politics of engagement, not politics of intimidation.

Asiwaju Tinubu is to pray to God to guide him to be able to appoint the right people in the right places, and for him to do the right things at the right time. His own ‘Renewed Hope’ has to be meaningful, positive and concrete, but not like the former President Buhari’s ‘Change’ mantra.

The new administration of Asiwaju Tinubu should engage in people-oriented policies and it should not abandon the necessary on-going projects of the Buhari-led government. In looking for the right path to good governance, Asiwaju Tinubu needs to choose and decide to do things right for things to be right with him and his administration.

His must not be ‘business as usual’. His must be business unusual where the rule of law will be upheld for the benefit of all. I equally appeal to him not to allow The Presidency to be more powerful than the President. Nigerians would like to be hearing and seeing their President more than those he has appointed at the Presidency.

Now that the inauguration is over, Asiwaju Tinubu should remember that he will no more be the National Leader of the All Progressives Party, APC, but the President and the Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I humbly urge him to reduce the high cost of governance at the federal level.

Let us start to put an end to the culture of waste in governance in Nigeria. For instance, what is the essence of having Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity and another person as Special Assistant on Media and Publicity? This old way must stop.

A New us is possible in Nigeria. A new me is possible. A new you is possible. This is my submission as a stubborn optimist, stubborn positivist, stubborn builder, stubborn encourager. Let us be optimists against all odds. Let us value ourselves and our Nigeria for us to be valued and for country to be valued. Always remember that you cannot give what you do not have. Value has a value only if its value is valued.

I would like to request Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to appoint some of his appointees in acting capacity for one year to study their productivity before the confirmation of their appointments. In fact, this is necessary for the appointment of Service Chiefs. We are tired of the government of commiseration, government of ‘we are on top of the situation’. More than ever before, what we need now is government of practical action in addressing the security problems in Nigeria.

A question for the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor: please, sir, when shall we be lucky to know what has become of the people you told Nigerians and the world were arrested due to their involvement in the massacre of the over 41 people and scores of people seriously injured during the attack of worshippers at St Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State, on Pentecost Sunday, 5 June, 2023? It will soon be one year. Justice delayed is justice denied.

‘A voice is heard in Ramah, lamenting and weeping bitterly: it is Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted because they are no more.’ (Matthew 2:18) General Lucky Irabor, Nigeria and the world are still waiting. With confidence in God, and Christ being our strength, wherever God leads us, we follow with joy, commitment and happiness.
• Most Rev. Ajakaye is Bishop of Ekiti.

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