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Leadership failure, running mate debate and religiosity

By Rasheed Ojikutu
25 July 2022   |   2:58 am
The world must be in awe at the irresponsibility of the Nigerian leadership and its tendency to place banal considerations over and above significant national issues.

Photo: RICHTOPIA

The world must be in awe at the irresponsibility of the Nigerian leadership and its tendency to place banal considerations over and above significant national issues. The world must be looking in askance at how those who are supposed to drive the engine of societal harmony are found caged in the mundane characteristics of the followership. It is disgusting to say the least that the leadership that should educate the people and live by example is the one confusing, misleading, and misinforming their lots. The choice of a running mate by the flagbearer of the All-Progressive Congress, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu rather than throw into the political ring the beginning of a robust national debate on the readiness and preparedness of that political party for governance has further exposed the intellectual weaknesses of the various segments of leadership in Nigeria.

Some members of the religious bodies particularly the Muslims and the Christians forgot that their primary responsibility is the promotion of peace, concord, and harmony amongst the diverse elements in the community. Instead, they inadvertently abandoned this primary role to take on the responsibility of political opposition while seriously overcharging the political system using uncensored lingo that are meant for those outside the realm of the holy circle.

The Christian Association of Nigeria and MURIC are singled out for a mention in this regard but one is happy that despite this limitations there are also men of exemplary hallowed conduct who at every point raised their heads above the murky waters of politics. Men such as Bishop Kukah, Pastor W.F.Kumuyi, and others.

Although, controversy is the hallmark of politics, yet some politicians descended to the abyss by jettisoning the ideology of their party, thereby quitting their political family by leaning on religious affiliation of the running mate of the flagbearer of the party. The questions are “Are these individuals’ members of the party because of religion or for other more serious ideology?” Of what major national value is the religious inclination of the Vice-President of the Nigerian nation to the life and well-being of the voters?”

It is unfortunate that the fact that the wife of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a Pastor in the Redeem Christian Church of God is not enough for the campaigners of religion to agree that the interest of the Christians is secured in his hands if there are interests to be protected at all.

The judgement of the leaders at all levels is so beclouded by pettiness and skewed reasoning that they have forgotten that each party is made up of large collections of Christians and Muslims and that at the end of the day the president and the vice president must do the biding of the party. How can one official designation in the party overshadow hundreds of other positions that are occupied by people who are of diverse ethno-religious affiliations?

Unfortunately, every imbecile has unfettered access to the megaphone today through the social media where he could spit the venom even at the angels. The mass communication of the moment is such that if you can open your mouth, then, you have the guts to talk even when you have no sensible words to utter.

Another major issue with the “politicians” of today which we now know includes those in pastoral and doctrinal assignments is that they do not have sense of history. For example, the first two governments of Nigeria after 1966 were run by Christian-Christian mode.

On 16th July 1966, Major General Aguiyi Irons, a Christian became the Head of State of Nigeria with Bridgadier Babafemi Ogundipe as his Chief of Staff and Vice-President. He was replaced by General Yakubu Gowon, another Christian whose Vice-President was Vice Admiral Akinwale Way, another Christian. Throughout Nigerian history, it was only in 1983 that two Muslims Major General Muhammadu Buhari (President) and Major General Tunde Idiagbon (Vice-President) ruled the affairs of the nation and the world did not come to an abrupt end.

One wonders how many positions are lined-up in government that the “almost idle” position of a Vice-president has become a lethal instrument of discord and confusion. Although, he is the second in command but his roles in government are majorly insignificant and the occupant could only function effectively at the whims and caprices of the President of the country. The Senate President and the Speaker of the House of representatives are more functional and certainly have more powerful.

Pastoral leaders should desist from replacing the cassock with political robes. The Christian Association of Nigeria needs serious overhauling in its Public Relations Unit because the image launderers of that religious body is certainly doing more damage than good. The voice of that body should only be loud when injustice is perpetrated against any human being and not only Christians. Although, the image of Christianity and Islam can never be diminished but we must represent our group adequately and with finesse so that it is not only religion that we promote but we must be seen on the side of godliness. It is most disheartening that the reaction of the Christian Association of Nigeria to the kidnap of the Chibok girls on the night of April 15, 2014 leaves a mark in the mind. While the organization was busy counting the number of Christian girls affected in the saga the world was taken aback by the fact that the incident was a forceful slap on the face of humanity.

Instead of speaking in the defense of all the children affected, the Association and its cohort continued to take the statistics of the Christians involved in the debacle as if the other children deserved what came in their ways. The continued celebration of Leah Sharibu as a heroine with no focus on the remaining 108 girls in the gulag portrays the leadership as insensitive.

With about 80 million Christians, Nigeria has the highest population of Christians in Africa, it amounts to sheer idiocy to continue to tell the world that the country would be Islamized. The Nigerian Parliaments across states and nationally are made up of Christians and Muslims. One wonders who and how the legislation to make the country a Muslim state would be passed into law.

The Muslim Rights Concern and some of its types sleep on the same bed with CAN in its conducts and vituperation with no good example to give to the society. It is more appalling when the top of the ladder of that organization is occupied by professionals and men of no mean competence who should understand and discern the diversity of the society but instead chose to heat the system and cause disaffection at every snap of the finger.

Leadership entails a lot of responsibilities. Uncensored and careless outbursts by leaders scare the followership and sometimes put them on the edge. It is unthinkable that those saddled with the responsibility of piloting the affairs of the nation should avoid unnecessarily overheating the polity to the extent of creating tension and fanning the ember of religious intolerance and hatred. It amounts to sheer idiocy to be the head of religious organizations that is supposed to profess peace and harmony in the world and yet be the one sowing the seed of discord and throwing the spanner of hatred between people for flimsy and mundane issues that could be resolved across the table. The utterances of people responsible for pastoral activities in our country show that the leadership of that group needs overhauling and reform because anyone in such a sensitive position cannot be naïve, insensitive, and lacking in finesse as it is in our society.

Let us allow card carrying politicians to do and play politics while we confine religion to where it belongs and that is the house of God and the corners of homes where individuals will have personal relationship with Almighty God.
Prof. Ojikutu is of the Faculty of Management Sciences, University of Lagos.