President Muhammadu Buhari should implement the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference if he sincerely wanted to address the ills in the land.
World renowned theologian, Professor Yusufu Turaki, gave this advice on Sunday while preaching at the Interdenominational Church Service to mark the anniversary of Nigeria at 57.
The unity of the country has been under threat of recent leading to a rash of agitations but Prof Turaki told the congregation which included the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, the Speaker, Hon Yakubu Dogara, three former heads of state/President, General Yakubu Gowon, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Chief Ernest Shonekan, the Chief Justice of Federation, Justice Walter Onoghen, that the 2014 Confab Report is the panacea to the problem.
“I passionately appeal to the Federal Government, that in view of the current state of the nation, an urgent National Conference be convened to settle the question of restructuring. As a member of 2014 National Conference much groundwork had already been done and it can be used as working document in view of present realities.”
He also calls for an urgent recruitment of leaders at level with a view to ending the drought of good leadership at all levels of governance.
“I appeal to all Nigerians to see the urgency and the need of raising and grooming godly transformational political leaders at all levels of our national life with the goal of developing and transforming an average Nigerian to achieve his/her full potentials, on the one hand, and equally also, on the other hand, to transform the Nigerian environment by creating a conducive, viable, united, peaceful, prosperous, stable, just, participatory and sustainable Nigerian society”.
On the seemingly unending media war between the Christian and Muslim leadership on one hand and the ethnic warlords on the other, Turaki who preached on the Dearth of Godly Leadership from a text Jeremiah 9:23-24 advised them to engage in useful dialogue instead.
“I appeal to all Christian, Muslim and Traditional leaders to go beyond attacking each and ineffective dialoguing to seriously engage and interact with each other so as to create new national common-ground religious values that can guide a national religious ethic of unity in diversity.
“I appeal to all ethnic nationalities and regional groupings to go beyond attacking each other to seriously engage and interact with each other so as to create a new national common-ground inter-group values that can guide and moderate a national life and ethic of unity in diversity.”
“I passionately appeal to all Nigerians to embrace common-ground values that unite us and shun divisive and controversial values that create crises and conflicts. “Be the change you want to see” and “Change begins with me”.
Speaking further, Turaki said, “Our lack of national unity, values and standards of life have increased the state of falsity of life to the extent that our national life is based upon falsehood, deceit, hypocrisy and mistrust. Negative values such as, prejudice, biases, discrimination, differential and preferential of others and stereotyping are all rooted in what information or ideas Nigerians have fed with, especially about each other.”
Having noted that the moral state of Nigeria today was not like that at independence, he said, “as a people, we have lost speaking and living the truth. Truth is a scarce commodity in both our private and national life. We have lost truth to falsehood. What about integrity? One hardly finds people of high moral principles and standards of life. What about honesty? To be open and sincere in dealing with people. Bribery and corruption have wiped out honesty, faithfulness and sincerity. What about justice? Are we fair and impartial with each other as Nigerians? Nepotism, tribalism and religious and cultural bigotry have mortgaged our sense of equality, rights, equity, freedom and justice.
“The present negative moral character of an average Nigerian is the greatest enemy and threat to the survival of Nigeria as a nation. Nigerians are the worst enemies of themselves and Nigeria. Our moral character has set us on course to self-destruction and collision with the Creator of the heavens and earth. We must take the challenge of moral engineering of Nigerians very seriously.”
The erudite scholar is of the opinion that peace, unity, and patriotism are achievable if both the rulers and the ruled are sincere.
His words, “Yes, peace can be achieved. Yes, unity can be achieved. Yes, selfless service is possible. Yes, patriotism is possible. All these can be achieved and also are possible, but only at a supreme cost and at a high price. Personal sacrifice is needed even to the point of martyrdom.
“Wisdom without God; strength without God; and riches without God have been the bane and dearth of leadership and are obstacles to human co-existence, unity and peace.”
According to him, “Nigerian society is in dare need of God’s prophets and not lying and greedy prophets; prophets that preach peace and not violence. We have prophets in Nigeria right now that preach “salvation is found in violence”.
Turaki said, “God does not look for influential and powerful people as leaders, but looks at the heart, the seat of all motives and dispositions. “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).
“These inner moral maxims enumerated smacks at tribalism, sectionalism, racism, religious and cultural bigotry that are plaguing Nigeria. The character of leaders should be molded, conditioned and defined by God’s moral principles.
“Godliness which is the moral nature and character of God is a very strong antidote to any form of corruption in leaders and ultimately our communities, institutions and social orders.”
Speaking further, Turaki noted, “Having power and great influence over people, or having social and human skills, or managerial and administrative skills, these in themselves are not good enough. They must be rooted in godly character. A godly character can only be sustained by a disciplined moral life-style. Training in righteousness and in moral discipline produces a moral and disciplined life-style (2 Tim. 3:116-17).
“The focus is on what influence or power can achieve. A leader can influence people to achieve good ends, or bad ends. Seen from this perspective, leadership can be acquired by both good and wicked people.
“What differentiate good leaders from bad leaders are the results, or the consequences of their leadership, either of good ends or of bad ends. Leadership or governance in itself is a moral quality, it has to be judged by a higher moral standard, and this moral standard is the sovereignty and Lordship of God.
“In leadership, God pays greater attention to the needs and the aspirations of the ordinary people. For this reason, God holds all leaders accountable to the ordinary people.”
Turaki explained that leaders are held accountable at two levels: (1) accountability at the level of humanity and human institutions and social orders; and (2) accountability to God and his creation orders.
“From human practice of leadership and governance, accountability has often been enforced at the human level, but not at the divine and creational levels. The divine and creational levels have often been left unaddressed. For this reason, human values have dominated the concepts and principles of leadership and governance.
Turaki said in judging or assessing the quality of leadership or governance, the most important ingredient is usually missing, that is, the moral character of leaders.
According to him, not every leader has the people’s mandate.
“But also leadership can be stolen. It can be illegitimate. It can be given or conferred, or it can be taken by force. The source and how leadership is obtained or conferred are very important in ascertaining its use and the exercise of its power(s).
“In a situation of power conflict, soldiers do take power by force and impose their leadership upon the people. However, taking leadership by force does not exempt such leaders or rulers from the moral exercise of good leadership or governance.
“A higher universal moral law of makes such leaders morally bound to rule in righteousness, kindness and justice. They are compelled to do so because the people whom they have imposed themselves upon stand within God’s creation orders. Secondly, they are also compelled to do so because their position of authority and power is subordinate to the sovereignty and lordship of God. Thirdly, they are compelled to do so because their relationships and responsibilities are rooted in the creational principles of the Creator.
“Kings that were godly, their people enjoyed God’s blessings and prosperity. The moral decay of nations, peoples, or social institutions is usually as a result of their ungodly and wicked leaders and rulers. On the contrary, peaceful and prosperous nations, peoples or social institutions are as a result of their godly leaders and rulers. Thus, it pays for nations, peoples and social institutions to have godly leaders and rulers.
“From 1960 to 2017, that is, a period of 57 years, we can say that Nigeria has made some modest gains, achievements, development and transformation, but has remained perpetually underdeveloped, stunted growth, confused and conflicting principles of social, economic and political development.”
Prayers were offered for the three arms of the government at all levels, unity and peace, security and economic recovery by the representatives of all five blocks that make up the Christian Association of Nigeria ( CAN) led by its President, his eminence, Rev Dr Samson Olasupo Ayokunle.