GOOD GOVERNANCE ELUDES NIGERIA AT 50, SAYS CLERIC
Senior Pastor and founder of the Victory Evangelical Church of Christ a.k.a Lifeway Chapel, Pastor Israel Onimisi Ojapa, has said that at 50, Nigerians needs to thank God for fighting war and yet did not disintegrate.
Ojapa, who has just clocked 50, told Daily Sun at DC Street, Shagari Estate in Ipaja area of Lagos, that if democracy is maintained, there is hope for a better Nigeria. He also spoke on national issues, noise pollution and the church.
What to thank God for at 50
Well, everything about Nigeria is not woes, and it not all terrible. Obviously, we've had our challenges. Perhaps we've not moved as expected, we're still being challenged with the issue of good governance, infrastructural development, we can look at our educational system and say it could be better. We should, as a people by now having been in existence as a free and independent nation for about 50 years, walk into any health centre and believe that whatever disease one has should not be referred abroad. But as I speak, we are not yet there but we have a lot to thank God for. We fought civil war and we came back together. The fact that we are together and have not completely disintegrated as a nation, is something to appreciate and thank God for. A number of people believe and I think I believe along with them that the progress we are making could have been better, but things appear to be at a snail speed.
I believe there was a time where the biggest challenge we had was the military. Today, we have democracy. Though it may not yet be at the level that we expect, but the baby is born, and as this baby is consciously nurtured, we have a greater hope that this country will be more developed.
There was a point in this country, some of the things we are saying today, you may not be in a position to say it. If you do, you will be arrested and detained. I know some journalists who suffered that fate. One of them is in the National Assembly now. Many people had to go into hiding because of the leadership we had at that time. Thank God today, people can come out and at least speak.
Leadership and responsibility
Once you take responsibility for leadership, agree to be held responsible for whatever happens. In the Garden of Eden something went wrong. God had entrusted the care of His creation into the hands of Adam and He gave him the wife to assist him. For whatever reason, Adam defected, things went wrong, and he did not obey God, as he should. When God entered He wasn't looking for Eve, even though God was supposed to be aware of the dialogue that went on between the serpent and Eve before Adam came to eat the fruit. God came and held Adam responsible. Instead of admitting that he was wrong and sorry, he began to pass the bulk, and indirectly blaming God.
I think it's an act of irresponsibility, because once you take the mantle of leadership, you're the custodian of people's trust and resources; they expect you to look after it carefully to the advantage of the general populace. But unfortunately, it appears that things have not gone that way. I think leadership challenge is what we have more than anything else.
Nigeria will disintegrate by 2015?
I have heard it but I don't agree. Those who said so made their predictions on the basis of their natural observation, but people do overcome their challenges over time. It's like what happens to a child. I'll give you an example. A friend sometime ago sent two of his children to me in Nigeria from the United Kingdom. This was because the children had gone out of control and he could not handle them. But he felt our culture is still better because we still have respect to a certain extent for one another. The fear of God is still largely prevalent in our country.
One of those children had accepted defeat as a status in the U.K. The teacher told him he can never do well and that he is a 'D' student. But that same boy came here with his brother and last year, all that turned because of an input into his life. He's back in the U.K now a better person, he now believes in himself.
Negative prediction happens because people don't do things about them; there were prophecies in the scriptures that certain things will happen, but the people changed their minds and amend their ways, knowing the end result of the path they were on.
I believe that as a nation, because we have no other nation, we can all take responsibility, do our little bit in our little corner and tell whoever made that prediction that Nigeria will not break up. We will make our own vital contributions, our challenges are not insurmountable, and come 2015, you will discover that we are together stronger as a nation, because those issues that have become a matter of worry in the hearts of people will have arisen and addressed one after the other. That is on the human side. I also believe that God has a plan for this nation. The prayer of many people, and the power of God has kept us together.
When the president announced Prof. Attahiru Jega as the new INEC boss, everybody hailed that decision. I know there have been opinions that the INEC chairmanship be elective, and not by appointment. But as it stands, this is the best we have right now. But knowing Jega for who he is, he is not likely to compromise. But no an individual makes an institution. He will do his best and we should give him our support and prayers. But the people, who are working with him, also matter.