Prayer for Nigeria in distress

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All-powerful and merciful father, you are the God of justice love and peace. You rule over all the Nations of Earth. Power and Might are in your hands and no one can withstand you. We present our country Nigeria before you. We praise and thank for you are the source of all we have and are. We are sorry for all the sins we have committed and for the good deeds we have failed to do.

In your loving forgiveness, keep us safe from the punishment we deserve. Lord, we are weighed down not only by uncertainties but also by moral, economic and political problems. Listen to the cries of your people who confidently turn to you.  God of infinite goodness, our strength in diversity, Our health in weakness, our comfort in sorrow, Be merciful to us your people. Spare this nation Nigeria from chaos anarchy and doom. Bless us with your kingdom of justice, love and peace. We ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen”.

Before you brand me a prayer warrior, let me first confess that both the title and content of the above prayer are a direct copy from the Catholic Bishop’s composition as far back as June 27, 1993. This date should be familiar to students of Nigerian politics. Remember the June 12, 1993 annulment saga. I employ all readers to read carefully the above prayers, line by line and I trust many things will immediately become evident: One of which is that the Almighty Himself must have inspired the prayer and the messages it powerfully conveys. Two, that at the time of composition, the respected and revered Clergies must have thought that the year and period under reference will remain the lowest point in our life as a Nation. Many people still hold the opinion that the period remains the watershed in our march towards reclaiming our place as a nation. This piece is not about playing on that turf or joining the now over-flogged debate about the sanctity of the so-called June 12 1993, which at best has only succeeded in raising our political temperature. I am more interested in the completeness, profundity and the sheer prophecy of the above prayer. In fact, in very short but powerful prose, the prayer captured the past and present story of the Nigerian state.

I have a confession to make; and that is; that I never believed in prayers before the OBAMA miracle. I have always argued within the limits of my primordial understanding that God being the almighty and the ALL knowing should not expect me to pray before He delivers to me, that which He has reserved for me as long as I have worked for it. I have also wondered then, what kind of God is that would like to play games and have fun at the expense of His own creation. It was my understanding then that God should be too much a serious phenomenon to border and even interfere in the affairs of men since the Holy Bible made us believe in an impending judgment time. The little matter of who rules whom and when is stuff I considered too elementary for God to adjudicate here on earth. But like I said earlier, all these my self-composed theories which at best are self-serving, never the less thrill and made sense not only to me but to my friends who though are not as fanatical as I was but tolerated my extreme views. These theories all came crumbling like a pack of cards the moment Obama {a half black and a half white man} overcame all odds against the common threshold of reason to become the American President and by extension the president of the whole World and if you like the most powerful man in the entire universe. I watched sufficiently and followed every inch of that revolution that brought in Obama and observed the interplay of hard work and sheer God’s favour that nurtured and shaped the Obama emergence to make me abandon my intuitive beliefs. Again, this piece is not about Obama and the many miracles in his life.

I am more concerned about us Nigeria, our politics, our people, our economy, and our socio-cultural and infrastructural challenges. The Bishops’ prayers have never been more relevant than now. To put the prayer in perspective, let me attempt to take you through some of the many leadership phases we have had to travel in recent times.

It is only natural to start by interrogating the Abacha years. Over the years, I have remained consistent that the Abacha era was never the worst in our national history. This may end up an exercise in comparing the bad, the worse, the worst and the ugly.
Abacha simply seized power, suspended the constitution and reason and elevated himself as the state while we clapped, danced and cheered. He never pretended to be the best democrat out there or fancied being perceived as the nice guy next door. His was a simple case of a maximum ruler who demanded obedience from his conquered territory and did not make provisions for any kind of agitation or opposition. He it was that elevated the usage of the state’s instrument of coercion, repression and intimidation as a means of securing and enforcing obedience to his numerous decrees, carefully crafted by some of our best-trained legal minds. The net effect is that the common people quickly learnt of the efficacy of using violence as a tool of negotiation with a violent regime. Today, so many years after Abacha, we have simply perfected this tool, which we freely deploy during elections, agitation for a share of the oil booty or even sectarian crises. For the dark goggled one, it was a matter of shape up or ship out to exile or to eternity. If you buy the argument that Abacha became the State, then it is easy to believe that Abacha did not steal any money, because one cannot steal from himself. He was the state, so how can he turn around to steal that which he has seized. Chikena.  Abacha, it must be recalled protected his ‘estate’ well. I mean both materially and otherwise. A few examples will suffice: Under Abacha, no minister, no matter how powerful was allowed to steal a dime. His finance minister then, a certain Anthony Ani, { A renowned Chartered Accountant}  who was perceived to be powerful had to make do with the little gift of N300 million. A chicken change in today’s thriving thieving industry is called democratic government. Abacha also defended Bakassi; an oil-rich territory of Nigeria, that Obasanjo in his usual cowardly manner ceded to Cameroon without as much as a reasoned negotiation. Abacha knew his limitations. Like all despots, he did not engage in endless and meaningless debates.  He had the likes of Rimis, Ojos’ and the Anenihs of this world to engage in those exercises of self-entertainment that passed as debates. For instance; the debate to have Abacha as a single candidate in the five political parties was pursued with such zeal and gusto while Abacha hid behind his signature dark goggles and had real fun watching our otherwise today’s statesmen and women fall over themselves to elect him a leader for life.  These same fellows also graduated or transmuted almost immediately after Abacha expired as our modern-day democrats. You see why we should recite those prayers more often now than then.  Again, I did not set out to eulogize Abacha. Just trying to put in perspective his little contribution to our continuing match to political disaster.

Since our focus is on that special prayer, composed to rescue us from the wrath of our brothers and sisters or better still from ourselves, I will attempt to juxtapose it with our today. The action of the other maximum ruler {Babangida} triggered off that powerful prayer. I have read just about anything that has to do with Babangida; also known as Maradona, Evil genius, Enigma of our time etc. The truth is I have never been impressed by the arguments of those for or against the Babangida persona. Most commentators on the Babaginda debate have usually ended up confirming their biases instead of evaluating the Man for who he really is. In simple language, my summation is that the Babangida debate is actually unnecessary. He does not deserve all the attention he is getting, both positive and negative. Moreover, this has absolutely nothing to do with the annulment of June 12 or whatever because that annulment is consistent with the character of Babangida as a person. I do not believe that the greatest sin he committed against the Nigerian state is the annulment of a contraption he set up as an election. The annulment was just one of those things he did to show that he had maximum power.  In the course of his rulership, he annulled so many things and the heavens did not fall. Just a few months before the June 12 election, he annulled the primaries of all known politicians of that era and banned them from contesting any election. He decreed a two-party structure and appointed all the electoral managers. All these are powers within the realm of maximum rulers’ the world over. It, therefore, begs the question when one guy who was a law unto himself does one of his things, like annulling an election we didn’t have any input into its taking place, except a few people lining up like sheep to be counted in the name of transparent election.

In my opinion, the greatest sin Babangida and his fellow travellers committed against the State is to have forcefully seized power and made nonsense of the power. It is against the constitution to seize power by any means other than the ballot. If some fellows trained and nurtured with the State resources to protect us choose to turn the same gun against us under whatever guise, we should visit them with the maximum force of law after they have left power.  This is what we should be debating right now. Isolating one out of the numerous sins, he committed while in power and requesting that he apologizes for that and every other thing will be all right thereafter sounds like bunkum to me. If our intellectuals and some of them very respectable world over will routinely engage in the debate of Babangida’s greatness or lack of it on account of the June 12 election, in the year 2010, the ‘prayer to my country Nigeria’ should replace our National Anthem.

You still want to know why we should keep praying ceaselessly. It is because of yet another imperial majesty called Obasanjo. This particular ruler is one of those God chooses once in a century perhaps to run experiments on the temperament of man in power. Twice God called him to redeem His people in Nigeria and twice he failed God and Man. I have come to the inexcusable conclusion that God’s ways are not our ways. Otherwise, why allow a man like Obasanjo to run a family not to talk of a country as large and diverse as Nigeria. Obasanjo as a family man is a monumental failure. He is now an object of the exhibition in most book fares. The chief exhibitor is no other than a wife he married with his own money. At the other end of the street, his own first son {I hope} is hawking the manuscript of a pending best seller “Obasanjo: “How not to be a Dad”.  This same man traverses the entire Nigerian space spreading ignorance and disease. We are still suffering from Obasanjo disease. A peculiar disease that afflicts unserious and rudderless nations. Most African countries suffer from this disease only that the name may be different but the symptoms are the same. This man has had the rare privilege of ruling Nigeria for more than a 3rd of our entire life as a Nation. Each time God made it possible to endow us with underserved wealth. What did he do with the wealth?  He squanders them with a few cronies. Obasanjo at an age well over the articulation stage is still jumping from place to place shopping for and hugging the limelight all in the name of politics. We need that prayer faster than ever.

As if, we have not suffered enough, about two and half years ago, when Obasanjo failed to install himself as a life President, he caused to be a certain Yaraduah to replace him at Aso Rock Villa. Perhaps as punishment for obstinacy. The single credential this Big man paraded in his political CV is that he was a brother to late Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Aduah {An Abacha victim}; That he was also elevated as governor of katsina state in 1999; that he left a hefty account balance in the tills of Katsina state government bank balances. For that, he has now qualified above all other else to run Nigeria for the next four years. The process that produced him was flawed. That much he acknowledged in his inaugural address to the entire world but curiously held on to the power it conferred and went ahead to defend this same flawed election up to the Supreme Court. The truth is that we can forgive this man. It is true we saw him on campaign podiums, but what did he say? Absolutely nothing. All through the campaign, he was dressed up in mostly white Agbada gazing at the helpless rented crowd while Obasanjo danced around parroting things perhaps only he understood. I have made this point elsewhere that candidate Yar ‘Aduah never made us any promises and I think it will be unfair at this time to expect anything from him. The powers that brought him knew about his threatening health challenges and they still insisted he must be the anointed one. He has since been confined to bed by that same illness in an unknown country and a hazy ailment. The entire citizenry is looking confused, helpless and perplexed.

At no time than now has the challenge of leadership been imminent in our history. We have been a pampered nation from childhood. The kind of economy we inherited from our colonial masters demands little or no strategic thinking. Raise money from natural resources, call states together at the federal capital and share the damn thing and everyone is happy.

That shenanigan is changing so very fast before us that any country that fails to think outside the box, risks extinction. This is why I am calling for prayers because before us are people at all levels of government who bulldozed themselves into power ill-prepared for the unfolding global tsunami.

As if we deserve more tragedy, Umar Abdulfarouk Muttalab; thought of no other way to vent his anger or frustration than to jump inside an American Airline and fiddle with a bomb with the intent to end the lives of about 300 innocent people that are not related in any way with the above mafias that have held us, hostage, forever. Since this incident happened, there has been a cacophony of orchestra singers in our land singing and dancing naked to different tunes of music that are ill composed by at best a yahoozee exponent. Like the one from the re-branding ambassador {Akunyili} about bomber Farouk spending only twenty-seven minutes in Nigeria before boarding the Amsterdam-bound plane from Ghana. The question that comes to mind is; does that now make him a non-Nigerian? What purpose is that statement meant to achieve other than the usual mischief associated with debased government officials that exist for any reason but governance?

In the light of the foregoing, we need that prayer urgently more than ever before and I dare add moving forward, oh good Lord we have already suffered untold hardship in the hands of these rudderless, visionless but powerful usurpers. Since the ultimate power still resides with you, it is time you hand it over to our own Obama. Also, touch the heart of the entire ethnic jingoist among us. Please remind them that our problem is not a tribe but the activities of depraved ruling elites who neither know North nor South but keep igniting and stoking the fire of tribalism and nepotism as a constructive instrument of deceit. Kindly listen to the voice of the powerless people in the North and South and give them the wisdom to deal with their common enemies starting from the first month of this decade as we approach 50 years of Nationhood. Thank you, Lord, for hearing and acting on our prayers. Amen.

08032030557{text only please}

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