Our attention has been drawn to a story attributed to a spokesman to President Muhammadu Buhari, Femi Adesina, where he was reported to have said that Christians form the majority of those criticising the President.
Adesina made this known in Lagos recently at a meeting organised by the Christian Press Association of Nigeria (CPAN) where he called on Christians to pray for those in government instead of criticizing them.
We would have dismissed the story as one of those numerous attacks on the leadership of CAN for standing on the side of the truth but for posterity sake. However, CAN wishes to restate that there was never a time we did not pray for the government at all levels and still continue to pray, especially for President Buhari and his government because it is in his right actions that all of us in the nation would prosper.
That notwithstanding, however, praying for those in power is not the only responsibility of the Church; we are also expected to speak truth to those in power if they erred. The Bible has several passages to back this up. When David erred as the ruler of Israel, it was one of the temple prophets, Nathan, that God sent to rebuke him. (2Samuel 12: 1-14). The attitude of David, the ruler of the nation of Israel in verse 13 was remorse and penitence. He said, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’ It was not anger and counter accusation. Note that Samuel the prophet similarly criticised and rebuked Saul, the first king and ruler of Israel. Unfortunately, Saul rejected the criticism and thereby provoked God who installs rulers and removes them. His kingdom was torn apart and he equally became mad later. That was quite unfortunate! (1Samuel 13: 5-14).
This government should never claim perfection in all they do but be open to godly admonitions from the Church in Nigeria. Through these godly admonitions if positively received, the government will serve the people better. We are essential stakeholders as those in government in the building of a vibrant Nigeria. Take criticisms with a huge sense of thanksgiving and appreciation instead of anger.
To set the records straight, we want to say it loud and clear that:
1. CAN as a body has been engaging in commending the Federal Government whenever the need arises. For instance, we commended the government over the release of some Chibok girls but condemned government’s failure to get the remaining Chibok Girls and the only Christian Girl among the Dapchi school girls, Leah Sharibu, released on the basis of her Christian faith.
2. We are alarmed and disappointed that it is the few Christians in this government that find pleasure in abusing, insulting and condemning our efforts to make sure government adheres strictly to the letter of the Constitution and good governance. There were times when one of the aides of the President, Lauretta Onochie spared no words in abusing and insulting the leadership of the Church in the country. That was quite shameful.
3. We are amazed that President Buhari spoke on the appointments of the security chiefs which he said was based on merit. We still continue to ask the question, is merit limited to one section of the country or one religious group? Should an inclusive government in a multi-ethnic and religious nation not be more circumspect in order to give all sense of belonging?
4. Did we go wrong or lied when we said the Fulani herdsmen were attacking the Christian communities in the North-Central geo-political zone as the Boko Haram terrorists invaded Christian communities in the North East? Today, the invasion spares no one anymore, whether Christian or Muslim? This is quite unfortunate in a civilised world!
5. Did we go wrong or lied when we observed that Christians were removed and replaced with Muslims as we witnessed in so many instances, such as the Director General, SSS and other instances?
6. Did we miss it when we cried aloud about the economic hardship and unemployment in the land and called on the government to address them?
7. Did we miss it when we called on the government at all levels to pay salary, pension and gratuity as and when due?
8. Did we miss it when we counselled the government to beef up surveillance and intelligence gathering in the Northeast so that Boko Haram might not be able to continue to waste the lives of people (including soldiers) the way they are doing?
We need to counsel those in the government to give room for criticism. Criticism doesn’t make one the enemy of the government. If we are practising democracy, let those in the position of authorities be sensitive and responsive to the yearnings of the people.
Recalled that we called for national prayer on the 10th of January, 2019, published it in the newspaper and equally invited those in government, how many of them came there, even the so-called Christians?
We need to reiterate that we are not only going to pray but we shall watch also because the injunction of the Bible to us is to ‘watch and pray.’
God bless Nigeria.