God and us
By Hakeem Baba-Ahmed
“I believe there is something out there watching us. Unfortunately, it’s the government.”- Woody Allen.
THE awesome power of the Almighty was visible on Saturday last week when the plane which was flying the Governor of Kaduna State and former National Security Adviser, among others, crashed, and all lives in it were lost. The nation was also reminded of the deep submission to the powers of God by President Goodluck Jonathan in the manner his pictures were splashed all over the media and social network sites kneeling, as he did in 2010, before Pastor Enoch Adeboye, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God.
The tragic end of a good man, Patrick Yakowa could only have been part of a divine design, and most of the embattled citizens of his state must have believed this, because any other conclusion or circumstances would have triggered another round of mayhem. Two men whose political careers can only be explained by reference to divide powers reminded us of deeply we trust God in our lives, yet conduct our public affairs with scant regard for His demands on us.
The good-natured man
Sir Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa, the good-natured and vastly-experienced Governor of Kaduna rose through the political ladder in much the same way as did President Jonathan. Death, that constant reminder of man’s frailty played roles in their lives with an uncanny similarity. Yakowa became Deputy Governor after Stephen Shekari died. He was then a Secretary to the State Government.
He served two Governors as a loyal deputy, until the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua elevated then Vice President Jonathan to the Presidency of the nation. Of all the people he could have chosen, he selected Architect Namadi Sambo, Governor of Kaduna State to be his Vice.
Yakowa again moved up to take a slot providentially provided, the first person from southern Kaduna and a christian to become Governor of Kaduna State. Both Yakowa and Jonathan, minorities and political dark horses, completed terms of others, and then battled for their own.
It is difficult to argue with people who argue that it was God’s will that Jonathan and Yakowa became President and Governor in 2011 respectively, principally because it is difficult to disprove it. Among people who routinely ascribe to God everything good, and then fight fiercely to subvert everything good, God is invoked when we are in trouble, and when we are safe and secure, we operate as if He does not exist.
We give glory to God when we have power and wealth, irrespective of the manner we acquire them. This is the same as giving gratitude to God for getting away with it all. We build temples for God with stolen money, and bow our heads in prayer that he will accept our supplications when we pray in them.
We go through rituals of our faith in a mechanical manner, and separate our private lives largely marked by the love and fear of God, from our public lives and conduct, which are governed by values that negate everything God stands for.
The hand of God was visible in the life of Sir Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa right up to his last breadth. The manner of his death cannot be separated from the major turning points in his life. For those who have the time to care, there are many lessons. One is the transient and ephemeral nature of political power.
The bitter struggle to acquire and accumulate power and wealth could all be ended in one fell swoop. But not what you do with them. Popular opinion in Kaduna State is that the late Governor was a man who tried his best to govern a state wracked by cumulative and dangerous divisions, suspicions and conflicts.
His valiant effort to bring peace in a state constantly threatened with conflict alienated him from both is own people from southern Kaduna who thought he was too soft on the “enemy”, and also from the other side, which thought he had a stolen mandate to implement a christian agenda in a state which has been a religious conflict frontline for a long time. In the end, he gave it his best shot, and will be remembered as a good man who was held back by history and the limitations of our political system.
President Jonathan will feel the absence of Patrick Yakowa, a man he loved, perhaps because he saw so much of himself in the late Governor. His moving submission on his knees to powers greater than Pastor Adeboye, and his attribution of his current position to God should be reinforced by the death of Yakowa.
A President who believes that he owes his position to the acceptance of prayers to God should run an administration that pleases God. God that has powers to elevate and bless, also has powers to take away power, and punish ingratitude and arrogance.
The millions of Nigerians who watched President Jonathan kneel before Pastor Adeboye will hope that the blessings he sought for are for him to lead this nation better. Most Nigerians will have an instinctive empathy with the abject humility of the President, but they will expect that a blessed President on his feet will be emboldened to make radical improvements in the manner he runs his administration.
A God-fearing leader
A God-fearing leader will live a personal life that is disciplined, prudent and accountable. He will not tolerate abuse of rules or laws, no matter how little or large. He will be honest beyond reproach, and will not tolerate dishonesty from those around him. He will live a simple and humble life, and will shun ostentation and arrogance. He will be compassionate and sensitive to the needs of the people he leads. He will be, above all, a servant of his people, a provider and comforter in distress and need.
The President’s task to run his administration in a manner which suggests that he sees the presence of God in his personal life will be a difficult one indeed. The heart-rending report of 800,000 people applying for 1,800 advertised jobs in I.N.E.C is only a symptom of the very deep crises which faces the vast majority of particularly younger Nigerians.
Everywhere you turn you are reminded of numbing statistics and stories of failures of the economy or security to keep millions of citizens out of desperate situations. Billions are reportedly being stolen by well-connected people; and gangs are turning kidnapping of people into a thriving industry. An insurgency is threatening vast parts of the country, and criminal activities of all types are threatening to overwhelm the nation.
There are obviously massive gaps between our basic cultural values and our political system. A people who have profound faith in God have failed to run a political and economic system which has the slightest semblance with the manner God wants to see Godly societies run. You will almost wonder whether Nigerians believe genuinely in the power of God to punish wrong-doing in the way we steal and abuse trust with such wanton impunity.
There are pressures all around to improve the manner our politics benefits from our faith. At this stage, some of these pressures are being expressed either by people who think only faith-based political systems can work, or by people who pander to our basest instincts by invoking God in their support. The fight against systemic decay and failure will have to involve the emergence of leaders who genuinely love and fear God, and do his bidding with the trust and resources of the people.