It is an altruism that the survival of a nation depends on the good its leadership can bring to bear on the people of the nation. No nation is guaranteed continuous existence if her citizens wallow in abject poverty especially if such a nation is identified as having the potential human and material resources that guarantee greatness.
The central government is so weak or ineffective that it has little or no control over some parts of its territory. It can no longer provide public services: our hospitals (if we have any to call hospitals) are in a deplorable state. Public educational services are not offered any more. Our universities and colleges are not better than playgrounds where the children of the common Nigerians go to play until their lecturers are tired and find a way to send them back to their parents through endless strikes. Our roads are death traps. The highways and all the “B” and “C” roads, except perhaps in few states, where the leadership is responsive, are no longer motorable all the year round. Power supply is no longer an issue for public discussion.
Although Nigeria has a sovereign government, it seems to have lost control of its land and borders, thereby giving people the freedom to go in and go out of the country unrestrictedly. Countless reports had revealed how porous its borders are, yet they remain unchecked. Also, the Nigerian government has proven time and time again that it is unable to guarantee the safety of its citizens. A daily glance at most newspapers across the country would confirm how Nigerian citizens are being murdered on a daily basis by what has now been described as unknown gunmen, Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen, kidnappers, militants and many others.
Again, Nigeria seems to be a permanent habitat for procreation of corruption and criminal acts, where government officials embezzle public funds with confidence, knowing they are well covered and protected under the law of impunity. The law of Impunity is an unwritten law that requires absolute loyalty from the political elite to the current leadership of the country. It is their believe that, with loyalty to the current government in power, any politician can always go scot free irrespective of their corrupt and criminal behaviour.
In the face of all these, how and why must the Shepherds of the people remain silent? Priests/Pastors should exercise their prophetic mission by being gad flies to sting all to consciousness. By so doing, Priests/Pastors are writing a new page in the history of Nigerian Christianity by calling on each and all to obtain their PVCs to decide their fate in 2019 and beyond.
This exercise is a demonstration of a Christianity that refuses to be locked up in the sacristy; that refuses to be an accomplice of a government that thrives in propaganda; remain silence in the face of incessant killings of its citizenry; christianity that embraces martyrdom in defense of justice and truth; a Christianity that claims to be prophetic while remaining for the poor and with the poor, the only flame that still shines in the depths of darkness; a Christianity that renounces its comfort, which accepts to get its hands dirty.
The fight for freedom, truth and justice is an act of salvation as well as a fundamental vocation of every man/woman and every Christian in particular. It is time for our ecclesial communities to make themselves heard, guided by Priests/Pastors who are prophets, who do not fear defiling the whiteness of their tunics with the blood of the struggle for a country where life is preferred to death, love to hatred, peace to war.
The Christian community has a praiseworthy legacy of prophetic tradition, the defense of justice, human rights, the oppressed and the marginalized, and is therefore called upon to stand openly in support of the truth, to protest against violations of these principles. As citizens and as Christians, it is time to stand beside the victims of all sort of exploitation and pain inflicted by this government; it is time to collaborate with civil society to spread the truth; it is time to take initiatives to that would take us out of the present socio-economic quagmire we have found ourselves. Pastors of souls should reflect and guide each and all on the path of truth, love, and justice.
We are all called to courageous discipleship – which means, it must cost us something. We all, each one of us, can easily drift into a worldly consensus regarding evil – and hardly realize that we are, in fact, participating with it. Courage to stand for biblical convictions is what we need. It is good we know that silence in the face of evil is itself evil; God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act. To lend credence to this, Martin Luther King Jr. opines, “our lives begin to end the day we remain silent about things that matter”.
Finally, let everyone get himself/ herself registered and with the PVC say prophetically “No” to a government that doesn’t have the welfare of its citizenry at heart.
By Rev. Fr. Paul Danbaki Jatau