By Olu Fasan
PROFESSOR Yemi Osinbajo, Nigeria’s vice-president, is a man of God, a pastor. Like all men of God and pastors, he believes in prayer and positive confession. So, it wasn’t surprising that at the interdenominational service to mark Nigeria’s 62nd Independence Day, held at the National Christian Centre, Abuja, on September 25, he unleashed positive confessions on the country.
“Despite its challenges,” the vice-president said, “Nigeria’s future will be great.” Continuing, he said: “We stand at the gates of a new nation.” This is a manifestation of positive thinking, defined as the practice of focusing on the good in any given situation.
Not that Professor Osinbajo got the inspiration for his optimism and positivism about Nigeria’s future from anyone. But it’s interesting that the author of the best-selling book titled: The Power of Positive Thinking, Norman Peale, was also a pastor. One of his positive-thinking tips is: “Picture yourself succeeding.” Another is: “Think a positive thought to drown out a negative thought.” Of course, he also advocated praying and believing in God.
As a Christian, I absolutely believe in the power of positive confession. But I also believe that confessing the positive without doing the needful is taking God for granted. Just as the Bible says in James 2:20 that “faith without works is dead”, so is positive confession without the right actions futile. You can’t pray for and “claim” a job, for instance, without making a reasonable effort to prepare and apply for it!
Furthermore, God’s promises in the Bible are predicated upon obedience and righteousness. For instance, the Bible says in Proverbs 14:34: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people,” and in Proverbs 29:2: “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked rules, the people mourn.”
Let’s not see “righteousness” in an over-spiritualised way. Rather, let’s simply see it as doing the right thing; as creating a fair, just and equitable society; as those in authority putting the national interest above parochial, vested interests, and possessing the right character, integrity, competence and vision. A country where such righteousness exists will prosper and its people will rejoice, but a country where it doesn’t will suffer reproach and its people will mourn. It’s a simple cause-effect nexus!
Now, against that background and in light of Professor Osinbajo’s positive confessions, let’s ask ourselves: Is Nigeria doing the needful to become a great nation? Are Nigeria’s politicians motivated purely by the desire to govern in the country ’s best interests? And are Nigerians prepared and determined to take control of their country ’s future by ensuring that only public- spirited politicians get power?
Too often, we say that Nigeria’s problem is leadership, but we ignore the other crucial element: an enlightened and active citizenry. In a seminar titled ‘From poverty to prosperity’, Professor Sir Paul Collier of Oxford University said that, in addition to leadership, “a critical mass of well-informed and active citizens” is crucial for a country to prosper and succeed. Which is why Joseph de Maistre was right that “every nation gets the government it deserves!” Inactive and unenlightened citizens would produce or passively accept bad leaders!
So, when Professor Osinbajo said that “ we stand at the gates of a new nation,” what did he mean? Did he mean that Nigerians would engender a seismic, transformative change next year by electing the best of the presidential candidates on offer? For truth is, if Nigerians elect the same discredited political establishment into power next year, not only would Professor Osinbajo’s “Nigeria’s future will be great” confession be a mirage, the country will actually face decades of instability and decline that could lead to its ultimate disintegration.
Recently, the Economist Intelligence Unit, EIU, speculated that Bola Ahmed Tinubu, presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, could win next year ’s presidential election. Yet, the same EIU said that “Tinubu does not have a clear vision that would mark a break from what has come before him.”
The world-renowned research and analysis outfit continued: “The general direction of policy under a Tinubu administration might not look altogether so different from that of the Buhari administration,” adding that “a divided and dysfunctional Nigeria is a problem that only a new generation of Nigerian politicians is able to fix.”
Put simply: a Tinubu administration would be an extension of the disastrous Buhari government, sinking Nigeria deeper
into the abyss of disunity, instability and stagnation. But here’s the question: Why would Nigerians destroy Nigeria’s future by electing a President Tinubu, thus rendering Professor Osinbajo’s positive confessions utterly hollow?
In his book, Enemies of Society, Paul Johnson said that the true essence of democracy is the ability to punish political failure by votes. In fairness to Nigerians, they did that in 2015 when they denied the rudderless Jonathan administration a second term. Unfortunately, because of the flawed choice on offer, Nigerians ushered in a terribly worse Buhari administration.
Last week, in his final Independence Day speech, President Buhari self- congratulated himself, saying he bequeathed a country “ where all citizens have equal opportunities to achieve their lives’ desires in a peaceful atmosphere.” Yet, here’s a country where despair forces Nigerians to emigrate in droves; here’s a country where, according to a recent security situation report, over 6,000 Nigerians were killed in the last 18 months alone!
The spirit of 2015 should be upon Nigeria in 2023; the ruling APC should be denied another term. But if power is denied to APC, it can’t go to PDP, which has learnt nothing and still appears corrupt and dysfunctional. That leaves us with the only viable “third force”: Peter Obi’s Labour Party! Call it the least bad option, but it would be a sea-change!
Nigeria’s future can only be great, and a new nation birthed, if positive thinking is matched by positive action. The future of Nigeria is in the hands of Nigerians. They must take control of it. When? Next year!