Similar to its much criticized “Prayer for Nigeria in Distress”, the Catholic Church in Nigeria has for more than a decade now been saying another prayer it titled “Prayer Against Bribery and Corruption in Nigeria” which holds thus:
“Father in Heaven, you always provide for all your creatures so that all may live as you have willed. You have blessed our country Nigeria with rich human and natural resources to be used to your honour and glory and for the well-being of every Nigerian. We are deeply sorry for the wrong use of these your gifts and blessing through act of injustice, bribery and corruption, as a result of which many of our people are hungry, sick ignorant and defenseless. Either, you alone can heal us and our nation of this sickness. We beg you, touch our lives and the lives of our leaders and people so that we may all realise the evil of bribery and corruption and work hard to eliminate it. Raise up for us God fearing people and leaders who care for us and who will lead us in the part of peace, prosperity and progress. We ask the through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen”.
While agreeing with the overall intention of the prayer, I have always faulted the letters and the spirit as bored by the very particular line in this body of prayer where the drafters asked God to “Raise up for us God fearing leaders…” and quickly closed the prayer.
It is one line of prayer that I have a lot of problem with. It reflects the typical Nigerian attitude to problems in their society even where they are the thickest core of such problems. It is never their problems to solve. Never! It must be solved by someone else and in most cases that someone else is God.
“Raise up for us God fearing leaders”? Perhaps from Mars or Neptune, I guess. Or better still from ‘Proxima Centauri’ to be brought over to the Earth by the ESA’s Rossetta spacecraft, which its lander, Philae, is currently touring a comet that’s ten years away from Earth and when it finishes from that comet mission it will then race over to the Centauri in perhaps a thousand years to make itself available for those “God fearing leaders” to travel in it to the Earth and then to Nigeria.
Yes, those God fearing leaders must come from somewhere else even though we are a country awash with a majority population that knows God very personally and that never speaks a word without having first decorated it with the name of God and millions of his aliases which we are very hyper-skilled at their invention. The other day, a friend of mine was telling about THE WORD OF GOD as if it was the latest discovery to end , in just one seconds, the Ebola outbreak in the three West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone put together. Come and see the passion so much built into his expressions!
The point is, while the historical Catholic Saint Francis of Assisi prayed “Lord make ME the instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let ME sow love; where there is …, let ME …”; the Nigerians have been busy asking God to “Raise up for us God fearing leaders…” and that’s it! They don’t envisage a role for themselves in the whole matter. They don’t want to have any hands in bringing about the desired situation. It’s God’s business and God’s business only. QED.
I for one have always had a differing view on a matter like this and accordingly did make my own version of that Nigerian Catholic prayer, towing more the line of Francis of Assisi and have always asked the God Almighty to MAKE ME one of those God fearing, good political leaders that this poorly governed society called Nigeria, and indeed Igboland, truly desperately need at the moment, to shine blazing lights where there has been pitch darkness of misleadership.
Knowing full well that you and I have our respective roles to play in the matter at hand, just as the God Almighty have His, I’m challenging each and every one of us, the God-knowing people of Nigeria, to be ready to play these roles very well. And it’s already time to get to work! It begins with you supporting me both in prayers and in concrete practical actions. Not just prayers alone, please!
Similarly I have challenged the God Almighty to do His part, if He be truly God…, while I have already began taking the small steps towards this whole matter of “Raising ME as one of the God fearing political leaders in Nigeria”.
Finally, before I welcome you all into the new year of 2015, may I first usher all of us into an amazing prayer I first read as a young pupil from my father’s copy of the March 1980 edition of the Reader’s Digest; a simple prayer I have adopted as a personal creed ever since then. It was a very simple but powerful personal plea credited to an anonymous Chinese student and added by the magazine in a collection of prayers said to be the favourite prayers of then Bishop of Canterbury, late Robert Alexander Kennedy Runcie, in celebration of Runcie’s new enthronement that month as the 102nd Primate of All England. The prayer says:
“O Lord, change the world. Begin, I pray thee, with me.”
May I then wish you and yours a Happy, Prosperous New Year and enough involvement with me in making it The Year of Revolution Made Simple.
Thank you and God bless.
(African Democratic Congress Aspirant for Membership of the Abia State House of Assembly 2015)