The level of insecurity in our land is shocking. It causes Sonny Okosun’s song: “We want to know who owns the land” to echo in our ears. Nigeria appears to have been taken away from us by terrorists. We call them bandits and we call them herdsmen. We call them Boko Haram and we call them kidnappers. Their criminal activities make us recall the words of Sonny Okosun: “Nigerians want to know who owns the land.” It would be highly dangerous to separate politics and morality. Politics without morality is nothing but banditry. Unfortunately, there are people who believe that politics has nothing to do with morality. The fact that this belief is often put into practice largely explains why we witness all sorts of absurdities in politics today.
Whoever makes a promise has a moral burden to bear. A promise made must be kept. Whoever makes a promise he does not intend to keep is defrauding the people. Whoever does not consider his capacity or incapacity to keep a promise before making the promise is imprudent. To make a promise you do not intend to keep is to say what you do not mean while pretending to mean it. Simply put, it is to tell a lie. Not to say what one means or not to mean what one says, is to deceive others in order to get their votes. It is to get into public office through fraudulent means. In every election season, contenders for political offices make promises. After they are elected, many of the promises are not kept. That leaves the people discontented and disappointed. If half of the promises made during electioneering were to have been kept, this country would not be going through this period of discontent.
• Nigerians were promised security and prosperity during campaigns. Nigerians were assured that Nigeria would work for the Nigerian. But Nigerians are still waiting for these promises to be kept. We were promised security. But we have no security. In fact, insecurity is heightened to the point where Nigerians can neither work nor sleep in peace. Travelling to any part of the country has become hazardous. The danger is real and present that one’s life can be cut short. Bandits have taken over Nigeria. Kidnappers are on the attack. But this was not what we were promised. The economy is in dire straits. Prosperity has become elusive. The quality of life of our people continues to undergo a downward trend. We were promised that corruption would be tackled.
But Nigerians get the impression that there are sacred cows, that whether or not one would face the law depends on political affiliation. Again, this was not what we were promised. It is important for Nigerians to keep this in mind as the country faces another electioneering season in less than two years. All must keep this in mind, that is, not only seekers of political office, but also, we the people whom they approach when they ask for votes. We must not allow ourselves to be deceived by people who are desperately looking for our votes and who, out of desperation, would Let your Yes be Yes and your No be No say anything to please voters. There is an urgent need to bring morality back into politics. For Nigerians cannot continue the way things have been going. Young Nigerians are looking at the way politics is being played. Seeing that morality has been excluded from politics, many of them have become disillusioned and cynical. Some are already hoping to go into politics to deceive others.
Many young Nigerians no longer believe this country is being fair to them. While many of them are unemployed or unemployable, while they lack means of livelihood, they see the promise of prosperity unfulfilled while politicians who made the promise are throwing lavish parties at the slightest opportunity. The future of our country will depend on morality. It will depend on honesty on the part of her people, and on honesty on the part of their leaders. We would be entertaining ourselves in delusion if we thought we could build Nigeria on falsehood, deceit and propaganda. That is why this urgent appeal is being made to all of us, leaders and the led: Let your yes be yes and your no be no.
• His Eminence,, Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie is the Archbishop Emeritus of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos.