The turn of events in Nigeria pop up so many questions such as where is the country headed? Is Nigeria a country or a banana republic? Is God still with us or has he abandoned us? Last week, we woke up to the news of the death of Deborah Samuel who was killed by colleagues. The likes of this news is a daily occurrence. It is no longer news to hear of government officials stealing billions of Naira. That the accountant General of the Federation has allegedly stolen 80billion Naira will soon be overtaken by events of party primaries. Giving the demands of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) priority is almost impossible by successive governments, which has always ended in several months of strikes. Health in Nigeria is only affordable by the rich, while the poor die from ailments as minor as malaria. What is the way forward? Nigerians have provided solutions in different ways. Within the tenets of democracy, ethnicity and tribalism have been tried, but did not work. Religion is neither the solution. Churches abound everywhere in Nigeria. Every street in all city centers and villages has a number of innumerable Churches. Ironically, as many as the number of Churches and Mosques, the nation is still rated as the poverty capital of the world.
Many are still insensitive to the plight of the Nation and Nigerians. Everything has its jurisdiction. Religion has its sphere. Religion is not a type of political system. Neither do we practice Oligarchy nor Socialism in Nigeria. God uses what we have to provide what we need. Jesus fed five thousand men in the scriptures with five loaves of bread and two fish. At least, a little boy possessed the loaves of bread and fish. Jesus provided for them with what they had (cf. Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1- 15). We have got democracy; the Lord can save us through this system. 2023 elections are around the corner. Party primaries are ongoing. I would like to zero in on the presidential election. Many parties are adopting consensus or indirect primaries. Delegates have been selected by parties to represent various wards as the case may be. Delegates should realize the sensitivity of this assignment. The fate of the entire country is in the hands of the delegates.
You are constitutionally empowered and free to make a choice of your candidate, but you are morally obligated to make the right choice. Do not let personal interest override the national interest. Do not only consider what will be the size of your pocket when returning home after the primary elections, but the future of your children and nation, the security of our nation, the economic progress, provision of health facilities, education and welfare should be the priority. Party Delegates: Delegates be concerned about Nigeria For over a decade now, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), composed a prayer namely, “Prayer for Nigeria in Distress”, the entire Catholic faithful have been praying this prayer. Part of this prayer reads, “Spare this nation Nigeria from chaos, anarchy and doom. Bless us with your kingdom of justice, love and peace”. The words of this prayer bring upon the delegates of the various parties at this point in the history of Nigeria a responsibility to elect the right candidates for the general elections to mitigate chaos, anarchy and doom, and to practice justice and love, and shun politics of ethnicity, religion, bitterness and bigotry.
Look at the profile of the different aspirants. As it stands today, there are many aspirants in the different parties for the 2023 presidential election who are qualified. The fact is that, we can only have one president. Among the excellent and qualified aspirants, one must be outstanding and has an edge over others as regards educational prowess, capacity and capability. We cannot pretend about this. Nigerians are doing one million march for an aspirant. These are Nigerians across the political divide. All, because Nigerians desire the president that will take us out of this present quagmire. Politicians themselves know it’s not a rented crowd. Such an aspirant should be the party flag bearer. Truth be told, if you are not the best student in your class, you know it. You know those who can do better than you. I don’t intend to sound democratic, neither am I undemocratic if I solicit other aspirants to forfeit their personal interest for the interest of the nation and possibly go with a consensus candidate. Consensus as at today is in the 2022 electoral act.
Again, I reach out to the consciences of the delegates to listen to the yearnings of the people. Other candidates should forfeit their interest for the interest of the nation. At this point in the history of our nation, when we service our external borrowing with over 97% of our earnings, inflation is at all-time high, unemployment and underemployment is at its pick, we need a president who is selfless, ready and willing to make sacrifices and has a pedigree. We understand politicians will want a candidate that would do their bidding when elected, a candidate that will serve their interest. Nigerians require a president that will serve the national and not individual interest. Nigerians are saying to political parties; give us such a candidate that will serve our interest. If democracy is actually the wish of the people and if we are democratic, we must listen to the people.
Rev. Fr. Francis Agbeboaye is a Catholic Priest of the Catholic Diocese of Uromi. He is currently a postgraduate student in the Department of Systematic Theology