The word incumbent means holder of an office or the extant opposition. Here, I am examining the Parish and the Church Council structure, how they operate and the dynamics of the group. When we talk about politics, it is not only played in Aso rock, the House of Assembly or at the House of Representatives. Man is gregarious. His social and economic life entails living together. When two or three people plan together, live together or discuss matters of mutual concerns, there must be politics. Planning for a meeting involves politics and negotiation, consultation and bargaining, it involves stepping on people’s toes. It involves bargaining of ideas. People’s suggestions can be viewed as a threat to others. There is no way a group cannot have opposition.
Within the church the opposition strengthens the government of the church or any community aspiring to grow. But when opposition is negative and destructive, it creates an unhealthy community. Opposition in Africa has caused war and fragmentation of groups making themselves enemies, especially when there is rustication of power. Power in the real sense of it is positive. The power of a leader comes from God and he should use it to serve the people, bring meaning to their lives, unite them and lead them to their economic and spiritual destinies. Positive power heals. Wrong use of power creates anarchy. It isn’t easy when a person comes into a group to lead them without understanding the dynamics of that group especially when he is introducing change.
The new leader should not be in a hurry to introduce change; otherwise, the opposition will create mountains of problems for him. People can resist change when it is sudden. More awareness is needed to calm their nerves to listen properly to the new leader, when everybody is skeptical about what the new leader is saying especially when what he is saying deviates from the established norm. What the old guys and associates left behind can incite the people against the new leader whom they suspect to have a messiah complex. The incumbency may not be happy with the changes. They can feel as if they did not do anything before the arrival of a new pharaoh. The new pharaoh should try to know the psychology of the people he is going to work with because they may have old ties and primordial loyalties to the former pharaoh. Man resists change.
Man’s security is threatened when he meets what he is not familiar with. He is worried because he feels that the new headmaster will not be like the old one who taught him how to eat “eba” with his hands and the new man wants him to eat with fork and knife. What a conflict! Yet changes could be for good. The society cannot be static. Fashola wanted to make Lagos a megacity when he came in but he knew that it should be gradual and the next governor; Ambode continued from where he stopped and now Sanwo-Olu. Some aspects of the POSITIVE change during Ambode’s administration reached my former parish through tarring our roads and installing street lights. The Society is in a state of flux and change is inevitable.
We cannot use old tools to solve new problems of today. We must update ourselves to embrace change. We must be humble to accept that there are change agents, people who are dynamic and ready to carry others along for a change. There is a saying that stagnating on one spot mars progress. Change is a process from the old Adam to the new one, new thinking, new ideas. All these are pushing us to discover where ignorance has led us astray. We did not know the type of change the incumbent federal government was advocating that seduced us to vote them into power. Nigerians have learnt their lessons and they don’t need more political talk on change or any prophet to tell them anything on change.
When we see a real POSITIVE CHANGE we shall recognize it not the one that will give us unjust blows, destroy our businesses but the change that affects our lives positively and businesses so that we can travel anywhere in Nigeria without sleeping on the road due to bad roads. Positive change creates employment not joblessness. If the present government’s change were positive, our people would not have been stranded in Libya. If that change they advocated for was positive, they would not have abandoned their father land to die in a cold land far away. In a nutshell, change brings prosperity not poverty. There is no agent of change in the world that can bring real positive change more than the church. The church in South Africa helped to destroy apartheid. Bishop Desmond Tutu championed that positive cause, working with government to bring the positive change.
Nobody can forget Desmond Tutu and Mandela who were the sources of empowerment for the Change in South Africa. We can’t continue telling people “Jesus will wipe away your tears” but we must start wiping off their tears before Jesus comes. When they are in the church, they want to hear the preaching against the unjust structures that wounded them. The Church can no longer be comfortable watching their wounded flock complaining about life miseries. They are there to do like their divine master by confronting what disfigures their flock. The church in Nigeria is doing its best but the laity should not put one leg in politics and the other in the church. We are part of Nigeria; we must come out from our cocoons and share ideas with our brothers and sisters for a better way of working in our churches and a better way of relating with our church leaders and members.
Remember the man Samuel Peters, the police man that is now a champion in boxing that left behind mediocrity to become an icon in Africa today. This happened in a world of change, a world that is not static. The incumbency should not cause the opposition to resist change for the better. We are shaped by experiences of life. When a young man begins to point a finger at his senior, he is exhibiting ignorance. He is in a haste to grow. He should avoid growing with scars that will remind him of his past. Positive power heals but wrong use of power creates anarchy.
• Monsignor Livinus Ukah is a Catholic Priest, Author of several books and Social Justice Advocate