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From Left: Wife of the Bishop, Diocese of Lagos, Prof. Motunrayo Olumakaiye, Judge Nigeria Industrial Court, Hon. Justice Osat Obaseki-Osagha, Chairman of the Occassion/Former Minister of External Affairs, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay, Former Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Peter Obi and Diocesan Bishop of Lagos & Missioner, The Rt. Rev’d. Dr. Humphrey Olumakaiye at the the Centenary Anniversary Lecture of the Diocese of Lagos (Anglican Communion) in Lagos
By Odinaka Uruakpa
Former governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi has tasked Nigerians to ensure that they elect the right people into positions of leadership in the country.
Obi who gave this charge at the centenary anniversary lecture of the Diocese of Lagos (Anglican Communion) tagged ‘The church and good governance” held recently in Lagos, also urged the church to take the business of governance seriously by teaching the people to insist on having the right people to lead them at all times.
Speaking on the church as vanguard of good governance, Obi noted that the worst form of corruption in any society is bad governance.
Said he: “When we talk about corruption and good governance and everything, if you get everything right and your politics wrong, everything is wrong, even the nation. When we talk about corruption, the worst form of corruption in any society is bad governance; bad leadership. And when you talk about fighting corruption, it’s all of us; we have to stop that corruption before it comes into government”.
He urged Nigerians to make it their duty to ask, as well as to know the process through which people come into political office in their country.
Stated Obi: “Nigerians should ensure that they know the process through which their leaders get into office. It is not when someone who has committed an offence or suspect comes into office, then he is being chased all over the place”.
He noted that the problem with Nigeria was cumulative leadership failure, adding that the country could not have meaningful progress with the kind of leaders in the country, as the quality of leadership was too low.
Noted he: “What we have in Nigeria today is a situation where those that should be in government are outside and those inside are those that should be outside. So we have a situation where lunatics have taken over the asylum; it won’t work”.
While advising Nigerians to desist from the act of celebrating criminals and criminality in government, he admonished religious leaders to ensure that they treat their congregation equally, adding that when the popular figures in their church come late to service, they should be made to sit at the back like any other member who comes late to church.
Speaking on the role of the church in combating corruption in Nigeria, Prof. Itse Sagay, SAN, chairman, Presidential Advocacy Against Corruption noted that corruption was the bane of the Nigerian Nation.
Listing corrupt practices such as subsidy scam, NNPC colossal frauds, Dasuki Gate, Armed Forces scams, budget padding among others, Sagay defined corruption as the process of obtaining something of value or achieving an end by irregular or illegitimate means that always involves abuse of position by people.
Said Sagye: “The ramifications of corruption are extensive. Corruption can arise virtually in every aspect of human activity. It has come to this: whenever a group of Nigerians are put in charge of a project and money is allocated to it, the first action of the group is to divert a large proportion of the funds to themselves”.
Noting the consequences of corruption as a major factor in underdevelopment, he said corruption in African countries was particularly devastating because it diverts already limited funds to a few unproductive hands, thereby, undermining social welfare and economic progress while it impedes development.
He also noted that for the Church to play an effective and positive role in the fight against corruption, the it must be free of corruption.
Said he: “For the church to succeed in fighting corruption, it has to be free of outright corruption such as dipping hands into Church funds, inflating costs of equipment and services during procurement, receiving outrageous financial benefits for services to the Church, using membership of Committees such as harvest committee for self-enrichment, etc, do not instill confidence in the Church as Bastion of anti-corruption. Only a Church leadership free of corruption can have the moral authority to exhort the laity against corruption”.
While delivering a paper tagged “Promoting the common good of Nigeria and Nigerians”, Hon. Justice Osat A. Obaseki-Osaghae, Judge, National Industrial Court, Lagos Division urged political leaders to practice good governance by making policies that are beneficial to the country the common good of Nigerians.
Said she: “Good governance is epitomized by predictable, open and enlightened policy-making, a bureaucracy imbued with professional ethos acting in furtherance of the public good, the rule of law, transparent processes, and a strong civil society participating in public affairs”.
While urging citizens to render national service, make useful contributions to the progress and well-being of the community where they reside, she called on the church to be the guiding light to both the citizens and leaders in the country.
Charged she: “Governance being collective, each one of us has a role to play; either as leaders or followers. Social issues are important but the contribution of a Christian should be through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Christ the eternal life, the truth and the way.
“We all need to seriously re-examine our spiritual values, very much at a low ebb in this materialistic society; revive our spiritual values by re-opening our minds to let Christ in, speak to us, and through us. I know that by faith, prayer, and the grace of God, Nigeria and its peoples will emerge victorious over the seemingly dark political, economic and social clouds on the horizon before they can overshadow the light of Nigeria”.
On his part, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, Former Minister of External Affairs and Chairman of the Centenary anniversary lecture admonished well meaning Nigerians not to support or follow corrupt politicians. He admonished religious leaders to stop showing favouritism to rich people in the church.
Said Akiyemi: “If people don’t follow corrupt politicians, corruption will be tackled. The church has to preach against that. The church has to stop showing favoritism towards rich people who have no source of their wealth. The church should stop worshipping them. You go to churches today, it is money, money. Jesus himself had to cleanse the temple when he saw the kind of things people were doing there. So, Nigerians have to stop worshipping money. The church has to continue to tell government the truth; the church must have the courage to confront government”.
Also speaking on the occasion, Rt. Rev. (Dr.) Humprey Olumakaiye, Diocesan Bishop, Diocese of Lagos (Anglican Communion) said the event was a way of ensuring that the church played its godly role in teaching the Christian virtues of transparency, honesty and righteousness in government.
He urged leaders to show dignity in labour, true obedience to the word of God, live a life of selfless service, as well as ensure that they make life worth living for people around them, just as he tasked leaders to remember that they were on a journey and on borrowed seats.
Said he: “This world is not our own, and the day of reckoning is coming when we give account of our stewardship on earth. We should not to be too attached to the world, we should live godly lives. That is the message we are passing across to People in government, to church leaders and generality of the people. We should live for the people and I believe we have gotten the message right”.