16th July, 2012
Felix Femi Ajakaye
The power of the people is greater than the people in power.
(Quoted from Wael Ghonim’s book, Revolution 2.0)
On Friday, 25 May, 2012, I celebrated my fiftieth birthday and on Wednesday, 4 July, 2012, I was 25 years a Catholic Priest, the same day USA was marking her 236th Independence Anniversary. As I give glory to God for these unique anniversaries, for the gifts of my life and priestly vocation, I am also grateful to all the people I have come in contact with in life. All of them, dead or alive, young or old, male or female, have contributed to my being who I am – a fulfilled and happy person and priest. I thank the people for respecting my decision not to have public and elaborate celebration of the two jubilees.
In spite of this, I have been receiving overwhelming greetings and joyful wishes from family, friends, well-wishers and admirers on the landmark celebrations. I am really humbled.
On my golden jubilee, I opted not to make any public statement, deferring it till, by God’s grace, my priestly silver jubilee. Now, in marking the two celebrations, I am reflecting on our beloved country, Nigeria. Undoubtedly, Nigeria is a great and blessed country, and despite our myriad of problems, I still cherish my country, my home.
My conviction lies in the fact that, generally, no matter the situation, life goes on, music must play, whether rhythmic or not.
Nigerians love to enjoy life, but unfortunately, today, we do not have respect for the human life again. We do not uphold the dignity of the human person anymore. People now massacre others as if they are killing animals and insects. People are now maiming others and destroying their properties with impunity. Do we have to allow this dangerous culture to continue? Do we have to continue to point accusing fingers?
No. Individually and collectively, all Nigerians must act to reclaim Nigeria from darkness and eclipse. Nigeria, our own home, must not fall. Our beloved country must not collapse. What must we do for this not to happen? Briefly, here are some ideas for action.
Unity, Faith and Love. Unity means oneness, harmony. Unity is strength. Oneness breeds development. In unity people tend to achieve a lot. Although Nigeria is heterogeneous, there is the need for us Nigerians to work for true unity and start believing in ourselves again as members of the same Nigerian family. We must retrace our steps from the dark alley and engage in genuine love. Love is the soothing balm that promotes peaceful coexistence and helps us to recognise human dignity. Therefore, let us preach and practice true love, irrespective of our religions, ethnicities, statuses and political affiliations.
Leadership. Leadership is ‘the ability to guide, direct or influence people’. In leadership, is not the years of age that are very essential, but the quality age of the ideas. Leadership, whatever level, be it family, religion, education, social, business, politics, is very crucial in people’s daily living. Leadership is a call to greater service to the people. It demands humility, sacrifice, courage, commitment, focus, team spirit. A leader is ‘somebody whom people follow’. A leader is not just anybody. He is somebody with identity. He identifies with his/her people and he pays special attention to their needs, their plight.
Here in Nigeria, we need more of quality leaders who will stay more in Nigeria, study his people, project ideas for action with his people and engage in developmental activities. By doing this, he is making his environment homely for the people. The environment will then become an enticing place for the people, ever looking forward to returning home, no matter where they go. At this trying time of our country, we are in need a purposeful leader who will lead the country from home out of the present doldrums. We need more of leaders than rulers.
Really, a ruler can rule his society or country from anywhere, as our president’s aides would like us to accept, justifying why Dr Jonathan had to embark on his trip to Brazil even when there were bomb blasts and shootings in some parts of Kaduna State last month. On the other hand, a leader will prefer to build and maintain his home before venturing in external adventure. Yes, ‘charity begins at home’ and it continues beyond the home when the home is gathered, not scattered.
The question for the president and his aides is: If the trip to Brazil had been scheduled for Monday, 4 June, 2012, the second day of the Dana Air plane crash in Iju area, Lagos, where over 150 human beings died, would the president have travelled and his journey justified as a necessity for Nigeria’s image?
A true and focused leader will give a damn so that his country will not be doomed. A leader is a person of integrity. A leader is not afraid to take decision. He is ever wary of his utterances and deeds in order not to mislead his people. He thinks and plans ahead of his followers and he prepares adequately for both private and public fora.
He does not talk or act anyhow. A selfless leader does not surround himself with sycophants and exploiters. He goes beyond religion, tribe, party politics and personal interests. He never gives room for flattery. He surrounds himself with nation builders, not opportunists and destroyers. A leader does not deceive or lie to his people. He does not join the crowd.
When a leader sets up a committee for the good of the society, he will see to the logical conclusion of such committee. Furthermore, he will make sure that the report of that committee sees the light of the day and implemented. At this juncture, I remind Nigeria’s current President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, to release the report of the Ahmed Lemu Committee on the violence that erupted in some Northern parts of Nigeria during and after the 2011 presidential elections in the country. As a reminder, 10 of those slain then were corps members.
Unfortunately, the Federal Government keeps deploying our youth to serve in some Northern states of Nigeria where there are very serious security challenges.
This is unacceptable. I salute the House of Representatives and well-meaning Nigerians for their stand against the government sending our children to places where the sanctity of human life seems to mean nothing to certain people there. Parents and guardians toil to train their children and wards for a meaningful life and not for avoidable and unnecessary death and disaster.
May I use this medium to remind the president that we are now in July 2012 as the promise made by him in far away Germany sometime this year that Boko Haram invasion would end in June 2012 was never fulfilled.
Terrorism and crimes are not fought on the pages of newspapers, magazines, or electronic and social media. Such wars are strategically planned and executed. Similarly, shortly after the Dana plane crash on Sunday, 3 June, 2012, it was also reported by the media that the government promised it was going to release the reports of the air mishaps of Sosoliso Airline and ADC Airline in 2005 and 2006 respectively within two weeks. To date, the news report has not been refuted. Therefore, I remind the government that the two weeks have elapsed. These reports and that of Dana must be released for us to sanitise the aviation industry. Enough of hide and seek game.
Here, I appeal to our journalists and media practitioners to practice their profession with candour. I enjoin them to emphasize more on Nigeria’s virtues, values, potentials, strengths and struggles, rather than the vices and weaknesses. They are to engage in follow-up stories and make researches. All Nigerians are to be resolute in fighting corruption, crimes, election rigging, thuggery and other evil activities. Nigeria, our home, must not fall. Together, let us join hands and work for our country’s renewal, rebirth, as we strive to overcome the current crises which are, realistically, a legion. Let us learn to trust in God and have confidence in ourselves.
–Rev. Ajakaye wrote from Ekiti.