A Message of Hope to Nigerians by the President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), His Eminence, Rev Dr Samson Olasupo Adeniyi Ayokunle
2 Kings 2: 19-22
2 Kings 2:19 And the men of the city said unto Elisha, Behold, I pray thee, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord seeth: but the water is naught, and the ground barren.
2 Kings 2:20 And he said, Bring me a new cruse, and put salt therein. And they brought it to him.
2 Kings 2:21 And he went forth unto the spring of the waters, and cast the salt in there, and said, Thus saith the LORD, I have healed these waters; there shall not be from thence any more death or barren land.
2 Kings 2:22 So the waters were healed unto this day, according to the saying of Elisha which he spake.
I am one of the people that believe that Nigeria can rise above her challenges and be great nation in the world. It is true that today we are confronted with many challenges but with the cooperation of all of us, both the leaders and the led, we can rise above our challenges and be the great nation God designed us to be.
The situation of Jericho we have just read will be adopted to underscore the fact that no matter the level of barrenness or bitterness of life the citizens are experiencing now in our nation, a better tomorrow is coming but that is not what faith alone would do but concerted effort of all of us, through love for one another, development of a new heart of Godliness rather than criminality in various forms, impeccable leadership that comes out of patriotism and selflessness, responsible followership and authentic spirituality.
The good geographical location of Jericho. (Fragrance or Sweet)
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, ‘Jericho is one of the earliest continuous settlements in the world, dating perhaps from about 9000 BCE.’
Jericho stands out in the desert in the present day West Bank as a city of agriculture because it is located in the valley of River Jordan and is therefore home to large plantations of dates which is an important economic crop in Palestine. If date palms can grow in a city that is in the desert, then it must be specially blessed. Wheat and barley are equally cultivated in this city. No wonder, it had a fairly large population of people even in Bible days. As said earlier, it is in the Jordan valley and is equally has an important trade route to the popular and most famous city of Israel, Jerusalem. Many merchants pass through the road linking Jericho with Jerusalem on daily basis, no wonder, in the days of Jesus, sometimes, armed robbers operated on that road to rob big time traders. This Jesus captured in the story we usually refer to as the story of the Good Samaritan. (Luke 10: 25 -37)
It was a great problem then when the major source of water there, a spring (now called Elisha’s spring) was discovered to be bitter and useless as well for agriculture. The people of the city saw that as a common problem and therefore cooperated together to find solution to it. The answer did not lie in political effort alone but spiritual consultation that brought solution. Elisha was called upon and through the anointing on the servant of God, the solution came. I pray for everyone listening to me that God will use you to bring solution to the challenges our nation is facing in the name of Jesus.
Nigeria, a nation that is greatly endowed by God
Nigeria is a land that is greatly blessed naturally speaking.
In terms of geographical location and good weather, Nigeria’s weather is tropical, with two good seasons almost equally divided within the year, the wet and dry season. The wet season is the raining season while the dry season gives farmers the opportunity to harvest their crops and equally prepare the ground for another planting wet season. Virtually all kinds of tropical crops flourish well in Nigeria from tree crops in the south to seasonal crops in the north. We have thick forest and savannah in the south and the north with wide range of agricultural products from north to south that can give us good export earning. Livestock is equally practiced from north to south with greater concentration in the north of the country. Nigeria is a land with great promise for all.
Apart from the agricultural products, we have virtually all kinds of mineral deposits with many of them in commercial quantities. Unfortunately, many of these till today remain untapped. Our focus has been on petroleum products mainly to the neglect of others for export earnings and provision of employment.
Blessed with Skillful Human Resources
Nigeria is blessed with highly qualified Human Resources as well. The population is not only thick to provide cheap labour, when compared to the rest of Africa, it is more skilled. Nigerians are very industrious because they go everywhere in the world and succeed. For example, it was widely reported recently that one 11year old young boy, an emerging artist, Kareem Waris Olamilekan at a world competition on painting, painted in two hours the portrait of the French President, Emmanuel Macron and won the first position award of Taiwan’s Chou Ta-Kuan Cultural and Education Foundation Award. He beat 2, 723 other contestants to clinch the first position! What a pride to Nigeria worthy of celebration and national recognition! Recently as well, at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, UK, a Ph.D student, a lady by the name Zahrah Ibrahim was selected as the winner of the inaugural European Drilling Engineering Association Innovation Award (DEA(e) and won a cash prize of €5,000 which is an equivalent of N2million. These feats have partly led some nationals of the foreign countries where some Nigerians sojourn to envy them and rise against them to persecute them. In some cases, they vandalized their businesses, harassed them and even killed them. Such we had recently in one neighboring West African country and in South Africa. Nigeria is greatly blessed. Nigerians in diaspora who are committing crimes are not as many as those who struggle to make ends meet legitimately. While we feel ashamed for those who commit crimes both in Nigeria and abroad and urge them to change and stop disgracing their nation, we plead with foreign countries who give the excuse of some Nigerians who commit crimes to persecute and mistreat all Nigerians abroad to stop such barbaric action. Each nation has laws that deal with criminals, let such laws be applied to deal with any criminal in their nations rather than encouraging their citizens to attack foreigners. Let me thank the Federal Government for the mature way in which this matter has been handled especially with the government of Ghana and in particular, South Africa. Much more, let me seize this opportunity to publicly commend Mr. Onyeama, the owner of Air Peace for his bowels of mercy over his persecuted and endangers fellow Nigerians in South Africa that he volunteered to rescue free of charge. This is one Nigerian that has made all of us proud. No national honour would be worth the good you have done. You are one of the people for which Nigeria shall continue to be great. May the Lord God of Heaven and Earth bless you and your generation.
The Problem with Nigeria
Nigeria today is besieged with so many problems or challenges which you all know and which we all need to team up together to overcome for the general good of all of us.
1. The problem of ethnicity. Nigeria is a multi-ethnic country with more than one language spoken in some local governments. This has created a lot of dichotomy and suspicion about sharing of positions and resources in the nation. This division along ethnic lines has often led to communal crises and unsuitable environment for economic development.
Coupled with this is the fact that some politicians have sometimes resulted to ethnic sentiment in order for them to gain personal political advantage, thus further polarizing the relationship between people. Let me say it here categorically that ethnicity is not the perfect will of God right from the Tower of Babel incident in Genesis 11. God used it to divide humans so that they might not be able to cooperate again to attain a common goal. God wanted humans to spread horizontally but man rebelled by agreeing with themselves to spread vertically. Ethnicity then is a rod of punishment for human disobedience, it should not be what we continue to glorify to further divide us.
Nigeria is a multi-religious country. The two major religions in Nigeria are Christianity and Islam. For many years before now, we had co-existed together in families and communities without religious radicalization and hatred for others. Then, Nigeria was peaceful. However, the game changed when some people thought their religion was superior to that of others and they would play God by eliminating those who belong to other religions. They then took up guns and other weapons of war to be killing their brothers. Religious intolerance came and we religious leaders cannot be excused from this dangerous development. Preaching that has to do with religious hatred is not a message from God but from the pit of hell. Both the preachers and the adherents of such religious preaching should stop it for our general good. The Lord warned those who wanted to separate by themselves the tares from the wheat not to do so but leave that till the day of harvest because humans don’t have the sense of perfection to do that without causing more harm. In order for religion to have its proper place in Nigeria and contribute to development, there must be religious tolerance and mutual respect for one another beyond religious divide. No one must be denied admission, employment and other opportunities in life on the basis of his or her religion if the necessary qualifications are there. Leaders as well must run away from flinging religious kite in order to gain political advantage. Some of them who fling religious kite are the most irreligious. The public must not allow these people to deceive them again.
3. Corruption and Poor Welfare Provision
The provision of necessary social amenities which would add meaning to the lives of Nigerians have almost become a mirage in Nigeria. Governments after governments have been making promises without much significant difference. In those days, we used to have pipe borne water, today, there is no more. Each person has to sink well or borehole in order to drink water. Jobs are not there because of poor planning. Those in charge of governance appear not to be projecting into the future to make needed enabling environment available for job creation. The available opportunities cannot go round and on many occasions, they go to the children of those in authority. It appeared that leadership after leadership have focused on themselves and what they can amass for themselves and their children. The rich is becoming richer while the poor is becoming poorer. Thank God for the present day government that identifies this cankerworm called corruption and is determined to fight it. Public money as somebody has said is supposed to be spent for public good not to be embezzled as we see it in our country. The name of the country has been spoiled a great deal internationally because of corruption. This has to change through attitudinal change by all of us.
Lack of social amenities and infrastructures needed to encourage business activities have led some Nigerians into criminality (though this can not justify criminality). Our leaders and those led have to change. I was very glad when I listened to the news and the Vice-President of the country, His Excellency, Professor Yemi Osinbajo was saying that the government would drive the ease of doing business in Nigeria when he was commissioning Flour Mill facility recently in Akwa Ibom State if I am not mistaking. This would greatly attract many investors to our nation without doubt.
It should be underscored that our value system of placing premium on money and wealth at all costs has to change in order for development to occur and corruption reduced.
4. Mass Unemployment
With the abundance of Human Resources that we have, large majority of the people graduating with intimidating credentials today are unemployed. We probably have never implemented development plans that would lead to creation of employment opportunities for our growing young population of young people or we implemented them poorly. If we would not be politically correct, lack of employment opportunities in Nigeria has been a major contributory factor to insecurity especially kidnapping, armed robbery and ritual killings, etc. Economic experts in Nigeria should be gathered together to advise those in power on how we can make our economy stronger and create a more conducive environment for businesses to thrive and more investors to come into the country. The more committed to this we are, the safer our country would be. At the same time, overseas migration would come down and our nation would witness development.
May the Lord help our leaders to act in the right direction in the name of Jesus.
Pathways to Making Nigeria Great
1. Objective realization of what our problems are.
The city of Jericho recognized theirs and they did not play politics with it. Please let no one of us play politics with the present situation we are. We must not trivialize it but see it as problems giving us great concern and which we must find solution to jointly, both the leaders and the led. The solution lies with all of us, not just with the government alone! Let’s call a spade a spade. The location of Nigeria is good but our land is currently made barren and the water is bitter. Every unpleasant situation in Nigeria will change in the name of Jesus.
2. There is need for a change of heart and attitude
The present criminal thinking of some, if not many of us in Nigeria has to change. Elisha requested for new cruse from the people of Jericho before the positive change happened in the city. We all need a change of heart in Nigeria, a new life so to say. The leaders and the led must be ready for a new heart. We must allow God to change us. He is always willing to do that but he will not force it on us. The salt that was given to the prophet and which he poured to the water for positive change was the desirable attitudes we Nigerians need to embrace. If the government provides the best opportunity for development and we continue with excess or undesirable behaviour of corruption and selfishness, we would not be able to go far.
The acts of criminality must change to a clean Godly heart. We call upon God everyday in our places of worship but that call appears to be hypocritical because it does not reflect in the way we behave. We honour God with our mouths but our hearts are far from him. If we continue to embezzle in different places where we are, our nation can never develop. The law enforcement agents must be ready to do their works by arresting the criminals without taking money or any gratification from them to allow them to go scot free. Thieves or armed robbers must be ready to work with their hands, engaging in legitimate duties such as farming, crafts work, etc, in order to eat rather than forcefully dispossessing others of their possessions or even killing them.
On the part of our leaders, they need to work harder and allow governance to have positive impact on the citizens. The people must be provided uninterrupted power supply, good roads, security of their lives and properties. Jobs and social welfare amenities must be made available to stop criminality and the brain drain we are experiencing in our nation. Leadership should not be about what we can grab but what we can sacrifice. These are the pathways to greatness!
3. Love that Embraces All
Let us prepare to love one another irrespective of differences in our religions, ethnicity and political affiliations. If we love others, we would not kill them for whatever reason, even economic. If we love others, we would not kidnap them and force their relatives to look for money before releasing them. If we love others, we would not rob them at all talk less of doing it at gun point. If we love others that God created in his image, we would not go into the crowd and bomb them. Love is the fulfilment of the law. If we love others, we would work hard when we are in positions of power to make life more pleasant for them. Love is God! He who does not love his or her brother which he sees does not know nor can he or she love God whom he or she does not see. Our God is love.
The problem in Nigeria is more than what political situation alone can solve, all of us must be involved, both the led and the leaders. As we have come before God now, let us always come together for prayers before God in unison and seek his intervention over our affairs so that our nation might rise and be great again.
Let us put behind us all the divisions because God has decided to tie our destiny together in the nation called Nigeria. We need to accept that reality and decide to embrace one another. We must work hard to make life better for our brothers and sisters. The time is now for Nigeria to rise as a nation through the collective effort of all of us.
Congratulations to all Nigerians and our political leaders at all levels.
God bless Nigeria.
Please accept the assurances, highest esteem and best wishes of His Eminence at all times.
Kindly give this address a prominent treatment in your credible media.
Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, Special Assistant (Media & Communications) to His Eminence, Rev Dr Samson Ayokunle.
30 September, 2019.