In the 2015 poll, Church Arise! hinged our pointed support for then incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan primarily on his declared conviction that Nigeria’s primary and fundamental need is total restructuring. At different fora, he decried the “winner-takes-it-all” politics, where for instance a candidate who won 51 percent of votes takes over all the instrument of government with absolutely nothing for the other candidate who, with much investment and commitment, had won the other 49 percent. What else is left for such losing candidate and his constituency, but to start fomenting troubles for the winner ahead of next election! And so, everything about Nigeria’s politics seems to start and end with elections, with little time left for real governance and nation-building.
Goodluck Jonathan further went on to convene a largely successful and credible National Conference to address the issue of restructuring. He however, in the manner of politicians, irresponsibly delayed the implementation of the recommendations - probably calculating to use it for some further political gains for his party in the presidential election, which he eventually lost! The opposition party, on its own, had bluntly refused to participate in the National Conference, choosing rather to include into her manifesto a nebulous commitment to restructure Nigeria. Once in power however, the party’s leadership, hijacked by the scheming cabal that had used the party as ladder into power, adamantly declared that there is nothing in Nigeria to restructure!
Church Arise! strongly believes that the quite important issue of who is elected into political office is not so much as critical as the structure and the system governing the offices. As we learn from the global news on a daily basis, the politicians in the developed climes are not necessarily more honest, godly, or even patriotic than ours – only that they are constrained by strong institutions and structures. In today’s Nigeria, not only do the systems appear designed to keep righteous people away from power, they have the propensity to corrupt ANY righteous person who somehow managed to get close!
As has been repeatedly pointed out by the Nigerian Christian Elders Forum, the fundamental problem with Nigeria is the current Constitution foisted on us by Islamic-inspired military leadership, which has embedded two mutually incompatible ideologies: democracy and sharia!
With the originally jointly-negotiated 1963 constitution, the undisputed leader of the north, Sir Ahmadu Bello chose to be the Premier of the Northern Region than be the Prime Minister of Nigeria - which post he threw to his aide, Tafawa Balewa. And the three regions did make tremendous progress! The military constitution destroyed all that. Today, the Centre controls all resources, doling out pittances and “bail-outs” to the regions; rather than have the regions work hard in diligently developing their God-given resources and make appropriate contributions to the Centre. The United Arabs Emirate is one country that is currently being cited for tremendous national development. Reportedly, that country was put together in 1971 using Nigeria’s 1963 Constitution as basic template.
CA! is convinced that the one major requirement to bring out the prophesied beautiful new Nigeria from the cocoon it is currently hedged in, is a fundamental review of her structure and systems, which are codified in the constitution.
As light and salt of the world, Christians have a central role in all these. A key problem with the Church in Nigeria however is that the average child of God in the country hardly relates with the central organization, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), which ought to be the major vehicle for mobilizing Christians for national development. The Lord Jesus explicitly taught that Christians are to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Mathew 10:16). Several of the individual Church denominations in the country are indeed doing a fantastic job raising dove-like disciples and instilling in them spiritual virtues in preparation for heaven. Without any doubts, this must remain the priority of the Church. However, the earthly component of engaging in nation-building, which often includes forming alliances with people of other faiths, requires the cunning of the serpent, and should be handled by a central clearing house specially configured for that purpose. That should be the CAN! To this effect, Christians need to be taught to act “local” by participating actively in a denomination/local church; while thinking “global” as they through the CAN embrace the concept of “if one member suffers, all suffer with it” irrespective of denominations! (1 Cor. 12:26).
It is instructive to note that there are several inter-denominational Christian groups that are close to this structure already. Groups like the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International (with over 3,000 chapters in Nigeria), Gideons International, or the missionary organization CAPRO, to mention but a few, have membership straddling several denominations, and are largely successful in mobilizing these into specific Christianity-inspired nation-building efforts. One major way to restructure the CAN could be to formally incorporate these para-church Christian groups into CAN’s institutions and systems.
Alternatively, or better still in addition to that, the CAN might wish to repackage her much under-valued and under-utilized Organ, the Christian Social Movement of Nigeria (CSMN) and purposively deploy her as the Christian platform for social mobilization and nation-building. This would be similar to the situation in the political terrain where the ANC (in South Africa) has its Umkhonto we Sizwe, the Afenifere in SW Nigeria its OPC, and the Ohaneze Ndigbo the Massob/IPOB.
In conclusion, a brand new Nigeria is possible. But it will need to be preceded by a brand new structure of the Church to formally interface with the country and lead the push for that new restructured Nigeria.