Honestly, I have tried to no avail to unravel the mystery behind the clamor by many Nigerian Christians for Christians to stand by the side lines while watching worldly people practice politics. Ironically, the same Christians soon turn around to complain about the country drifting brazenly into the abyss of corruption, lawlessness, paganism and Islam. And then they stroke their false egotistic spirituality by getting into a prayer movement for the enthronement of good governance and righteous leadership, something I consider an impossibility under the political watch of heathens. To say the least, I think this rationale is myopic!
Don’t get me wrong, God answers prayers! I believe this because He commands us in the scriptures to pray, and I have personally seen Him answer prayers in too many situations to doubt. But how does God respond to the prayers of an irresponsible nation that has failed to take its place despite many opportunities that He has provided? When I read passages like 2Timothy 2:1-4 and Romans 13:1-7 that focus on political leadership and tell believers to pray for leaders and respect those in authority, one of the applications that gnaw at my heart is the realization that God knows that government policies are not inconsequential to the furtherance of the gospel – ask a pastor in the underground church or a missionary trying to smuggle Christian resources into China! By praying, we can affect the outcome of leadership. How easily our prayers would be answered if those in authority are people inclined to spirituality, public good, justice and godly counsel!
I have come to conclude that politics will indeed earn its famed title of ‘dirty game’ when we, Christians, the equalizers, the salt of the earth, the lamp upon the post, stand aside and watch instead of getting involved. For what we call ‘dirty’ in politics are the things described in Galatians 5:19-20 as the fruits of the carnal and ungodly life – selfish ambitions, dissensions, envy, murders, hatred, contentions, jealousies, drunkenness, revelries, adultery, uncleanness, idolatry, sorcery, outbursts of wrath, and the like. You will find an abundance of these in politics because the players are mostly worldly politicians who have no value for eternal things; they will wink at and excuse these vices!
If, on the other hand, true believers were to be involved in politics, we would set a new paradigm in the game because these people would exude the qualities of the spiritual man as stated in verses 22-23 of the same passage in Galatians 5 – goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness.
It seems to me that even in the days of Joseph and Daniel, there were not many godly people in government and political leadership. In Daniel’s day, for instance, the rest of the cabinet conspired against him because he stood for righteousness and depended on God’s guidance for decisions and leadership. They were envious of him and almost succeeded to have him killed in order to satisfy their selfish ambitions, hatred and jealousies. But then, it seems like some people somewhere were praying for the protection of those in authority because God’s providence and miracle-working power kicked in and delivered Daniel from being eaten up when he was ensnared by the wicked and served as dinner to the lions by the laws!
We certainly have the likes of Joseph and Daniel in leadership in Nigeria today; they are those advisers and chief executives that have the same spiritual values and their selfless contributions are evident in the governments they serve. When they speak, their words can be trusted and when they make decisions or support policies in their offices, it is for the general good. But more righteous men are needed in the political terrain of Nigeria. We must never be afraid of getting involved in governance and politics for, when the chips are down, a distinguished Christian in politics will easily gain the trust of politicians and the electorates before others; they will know right away that a man that can be trusted is in the fray.
The reason for the widespread corruption in government is because most of the people in politics are desperate to get rich and so, they swindle the people’s resources for self-aggrandizement. What a difference our country would experience when selfless people whose main interest is the development of society are introduced into the equation. There is no doubt that the allure of worldliness and wealth becomes more real when one gets into politics. I have experienced the temptation to also pursue the things that others are achieving, and crooked opportunities have often presented themselves for this end to be met but therein also lies the opportunity to turn my back and be victorious as a spiritual man.
I am rooting for Engr. Ben Akak, a man I have known for well over 10 years, one professing Christian who has taken a sure step into the political arena. For years, Ben Akak toiled for the downtrodden by constantly self-sponsoring various activities of the Margaret Ekpo Foundation from his humble means until his businesses prospered and his outstanding generosity began to expose the stinginess of those who have also been blessed with wealth. No wonder they continually throw unprovoked jabs at his philanthropy which they presuppose is merely entry an strategy into the governorship race.
Within the last one year alone, the Ben Akak Foundation has impacted thousands of Cross Riverians through various empowerment/ support schemes and is set to expand its reach to cover education and health projects across the three zones of the state by 2022. Understandably, more people who do not like the man and who might not even know him are furiously helping their bosses to churn out demeaning diatribes about Engr. Ben Akak. They hate his guts because one man who has only just arrived the political turf is quickly gaining traction and exposing their monumental refusal to improve the lives of their constituents over the years.
It certainly does not say much for the integrity of a minister, if he will support politicians he neither knows nor believes in. So, I challenge all church leaders who are interested in the good of the communities in which they minister to step up and support one of their own to win elections, rather than embrace moneybag politicians who only remember the church during elections as we have often seen. I am also calling on those people of faith who see the gaps in our secular leadership to vie for positions of authority – and watch God surprise them!
If all a citizen is good for is beggarly ineffectual prayer for good governance and peace on earth, then he is good for nothing. We have the numbers; let us make our voices loud and clear in 2023!
-By Donald Odu