Speaking Truth to Power: 'Perversion at the Heart of Government'

On a cold autumn evening I was struck by the statement made by the controversial El Rufai stating that:

I am ready to sacrifice myself to keep Nigeria moving, Nigeria has been kind to me, I am almost 50years of age, lots of threats to my life but only God has the power to kill. The whole world is aware of Yar Adua’s incompetence and leadership flaws, so he must not be blaming the opposition from abroad for failures of his government’-Mallam Nasir El-Rufai in straight talk with journalists before going to submit his documents for passport renewal in London,20 Oct,2009.’

However, what strikes me more is the increasing perversion of power at the heart of governance in Nigeria. A complete puzzle is a government supposedly anchored on the ‘rule of law’ continues to ignore the stench and smell of corruption within its neighbourhood and franchises its battles against its critics to the various embassies and high commission scattered across the globe.

This only goes to demonstrate that the priority of the Nigerian administration appears to be the self preservation of its friends, cronies and co-conspirators rather than the progress of the nation. It is unable to separate personal interests from the national interest. It is such that emerging at the heart of the Nigerian government is a perversion of power, something more devastating than mesmerisation I had previously indicated in past articles. A perversion that ignores the reasoning of today’s world, and on the exposed rampart of the space called Nigeria where the wind blows most sharply, it is possible to stand in opposition to the abuse of power.

We applaud Sahara News and Prof ‘Bolaji Aluko et al who have demonstrated that the warning voice of single brave men/women, besieged some where in diaspora on the internet, terrorized by a goaded community, which can be heard over continents and addresses the conscience of the mighty of this world more clearly than entire brigades of hired propagandists can, though speaking truth to power reverse crude attempts of the government through its agents to silence the Ribadus and the El Rufais.

They, because of their clarity and courage have spoken demonstrating, evidence that wholly personal categories like good and evil still have their unambiguous content and, under certain circumstances, are capable of shaking the seemingly unshakeable power of the Nigerian government with all its army of soldiers, policemen and bureaucrats. They continue to prove that politics is by no means and does not need to remain the affair of ‘professionals’ and that a ‘simple’ Nigerian with his/her heart in the right place, honouring something that transcends him/her and, free of fear, can influence the history of this nation.

I return to what is becoming apparent about President Yar’Adua’s government. It is its credibility which has been stretched to breaking point, and the failure to grasp and understand the nature of power. The government has misapplied power to induce slumber and lethargy into the ‘giant of Africa’.

Where diplomacy should be deployed as an instrument of projecting the national interest we have the advancement of absenteeism and obfuscation. Where constructive engagement and the projection of strong and soft power should be the governmental function, stumbling and irrationality laced with inaction is now an objective of state policy. In the perversion of power, the government of President Yar’ Adua is unable to appreciate that good governance creates truth, and it is in this recognition that Nigerian can succeed.

In the midst of this perversion I wish to focus on fewer abstractions and move into more tangible ways in which Nigerians are beginning to arise and grasp the mettle of change. Commendably, Daystar Christian Centre through “WALK FOR LIGHT” has set up an advocacy initiative aimed at providing a platform for Nigerians to speak up and demand for an improved state of power supply in the country. The reports indicate that:

Frustrated by deepening power crisis, about 10,000 people yesterday stormed the streets of Lagos, calling on the Government of the Federation to put an end to the crisis of epileptic power supply in the country.

Senior Pastor, Daystar Christian Centre (DCC), Reverend Sam Adeyemi, led the peaceful protest to the office of Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN) in Ikeja, where a protest letter was submitted to President Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua through the governor.”

The recent protest about the perversion of another kind of power, electric power, has thrown down the gauntlet to others. We are immensely grateful for the many lone rangers on the internets and on the ground in Nigeria speaking truth to power. However, to address this increasing perversion, it should not rest only with ‘lone rangers’ but a collection of interests and of course the Church. The Church by reason of its calling is ideally placed to be in the vanguard of change in Nigeria.

Being the church today in Nigeria should mean being a prophetic voice that is heard in the homes, villages, towns, cities, parliament, schools, hospitals any workplace. As the African Bible commentary suggests, being such a voice will often require conflict, mutual reprimands and bitter debate to resolve differences or to bring the inconsistencies to light.

Today as we face today’s perversion of power, we do not despair, we simply think of various ways in which we must act like Daystar Christian Centre and send a powerful message to society. We must hold fast to the truth and know that no matter how endless dark nights of fear and death may be, life will have the last word and that the sun will rise over Nigeria.

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