The attitude of Christians towards politics has been identified as one of the reasons why they suffer.
Dr Festus Adedayo, a former Special Adviser on Media to the Oyo State governor, expressed this opinion at the weekend while delivering a paper at the 2018 Seminar of the Ibadan Anglican Church’s Diocesan Men’s Conference.
Too much emphasis on money is the reason why Nigerian politics and leadership continues to lack men of integrity.
He said integrity is in the realm of moral philosophy, and entails that, for an individual to be in possession of this virtue, his actions must be consistent with an internal framework of ethical principles.
“Integrity is also an important kernel of politics because, as representatives of the people, politicians are expected to mirror the best of the electorate and are to serve them,” he said. “Indeed, immediately they are elected into offices, the people literally hand over their lives, their today and tomorrow into the hands of politicians.
“If they must superintend over the lives of the people, it is thus necessary that politicians are properly assessed to ascertain their abidance by the moral codes that have sustained societies for centuries. If this abidance is not properly ensured and society elects into office politicians who are not men of integrity, they will not only use the power bestowed on them for personal gains, they can railroad society generally.”
According to Adedayo who is a member of the Nigerian Tribune editorial board, it becomes more important to elect men of integrity because the powers of political office are very enormous and the resources of society that are at the beck and call of office holders are very massive make society run the risk of its resources being funneled into individual purses.
While examining the history of political integrity in Nigeria, Adedayo said that the First Republic witnessed politicians who though were not wholly above board but were guided by traditional African ethos of “purity in character,” even at a time when Christianity had not taken roots in the emerging post-colonial society, but that immediately the military struck in 1966, integrity began to fall apart because “the military held the civil populace with great disdain and were not accountable to the ‘bloody civilians.’
He said: “The rise of public administration and the discovery of oil and natural gas are two major events which many analysts attribute to sudden increment in the level of corruption at this time in the life of the country and the gradual death of integrity… There was so much petro dollars accruable to Nigeria during the post-war era that she could not manage.
“Nineteen years after taking the baton of power from the military, integrity is still a very scarce commodity in governmental and political circles; accountability is on a life-long sabbatical while searching for men of honour in government or among politicians is akin to searching for a needle in haystack”.
He however maintained that the greatest challenge to getting leadership with integrity is the apathy of Christendom to politics.
“Our sister religion, Islam does not have same kind of disdain and aversion that Christianity has for politics. Such conceptions – I dare to call them misconceptions – as “politics is dirty,” “politicians are liars,” “politics aids backsliding” and sundry other perceptions of children of God, have alienated righteous men from politics. Unfortunately, we are always victims of this apathy,” he said.
The one-time media aide to former governor of Enugu state, added that “apart from the fact that Jesus Himself paid taxes, there were God-fearing men and women who served in public offices, according to the bible. Examples like Deborah the judge over Israel, Joseph the Prime Minister, Daniel who served under the government of Nebucchadnezar in Babylon and Nehemiah, who was a trusted official of Artaxerxes, king of Persia are often mentioned. These all confirm that whether in theocratic ancient Israel, Persia, Babylon or secular Egypt, government and its anvil, politics are not alien to God’s plan for humanity.”
While upbraiding the church as “not any different from the maggots-filled theatre of politics,” he lamented that “bigotry, fraud, immoralities of different colour, corruption, contestation with the world for worldliness, stealing, pettiness and other vices which are almost assuming a pandemic status” have taken over the church today, with many “shockingly confessing that “the moment they meet anyone who wears Christianity on their head, an alarm bell instantly rings in their head.”