A cleric, Pastor Ituah Igholado, has charged Nigerians to elect leaders of incorruptible character as no country can thrive in development with leaders that lacks morals and attitude.
Ighodal who spoke at the Annual Public Lecture organised by the Bishop Kola Onaolapo Memorial Foundation at the Institute of International Affairs, Lagos noted that for the country to make any meaningful progress, there is a need for Nigerians to elect quality leaders that are humane, incorruptible, resolute, hardworking transparent, and accessible, amongst other qualities.
He also said the Church must equally ensure good governance by giving reasonable advice to our leaders, tell them the truth and not what they want to hear.
Speaking on the theme “The Role of the Church in Enhancing Good Governance in Nigeria”, Pastor Ighodalo maintained that good governance is salient for making decisions which are effective, inclusive and transparent. He went further to state that commitment to best practices of governance and the effective deployment of available resources targeted at resolving the current challenges, are the only options for the country to move forward. He stressed that good governance is attainable only through the electoral process where the populace exercise their civic rights and vote in credible, capable leaders.
He urged Nigerians to ensure that they, at all times, pray for the nation and our leaders as well as those in positions of authority. Ighodalo drew from the biblical injunction in which the Israelites of old were commanded to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. He also called for national repentance and an insistence on righteousness/holiness, particularly amongst those saddled with the onerous task of running the affairs of the country. He cited these as part of the major roles the church must play in ensuring and enhancing good governance in Nigeria.
In his words, “The state of a Nation is determined by the quality of its leaders in government. Leaders or people in position of authority can do or undo. One of our leaders is quoted as once saying ‘After God, it is government’.”
Citing the role of education in nation building, the popular Lagos preacher bemoaned the poor state of the country’s education sector, and stated that Nigeria’s literacy rate is estimated at 61% with a large number of out-of-school children (over 10 million). Between year 2010 and 2015, 70-80% of students failed the SSCE. Universities can only accommodate 148,000 of the 1.5 million that attempt entry annually. There are academic staff shortages in all areas particularly in the critical areas of science and technology.
He further questioned why a nation such as Singapore, though not a Christian nation, applied biblical principles for governance and transformed their nation, while Nigeria, with a large population of Christians cannot follow suit. According to him, in Singapore, education, rule of law, sacrifice and delayed gratification forms the bedrock of their national outlook.
“How did other developed and thriving nations get to where they are? What were their tipping points?” he queried. “Despite having some of the best resources and greatest intellectual minds available, Nigeria continues to face challenges in good leadership.”
He underscored that good governance can only be achieved through the strict adherence to ethics, morality, equality and fairness, rule of law, discipline, hard work and sacrifice; these, he stressed, are all biblical principles.
Pastor Ighodalo referred to “non-Christian nations like Japan, China, UAE (Dubai), Singapore, Malaysia that have thrived largely on these principles. In his conclusion he maintained that the prosperity and progress of a nation is fundamentally dependent on following laid down spiritual biblical principles or laws which the church must spearhead. On his part Part the Chairman of the occasion, Pastor Taiwo Odukoya insisted that for the Church to perform a useful role in good governance christians must lean to conquer fear and aspire to the highest positions in the land.
The biennial Annual Public Lecture was instituted to immortalize the memory of late Bishop Kola Onaolapo, Founder of Abundant Life Gospel Churches, who in his life time, devoted time, energy and resources to youth talent and skills development, missionary aid and leadership capacity building. Promoting Good governance and improved living standards for all Nigerian were central to his numerous sermons and teachings.