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The impact of the new media on social discourse and growth of ideas cannot be overemphasized. News and commentaries trending on various social media platforms can no longer be ignored in view of the very deep issues they throw up. The Vortex brings for the benefit of readers, some of the trending comments on social media platforms and a response. Vote For Christ’s Leadership Principles Bobo Sofiri Brown

Good analogy but the real principles appear to be missing. To begin with, some corrections are necessary. It is Jesus Christ, the saviour of mankind,that is referred to in the article. Also Bible portions implied that even the Pharisees who concocted charges to frame Jesus Christ as enemy of the Roman Empire, were afraid of what would happen if they came to take Jesus Christ away . So they made Judas Iscariot to lead a multitude to the Master (Luke 22 v 47).

 It is quite important to note also that though Jesus Christ’s mission on earth was fundamentally spiritual, he showed physical manifestations to guide us in ascertaining truthful leadership. Thus it is only by living as Christ lived, that we can claim to be CHRISTIAN leaders.

Christ lived a life of humility, truth, self denial and placing the care for others as first priority. On the other hand, Nigeria’s politics is largely about earthly matters of state governance and how material resources are to be applied among different groups in society. How the leadership manages this task, will manifest whether there is fear of God and truth in them.

 Imagine this for a moment. What would Nigeria have looked like if all those States that claim to have Christians as governors and legislators followed the example of Christ in leadership? As Jesus Christ said, the religion or region of the ruler does not matter. It is by their fruits that we shall know if the truth is in them.

So let us try to distill from the analogy in the story, what political principles lie in the interaction between Jesus Christ and the poor in the Jewish society of his time and what they bring to Nigeria’s politics of the Fourth Republic i.e. 1999- 2019.

First of all, the principle of “ownership” or stakeholder is at stake. Those whose cause Jesus Christ fought for in the old Jewish society were largely the deprived, lowly and powerless. They had no “ownership” of the Jewish state or the management of its governance structures and benefits of state power.

Without “ownership” stake ( i.e. the capacity to perform duties and demand rights and benefits there from, they were mere spectators and not real stakeholders in the Jewish State. Since 1999 the ordinary people of Nigeria have been enslaved by a political system that denies them any viable positive stake in the nation.

They are assigned duties but have no rights they can demand. They cannot take ownership of the structures of governance e.g. political parties or those positions that exercise executive powers. Only those who have political power at state or Federal level, determine who gets party position, elective office or public appointment.

That factor of ownership has led various cabals in the leading political parties to spend billions of Naira in court processes in order to demand their right of “ownership”.  This runs from the Ward to Local Government, State and Federal levels. So the Nigerian electorate is not in practical terms treated as a stakeholder who shares in the ownership of the LGA, State or Federal Govt levels. We do not have ownership of even our PVC. We hold the PVC but how it is used has been decided by the choices presented and the process the leaders use to impose their will over the society.

Secondly the ordinary people of Jewish society were like us. They didn’t see ( i.e perceive and understand ) that what Christ was doing was to give them power to take over the struggle. By healing them spiritually and physically as applicable, Christ invited the powerless to engage with power.

Today no political leader is fighting for the masses. Rather they render us more powerless as they invest us with the duty of violence and even killing of each other, while they keep the fruits of governance for themselves, their families and friends. In countries where we learnt the fanciful job titles of political offices from, legislators are judged by how many industries and access to opportunities they bring to their home constituencies.

This is their primary duty, in order to bring jobs, opportunities and access to career benefits to ordinary people. Not so in Nigeria. Our Legislators parade before the hungry and dying, signboards that herald ”constituency project” that are mere crumbs from massive looting or dedication of public fund to their comfort.

They don’t want the people to have a positive stake in governance at any level of society or to attempt to take over ownership of processes of political power. It is only when the dirty competition for power between different gangs of political leaders leave them choking that  they are forced as a survival strategy to surrender a little room to the masses.

That is why PVC is becoming more important since 2011 election. They only want to manipulate us to “vote”, not to take “ownership”. Our democracy is about voting and giving them entitlement (we the masses are to vote while the owners of the party are ENTITLED to show us who MUST lead us! Can you believe that? Just look around you).

Our democracy is not about respect for majority will, equitable access to opportunities or fair public participation in decision making within the party system or privileges of governance.

Thirdly, Jesus Christ worked day and night to free the oppressed from spiritual and physical darkness + handicaps in their way.

He demonstrated self denial and care for others. It made the masses capable to judge good leadership as by example. Christ spoke truth to power always and disgraced the Pharisees who as parasites, sucked the blood of the poor in the name of religion.The famous dialogue between two thieves crucified with him, said so about Jesus Christ. He laid down the greatest principle about good leadership. It must be based on humility, truth, self denial and genuine care for others.

In my view the masses cannot take ownership of Christ’s mission, until we learn to demand the kind of leadership that meets the principles of humility, justice, self denial and genuine love for others as Christ embodied.

Fourthly, Jesus Christ showed the masses a new way that would lead them to happiness on earth and to eternal life. It can be seen as the ULTIMATE principle in his mission. He pointed out a HIGHER LIFE beyond what man knew at the time. But the masses were looking at life on earth, just material existence only or “business as usual”. Today our politics is about “business as usual”. We just change labels and new masters take over. No higher aspiration of how to lift every citizen above basic survival needs! Should it be so?

Such limitation of vision denies us “we the people” the mental capacity to take ownership of the struggle. In the time of Christ, the masses admired his message and were in awe of miracles he performed. Today we are in awe of the suffering we go through since 1999. Each new regime only makes the Naira and our suffering worse.

For instance in 1979, one US dollar( $) exchanged for 60 Kobo in Nigeria. By 1999, $1 was about N85. By 2009, $1 stood at about N130. While by 2015, $1 was about N180, in 2019 $1 is about N360. Why is Naira the only currency that has been depreciating since 1979? Why has no government made it a policy to grow the economy to improve the exchange rate back to what it was 20 years ago?

It is because Nigeria has been sold to the rich. That is why looting of public resources is the primary agenda of politics. Any true fight against corruption must create credible processes that reduce the fundamentals and pressure for corrupt practices in Nigeria. We are yet to see that. So the political parties are lawless structures owned by the rich.

The masses are practically rendered as mere observers and denied true participation in the affairs of the parties, because it would change their enslavement to those in power. We are thus unable to demand ownership of privileges of government or the structures that manage the process. Discussion of such issues about enslavement by people we know is not even on the political agenda.

The agenda before us is to choose which rich man will inherit Nigeria’s material “kingdom” as it is or through “restructuring” as designed by those in power. We are not made to discuss how we can build a nation to protect the dignity of every citizen or to extend equal access or privileges to all and to do justice to all!

With that as the case, all Nigerians are left to do is to choose between yesterday’s old wines. Sad as it is, let us in this election try to choose which old wine is better. Even this level of struggle chokes the gang of the rich to give us a little room. Suddenly they are no longer sure that they can deprive us totally of our right to be active stakehokders. Seems to me there is a principle here from the life of Christ.

Some of the ordinary people who heard him, curiously were still waiting for the Messiah who would come to fight a “distant” Roman Empire. They missed the point that their enslavement only “appeared” to be caused by a distant Roman Empire. Their PERCEPTION was wrongly focused on a distant Roman Empire.  But in reality it was the local system of governance that the Roman Empire used to keep them enslaved.

The people were disconnected from the struggle because of their wrong PERCEPTION of the Roman Empire as distant. Such perception took them away from their LOCAL REALITIES where Pharisees were Kings of the synagogues, controllers of local laws that governed the economy and tax collectors that took income from the poor ( ie shepherds or cattle men, carpenters as skilled workmen, fishermen and farmers), but gave to the rich such as Zacchaeus who produced nothing (except misery for the masses).

Doesn’t it sound familiar to Nigerians? It was only after Christ resurrected and ascended into Heaven that his Apostles began to mobilize the “Gentiles” to know the truth and pursue freedom from fear by speaking truth to power. We the masses of Nigeria are the “gentiles” who can free our nation from the internal enslavement by local “Pharisees” as the gang up of the rich in government and their collaborators in the churches and mosques.

Gradually the “gentiles” of Nigeria are being invested with ownership as the rich fight dirty and obey no rules, because God’s purpose remains supreme. Each round of fight between them brings us one step closer to stand as positive stakeholders. As Christ said, love of God must show in love for our fellow man through self sacrifice, justice and upholding the truth of our basic human needs, not sectional labels (e.g. religious, political or ethnic/racial identity).

We need the principles Christ projected of truth, self denial & fairness to address LOCAL REALITIES of enslavement in our political parties, LGAs and states. This is the narrow gateway to lead Nigeria to freedom from darkness of spiritual and physical enslavement.

Amaopusenibo Bobo Brown, Managing Consultant/CEO of Grain Consulting, is a former National President of Nigeria Institute of Public Relations.

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