FEATURE ARTICLE

Pastor Amos Dada Ph.D, P.EngFriday, September 29, 2017
[email protected]
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

REPAIRING NIGERIA FALLING ALTARS

congratulate Nigeria and Nigerians as we attain the complex age of 57.

That we have issues in our country is an understatement, but one can say why we have government is to tackle issues. But who is government? I guess you and I, though there are some few key political leaders or position holders in the executive, judicial and legislative arm of the three - tier governance namely, the local government, State and Federal level that change from time to time. Government is not the APC or PDP political parties, government is the people. Unfortunately, the people that formed parties have aligned themselves together and out of selfish interest misgovern our nation. The same people have been in corridor of power cross- carpeting over the years. Look at Mr. President, can you imagine how many different parties he 'joined' to get to this position? Look at others, the same people give various names to parties to come under one umbrella or the other. When one party is not serving their interest, or they lose out in one party, they move to the other. But the issues at stake and the nation of Nigeria is bigger than political parties. This article is not about any political party, it is about you and I. Until we seriously identify ourselves as the 'Government' in charge of our small or big corners and ask ourselves, am I governing well? Our nation will continue on the merry- go- round and roller coaster we have been for decades.

My interest is to get Nigeria to move forward and I believe it is possible. We should not be celebrating chronological birthday or independence anniversary as we are doing, we should be celebrating mile stones, achievements and progress made. I normally tell the youths that birthday celebration is not about posting your pictures on Facebook looking for 'likes' from friends, it is about serious evaluation of how you have spent your past year and how you plan to make your incoming year better. It is about redeeming the time. We can redeem our years as a nation if we are willing to. I remember my Secondary School days, the teachers taught us different categories of mathematics such as arithmetic, additional mathematics and complex mathematic, and they solved the maths problem! All we are looking for is to solve our multifaceted problems as a nation. One day we shall get there if we do not despair. In order for this to happen, I am proposing that we repair our fallen altars.

Before I progress let me define some terms. According to Wikipedia "Nation-building is constructing or structuring a national identity using the power of the state. Nation-building aims at the unification of the people within the state so that it remains politically stable and viable in the long run. " Nation-building generally assumes that someone or something is doing the building intentionally. You and I need to be intentional in nation building. This year has been characterized by people who are intentionally doing the opposite of nation building by various agitations for secession or disintegration. The same can be said of teachers who abandon the students in the school to sell groundnuts or engage in any other business. Likewise, the Governor that prefers media bliss at the expense of governing the state has derailed. The legislator that is only interested in his jumbo salary and making dangerous legislation that can stifle the growth of the nation is retarding the nation's progress. The Board member that uses four companies of his own to front for and award a contract to himself at an inflated price instead of a legitimate contractor is a failure in the process of intentional nation building. The judge that uses technicalities as a smokescreen to knock out the winner of a case after taking a fat bribe is doing a disservice to the nation. A parent that aids and abets his/her child to cheat in NECO, JAMB, influences the NYSC posting and secure a job for that child based on nepotism and favoritism and not on merit is building a bad altar for the future generation. A government that uses governmental apparatus to make lopsided appointment is not interested in nation building, but intentionally destroying the nation.

According to Professor Jeremi Suri research at The University of Texas Austin, successful nation-building efforts must incorporate five principles:

  • Partners: Nation-building always requires partners; there must be communication between people on the ground and people in distant government offices.

  • Process: Human societies do not follow formulas. Nation-building is a process which does not produce clear, quick results.

  • Problem-solving: Leadership must start small, addressing basic problems. Public trust during a period of occupation emerges from the fulfillment of basic needs.

  • Purpose: Small beginnings must serve larger purposes. Citizens must see the value in what they're doing.

  • People: Nation-building is about people. Large forces do not move history. People move history.

The primary objective of nation-building is to make a violent society peaceful by providing security, food, shelter, and basic services for the nation.

When Boko Haram, Herdsmen, kidnapers and secessionists of all shades are threatening the peace of the nation and the power that be are insensitive or seems to be incapable of handling this we are on a dangerous terrain. As a former Petroleum refinery Staff, one of the things that won my sympathy for the Federal government was the promise to build four refineries. Today, what we are hearing is who will be their presidential candidate for 2019 election when not even one refinery is built. The last thing I will do is to support the disintegration of our nation or cast my vote for secession of any part of the nation, but I watched the video footage of the street where the Army used their might on Nnamdi Kalu's residence and I saw an untarred road! I may not be correct but for 57 years of nationhood, 80% or so of Nigerian roads are untarred. Where are the infrastructures? Nigerian are tired of even talking about power sector because they prefer to make excuses than provide solutions. Friends, economic and political objectives can be pursued only when basic needs are met. The Yorubas do say 'ebi kii wo nu koro miran wo' meaning, when a person is hungry, such cannot afford to listen to any other word at all!

My focus will be problem- solving from the spiritual perspective defined as "Repairing the fallen altar". Altar is a spiritual vocabulary that is relevant at our time. The question you may wish to ask is, what is an altar with respect to a nation and why is it important? An altar refers to the spirit sphere of a man. Simply put, it is a symbol of a place(s) where presumably humanity and divinity meet, the celestial and the terrestrial. Humans are visible, divinity is not. This intersection of the heart is their meeting place. Whether you believe it or not, the fact is that every human being is made up of visible and invisible component. The visible component is known as flesh and the invisible is known as the inner man- soul and spirit. The mystery of this combination is that so much is known about the human physiology and a little is known about the spirit, and yet the invisible controls the visible, the spirit controls the flesh. Even nations are ruled by spirits, take it or leave it. Our nation's altar is broken, deformed and it needs urgent repair. Until the hearts of Nigerians are rebuilt towards nationhood, we are just rabble rousers.

When God called Abraham in Gen 12 he told him point blank you will be a nation builder: "And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:" (Gen 12:2) Every man is not just a potential nation or generation but also a potential nation builder. Abraham had no clue of how he could build a nation but he knew he had to communicate with God. The first thing he did was that he built an altar. "And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD. (Gen 12:8)

From one point to the other we can see the correlation between nation building and altars in the process of building the Israel nation. No lasting and fulfilling nation is built without an altar. Not even the separation of state and religion can change the fact that the people who constitute a nation are religious. Recently, there was a circulation on the social media about the achievements of the nation of Israel - a people of 8 million, in 70 years of existence as a nation. The Prime Minster who gave the catalogue of achievements concluded by attributing the attainment to the influence of Yaweh whose throne is represented by the altar. Thus, any time Israel is in trouble they go back to the altar. Interestingly, the first mention of Altar was from Noah immediately after the deluge. He apparently did that for two reasons (1) To appreciate God for rescuing the remnants from the destruction by the flood (2) To ask for mercy and guidance in the process of earth rebuilt. Similarly, the whole issue of tabernacle building in the wilderness by Moses and his patriot is about one purpose - the altar. The whole story about building and rebuilding the Solomon's temple is about the altar. When the Midianites were troubling Israel and God wanted to help them out by motivating Gideon to take leadership position, Gideon's first practical action was to raise an altar, after which God corrected him to first destroy the idolatrous altars of his father's house.

But the most popular account on the matter of the altar was the one with Elijah. The whole nation as usual had gone totally astray. You may wish to judge the people of Israel as they seemed to find it so easy to go astray but I don't. The reality is that human nature is prone and skewed to disobedience. It is so easy to destroy than to build. Why Nigeria find it so easy to destroy their altars is a question that will generate multiple interest? Only a naive person will think that our politicians from diverse ethnic groups in the nation are not altar dependent. The problem though is that most time they operate on evil altars, even when they are guided to the right altar they ignore it. I can never forget several years ago, a sister brought her brother from Akwa Ibom to me at the NNPC housing estate where I was living then in Warri for prayer ministration. After I had spent about 3 hours of my life dealing with the issues of this man, the sister who brought her said he had another appointment. I was curious to know what the appointment was about so I asked her. I will never forget her response in a hurry. She told me that the governor of the state sent him to Warri to look for crocodiles! Meanwhile, the governor who is looking for reptile sacrifices had hired pastor who are praying in his office daily! The man who came to me is supposedly a born-again Christian who is looking for peculiar materials to offer through the altar of their state governor.

But for every generation God raises nation builder and altar repairers. For Nigeria to become a better society and the nation we all dream of, the falling altar must be repaired. You may want to pose questions at me such as; don't we have enough churches and mosques? Why are we still where we are? What are they doing in those churches and mosques that our nation instead of making progress seems to be declining, depreciating and disintegrating? Almost everyone in the country either carry a Bible or a Quran yet, we seem to be going from good to bad, worse to worst, Why? I strongly believe the reason for this terrible situation lies in the fact that the altars in the churches and the mosques have fallen. We have turned the bible and the Quran faced down and marched over them. We have refused or rejected the content of the scriptures in principle and in practice. Nigerians have become a nation of hearers of the word and not doers of same. I will not make a sweeping statement that all Nigerian are corrupt to the core but our situation is like the story in Gen 18. The Bible records that the corruption in Sodom and Gomorrah was so terrible, more like it gave God sleepless nights and the Trinity came to a conclusion that the nations had to be destroyed. However, God was reluctant to do so being a just God that respects altars. He approached the human altar called Abraham and told him - I am about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah for their sins stink to heavens. My dear friend, what do you think and advice? Abraham pleaded for God to use statistic of apparent God-fearing indices and personalities. He started from 50 till he went down to 10. He asked God that if he found only 10 righteous people in the place will He destroy it? Abraham the great intercessor was of the opinion that there is no way there will not be ten God fearing people in a nation. He missed it, God could not find ten and as they say, the rest is history. Fire and brimstone rained and destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. I don't know how many righteous people are in Nigeria, I do not know if God's yardstick has changed because of the altar Jesus raised at the Cross but we need to repair the altar so that God will not destroy our nation. I believe that Nigeria is not irredeemable. Our nation Nigeria could be likened to a people on a journey. We know our destination - a place of security, good governance, economic prosperity, and highly developed infrastructures, but whether we shall get there and when we shall get there depends on us. How fast a person who is driving a car gets to his or her destination depends on the speed of the car assuming all other parts of the car are functioning optimally. Unfortunately our car as a nation is at the auto mechanic workshop and body shop, it is not drivable now.

In 1Kings 18 when the great altar repairer was about to repair the altar, Elijah took 12 stones and thus symbolically repaired the altar of each tribe of Israel. The best we can do is to use each state and the Federal capital to represent the altars of Nigeria. Therefore, I hereby offer these 37 socio-spiritual altars that need urgent repair so we can refuel the great automobile call Nigeria and put it at auto cruise in order to get to our destination safely:

1. The altar of truth

2. The altar of honesty

3. The altar of integrity

4. The altar of righteousness

5. The altar of unity

6. The altar of wisdom for governance

7. The altar of knowledge

8. The altar of love for one another

9. The altar of serving the true God

10. The altar of praying the right prayer

11. The altar of national building

12. The altar of accountability,

13. The altar of transparency,

14. The altar of hard work,

15. The altar of entrepreneurship,

16. The altar of trustworthiness,

17. The altar of patriotism,

18. The altar of sincerity,

19. The altar of care for one another.

20. The altar of probity

21. The altar of reliability

22. The altar of dependability

23. The altar of virtue

24. The altar of tolerance

25. The altar of justice

26. The altar of commitment to nation building

27. The altar of creativity and innovation

28. The altar of contentment

29. The altar of resourcefulness

30. The altar of diligence

31. The altar of excellence

32. The altar of godliness

33. The altar of respect for rule of law

34. The altar of allegiance to our nation

35. The altar of development

36. The altar of nationalism

37. The altar of care for this generation and the generations to come.

There could be more. You are at liberty to look at the altars you have paticipated in breaking down and if you will just repair it our nation will bounce back.

My call is to President Buhari and all the citizens of Nigeria born and unborn - Repair your altars. Nigerians seem to like the blame game but Jesus was against such. He said "And why worry about a speck in your friend's eye[s] when you have a log in your own? 4 How can you think of saying to your friend,[d] 'Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,' when you can't see past the log in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye." Matt 5:3-5

In conclusion, it is debateable if Nigerians have anything to celebrate at this time. At least we are alive as a nation to mark 57 years of Independence, for that we are grateful to God. My prayer is that we Nigerians at home and abroad, in political offices and otherwise, civilians and military personnel, Christians and Muslims, Ibos, Hausas and Yorubas, rich and poor, judiciary, legislative and executive arms of government, politicians and non-politicians, businessmen/women and contractors, students and lecturers, medical personnel and patients, industrialists and manufacturers, pastors and congregants, all and sundry will recognize where our altars have broken down and fallen. Where we are corrupt, wicked, intolerant, deceitful, hypocritical, manipulative, selfish, irresponsible, nepotistic, tribal, and urgently repair our altars.

I urge every Nigerian to take even a step further to become an Elijah of our generation for our nation. Elijah was a peculiar man, with a peculiar resume coupled with a peculiar anointing. The bible was silent on his bio- data and family background but very emphatic about his purpose which was to get the derailed, idol worshiping, God rejecting and forsaken nation of Israel to return to the true but jealous God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. There are seven levels of altars one can engage him/herself in namely; personal, family, church, city, region, nation and continent. If each Nigerian will make repairing these altars our preoccupation as well as become our brother's keeper and social reformer of our nation, one year is too long to see a transformed nation. I pray Nigerian and Nigerians will overcome the self-inflicted wounds we now suffer. I pray Nigeria will forever be a nation and not balkanize herself whether peacefully through any form of restructuring process or forcefully through violence and war for whatever reason.

Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria

Happy 57th independence anniversary.

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