Augustine C. OhanweSaturday, November 25, 2006



hen a political leader is confronted with a situation that demands the application of sophisticated economic theory, aggressive political initiative or diplomatic acumen and that person resorts to the invocation of God, it does signify that ideas are short supply. While we recogmise the right for anyone to seek inspiration, solace, or sense of direction from whatever one conceives as his or her God it sound funny if not absurd to invoke God to mow one's garden full of weeds.


In a system of government where theocracy is practised invocation of God is a welcome idea. But in a secular state such as Nigeria political leaders should be careful in their invocation of God for their political end. They reserve the right under democratic dispensation to invoke God, Shango or Amadioha provided they do so in private or in churches etc to which they are affliated instead of trotting out their faiths in the public.

During her recent visit to Abuja the newly appointed Anambra state's governor, Mrs Esiaba was asked by a journalist: "How do you feel about your present position?" Governor Etiaba responded: "It is the will of God". Asked again "What is the political situation in Anambra state?", Her reply was: "God is in control". In her response she has designated God as a politician and probably a Machiavellian too. A question that requires a swift answer is: should Anambra state economy plunges into dire straits or the entire political structure turns guagmire who will be held responsible, the Governor or God?.

When I read the Governor's "God is in control" response, my mind flashed back to my higher school years when I came across such inscription. It was pasted on the window screen of a cab I was about to board form Owerri to Enugu. The cab- driver needed two more passengers to fill the vacant seats that were beckoning to be occupied. My friend was one of the passengers inside the taxi and he requested me to come in and travel along with them. When I looked at the driver of the cab and tried to relate his mindset with the inscription on his cab I saw in him the image of a fatalist. He could sleep on the wheel and leave his car "In God's control". Based on this conclusion, I told my friend inside the cab that I had a business to transact in Owerri before leaving for Enugu. I immediately headed for the post office to dispatch some cards.

When I returned to the car park the cab had already left and I had to travel with the next. On our way we spotted an accident scene with the presence of two police officers around. On a closer observation we found out that it was the taxi that left before ours with the incription, "God is in Control".

Eye witnesses informed us that the driver was making it in a break-neck speed along the dilapidated road where pot holes dictated the speed limit. On coming across a huge pot hole, it was said that the car swirved, jolted and capsized. All perished. Their remains were sandwitched between the mangled vehicle. The police officers present never apportioned blame to God but the driver. Governor Etiaba should assume the full control of the state so that the state will not crash. She could seek divine guidance on how she could pilot the affairs of her state in her heart or inside the church she belongs to and not to use the political platform for such activities.

When president Arroyo of Philipines used the name of God to justify her position as the president she provoked the anger of religious leaders in her country. In an interview with GMA Network's dzBB radio, president Arroyo upheld that God had willed her to be the country's leader. "I believe that I am here now because it is the plan of God for me and for us" she said. A religious leader, Eddie Villanueva gave a swift response to her invocation of God saying: "How can cheating or manipulation of election results, the unabated graft and corruption in the government, the suppression of civil and political rights . be ever part of God's plan or choice?" the evangelist said in an email to the Inquirer.

Nigeria is a secular state. There are Nigerians who have been converted to Hinduism, Buddhaism and Judaism. Nigeria also has members of Traditional African Religion, Pantheism, Mohammedanism, as well Christians and multiple forms of other religions. Leaders should keep their religious beliefs to themselves and avoid irritating others with the invocation of God in State matters. Secularism does not inhibit religion. It acknowledges the existence and the practice of many religions but prefers to devote its attention to the Constitution as well as the prevailing social, economic and political realities. It is baffling to hear a political leader say: By the grace of God, the stagnant economy will start moving" without injecting any economic theory into the system. To work is to pray.