President Goodluck Jonathan, governors, ministers and top government officials on Sunday failed to demonstrate a public commitment to the fight against corruption.
At the interdenominational church service held at the Ecumenical Centre, Abuja, to commemorate the 2012 National Democracy Day, the guest preacher and immediate past Prelate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, Most Reverend Peter Akinola, in his sermon, challenged the congregation to join him in the fight against corruption in the country by committing perpetrators to God.
But the congregation, including the President, who was accompanied by his wife, Patience, the Governor of Bayelsa, Seriake Dickson and Kaduna, Patrick Yakowa, Deputy Governor of Nasarawa state, Dameshi Luka, as well as some ministers failed to respond to prayers to take corrupt officials “to the court of God.”
Apparently, expecting to hear a thunderous YES from the congregation, the Reverend, who instead got a deafening silence, exclaimed: “There you go! Oh, corruption! So, you are not ready to fight it, because you are all beneficiaries of it. Whether you steal in a small or big way, stealing is stealing."
Apparently disappointed with the response he got, the clergyman shot angrily at Mr. Jonathan and his delegation, “See, it is very clear. You are not interested in fighting corruption. If you do, let us take our case to the court of God, if you dare. Who is deceiving who? You are only deceiving yourselves, not God. And you who is stealing government funds, subjecting the poor to untold hardship; you who steal oil subsidy money, making Nigerians pay for fuel through their noses; you who steal funds meant for improving our power supply, deliberately making Nigerians live a life in utter darkness, will you repent today? I doubt it!"
Before throwing the challenge at the president and other officials at the Service, Mr. Akinola had delivered a homily on the destructive impact of corruption on Nigeria.
“This hydra headed monster (of corruption) has literarily taken over the soul and eaten up the fabric of Nigeria,” Reverend Akinola said. “Officials steal our public funds openly by the pen, while others steal by the power of the gun. Successive governments have declared half-hearted war against corruption to no avail. We know only too well that the fight against corruption is largely selective directed at those opposing the government, with no strong political connection.
“Many of those fighting it (corruption) in police and Judiciary have no clean hands. When any National Assembly Committee or any government agency is inviting anybody for questioning it is because those being investigated have not yet given the agency inviting it their due share of the booty.
“Worse still, those who have cleverly made away with public funds and are living above their legitimate incomes are those who are being honoured by traditional rulers, who make them chiefs and high chiefs. Recently, our universities have joined the queue by inviting those people and giving them some baseless honorary doctorate degrees.Sadly, therefore, corruption will continue in full gear, because Nigerians and the government only pay lip service to its eradication. But, I believed as a Christian, as a preacher, as one who reads the Bible, there a way out."
He continued, “Corruption in a narrow sense is another name for stealing. Stealing is a sin God commands us all not to commit. As you know every soul that sins and fails to repent shall die in his sin and end up in hell. So, let us resolve here today to take to the court of God, beginning from this place, all those thieves, who have failed to repent. Will you join me?
“You who steal the money for road construction, leaving our roads in a state of disrepair, causing several accidents and untimely deaths of thousands of our people, their blood is crying to the creator. You who steal the money earmarked for healthcare delivery, thereby running down and turning our hospitals into mortuaries; you who have destroyed our educational system, because the money meant for schools never got to them; you who make laws to inflate costs included in the budget, are you listening to me?
“All of you, whoever you are, greedy, arrogant politicians and officials who are in government only for what you can steal from it and virtually nothing to contribute to national development and has turned Nigeria into a wretch, repent today, and make reparations and God will have mercy on you. Don't say Amen, only if you repent.
“It is true that ICPC, EFCC, the Police, judiciary may not catch you stealing. But believe me, the all-seeing, all-knowing, all-wise and the almighty God sees you very clearly. But, He is patiently waiting for you to return to the path of sanity and righteousness.”
In his speech, President Jonathan did not react to the issues raised by the preacher, who also proffered a proposal for a new Nigeria.
The president, who identified terrorism as a major challenge the country is currently facing, said with the prayers of Nigerians and commitment of government, “we will overcome”.
“We are working very hard to reposition our security architecture to cope with the modern challenge of terror. We will overcome,” he said. “Even though some people are predicting the disintegration of Nigeria, let me assure Nigerians that Nigeria will never disintegrate. Our forefathers worked hard to bring us together as a nation. Because of the country's potentials and resources, no one individual or group can create problems that can disintegrate this country.”