From Magnus Eze, Abuja The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Friday, invaded the corporate headquarters of telecommunication company, MTN Nigeria and the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) to protest anti labour practices. The workers took the action as part of activities to support and celebrate the World Decent Work Day, marked worldwide. Issues of decent work,…
GOD forbid! There was no way I would have missed this! Just no way!
My friend, brother, Pastor Sam Aiyedogbon, founder of the Realm of Glory Church, Okota, the man I nicknamed “The Chief Catalyst” or “The Catalyst-in-chief” was officially going to launch his new baby—an organisation called Catalyst For Global Peace and Justice Initiative (CPJ).
I had monitored the baby since conception. I had closely observed every move in the womb—how the baby was doing. I was waiting for the D-day. The day CPJ would be born and presented to the public. I was on vacation in the UK when Pastor Aiyedogbon’s long-distance phone call came, announcing that the launch had been fixed for September 17. I had to cut short my vacation to be present. I was not the only one. The chairperson of the occasion, the great woman of Africa, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili also had to choose between attending the United Nations function and chairing the launch of CPJ. She chose the latter.
All roads led last Saturday morning to Golden Tulip Hotel, Festac town, Lagos, venue of the official launch of CPJ. The invitation card said it all: “It’s time to stand and be a credible voice for truth.” The theme of the launch: “Activating credible commitment for good governance and social justice.” Keynote Speakers: Dr. Sam Amadi and Dr. Otivie Igbuzor.
The one person who stole the show was the chairperson Dr. Ezekwesili. Was I surprised? This is one woman who would not fail to invent news. Whenever she opens her mouth, it’s filled with good and bad news. The journalist in me prefers the bad news, because that is what sells. As a woman of faith, she didn’t equally disappoint, when it came to delivering the “Good News” from the pulpit of her beautiful soul.
Both as a preacher and soapbox guru, this is one woman you can count on to deliver the goods. This is the woman about whom Pastor Tony Rapu once prophesied on discerning her powerful spiritualism: “Your pulpit is not in the church. Your pulpit is in the nations of the world. Your pulpit is in the government.”
This is the woman who believes that secular and spiritual assignments are intertwined. “If my kingdom assignment is to clean the gutter, I will clean the gutter,” she told her spiritually charged, Hallelujah-shouting audience. As a biographer, it dawned on me that this woman would be a good subject—particularly her heroic role as the face of the famous kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls. She also fits into the book I am writing on “Boardroom Leadership and Corporate Governance.” How else would I exclude from this epic book, this woman of integrity nicknamed “Madam Due Process”? This woman who is on the board of the Indian-owned Bharti Airtel, one of the world’s leading telecommunications firm which operates in 20 countries. This woman who is biologically a mother of boys but sees herself as the godmother of the stolen Chibok girls.
Dr. Ezekwesili amazes me. She will mount the rostrum without a teleprompter, without jottings, without anything, yet out of her erudite brain spews out words of wisdom, words of anguish, words of pain, words of lamentation, words that make us wonder: What went wrong with Nigeria and our leaders? How did we bungle it, with the so much treasures, resources and talents the Good Master endowed us and expected us to make profitable use of while He travelled faraway on a long journey—to quote from the parable of the talents.
This is why Aiyedogbon envisioned CPJ—an organisation that serves as a catalyst for change, an organisation with the core values of justice, equality, commitment, integrity, peace and good governance.
“CPJ is a faith-based organisation set up by committed and credible Christian leaders across many nations committed to the enthronement of peace, prosperity and social justice for all nations,” Aiyedogbon explains. “The formation of CPJ is based on the understanding of the role of human government to protect citizens, punish those who do wrong and promote the general welfare of citizens…”
CPJ, he further explains, is about good governance. “Without an appropriate governance structure, developing countries will not be able to either sustain economic growth or momentum towards rapid poverty reduction. It is the objective of this focus area to support communities, youths, women and their organisations to engage public officials and institutions to be accountable for provision of quality, timely, social and judicial services.”
Latching on this, Ezekwesili, preached a sermon on Nigeria, a country plagued by coups and successive bad governments—both military and civilian—which impeded the building of institutions needed to make Nigeria great. She talked about what it takes to have good governance, namely: Accountability, Inclusion and Participation. She mentioned two countries that got independence from Gt. Britain about the same time as Nigeria: Botswana and Singapore. In the case of Botswana, it grew “from being a dependent nation to become one of the few middle-income countries in Africa. It discovered diamond eventually, but its diamond didn’t ruin it.
“The second country is Singapore, a country considered so irrelevant by their neighbour Malaysia, that it was kicked out of the Malay Union. But the leadership focused on building institutions and the development of human capital. Singapore, a country without oil, without land today has a GDP capital of nearly $60,000 compared to Nigeria’s $3,250. What is responsible for the performance of these countries? Good governance! What distinguishes the performance of these countries from the performance of our own country is good governance. And if you don’t believe me, you will believe the words of the founder of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew who, when asked what explains this transformation of Singapore compared to countries in Africa with similar colonial history said: ‘It wasn’t anything dramatic. We found a few right things and continued to do them right.”
“What is the definition of righteousness?” Ezekwesili asked, offering her own sardonic answers: “Singapore doesn’t have a population that gathers and says to the Holy Spirit: ‘Sweep the street for us. Holy Spirit, come and pick the trash for us. Holy Spirit, come and use the budget of the ministries of health and education well for us. Holy Spirit, come and punish those who commit abomination in the land for us. If therefore a remnant has woken up to the idea that good governance and social justice are the foundation of God’s grace, so let it be.”
She ended with a bombshell which detonated a home truth: “Nigeria is blessed with a very huge percentage of Christians in our business sector, in our government, in our communities, who can quote the Bible absolutely. Many of them scratch invoices, many of them inflate contracts, many of them oppress those who are not from their own ethnic group, many of them practise witchcraft, many of them are unjust. So simply saying you are a Christian doesn’t give you the credentials of a catalyst.
“My passing word is for each individual to really do a self-assessment. It must start with me as an individual to say: Am I really prepared to be a catalyst? Such a conversation is necessary. I have seen some Christians go into government and the next thing you know they are assimilated into the mess. And you wonder: Is this the same brother? To be a catalyst is extremely costly. Are you able to pay that cost? Because if you are not able to pay that cost, you are not a catalyst.”
*(CPJ is at 146 Bode Thomas, Surulere, Off Adeniran Ogunsanya,09055222227 [email protected], www.cpjglobal.org)