Benjamin Achi deplores the lack of consistency on matters that Nigerian religious leaders should firmly stand by the truth.

It saddens me when I see religious leaders whom God has given a voice, prevaricating on matters of equity and justice in the political space. This sneaky act of trying to play into the heart of any and every government in power that we see in some religious leaders, doesn’t smack of stability of character.

Benjamin Achi

In recent times, it has been very difficult to know exactly where some religious leaders stand in the national struggle. So far, only very few in the country have been consistent and categorical in their condemnation of the shenanigans we see in the political space, especially the fraud witnessed in the last elections. Many others are either complicit in their questionable silence or would only come out to play on words instead of calling the spade by its name. (It pains me to no end because this is the constituency I belong to).

All you hear more often is a case where religious leaders whose allegiance should be only to the truth, coming out to play on words and suggesting that the opposition should jettison their interrogation of the brazen fraud being witnessed and acquiesce to evil. The scenario playing out at the federal level is also found in some states.

Nigeria would be very far from redemption if religious leaders who should serve as moral compasses and authorities in matters of ethics and rectitude, continue behaving this way.

In recent history, we’ve seen classic examples of religious leaders who stood clearly on the path of truth during similar situations in their homelands.

The significant role that Jaime Cardinal Sin played in the People Power Revolution of 1986 that brought the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcus to its knees in the Philippines is still fresh in our memories. We also remember the cases of Archbishops Oscar Romero and Desmond Tutu in El Savado and South Africa, respectively. Those were church men of honour who paid allegiance only to the truth when the chips were down and were ready to walk the long and tortuous road with the people with some even paying the ultimate price like was the case with Archbishop Romero.

What we are seeing in Nigeria today in some religious leaders is the exact opposite of the laudable sacrifices of these great men. In our own case, we have some Nigerian religious leaders who, rather than fighting on the side of the people, are aligning themselves with corrupt politicians to hold the people down.

The French Revolution of 1789 is one example in history that should speak to every religious leader in this country at this very moment. The first heads that were chopped off at the break of that revolution were those of religious leaders, and that wasn’t without a reason. We can see some traces of anti-clericalism already but gradually rearing its ugly head, and this writer fears what would happen when it is full blown.

Like a colleague recently lamented in a forum where this matter was a subject of discourse, “Everything and everyone now has a price. Not even the houses of God are spared….”

Those lines capture exactly why the situation in our country today seems irredeemable. The fact that the institution once held sacred because it always served as the conscience of the society and would always pitch its tent with justice and rectitude has allowed itself to be so compromised and is now found to be so in bed with the perpetrators of evil in the political space is indeed a very dangerous trend.

The Christian community as a body really needs to tread with serious caution. Politics the way it is played in Nigeria demands that the Church be that circumspect.

Like I’ve said elsewhere on this subject matter, it saddens me when I see religious leaders whom God has given a voice, prevaricating on matters of equity and justice in the political space. This sneaky act of trying to play into the heart of any and every government in power that we see in some Nigerian religious leaders, doesn’t smack of stability of character. I find it quite disappointing when it comes from religious leaders who have got a voice and have commanded respect over time.

If as a religious leader God has given you a voice in a nation like Nigeria, the least you can do is to take a clear stand at very critical moments like this, and not come out to play on words.

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