Covocation Lecture By Kayode Fayemi
Good Shepard Major Seminary Graduation Ceremony
1. Let me start by expressing gratitude to His Grace, my Lords, the Rector, religious and the graduands for inviting me to share my thoughts with you on a topic that previews the place and role of the Church in the political system of Nigeria, especially as it regards future elections. One is sometimes reluctant to discuss issues like this because of the possibility of misinterpretation of intention that may detract from the primary objective of the lecture – especially at a time that the landscape of our country is pockmarked by institutional dysfunction and security challenges.
2. Almost every day, news headlines scream with reports of terrorism, banditry, drug abuse, arson, and secession threats, all of which deepen a collective pessimism about our society’s prospects. There is a pervasive sense of uncertainty, anxiety and near-hopelessness about our common future. Most dangerously, many people no longer see a clear, scrupulous path to a decent and fulfilling life. Some of our young people are entranced by the possibility of upward mobility through fraudulent acts and a variety of get-rich quick schemes that reflect our societal bias for instant gratification and miraculous wealth. Others have been initiated into cultism, prostitution, human trafficking and political violence.
3. It is not just high-level graft that ails us. We must reckon with the various instances of low-level corruption that are everyday experiences. These instances in which we are often compelled to negotiate compromises with our consciences are so frequent, that it is no understatement to say that corruption has become part of the cultural topography of our society. Just from commuting on our roads, there is evidence that our society is contemptuous of rule and order. As a people, we no longer regard the norms of civility and mutual respect. All that matters is to get ahead at any cost.
4. Yet, in all of this, Nigeria is at the centre of one of the most fascinating role reversals in history. She has become a missionary exporting nation and now sends hundreds of priests to the West, carrying a unique brand of spirituality. Christianity, as we know it on our shores, is no longer at the bequest of foreign missionaries. It has become a genuinely Nigerian religion. Indeed, some scholars now argue that the epicenter of global Christianity is no longer in the West, but has moved to the Southern hemisphere, and that Nigeria is an important new hub.
5. All these suggest that the defining contradiction of Nigerian life at present is a coincidence of increasing religiosity and declining public morality. We are witnessing a universalization of religious syntax and symbolism across various domains of society, ranging from politics to popular culture, at a time when our ethical capital is being depleted. Churches are proliferating in the midst of social and moral squalor. Worse still, some desperate individuals also exploit our socio-religious plurality to weaponise suspicions and trade in divisions.
The Theology of Disengagement
6. What is responsible for this profound dissonance between our extravagant religiosity and our alarming deficit of public virtue regarding the phenomenon of high church growth and the nose-diving public morality, we can agree with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who once warned, “We must not be tempted to confuse spiritual power and large numbers… and increase in quantity does not automatically bring an increase in quality. A larger membership does not correspond to increased commitment to Christ.”
7. To a large extent, the flagrant contradiction between our religious and social conduct is the result of the dominant strand of a theology over the past three decades. Widespread pessimism about the prospects of the Nigerian project has found expression in a theology of dis-engagement or non-engagement. It has roots in the wave of ‘Holiness’ churches that emerged during the mid-1970s.
8. Preaching an austere spirituality that prioritized personal moral rectitude and Spartan discipline as the hallmarks of righteousness, these churches depict the world as a field of profanity. Engagement in secular affairs was considered an entanglement that posed the risk of subverting one’s salvation. The only legitimate sphere of social engagement was fellowship within the church itself. The larger society was a lost cause and a cursed estate. All efforts were to be directed at fulfilling the level of righteousness required to qualify for heaven and a wide distance maintained between the society and the faithful. Parents, family members and members of the immediate community who are not members of the “Holiness” gospel were to be avoided like a plague.
9. This dichotomy between the sacred and the secular is essential to understanding the bipolar approach to business, politics, and public life. It did not take too long for the recipients of this theological programming to be face with disillusionment. Beginning from the early 1980s, the austere ‘Holiness’ movement was displaced by a more buoyant and vivacious Christian movement that advertised God’s relationship with individuals in more material terms. According to this new theological narrative, God is committed to blessing the individual in the here and now and not just in the afterlife. This commitment is expressed in miracles, healing, financial breakthrough, and the guaranteed general wellbeing of the Christian. This brand of spirituality became more salient from the mid-1980s following the end of the oil boom, the implementation of the structural adjustment programme, and consequent near extinction of the middle class.
10. In a climate of recession and economic uncertainty, a theology that casts salvation as a route to divinely enabled upward mobility resonated and it fuelled a proliferation of churches across the country. The increasingly popular resort to faith was accentuated by the political instability and repressions occasioned by a succession of military dictatorships right up till the late 1990s.
11. The essential dichotomy of the secular and sacred remained. This centres on projecting the gospel’s redemptive properties into cities of refuge where beleaguered citizens flee from the depredations of a dysfunctional state. The theology of this movement which is loosely described as the ‘Prosperity’ gospel interprets salvation in overwhelmingly personal terms. It has little conception of the society or common good. This theology can be literally explained in the declarative prayer associated with it: “No matter how terrible Nigeria becomes, I and my household must prosper”.
12. In this theology, the individual is spiritually primed to achieve material success in spite of the society. Indeed, the subtext of this theology is that events in the society are inconsequential to the fortunes of the individual believer. The individual in a personal sense is at the centre of God’s love, grace, and redemptive plan. It is not surprising that what has emerged is a highly compartmentalized religiosity; one that perceives no moral obligation in the public space and in which the happiness of the individual is paramount. This is a broad-brush description of the Christian scene in Nigeria. It does not apply to all churches, but it is a fairly accurate portrait of the general complexion of Christianity in Nigeria.
Between God and Caesar
13. Historically, Nigerian Christians (like our contemporaries worldwide) have had to debate the extent of their social and political engagement in the context of the biblical admonition to render unto Caesar things that belong to Caesar. The axiom comes from the incident in the New Testament when Jesus was asked whether it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar. He replied by asking for a coin and questioning his interrogators as to whose image and inscription the coin bore. “Caesar’s” they replied.
14. Well, Jesus said, since the coin bore Caesar’s imprint then it was lawful for those who lived in Caesar’s domain to render back to him his rightful taxes and to render to God what belonged to God. Traditionalists construe this dictum as an injunction against Christian involvement in politics. Indeed, it has been seized upon by opponents of Christian’s active participation in public life, to argue that religion and politics do not mix. It has become the kernel of a theology of non-engagement.
15. On the other hand, advocates of Christian public engagement offer a richer and more nuanced understanding of his principle. Since Caesar himself was made in the image of God, it follows that his humanity, empire and taxes, and therefore the politics of running the empire and administering the taxes, must be submitted to God who wields ultimate sovereignty over creation. This is supported by scripture that expressly declares that”…the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men…” One of the ways the almighty demonstrates His sovereignty in the affairs of men is through the activities of regenerated men and women in public life-men and women who fear God and submit to him as vessels through which His will is done on earth as it is in heaven.
16. The conundrum of Christians who desire to engage constructively in the workings of their society and are yet wary of confusing the domains of Caesar and God can be summarized thus: are holiness and social responsibility mutually exclusive or complements? Can we live out both ideals or does one have to nullify the other? Is it possible to be holy and socially engaged? Is it possible to be deeply committed to the faith and also be an active citizen?
17. I believe that this synthesis of civic and spiritual tasks is not only possible but absolutely necessary. As John Wesley said, “There is no holiness but social holiness.” Every Christian has two responsibilities. The first is to put on the mind of Christ; the second is to carry that mentality into the public square- into whatever is public, whether that means the media, the marketplace, the academia, the trade union, or parliament.
18. My view on this issue has been forged over the course of a lifetime. I was born into Catholic Church in which the belief that the church must be an active agent of social justice and political transformation was rife. As a young man, I started out my public service as an altar boy and the lessons there influenced my upbringing and lifelong reflection on the place of values in shaping society. My involvement in students unionism, pro-democracy activism and civil society engagement and founding of the Centre for Democracy and Development and my eventual involvement in partisan politics – all derive from the social activism of Catholics.
19. The defining principle of my moral upbringing is that emulating Jesus Christ is not just a spiritual endeavor but a revolutionary posture expanding the frontiers of justice in society. It is about serving a higher purpose and locating the right vocational channels through which to actualize one’s spiritual commitment. This understanding of the faith has guided me through my years at the frontlines of pro-democracy activism in exile and my service in public office.
Christian Political Engagement in Nigeria
20. It is significant that the Christian contribution to Nigeria was acknowledged on the very first day of our journey as an independent nation. In his Independence Day speech in 1960, Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa acknowledged that the story of Nigeria will be incomplete without the endeavours of the missionaries and affirmed them as being among “those who made Nigeria”. This was by no means an overstatement. Many Nigerians even today are direct and indirect beneficiaries of the missionaries’ legacy. Through their schools, the first generation elites of this nation were raised. Through missionary education, many of our parents acquired the tools with which they embarked on their quest for upward mobility. As an alumnus of a mission school myself, I can certainly testify to the quality of training we received that sharpened us both morally and intellectually. I suspect that many of us here will say the same.
21. Even so, the Christian contribution to Nigeria went beyond mission schools. The story of the faith communities is entwined with the evolution of the nationalist struggle. According to the late historian, Emmanuel Ayandele, from the late 19th century onward, “the church became the cradle of Nigerian nationalism, the only forum of nationalist expression until the beginnings of the indigenous press after 1879, and the main focus of nationalist energies until after 1914.” The campaign to indigenize Christianity, which set Nigerian ministers against paternalistic and racist sentiments within the missionary establishment, prefigures the nationalist quest for self-rule. The eventual establishment of African churches run by indigenous pastors was part of the political awakening stirred by the natives’ discovery of the Bible’s notions of equality and justice. This tradition was carried on by great cultural nationalists such as the Reverends James Johnson, Mojola Agbebi, Josiah Ransome-Kuti and Bishop Ajayi Crowther.
22. The indigenous clerics saw their struggle to assume control of their own spiritual destinies as a prelude to the ultimate achievement of self-rule. Indeed, the schism that led to the establishment of an African Church in 1905, was in part, a protest supporting indigenization of the Church in Nigeria. The linguistic codification of the indigenous languages starting with Yoruba, Nupe, Igbo and Hausa and the rest were mainly undertaken by the early missionary leaders.
23. Consequently, Christians were very involved in the first stirrings of nationalist activism. All the members of the Legislative Council from 1886 to 1914 were either ministers or ardent churchmen. The first Nigerian newspaper came off the same press with the first Yoruba Bible. It was a missionary trained Christian, Dr. Russell Dikko, who conceived the cultural society that eventually became the Northern People’s Congress. Bishop Ajayi Crowther’s grandson, Herbert Macaulay, was the leading nationalist figure of the 1920s in a burgeoning nationalist movement that included Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, wife of Reverend Josiah Ransome-Kuti.
24. Influenced by the British Labour Party (which bore the intellectual stamp of Christian socialist orientation) Obafemi Awolowo propounded a political ethics that was rooted in Christian moral and Fabian socialist tradition, arguing that religion and politics were complementary and that “the most beneficial political system derives its tenets and practices from the great religions.” He saw a natural congruence between Christianity and socialism and appropriated the biblical phrase ‘Life More Abundant’ to encapsulate the ideals of his political party, the Action Group, and defined it as freedom from British rule, freedom from ignorance, freedom from disease and freedom from want. “In the process of bringing out the best that is in man, and of enabling him to live a healthy and happy life, the agencies of politics and religion must work in harmonious cooperation. The eradication of ignorance, disease, and want is the utmost concern of politics and religion.
25. For Awolowo, the golden rule, empathy, love our neighbour as ourselves, which summarizes the law and the prophets and indeed, the great moral traditions, constitute the cornerstone of a society. Any system based on greed and naked selfishness is bound to generate social disequilibrium, progressively degenerating until it suffers extinction and yields place to a system that either approaches or approximates the ideal of love. In the public domain, this love takes the form of social justice, fairness, and a commitment to equity. From the foregoing, it is clear that Christians had an investment in the very foundations of our nation that was far more than tangential.
26. In subsequent years, Christians have become more visible in social activism and politics, whether as elected officials or under the umbrella of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) which presented a common voice for the Christian community to national political leaders. But there is much more that we can do to articulate an intelligent social and political engagement agenda that is rooted in our values and vision, and calibrated to address the challenges facing a religiously diverse society.
The Catholic in the Political Vineyard
27. In spite of the history of Catholicism worldwide, many Catholics still see politics as a dirty game and for this reason, are disengaged from the political process. This view stems from more of our nation’s political experiences rather than actual scriptural principles. Nigerians see the average politician as venal, greedy, corrupt and a parasitic leech, feeding fat on their frustrations and looting the country blind. However, once we accept the Pauline injunction in Rom. 13:1-7 that civil authority is an agency divinely instituted to promote justice and order, then politics, which is the enabler of that agency, becomes necessary.
28. Indeed, the Catholic Church‘s social teachings have laid the foundation for political consciousness and development since the 19th century. This corpus of teachings formed the basis for the development of Christian political action in Europe. In fact, it is to the credit of Pope Leo XIII that the concept of social justice has become a global idea at the centre of policy and governance. This pioneering encyclical Rerum Novarum (1891) forms the basis for the Catholic’s social teaching and is at the core of socio-economic policies across the world that is aimed at doing justice to the disadvantaged segment of the society through deliberate affirmative actions and implementation of policies that aim to elevate the poor and protect the vulnerable.
29. Even in recent times, the Catholic church has been giving directions in this respect. In 1995, after the historic synod of Bishops on Africa, Pope John Paul II, now St John Paul II, published the Post-Synodal Exhortation titled, Ecclesia in Africa. In it, he raised a vital question in which he asked: Has the church in Africa sufficiently formed the lay faithful, enabling them to assume competently their civic responsibilities and to consider the socio-political problems in the light of the Gospel and of faith in God? (Ecclesia in Africa, par.54).
30. His successor, Pope Benedict XVI published his first Encyclical titled, Deus Caritas Est (God is Love) in 2006. On the same path with his predecessor, he said: “The Church cannot and must not take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible. She cannot and must not replace the State. Yet at the same time, she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice. She has to play her part through rational argument and she has to awaken the spiritual energy without which justice, which always demands sacrifice, cannot prevail or prosper” Par 28.
31. There is therefore a host of compelling reasons for Christians to participate in politics and governance. First, as citizens of the nation-state, we have the civic duties as all citizens have, including paying taxes, voting and supporting the candidates that we believe best qualify to hold public office. Second, the necessity of vigilant citizenship as a safeguard for our democracy also compels us to become activists, either seeking office through the ballot or assisting those who do so in various areas of public service. As the Catholic Bishops’ Conference inspired us in the heat of military dictatorship in 1996, “Whatever makes us good Catholics makes us good citizens.” Our discipleship ought to make us the very sort of citizens that our nation needs.
32. As citizens of the kingdom of God, we have a responsibility to bring a transcendent standard of righteousness and justice to bear upon the institutions that shape our earthly lives. The biblical aphorism “righteousness exalts a nation” simply means that a nation that does not do the right things will not be exalted. In this context, righteousness refers to the right standard of conduct. When we venture into the public square, we have a responsibility to establish accurate patterns of due process, accountability, and public policy. Sound fiscal policy is righteousness. Integrity is righteousness. Fairness is righteousness, just as sound principles.
33. These enhance the quality of governance and transform socio-political institutions and structures. One example of how my Christian faith has influenced my governance pattern can be seen in how my administration structured our social security scheme. The bible admonishes variously that we should cater for the vulnerable in the society as the practice of true religion.
34. For example, in Ekiti, since my first tenure between 2010 – 2014 and my return in 2018, we have made care for the vulnerable a major plank of our policy. We have ensured that the aged, pregnant women and children have access to our free healthcare program. In addition, our social security scheme gives a stipend of five thousand naira to every qualifying Ekiti person above the age of 65, every month. That’s why when false narratives about my purported loss to “stomach infrastructure” were being peddled in the 2014 election in Ekiti, I explained that this was just an excuse for the electoral heist perpetrated against the Ekiti public by the powers that be – because no government in the history of the state was as sensitive to stomach infrastructure as it was to physical infrastructure – than our government.
35. However, the pattern of social justice as seen in the Bible, in the management and distribution of scarce resources, necessitates parameters that ensure funds set aside for providing social safety nets for vulnerable, are not seen as largess by more fortunate members of society, but as a lifeline for those who need it desperately. In 1Timothy 5:3-4, Saint Paul admonishes young Timothy with practical administrative tips; “Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need, but if a widow has children or grandchildren, they should learn first, to put their religion to practice by caring for their own family…”
36. Invariably, from my experience as a leader, when you surround yourself not with opportunistic sycophants but with men and women who fear God, and who understand the responsibility that comes with serving a purpose higher than themselves, the outcome are usually programmes, policies, and laws in the overall interest of the people. Therefore, “when the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice”.
37. Let me register some caveats. The role of a Catholic in politics is not to impose a Christian theocracy. Conversion by coercion is not part of our political engagement. On the contrary, we have to defend universal human rights and civil liberties for two reasons. First, as creatures made in the image of God and endowed with the gift of free will, religious coercion goes against the grain of God’s intent for humanity. In any case, Christianity emerged from the crucible of oppressive socio-political environments and it has endured, this far, without having to coerce and force anybody into the faith. There should be no compulsion in religion, neither should there be religious persecution in any democratic nation. Even though one cannot deny that occasional tensions from mutual suspicions are not uncommon in a plural society like ours, we must never live under the atmosphere of hatred and fear.
38. Second, for the gospel to prosper, we need to create a liberal climate open to different persuasions and enable authentic faith to flower in the contest of ideas. Theocratic societies are totalitarian places that severely inhibit human potential. A Catholic office-holder must not play God. His or her duty is to facilitate the role of government as a preserver of order and justice and not to use the machinery of state to pursue the goals of the Church. We should not see the presence of Catholics in public office as the Church being in power or as an opportunity for the Church to flex political muscle. The Catholic in public office is there for the good of all citizens, regardless of their beliefs. It is therefore our duty as leaders to not only preach tolerance, fairness and equity, we must be conscious and deliberate in the way we address the fears of the different segments of the society
39. The legitimacy of a leadership rests not on the selective advancement of his creed, but on his ability to manage collective aspirations and resources for the betterment of all the citizenry. While we can certainly bring transcendent moral values into public debate, we also have the duty to communicate our convictions in non-threatening and non-sectarian language that is accessible to everyone in a pluralistic society. In the course of presenting our moral and political convictions, it is crucial that we aim to persuade rather than coerce. The golden rule should always be “do unto others what you would want them to do unto you”.
40. The Christian concept of servant leadership, for example, has much to offer us to alter elite behavior and offensive displays of power that have become the trademark of elites. It would certainly inject a measure of humility into our conduct. Servant leadership empowers and enables others to rise to their potential. By applying servant leadership principles, we can reclaim the idea of public service as a transformative pursuit of the greater good. Leaders driven by the desire to serve at various levels of governance can turn the tide of decay and create conditions for more of our people to live a better life.
41. These are the sort of changes I believe Catholics can bring to the public domain. I went into politics because I believe that committed social activism can provide people with the tools that will empower them and give them control over their own destinies. Public office is too serious to be left to people who have no fear of God. When serious Catholics committed to the ideals of social justice and the common good turn away from politics, we open the door for unprincipled opportunists to take power. Our understanding of politics must not be restricted to the pursuit of votes in a partisan system. It must mean much more, including public engagement and debate that is informed, non-sentimental and objective.
42. Political engagement for some, may take the hue of toiling in the vineyard of civil society, enlightening the people, empowering the poor, organizing communities at the grassroots level so that they can have a say in running their own affairs. For others, it may involve seeking gender justice and confronting economic inequality. Then, of course, there are those for whom the work requires the pursuit of public office by seeking the anointing of the electorate. The point is that while we have one goal- the realization of the good society- the quest for this goal expresses itself in a diversity of gifts and callings. Not all of us can or will be in elective office. Fortunately, not all of us have to. What matters is for each of us to find our place in the move to build our nation and to be faithful to the demands of that task.
43. Participating in the formal civic activities such as paying taxes and voting are the basic demands of citizenship and are the first fruits of our political personhood in a democratic society. But going beyond this to engage in grander expressions of empathy and social engagement as opposed to apathy and indifference help enrich civic life and nurture democracy. Insofar as a concern for our neighbour is central to our understanding of Christian compassion, it follows that active citizenship – which is simply an intense concern for the Christian presence in the public square – is the bounden duty of a Christian in public office.
44. Ultimately, the argument for Christian political engagement is perhaps best summed up in the famous words of Edmund Burke: “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing.” All that stands between Nigeria and terminal decadence is good men and women who, energized by their faith, are able and willing to venture into the public square and raise the standard of the common good and effect the renewal of our nation. This is a sacred responsibility that we cannot evade.
The Catholic Church and Future Elections
Having said all this, I guess the pertinent question remains: What my conception is of the role of the Catholic church in future elections? From all I have said, it is clear I would want different Christian bodies to remain non-partisan while not being a-political. We need to eschew the theology of fear and non engagement that currently influences some Christian denominations which see danger and enemies in everything and has consciously cultivated isolation instead of association, conspiracy instead of evidence, and division instead of cooperation.
45. Paul in his second letter to Timothy, Chapter 1 v 6 “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and love and of a sound mind”. Somehow, the Christian leadership has not projected courage, confidence, and candour in their appreciation of national challenges in recent times. Some have even accused the Church of partisan posturing which may deny the church leadership the force of moral authority as an association of non-partisan organisations.While I have no doubt that this is a case of action and reaction being equal and opposite, this clearly negates the fundamental tenets of our faith.
46. Today, criminality is interpreted as either religious genocide or ethnic cleansing. While the media enjoy the serialization of sensational stories, our collective humanity is being eroded as our sense of empathy as a people is now determined by the faith or ethnic background of a victim of criminality. The truth is that when bandits kill in the mostly Christian dominated areas, some of us are very responsive to condemn it and then brand it a genocidal attack aimed at wiping out the Christian population in such a place. Conversely, when a mostly Muslim dominated population is the victim of the same crime, mum is sometimes the word. Our experience with banditry and kidnappings has shown that we need a united humanity to defeat these evil merchants.
47. I would rather a Church that will condemn both, show concern, provide the same succor, offer the same sympathy and make the same demands on government. I must say we in the Catholic Church do this more than others but that is how love unites and wins against evil. It is fear that makes people feel unsafe and hateful. My position here is buttressed by the Pope Benedict XVI’s first, but profound encyclical to which I referred earlier, Deus Caritas Est (God is Love) (2005). He explained the meaning of love to be the expression of empathy and show of charity.
48. This example can be found in the ministry of our Lord Jesus himself when he admonished in Luke 6: 27 that the greatest expression of love is to those that hate us, for even pagans also reciprocate love to one another. And when the Lord was speaking about charity to the poor and the weak, he said in Matthew 25:31-36 that “I was hungry, and you fed me…” He said whoever does this to the poor has done it to him. It is in the context of this that the Holy Father’s Dues Caritas Est is constructed. I do believe that as Catholics with the best reputation in charity, we cannot afford to do differently. As a Church we can brag that we are a paragon of example in the expression of Christian love and charity. We have the highest number of charity missions in the world. We must keep this glorious tradition at all times.
49. As we go to 2023, we must acknowledge the role of our church in speaking truth to power, which inspired us in our struggle against military dictatorship and continue to help in our current quest for better governance and public accountability. But it is also time to go beyond that. It is time to take advantage of our well regarded structure, history, culture, and universalism and use these in a strategic and deliberate manner to mobilise already existing constituencies such as the Laity, Youth, Women, and other associations of which we are unique as we approach 2023. While it is nice to see one of us being the president in 2023, it is important to look beyond the religious profession of the gladiators or even their ethnic or geopolitical origin. The Church should develop a charter of concerns which must be as inclusive as possible and engage the candidates in direct conversations and debates. I will want to see the Church and its affiliates and perhaps, in association with other faiths, organize debates for candidates that address fundamental issues around freedom of religion, conscience, association and other areas of interest. The work of the CBCN in this respect is worthy of commendation, but we must do more.
50. The Christian community in Nigeria needs to develop a template for appraising socio-economic and political issues. There should be a reservoir of knowledge about science, technology and the future of the Church, and the position that the Church will want to promote in her own interest. Knowledge is key in national conversation, it is not enough to speak with passion, it is better to speak convincingly and authoritatively. I expect therefore that our own priests will demonstrate concern for the quality of governance in the society.
51. So far, the church has been above board, given the nature of its history. However, today’s priests must read the history of their country, understand the cultures and gain in-depth knowledge of its socio-economic circumstances. It is with this knowledge that they can become relevant partners and leaders with moral authority. They must criticize when things seem to be going wrong, but leave a window for dialogue, guidance, and collaboration with constituted authority. The church must try not to be seen to be aligned to any political party. It must see all political actors as sons and daughters open to correction and discipline.
52. I also expect the Church to take part in the electoral processes as observers and social orientation agents. The Church must use its enormous platform to preach peace, tolerance, and consensus among the political class.
53. For me, politics is service, and it is a noble vocation like that of the holy order. And it’s time to encourage some of our qualified members with sound values to serve as beacons and agents of change.
54. Thank you for listening.
Dr. Kayode Fayemi, CON
Governor Ekiti State.
April 23, 2021