By G9ija

Former Aso Villa Chaplain, Rev. Prof. Yusuf Obaje, on Thursday urged Nigerians to resist the tendency of blaming President Muhammadu Buhari alone for the country’s state of affairs.

The cleric, who has been criticised for his stance on the nation’s affairs, said the change that was desired in the country must begin with a collective adoption of a national ideology.

Obaje said this in an address he delivered at the NetACT Conference held at Bingham University Hall, Karu, Abuja.

He said, “Let me say emphatically, what we are going through in the country is not a product of the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari. We have all contributed to this mess.

“I don’t think we have collectively defined the Nigeria that we want, because to the best of my knowledge, we have no national ideology. This country has no ideological foundation. I have cried over it. I have said it and written about it.

“As a matter of fact, in the last confab, I presented about 68-pages on the need for us to have a national dream that defines what we want to be. Unfortunately, I was told that the paper was for the future. But I then published it with the title: ‘The Nigerian Equation: A Categorical Imperative for National Ideology’.

“Just as it is impossible for any human being to act or behave in any matter without an idea, it is impossible for any nation to function properly without an ideology, because it is their dream and the idea that inspires, drives, compels and motivates the citizens. It gives them a goal to look forward to. In the absence of that, we are trying to build a nation on trial and error.”

The former State House chaplain under President Olusegun Obasanjo’s regime, however, assured Nigerians of God’s plan to return the country to the path of peace and prosperity.

He recalled that at the inception of the current democratic dispensation in 1999, the people were enamoured by the switch from military rule to a civilian administration, and paid less attention to the quality of people they chose to pilot the affairs of the nation.

Obaje, consequently, posited that the challenges and sufferings in the land today were God’s way of chastising the people and rousing them from slumber.

He said, “I pray that one day we shall wake up, and not only take the blame as something that we have individually and collectively contributed to but our desired willingness to wake up from our dogmatic slumber and move on to build a nation of our collective dreams. It is possible, we can do it.

“I have seen a recreated Nigeria in the hands of the Almighty God. So, no need to give up. We must not. God is going to do it. We will wake up because some of these chastising instruments that He is using such as unprecedented poverty and hunger are to rouse citizens from inertia.

“In spite of the many warnings in the past, Nigerians had failed to listen, but always end up blaming one another from one generation to another. So, I think the time has come for us to say ‘God, we are sorry. Help us to wake up and rebuild our country.’”

Speaking also, Dr Folashade Oloyede, who reviewed a new book, ‘African Public Theology’, which was launched at the conference, said Nigeria, and by extension Africa, was plagued with many unpleasant experiences that often made citizens seek solace in foreign lands.

She, however, challenged religious leaders to use their platforms to contribute towards building the nation the people desired.

According to her, “While the African Union is concerned about the state of affairs on the continent to the point of setting the agenda 2063 towards the African we want, the church should not remain lethargic.

“We should rise up and take our place using the platform of public theology as we play our role in raising the nation God wants by our lifestyle and intentional actions.”

On his part, the Intercontinental Chair of NetACT, Prof. Sunday Agang, also stressed the need for theological institutions in Nigeria and other African countries to understand the AU Agenda 2063, which seeks to create a democratic, fully developed and united continent where the people’s identity is respected globally.

“The Africa God wants has to be the Africa of justice, honesty, love, unity, and respect for human dignity, where no one is excluded on the basis of religion and ethnicity,” he added.

The highlight of the conference was the presentation of awards of excellent service to some notable Nigerians including the Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen; erstwhile Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara; former Director-General, Bureau of Public Enterprises, Dr Benjamin Dikki, amongst others.