Tony Momoh
Prince Tony Momoh, the journalist par excellence, a bibliotherapist and cultural engineer is the 165th child of Momoh the first. He is the third of the four children his mother had for Momoh the first and his mother was the junior of the three groups into which the Momoh Household of 45 wives and 245 children were organised.

To save Nigeria, Let’s pray

PROTOCOLS

Let me thank the Yaba Interdenominational Fellowship of Churches whose great work has been in the area of interceding for Nigeria for asking me to come over today to speak on May Day, a day devoted to honouring the working class of the world. I may well have been here last October when I was first intimated about speaking at this distinguished forum, but I had commitments outside Lagos and so could not come. I, however, promised the chairman of the Planning Committee that I would be available for May, God willing, if I was asked to come. He did promise that he would reach out to me, which he did, but the letter formalizing the event did not come until two weeks ago. I had even thought that the organisers had reached some other conclusions why I should not fill the slot. But when I saw the letter, I knew that the role I would have been playing today at the marking of my friend’s 80 years on earth would have to give way to this great gathering. I say great gathering because I have had the privilege of coming here once, when our legal icon Tunji Braithwaite spoke.

INTRODUCTION

Our Distinguished brothers sand sisters. Two things influenced my choice of topic today. One is that this body intercedes for Nigeria through prayer and I will say here that you do not pray to have what has been granted by the Creator of the Universe. You thank Him for the provision. Prayer then becomes thanksgiving, not begging with a bowl in your hand simply because you are lazy, unfocused and undisciplined. And that is what most of us are in this country. We do not meet the conditions that are the keys that open the doors of the storehouses of Creation where abundance can be accessed. Nothing but the correct combination opens the doors, and the simple access word is SOW. Yes, sow, and the seed will sprout, grow, bear fruit for the sower to reap. I know of no other route to the storehouse of abundance, the storehouse of joy, the storehouse of peace and the storehouse of happiness. I should come to this in conclusion of my presentation, but what I say here today can only underline the point that the sower must sow so that he can reap as a person, as a group, as a race and as mankind. So in spite of the prayers poured out unceasingly in love by those who care for us, who are worried about us, who mean well for us, we remain deprived, denied and frustrated because, whether we like it or not or whether we know it or not, deprivation is a reaping and so also is denial and frustration.

The second influence of my choice of subject, To Save Nigeria, Let’s Pray, is what I think about this talk of an economic meltdown which I know and believe can only occur where there is an economy to melt down. How can what does not exist die? Where we have never planned for any sustainable economy, why should we be shedding tears of a meltdown? It is this second part, this very mundane aspect I will attend to in more detail because I will remind us of the facts which are verifiable.

So in this presentation, I will go back in time to show what we have done with a country we pray should make it when in fact we have never been helpful in making it what we want it to be. It is therefore in this light I would like to present Nigerian to you as I know it, as I have read in other books by those who have looked at and presented the facts, look at its attempts at taking off economically, present the political albatross that has prevented the take-off and make suggestions on how we must decongest the political space so that economic deregulation will emerge. For only at this stage, when the economy is deregulated, can we start to see answers to our prayers through the bearing of fruits of the seeds we have sown in restructuring of the country.

INTRODUCING NIGERIA

There can be no Nigeria without people, without Nigerians. But we seem to have worked for a geographical space without pre-occupation with nourishing the definitive statement of every polity that only the people count. Before 1900, we had hundreds and thousands of communities in the present geographical space called Nigeria. By 1900, two huge conglomerations emerged – the protectorates of Southern and Northern Nigeria. By 1914, these huge collections of disparate peoples were merged into one country called Nigeria. While we built a rail line to link the North and the South and developed roads to do so, we deliberately separated the people.

It is reported that 20 years after amalgamation, only two Northern leaders of note stepped on Lagos soil. They were the Sultan of Sokoto and the Emir of Kano who were on their way to London. Yet the British had encouraged all the emirates in the North, and other groups to come together to hold meetings etc. The same was done with the people of the South. But North and South were deliberately kept apart.

Was it therefore not meant and designed that Nigerians would not be one country, one nation and one people, even if tribe and tongue differed? Before Independence in 1960, there had been moves to reflect our disparities in the system of governance we adopted. We held conferences in London and in Lagos and decided that we would have a Federal Constitution. At independence therefore, we had three regions from which representatives were sent to the Centre.

We adopted the Westminster model with elected representatives and a Prime Minister at the Centre and Premiers in the Regions. But we did not address the problems of the so-called minorities. We concentrated on competition among the big three – Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo. Looking back, it is sad to see that the Big Three did not cooperate to make Nigeria one nation, one people and one destiny. They worked to dominate it, and so the problem of Nigeria has been one of who among the three of the more than 250 nationality groups in Nigeria should provide the leader at the Centre.

To make the struggle more attractive, we adopted a Presidential form of Government, created many more states and an unmanageable glut of Local Governments. We established a three-tier system in which the local council and the state government must go cap in hand to the Federal Government to plead for release of their statutory allocations or request for funds to meet their basic requirements. It is this Nigeria that has experimented with governmental models except socialism; that has made more constitutions than any other country in the world (Clifford, 1922; Richards, 1946; McPherson, 1951; Robertson, 1954, Independence, 1960; Republican, 1963; Presidential, 79; 89; 95; and 99), that must tackle the problem of economic and political stabilization.

In the economic area, those who know and have briefed us say we have also had more plans that have been ignored than any other country in the world did. We had between 1914 and 1945 which they say is a pre-planning era, concentrated on agriculture to enhance international trade. I doubt that anyone had a planning era in mind when we produced for factories in Britain which was the colonial power and had brought the North and South together and had built rail lines from North to South to transport raw materials to the coast for export to the factories in the United Kingdom. Between 1945 and 1956, we are told, there was the so-called pseudo planning era, which saw a collection of projects which the colonial power thought would best help achieve objectives set by government for the rehabilitation of England. Between 1956 and 1960, economic planning reflected the political changes that made Nigeria a federation of three regions.

It was between 1962 and 68 that we had our first National Plan which for the first time set targets to be achieved. It was aimed at raising the rate of economic growth and increase the standard of living of the people who were to have increasing control of the nation’s economy. After the Civil War (1967 – 70), we came up with the 1970 – 74 Second Development Plan which was aimed at restoring and reconstructing facilities damaged during the war. Achievement of high rate of growth was also envisaged.

Many other plans, culminating in rolling plans, have come our way. Even in 1984, after the military returned to civil life by removing the elected Government in December 1983, ten study groups were set up in a bid to revive the economy. They were:

(1) Study Group on Nigeria’s Industrial Policy

(2) Study Group on Gainful Employment

(3) Study Group on Food Production Policy

(4) Study Group on Government Parastatals and State-owned Companies

(5) Study Group on Financial Management in the Public Sector

(6) Study Group on Nigerian Civil Service

(7) Study Group on Maintenance of Public Institutions

(8) Study Group on Customs and Smuggling

(9) Study Group on Law and Order; and

(10) Study Group on Funding Education

The reports were submitted and were supposed to be implemented but rulership changed hands in August, 1985. Before he was removed, Maj-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari had made it clear in an interview with the Financial Times of London in February, 1985 that he did not want anybody in Nigeria to relax. “The next three years will not be a picnic… what I am trying to put across is to make Nigerians understand how much we are in trouble ECONOMICALLY” (emphasis ours).

So much was the economy in trouble that the cost of servicing the country’s external debt was expected to rise to between 55 and 60 per cent of the nation’s foreign annual revenue in 1987. For 1986, he would spend 50 per cent in servicing debts. There could be no welfarist policy, Buhari told theGuardian on March 6, 1985, because Nigeria could not continue to live above its means.

When Gen Ibrahim Babangida took over in August, 1985, he authorized his own economic policy plan of action including:

(1) Economic revival

(2) Restructure of external and domestic borrowing

(3) Streamlining of the Administration

(4) Export promotion

(5) Evaluation of the Naira’s true worth

(6) De-escalation of Government involvement in all aspects of national life.

(7) War on crime, especially armed robbery.

During his eight-year stay in power, his execution of the programme profoundly changed the economic face of Nigeria. But the change of government brought about such drastic changes as to have led to the liquidation of the gains of Nigeria on the economic and political fronts, if any, since independence.

Although Gen Sani Abacha sacked the national and state assemblies, all the elected governors, and dissolved the two parties, the National Republican Convention (NRC); and the Social Democratic Party (SDP), he later gave us the most comprehensive socio-economic programme we had had since independence. This was the Vision 2010 which tried to focus what Nigeria should achieve by the year 2010 when it would have been 50 years as an independent country. The vision for a country, the promoters of Vision 2010 believed, must capture the collective aspirations and desires for the kind of country the people want. It should, however, not be a grandiose dream that promises all the good things of life without hard work. While being motivating and challenging, a vision must also be realistic.

For a vision to be realized, there is a need for careful planning to determine how to achieve it. Such planning will produce the policies, programmes, projects and the resources required for the realization of the vision. The visioners had poor marks for efforts that had been made in the past, efforts they blamed on why the development plans had not achieved much success. They blamed the failures on poor formulation; poor implementation; political instability; resource constraints; inadequate involvement of the private sector, communities and individuals.

Inaugurating the Vision 2010 Committee on November 27, 1996, Gen Abacha said, “…given the demands of a fluid and dynamic world, the countries that succeeded are those that seek to control their destiny by crafting a clear and coherent long range vision. Long range planning is thus a  necessary precondition for social and economic progress;… to equate annual budgets, rolling plans and perspective plans with the Vision 2010 exercise is to miss the point. Budgets and rolling plans will only constitute sub-sets of Vision 2010, which will go beyond the realm of economics to encompass every facet of our national life,…the scale of destruction of our social, economic and political institutions is such that warrants a massive reconstruction effort. The best guarantee for successful reconstruction is through deliberate and methodical long range planning,…countries in South East Asia which were at the same level of development as Nigeria in 1960 have surpassed us and performed economic miracles within a period of 30 years.. They were largely successful because they deeply embraced the concept of visioning and planning. If we can demonstrate the same will, commitment and discipline, we can also succeed in Nigeria.”

The Committee was initially made up of 174 eminent and distinguished Nigerians, drawn from all the strata of the Nigerian society. These included traditional rulers, public functionaries, civil servants, the youth, the media, industrialists, academics, market women, the Military, the Police, foreigners resident in Nigeria, political class, religious leaders, labour and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Over the period, the membership expanded to 247 to include people with technical expertise required to cover certain aspects of the Terms of Reference (TOR) of the Committee such as Sports, Ecology and the Environment.

It was the work of this group that our former President Olusegun Obasanjo said he ignored because it was initiated by Abacha, a man he said could never have had any vision because he had no sight. So, for reasons that are not materially and even spiritually tenable, the baby was thrown away with the bath water.

In May, 1999, when the new dispensation came, we were still battling with basic requirements of sustaining life in spite of the many political and economic experiments we had made. The latest attempts showed to the world that we had an economic package called Vision 2010 and a political package that started its run on May 29 1999. This vision did not succeed Gen. Sanni Abacha under whose rulership it was fashioned. Other programmes to stem national poverty took over, resulting in the post-2003 plan that goes by the title of NEEDS (National Economic Empowerment Development Strategy).

NEEDS was supposed to be Nigeria’s home- grown poverty reduction strategy, a nationally coordinated framework of action in close collaboration with the State and Local governments (with their State Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy, SEEDS and Local Government Economic Empowerment Development Strategy, LEEDS. Although NEEDS was essentially a federal government programme, it was supposed to be fully owned by Nigerians. The President and his cabinet fully endorsed the programme; the National Assembly and the National Economic Council (NEC) which comprises all the 36 governors of the states also endorsed the programme. Various private sector stakeholders, NGOs, and Civil Society Organizations endorsed the NEEDS, too. The Drafting Committee of the NEEDS reflected the wide ownership and participatory nature of the exercise. The 35-member committee comprised Ministers, Representatives of Ministries and Agencies, President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria; President of the Nigerian Labour Congress; Chairman of the Coalition of Civil Society Organizations; the Nigerian Economic Summit Group; etc.

NEEDS rested on four key strategies: reforming the way government works and its institutions; growing the private sector; implementing a social charter for the people; and re-orientation of the people with an enduring African value system.

When President Olusegun Obasanjo chose Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua as the flag bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party and went all over the country to campaign, the flag bearer promised to continue the reforms of the outgoing president. But NEEDS followed Obasanjo to Ota Farm, and what we have now is an economic revival programme that has not been successfully articulated even by those who announced it to us. If the current re-branding effort of the government is anchored on the agenda, then we would have started a brand new journey by dumping what we have had in the past, as other administrations before this had done. For the record, the Seven-Point agenda is said to be provision of critical infrastructure like electricity, transportation, telecommunications, waterways and national oil and gas; food security; national security and intelligence; provision of health, education and functional social safety nets; land tenure changes and home ownership under the Land Reform Act; Niger Delta Development; and wealth creation.

More than two years after assuming office, what have we on the ground to produce or move us in the direction of producing, with the agenda as our economic guide, the good people that will build a great nation, if we must borrow the new mantra, Nigeria: Good People, Great Nation!

One thread seems to be running through our experiencing since independence. The same set of people who had been responsible for the failures in the past or those trained by them have been there since 1999, and have never been interested in the attempts on hand to make Nigeria what it can become. The reason is that we cut off the human person we call the Nigerian from our calculations. He has always been Hausa, Fulani, Yoruba, Igbo. The zoning of positions is the direct reflection of what we have always wanted – the sharing of a national cake no one wants to be part of baking.

My brothers and sisters, there is not one Nigerian today who is not worried at the amount of money we spend on the political arm of government, that is the Legislature and the Executive. Once upon a time, we had a unitary government. Later, we had three regions, then four. With the arrival of the military, we had 12 states, then 19, 21, 30, and the present 36 that constitute the federating units of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The more states we create, the weaker the federating units become and the more we lap up allocations to the area which are meant to grow it but which we pocket with no feeling of service or thought of a day when we must account to the Lord of all the Worlds about what we did here on planet earth.

The forgiveness of sins is preceded by repentance and there can be no repentance where no wrong is accepted or admitted. I plead from my heart that we save Nigeria by looking its problems in the face, dispassionately, and solving them so that we can say that though tribe and tongue may differ in the Nigerian arrangement, in brotherhood we can stand. For, the sacrifices we accommodate today will make the difference between joy and sorrow tomorrow, for our children, and their children, and their children. Let us sow joy for posterity, and our offspring shall never reap sorrow. That is the Law. It never fails.

My brothers and sisters, This country we pray for is severely stressed because the structures to make it function are faulty. We are the authors of those structures, not God Almighty. Prayers can’t work unless we attend to the structures. You see, there is too much government. Government is a national bakery where those who work insist on sharing the bread they refuse to help bake. The idea of protection of what belongs to all of us has not been effectively infused into us who serve in government. But are we, who are in the public service of the governments of the Federation, not the same people who belong in religious and cultural groups? Nobody in charge of funds of a church or the cultural union of his community would touch the money without a sense of betrayal. But in government, there are massive collusive programmes of deliberate theft of public funds, aren’t there?

The people themselves are severely stressed. The more welfare they expect, the less they get. The more they are told about peace and security, the more they are harassed both by the private armies of the powerful few; and hoodlums who are the products of inequities, deprivation, and urban denials. Our law-enforcement agencies are few, ill-equipped and inadequately motivated. And in times when you need to depend on them, you see signs that they may have been compromised. And so the one who complains becomes the victim.

The society itself has not been trained to ask questions from those who make it by the simple procedure of joining the political class; understandably, because government is a stranger to the people, and is a place where taking what is not yours is an achievement to be celebrated, and for which national honours can be conferred. The laws that protect the public coffers are strict, but they are kept more in the breach than the observance. The provisions on corruption were prohibitive enough to discourage infringing them before the present anti-corruption and related crimes law was passed. But everyone laughs at the latest provisions, as they did the ones preceding them, and this will continue until the causes of stress are identified, addressed and removed. That identification of the causes of the stress, the addressing of those causes and their removal is the answer to the prayer that he who seeks shall find. I know no other way to how prayers of this nature can be answered.

So, how do we go about un-stressing the nation? These are my suggestions, my prayers, which if attended to will bear fruit for the reaping.

1) We are a federation, and we must operate as a Federation. The 36 states are too weak to constitute the federating units. We need another buffer between the states and the federal, and that is the present zones that have naturally emerged. They are six, and should constitute the federating units.

2) The powers at the Centre are too many. The power of the National Assembly as the de facto law-maker for everything both on the legislative and concurrent lists is not healthy for the Federation.

3) Government is too involved in businesses, and this promotes corruption. Why would any government be the effective monopoly in the major areas of the economy? Section 16 of the 1999 Constitution even entrenches the preponderant place of government in running the economy of the nation. There is no doubt that when government is decongested, the economy will automatically be deregulated. Political decongestion must precede economic deregulation.

4) The people must be brought together as a nation, and this can better be done through integrative programmes. This area is addressed in a little book, Thoughts on Governance With out Tears, which I wrote in 2000.

We should use what we have to get what we want. All the raw materials are there to make Nigeria grow into a world power if only we are willing to use them to the benefit of the people. The key is in political decongestion or deregulation through restructuring, and the acceptance of informal and cost effective governance through active use of the traditional institutions.

THE PRESENT ARRANGEMENT

There is one Central Government that is headed by an elected President who has a constitutional responsibility of appointing at least a minister from each state of the Federation. So he must appoint at least 36 ministers. There is also a large army of presidential advisers and assistants who themselves have personal assistants. There are hundreds of parastatals which have hundreds of party men who are board members and constitute a heavy charge on the mean resources of the parastatals.

There is an elected National Assembly made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Members of the National Assembly have a large army of personal staff paid for by the Government. They also are entitled to funds for opening and running constituency offices. The National Assembly has power to make law in 93 areas (Exclusive List and Concurrent List), and this means that the President has 93 areas of preponderant law-execution. There is no federal arrangement anywhere in the world that is this top heavy to the detriment of the federating units.

There are 36 State Governments headed by Governors who are independent of the Centre and cannot be effectively checked by State Houses of Assembly. It would seem that the only time they appear at the State Assembly is when they go there to present their budget which may not have had any input from the State Assembly; experience since 1999 has shown that they can be laws unto themselves if they so decide.

There are 774 Local Government Councils with executive chairmen who are also laws unto themselves. They appoint non-elected councilors to their “cabinets”. The councilors are a direct charge on the Consolidated Revenue Account, and this charge includes drawing money for a house staff of five! This means that the emoluments of an elected councilor who has the equivalent of a school certificate and is just out of school, are higher than those of a professor in the university or a judge of the High Court of a State. Yet both entitlements come from the Federation Account!

EXPENSIVE POLITICKING

Looking back to May 29, 1999 when we started this walk on the Democracy Highway, it is obvious that the cost of sustaining the different political arms of each of the tiers is becoming unbearable. The President has said so, and so has the President of the Senate. In 2002 our expenditure profile showed that we spent about 92 per cent of our resources on recurrent expenditure. Today, we pounce on our foreign reserve, not to meet the demands of development but the lush entitlements of political officeholders.

There is no doubt therefore that the present arrangement is not healthy for us. It cannot work in any federation. The prayer that we change the system can only be heard in our acceptance that change is necessary.

The way out of this problem is restructuring the political arrangement to make it more manageable and less demanding on our resources. You may have your own approach to this re-arrangement of our political structures or, indeed, what you believe can replace them. I have asked for discussion of this proposal, but no one wants to listen. At various forums I have argued a case for comprehensive restructuring of our political arrangements so that money can be released for development.

GAINS FROM THE CHANGES

If the political arm of government is restructured, we would have

  1. a) A Federal Government with more time to plan for a powerful country.
  2. b) A Central Government that would be more efficient and less corrupt.
  3. c) A Regional Government that would be a buffer between the State and the Centre, and that would be more handy to settle problems of the Region and plan the development and growth of the Region.
  4. d) A State Government that would be more efficient in the management of resources, and more accountable and less corrupt.
  5. e) A local government arrangement that would be more efficient because experienced people who have retired from service can be called upon to help out with local policy- making to be executed by civil servants.
  6. f) A polity that will see professionalism emerge without the distraction of politics which has become a lucrative business because of the opportunity of invading the national, state and local government treasuries, which the present arrangements encourage.
  7. g) More than half of the money spent on sustaining the present arrangement would be available for development.

CONCLUSION

This proposal is a prayer, a seed which can be sown to grow to bear fruit for the reaping. This body, the Interdenominational Fellowship of Churches, has for years, along with many lovers of Nigeria, prayed that the Good Lord may smile on us the people of Nigeria so that we would grow in love one with all others, and live the content of our national anthem which calls on all of us to arise as compatriots and obey the call of the fatherland to grow it. But as I have said, prayer is already answered when a seed is sown.

Prayers are spiritual volitions, not speeches, and are directed to God, and offered in His Name. But let us contemplate the picture in our minds when the words IN THE NAME OF GOD are mouthed. That picture should not be of a god of yam or a god of smallpox or a god of a river. It should be the sensing of a powerful presence, of a witness to whatever we think in our minds, say with our mouths or do with our hands. It should be sensing of the presence of the Almighty, the Only One worthy of Worship, the One in Whose Name Creation came into being and in whose Name Creation is replenished and sustained; the Only Light, Life itself.

My brothers and sisters. Please hold a picture in your mind as you let the words IN THE NAME OF GOD flow through you from head to toe. What do you see? Please keep it to yourself but let me give you a hint. If in that state when those Holy Words flow through your veins you feel apathy and unconcern; if you feel a sense of superiority over others; if there is any thought of anything you ever did, good or evil, being capable of being hidden from Him that you accept is the Almighty and therefore All-Seeing; if there is any remote sensing of detachment when you mouth those words or allow them to course through your veins, then, my brothers, my sisters, the god of your recognition is a man-made god, arbitrary to the extreme, a totem you can dictate to because it is of your own creation, a picture you threw out to the cosmos and which is reflecting powerfully back to you. A Demon in a false garb.

The God to whom all prayers must go is the God of the Christian and the God of the Muslim; the non-discriminating God whose perfection cannot be influenced by dogma. IN THE NAME OF GOD is therefore an invocation of profound significance. This invocation does not permit of any reduction in that recognition which minimally attests to the Creative Will of the Almighty in action, and Its impeccable predictability. The prophecy is fulfilled therefore that the harvest is in the very act of sowing, that sowing and reaping are separated only by time and space and circumstance. Corn unfailingly bears corn in a few months; cocoa brings forth cocoa in a few years; and the sowing of seeds through our thoughts and words and physical deeds brings forth the corresponding harvest according to Law, In the Name of God.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, my brothers and sisters, the truth about sowing and reaping cannot be that all your sowings must wait for one day to be reaped, one day when the trumpets shall sound and all mankind will be woken from their graves and lined up to be judged at the same time and place. No. The truth that must call me to account, that must make me be keenly on the watch, that invokes perpetual alertness in me, is that sowing and reaping are continuous, that judgment is continuous. We are therefore being judged every second, every minute, every hour, every day, every year, at birth, at death, as individuals, as groups, as a people, as a race, as mankind; and each judgment is a maturing and reaping of seeds sown; the bumper harvest of a planting. What is happening to us is a reaping of what we sowed. What we are doing now, with our hands, our words and our thoughts are sowings which will bear fruit for us to harvest.

My brothers and sisters. Nigeria is harvesting the seeds planted in the past by Nigerians themselves. I gave you the facts and the conclusions can therefore not be denied or doubted. That the taste of harvest is bitter is evidence only of the profound truth that we did not sow love in the past, or sow with love. And at the same time, Nigeria is sharing in the harvesting of the bitterness the world has sown in the past through wars and envy and distrust. Can’t you see the spiritual dimension to the meltdown in the economy and other manifestations of life of man on planet earth?

The unfortunate thing is that at every turn when we take decisions that willy nilly must bind us, we do so In the name of something, In the Name of God. It was in the Name of God that we angered Moses into breaking the Commandments he was given by God. In the Name of God, we destroyed the earthly body of Jesus Christ on a wooden cross in Jerusalem; and 60 years after the passing of Christ, only one of his twelve disciples was alive, but in exile. The others had died of cruel murder, inflicted In the Name of God.

In the Name of God, we stoned Muhammed in the streets of Mecca when he proclaimed the faith and had many of his followers slaughtered even as they called us from the seeming safety of the minaret.

In contemporary Nigerian experience, we are doing those things which would give the impression that we do not want to learn the lessons of history.In the Name of God, we rob the very people we claim are sovereign by subverting the ballot which enables them to pick their leaders. To the glare of klieg lights and the blare of music, we flaunt our material opulence even when we are aware of the injunction that in giving, we should hesitate to let the right hand know what the left hand has given and to whom. We build cathedrals and mosques as monuments and desecrate them with our depressing presences, our minds disgraceful custodians of hatred, distrust and envy. On Fridays and on Sundays, instead of teaching us to love and to improve our ways of life and accommodate other people in reflecting their own ways of life, we sermonize and pontificate on issues which are even less edifying than the speeches of politicians from the soap boxes.

If today, IN THE NAME OF GOD, I have not been a flattering siren to anyone, it is because, in good faith I was sure that those who intercede for Nigeria in spite of the rigid postures we who would gain by such intercessions take know our limitations but have not given up, will not give up. May you help in producing Nigerians who love, whose hearts vibrate on the same wavelength as the Heart of the Universe and who, when they mouth the HOLY WORDS, IN THE NAME OF GOD, would fully appreciate the Luminous Heights from which they want to draw. And may their drawing be in love and to the benefit of themselves and to the benefit of Nigeria; of the world; of mankind. AMEN.

I thank you for this opportunity to make a presentation at this forum, and I thank you for your attention.

Being speech given at the Yaba Interdenominational Fellowship of Churches at Baptist Church, Sabo, Yaba, Lagos on May 1, 2009

By

Prince Tony Momoh:

Former Minister of Information & Culture

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