Written by Ugochukwu Ugwuanyi
Popular U.S. gospel artiste, Donnie McClurkin sang: ‘these are the days of Elijah…,’ but, I beg to disagree. For I see incongruity in that disclosure that the present times is ala the days of Elijah. How can we be in the days of a man whose words caused fire to rain from heaven and consume troops of soldiers sent to arrest him, yet have miscreants kidnap an Archbishop?
It wasn’t even a captain and fifty of his men that came for the abducted Archbishop as it were in Elijah’s case but mere criminals. And it wasn’t even as if they tried twice and failed as was experienced with Elijah, the kidnappers struck just once and a cleric in the standing of Most Rev. Ignatius Ogboru Kattey was whisked away into a lair. With this in mind, Pastor McClurkin had better likened our days to those of another character, but definitely not Elijah!
I’m pretty sure that the ‘troubler of Isreal’ had the power to see to the death of the earlier two detachment of soldiers detailed to go and arrest him because he spoke the naked truth to power. In other words, fire from heaven hearkened to Elijah’s command because he spoke against the poor choice made by the then ruler of Samaria. Pray, in our country brimming with political leaders who don’t take God into consideration in their decisions, how many of our religious leaders today are speaking truth to power, let alone speak the naked truth?
The above question is answered in the fact that kidnapping is now a major menace in our country to the extent that an Archbishop would be a victim. Indeed, kidnapping is a fallout of the poor choices made by our leaders which would not have been if our clerics cause those in authority to defer to God as they run the country. But since they didn’t recourse to God, there abound too many faux pas that should keep our clerics busy and voluble. They should be incensed to talk given the outrageous sum politicians collect as security votes but vote same for themselves.
I doubt if our clergymen would ever leave their comfort zone to demand what is right from government. This is as many of them have failed to use this window, of having a top christian leader abducted, to deplore the state of insecurity in the country. If they can’t do this when Most Rev. Ignatius Kattey who is the Chairman of Christian Council of Nigeria in South South Area Council is kidnapped, is it when a sexton is abducted that they would speak up? Thank gracious sextons and people like him are not within the radar of kidnap syndicates.
One of the Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Chief Mike Ozekhome who recently regained freedom after been held hostage for three weeks described his abductors as ”angry and desperate well-read graduates” who told him they were pushed into kidnapping by the height of unemployment and poverty prevalent in the country. Having heard these as the causes of kidnapping from (pardon the cliché) the horse’s mouth, which clergyman can we say have held government to task on addressing these twin evils?
If Prophet Elijah of old was to be here, I’m sure what government suffered in the hands of the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi would have been a child’s play. Our today clerics are lucky that the way they are now being perceived by political leaders is far higher than how their counterparts in the yore were perceived and treated by the then emperors and rulers. The fact that President Goodluck Jonathan, not too long ago, knelt while Pastor Enoch Adebayo was ministering testifies to this.
Hence, there is a greater propensity for our political leaders to take seriously whatever our today men of God have to say. Their words are seen as weighty unlike those of garrulous journalists and social critics which political leaders dismiss as being of featherweight to their continued stay in power. Even when political leaders don’t respect the criticisms of clerics on account of God, they will surely respect same because they are coming from leaders of thought.
For they know a bishop can easily tell members of his congregation to vote out an under-performing regime and that would be all his people need to do him in at the polls. What happened to Ikedi Ohakim of Imo State is still fresh in our memory. This forms part of the reasons knocks coming from MoGs are not taken for granted by politicians. In as much as they are wont to rigging themselves into power, they know that rigging is made difficult when a section of the voting public is against their candidacy. And taking into cognisance how averse they are to hardwork, such politicians wouldn’t want to create extra stress for themselves.
Since our religious leaders have this might at their disposal, it calls for wonder why they haven’t been going in this might of theirs. Perhaps they never thought one of them will be a victim of their passivity. Nonetheless, it should be clarified that this isn’t a call for them to be unnecessarily antagonistic of government, neither are they expected to forgo their pastoral metier to become social critics. It’s simply an invitation for them to speak truth to power since power is attentive to them.
An innocent call on them to leverage on their powers to neutralise or put in check our do-nothing political leaders.
They can, for instance, intensify the call for President Jonathan to go after his friends and ‘generals’ who have been stealing the nation’s crude oil; an act which docks the fund government could have used to create employment and fight poverty. They can equally add their voices in condemnation of the lingering ASUU strike that can lead students into joining the kidnap business or they can just help the nation by putting the various state governors in check. As it seems, instances abound of expedient things needed to move the nation forward which they need to speak out for.
Moving ahead, another way members of the clergy are indicted for the kidnap of one of their own is in the fact that most of those who engage in kidnapping are actually members of their congregations. One gospel artiste whose music overran the eastern part of the country in the 90s sang that whenever he went to churches and saw the mammoth crowd, he was always forced to wonder who then the assassins, armed robbers, prostitutes, murderers, (I took the liberty to add) kidnappers are. He concluded that they are among those gently sitted in the pews. I can’t agree any less!
Our churches and mosques have continued to have rogue members. It remains to be seen how the messages preached by priests and imams have been able to influence such members. It is said, in Hebrews 4:12, that the Word of God is sharper than any double-edged sword as it penetrates even into dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow… How then is it that the word being preached today is not penetrating into evil elements who attend church services to gain societal approval?
Perchance, it is because the real Word of God is no longer being expounded. It may also be because preachers nowadays simply preach to their congregation those sermons they would want to hear and not what God wants them to hear. This explains why prosperity preaching is the order of the day with some ‘men of God’ telling their members to do whatever their hands findeth to do not minding whether it is offensive to the society. All that matters to such ‘preachers’ is the money that rolls in as tithes and offerings.
Having this as the case, why won’t kidnappers see an Archbishop as another prey they can easily take advantage of? Apparently, their ‘pastors’ must have been so preoccupied with sermons on being fruitful that they failed to intimate their rogue members about God’s injunction that forbids touching His anointed or doing His prophet any harm(Psalm 105:15).
Be that as it may, the chicken have come home to roost. But the unfortunate thing is that they are roasting on a leader of one of the very few denominations that teach the true Word of God without obliging members what they want to hear.
That is why I’m confident that the taking into hostage of Most Rev. Kattey isn’t unto the disgrace of God’s kingdom or the Anglican Communion, instead, it is for the glory of God to be made manifest. Didn’t the holy writ record that Apostles Paul and Silas were beaten and confined to the inner cell with each of their feet fastened to stocks? Yet, that didn’t stop God from using a violent earthquake to fly the prison doors open and let loose the chains on each prisoners’ leg.
This happened when Paul and Silas prayed and sang hymns to God around midnight. Little wonder the Archbishop has been released already. He must have gone the way of Paul and Silas of old. Indeed, his kidnap was to teach leaders of the churches a lesson. It is hoped that the lesson is well learnt.
Ugochukwu is a public affairs analyst. For reactions, use: email@example.com