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Little Prayer

for President
By Victor Chendekemen Yakubu

Little Prayer for President Yar’Adua

By Victor Chendekemen Yakubu*

My religious faith as a priest in the Catholic Church teaches me to

pray for my leaders both temporal and spiritual. My principal
certainty is that prayer is the key that opens the doors of heaven and
showers blessings. Besides, leadership positions such as those of
president, prime minister, chancellor, emperor, king or queen, shah or
whatever designation are no ordinary positions for the chicken-
hearted, cool-headed or cowards. Those who occupy such a position must
rise above board and assuage the yearnings and aspirations of their
people or else their nations will head to perdition.

Regarding praying for leaders, St. Paul the great orator of

Christendom says in 1 Tim. 2: 1-2, “First of all, then, I urge that
petitions, prayers, requests, and thanksgiving be offered to God for
all people; for kings and all others who are in authority, that we may
live a quiet and peaceful life with all reverence toward God and with
proper conduct.” Those who attain any of these positions by whatever
means must realize that they are accountable to God and to a lesser
degree to man. Such a position requires a strong willed person
determined to succeed with the help of God. Hence praying for any
leader is a duty and a divine call to action. I know that God is the
ultimate judge of every human being but as the Holy Bible says, “to
whom much is given, much is expected” This makes leadership a
difficult aspect of human life. When a leader takes a flight while his
citizens are languishing in danger then it leaves much to be desired
about the qualities and priorities of such a leader.

President Umar Musa Yar’Adua, the President of Nigeria, needs my

prayers and your prayers. He needs our collective prayers for him to
succeed in this arduous task of leading Nigeria out of our woes. I
thank God that the name Yar’Adua is the hometown and birthplace of Mr.

President, which can be loosely translated from Hausa language to mean

‘a little prayer.’ Praying for Mr. President is not too much for
Nigerians to do because everyday prayers ooze out from different
directions in our towns; motor parks, buses, offices, markets,
churches, mosques, homes turned into prayer houses, healing centres,
beaches and everywhere. Nigerians love to pray. I love to pray myself.

I must add with whole-hearted conviction, Nigerians devote time to

praying for their president. I must continue to pray like everybody
does: “Pray without ceasing”. Nigerians pray for their president to
succeed. Only in beer parlours and pepper soup joints do we find
people who criticize their president negatively. But they too have the
right to criticize what goes on in government. A combination of pepper
soup and alcohol brings out the best arguments concerning what
leadership should be and where present leadership is heading. The
actions or inactions of leaders are often criticized, synthesized and
condemned. Yet, they have no time to offer prayers for their leaders.
But this only shows us that we still have freedom of speech as
compared to conditions under military regimes. Our president must
succeed though. I want to make the difference by devoting time to
offer a little prayer for Mr. President to turn things around for the
better with the power of God whom we seek every minute in Nigeria.
This can only be possible when he accepts wise counsel and plans
selflessly for the future of the Nigerian state under the power of the
omnipotent God.

Our collective success lies on his shoulders and the burdens of our
daily lives are linked to his decisions in private and in public. His
public rating depends largely on his presidential or un-presidential
moves since he has left the domain of a private citizen to that of a
public servant-leader as president.

Such a position to the ordinary eyes may seem attractive, royal,

luxurious and cozy but underneath it lies heavy burdens of devastating
consequences. The position itself is prestigious, princely and posh

which can lead such a holder to believe that he’s a demigod because
his word is taken seriously. Those surrounding the president as aides
take his word as dogma. He can either destroy or build when he speaks.
He can draw praise when he goes the right direction or opprobrium when
he goes the other way.

A leader is made in an election, when the power from the citizenry is

collectively vested on one man to lead them. In other words, the only
way citizens can voice their acceptance of a candidate is by way of
the ballot box. This is referred to as a representative government
simply known as democracy. Others eager to enjoy the allures of
presidential powers acquire the office by brute force as in the case
of military coup d’etats. Their characteristic feature is leading
people by decrees, brute force, dictatorship and reckless disregard of
public opinion. In this case, our president is a democratically
elected president. The opportunity open to us is to voice our
opinions and I am taking this advantage to say a prayer for the

What are my prayer points for Mr. President? I have three points in my
kitty. The first is that God will direct him in doing the right thing
at the right time with the right intention in his position. Recently
the United Nations’ 64th Session held in New York and thereafter the
G8, a powerful group of developed economies, invited our president to
participate in their proceedings. Instead of heading west he headed
east, specifically to the Middle East to attend the opening grand
ceremony of a University in Saudi Arabia.

While such controversial leaders such as Mahmoud Ahmedinajad of Iran,

Muammar al-Gaddafi of Libya and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela braced all
odds and put up dramatic appearances in defense of their nations, our
president was absent drinking hashish in the Arabian Peninsula. This
is a case of misplaced priorities. Take it or leave it, the
presentations of those controversial leaders in the eyes of the West,
particularly the United States of America, drew the attention of the

international community to the plight of their nations. Gaddafi’s 96-

minute long speech is his first and only speech in his 40 years as
Libyan leader at any UN General Assembly meeting. Despite the
controversy surrounding his embrace of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al
Megrahi's, the convicted mastermind of the Pan Am 103 air disaster
over Lockerbie Scotland, he still made his way to the assembly. People
demonstrated outside the UN headquarters for and against Gaddafi. He
made statements in support of African Union’s inclusion in the
Security Council of the UN and lampooned the assembly for favouring
the 15-member body for practicing “security feudalism” for those with
a protected seat.

Chavez and Ahmedinajad in their usual charade castigated the US in the

discussion on nuclear proliferation, climate change, international
peace and security. Iran and Venezuela have bilateral relations.
Ahmedinajad accused the West of spreading war, bloodshed, terror and
intimidation. He made a case for the Palestinian territories blaming
Israel for the problems of the Palestinians. Where was Nigeria’s
President to stress the issues of corruption, combating crimes,
especially 419 which is giving us bad blood, the Niger-Delta
militants, the intermittent civil unrest in the north,
desertification, environmental degradation and grinding poverty?
Nigeria’s president was absent from all deliberations and did the same
with the G8 Summit.

My second point for prayer point is that God should make the president
listen to the Academic Staff Union of Universities [ASUU] and settle
their demands once and for all. It is shameful to note that both the
president and his minister of education come from the academia. Using
his background as a university lecturer, he should listen to the
demands of the striking lecturers. The UN demands that nations must
dedicate 13% of their budgets to education. Nigeria dedicates less
than 2% and even at that the money does not go to the right places.
For nearly six months now, it has been negotiation after negotiation
and no implementation of the resolutions. If it’s the Minister of

Education, Dr. Sam Egwu, that is the wet blanket, the president should
do away with him because at the end of the day it is his
administration that will be blamed. Already the students are
languishing at home with nothing tangible to do other than to engage
in criminal activities.

The president should know those who are working for or against his
interest and should act accordingly. The long period this strike is
taking speaks volumes of the president’s position. This is not to talk
about the rot in the academic institutions which the president must
assist in solving or at least reducing to return credibility to our
colleges and universities.

In this matter, the indefatigable Governor of Edo State Comrade Adams

Aliyu Oshiomhole, a man used to negotiations with tough regimes, has
brokered some settlement with the ASUU and the FGN. However, it seems
only temporary. ASUU leadership says it’s calling off the strike only
for two weeks as a trial to observe if the Federal Government will
keep to their promises. When Mr. President was shaking hands with the
Governor of Makkah, he did not realize that in Nigeria lecturers were
wondering how a man could grace such an occasion while his house is
not in order. The speech of King Abdallah Bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud at
the opening of King Abdallah University of Science and Technology was
presented with encouraging words on research and development of
humanity. Saudi Arabia’s two universities are rated amongst the best
500 in the world. Nigeria’s best university occupies the 6,602nd
position. Yet our president was there witnessing the opening of a
brand new university while his own universities were locked down due
to insensitivity from the education ministry and the presidency.

My last prayer point for Mr. President is that God should make him
realize the rise in criminal activities and move ahead to reduce them
by beefing up internal security. There’s an increase in criminal
activities, religious and civil unrest, a rise in kidnappings of high
profile citizens and a surge of militants. Homeland security is the

single most important part of national life so citizens can sleep with
both eyes closed. It’s painful when citizens cannot enjoy this freedom
even in the sanctity of their own homes and offices. The power supply
is erratic so Nigerians have developed a system of generating power
using generators referred to as I-pass-my-neighbour with carbon
monoxide pumped into the atmosphere.

More painful is the fact social services have completely dwindled and
not much is done to restore them. The police force is helpless in
tracking down armed robbers, kidnappers and those criminals who
terrorize fellow citizens in this period of great economic depression.
What is all the noise about a seven-point agenda when even one cannot
be realized? Do we need a long list of promises as if we are in an
electioneering campaign? Or are we already in second term campaigns
for Mr. President?

With cases of militants in the Niger-Delta, Boko Haram, 419ners, armed

robbers, and kidnappers springing up all over the place, our president
should address these criminal activities giving Nigeria a bad name. He
should urge those officers in charge of fighting crimes to stand up to
the occasion and crackdown on those criminals. However, something must
be done by the government to engage these youths in positive ventures
in order to take their minds form “thinking evil, acting evil.”

I have resolved to pray for President Umar Musa Yar’Adua like all
others preceding him on the hot seat at Aso Rock Villa. My reason is
simple. He needs divine assistance to direct this nation of over 150
million souls. Few citizens are privileged enough to supply their
daily bread without sweat, due to their exalted political positions,
privilege of government contracts or benevolence from politicians who
settle them. The majority do not have this born-with-a-silver-spoon
opportunity or our-time-has-come attitude. This majority struggle
through difficulties and sweat to put bread on their tables in spite
of the unfavourable conditions. Every day they battle between

insecurity in their homes, on the road and even in holy places to

operate as normal human beings in a country that is their own.

Mr. President should remember the cases of Somalia, Sudan, Rwanda,

Liberia, Sierra Leone and Burundi where civil unrest brought untold
hardship to their people. With Nigeria’s 150 million people, any
disturbance of the peace will cause a mass exodus out of Nigeria and
lead to chaos in the region. Nigerians are not happy with the quality
of leadership and they need a systemic change to offer them hope for a
better tomorrow.

There’s general anomie affecting the country with dissension rearing

its ugly head at various locations of the country. The man to be
blamed resides at Aso Rock Villa and it happens to be Umar Musa
Yar’Adua. On a personal level, he is a humble man, innocent looking,
unassuming, forthright and uncorrupted from the allures of office.
However, his management of the Nigerian state leaves him isolated from
the people; boxed within his circle of friends including his
overbearing wife, kinsmen and praise-singers. Former President
Olusegun Obasanjo foisted him on Nigerians perhaps wandering what
happened regarding the failure of his third term bid.

Like every typical father in an African family, President Yar’Adua

must take every glory or blame for whatever conditions Nigerians find
themselves. Do not forget that Africans have what the Europeans have
termed extended family system. If you buy a ram for your father, you
must also buy one for your uncle, your step-mother or great
grandfather. If your married sister in the next village hears of this,
then she comes in the early morning with complaints of neglect. A
successful man who is blessed by God and well placed in society does
not need any reminder that he is in charge of his family’s welfare
including extended family members and relations. Mr. President is a
successful man in the eyes of his people and in our eyes too. This is
where the tragedy is, that when the head of the family refuses to
supply for all these teeming dependants, he is considered a bad man, a

tight fisted in-law, a miser, an insensitive man, and sometimes a

stupid man for not playing ball with all these people. This is our

The Nigeria of today under President Yar’Adua is in periculum magnum

from different angles. Nigeria is passing through a period of trials
and temptations; the incessant militant attacks, religious riots,
teachers’ strikes, bank restructuring, deregulation, civil service
reforms, constitutional reforms and an erratic supply of social
services in the midst of general insecurity. Naturally, Nigerians are
looking for whom to blame for their plight. Since there’s a sitting
president, he must take all this dirt on his head. It may not be the
president’s fault that we are experiencing this situation. But who do
you blame?

I need to pray for President Yar’Adua believing that God will deliver
him from the senseless and uncompromising counsel against the Nigerian
people from praise-singers, charlatans and sycophants. I have heard
complaints from people blaming the president for lack of electricity,
lack of good roads, lack of drugs in our hospitals and so many other
complaints. I have read commentaries blaming the president as papa go-
slow, Mr. Rule- of-Law and all such incendiary comments. All these are
due to the fact that he is in charge of this territorial boundary
called Nigeria at this moment. He needs our sympathy.

The pressure on every president is tremendous. Some people follow

shrewd methods to bend his opinion to suit what they want in either
approving a contract, an appointment or release of funds for their
use. There’s no need to pretend about events happening in Nigerian
society and Mr. President must know that things are not well with us.
There’s general apathy both at home and abroad about the style of
leadership employed to deal with national issues. Unless something is
done and done fast, Nigeria may suffer terribly in the months ahead.

In the eyes of the international community, Nigeria is a rich country

that can support itself and take care of its needs. But there’s
nothing indicating that we are on the path towards prosperity. Nobody
is convinced by the wanton lies told to Nigerians about the fight
against corruption, improvement in the economy and the fight against
criminal activities. If you watch the face of Nigerians you will
notice the worry written all over their faces. All indicators are
pointing towards the presidency that they accuse of being too slow in
making serious decisions, too slow to understand, and too slow to plan

The onus falls within the purview of Mr. President to look up to

heaven and make hay while the sun is shining. There’s every reason for
Nigerians to smile because of our abundant natural and human
resources. Many analysts believe that Nigeria’s problems rest with the
leadership. And when talking about leadership, we focus on the symbol
of leadership as found in Mr. President. The blame goes to him for
whatever happens. Although this is not always right, it only shows
that people are helpless and look up to someone with powers to turn
things around. When such occasions are not forthcoming, we blame the
person whom we expect to take the bull by the horns and call a spade a
spade because he is empowered by Nigerians to represent their
collective interest.

My prayer for the president is short: In the midst of abundance, guide

President Yar’Adua Lord, to take Nigerians out of this economic
morass. Increase his strength and heal him in body and mind
completely. Dear Lord, help him to make the right decisions and be at
the right place at the right time with the right intention. Above all,
prosper Nigeria so that criminal activities will halt forever. We pray
O Lord!

V.C.O Yakubu, former Director Media Service Centre Kaduna, is priest of the
Catholic Diocese of Zaria working in the Diocese of Phoenix, Arizona USA.

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