The Archbishop of Abuja Archdiocese in Nigeria has said that the West African nation stands in need of a leader after the example of Jesus Christ, aware of the challenges of the people of God and prepared to make sacrifices for the common good, including laying down his or her own life.
In his Sunday, November 20 homily at Infant Jesus Parish of his Metropolitan See on the Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe, Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama said most challenges that Nigerians are facing stem from leaders who are not ready to suffer for the people.
“We need a Christ-like leader who is ready to lay down his life for us; knows our pains and sufferings and is compassionate and wants us to live socially well and to the fullest,” Archbishop Kaigama said.
He added, “Most of the troubles and sufferings that we go through in our nation today result from leaders who are not ready to suffer for the common good of the estimated 216 million Nigerians.”
The Nigerian Catholic Archbishop said he found it regrettable that instead of attending to the sufferings of the people, Nigerian leaders have gotten inside their comfort zone, and additionally diverted “the fortunes of the poor masses to their personal treasury, leaving the common purse empty.”
He lamented the fact that senior government officials are given huge salaries and side benefits to sustain themselves while other workers are given “miserable salaries which come infrequently and in some cases are even tempered with.”
Archbishop Kaigama advocated for altruism, saying, “Always consider the other person to be better than yourself, so that nobody thinks of his own interests first but everybody thinks of other people’s interests instead.”
Leaders, he further said, “are called to live simply and to sacrifice for people entrusted to their care through humble and self-giving service.”
In his November 20 homily, the Nigerian Catholic Church leader questioned the character of political candidates in the 2023 elections
“As the campaigns are becoming more and more vigorous, the question is if political candidates understand that leadership is about selfless service modeled after that of Jesus who came not to be served but to serve", he said.
He added, “I am yet to hear those contesting the forthcoming elections saying that they are ready to serve to the point of giving back what they owe the poor like Zacchaeus or even to die for the good of their people."
Instead of explaining how they will offer their selfless service, politicians in Nigeria are “struggling feverishly to win elections and having won, they immediately start to expend energy and resources on how to win again after four years,” he lamented.
The Nigerian Archbishop who started his Episcopal Ministry in April 1995 as Bishop of Nigeria’s Jalingo Diocese urged political candidates in the25 February 2023 general elections to remain approachable and accessible to the people even after being voted into office.
He went on to caution the political candidates against the tendency to ignore the plight of those they govern, forgetting the promises they made during campaigns.
The Nigerian Archbishop challenged political candidates foster friendship with people, saying, “Jesus is the model leader political leaders must imitate. He was a friend to all, the lepers with whom people never associated with, the sick, the poor, the wretched, the tax collectors and sinners. He sought out what was lost.”
“The number of Nigerians living in poverty stands at over 133 million, a figure that represents 63 per cent of the nation’s population as announced recently by the National Bureau of Statistics,” he said during the November 20 Eucharistic celebration marking the Solemnity of Christ the King.
The Catholic Church leader added, “We need to call on Christ the King to come to our assistance in the midst of growing insecurity, poverty, inattention to God; the wave of greed and materialism, the notoriety of dirty political schemes, the addictive dictatorship of the social media, and abuse of technology.”
“May Christ the King grant us the much-needed security and freedom from poverty, bad governance and corruption,” Archbishop Kaigama said.