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Do Not Rig Your Way to Power, Nigerian Archbishop Cautions, Calls for Servant Leadership

Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama of Nigeria’s Abuja Archdiocese/ Credit: Courtesy Photo

The Archbishop of Nigeria’s Abuja Archdiocese has called on aspiring political leaders in the West African country to embrace servant leadership after the person of Jesus Christ, and not to impose themselves upon the people.

In his Sunday, November 21 homily on the Solemnity of Christ the King, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama said Nigeria is in need of leaders who are ready to pursue truth and justice in all their dealings and not to manipulate their way to power.

“As we celebrate Christ as the King of truth, He should be an example par excellence to our political leaders to pursue truth and justice in all their dealings and not to manipulate their way to power, by rigging elections or imposing themselves or by manipulating the youths, security agents or electoral officers,” Archbishop Kaigama said in his homily at Holy Trinity Maitama Parish of Abuja Archdiocese.

He added, “The responsibility of a king is to care for his subjects. Leaders must therefore lead with decorum and vision.”

Leaders in Nigeria, the Catholic Archbishop said, must be concerned about the majority poor who live in rural areas, suffering the deprivation of infrastructure, education, healthcare, as well as the very poor who live in urban areas.

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Making reference to various groups of deprived of dignity in Nigeria, Archbishop Kaigama said, “Here, I remember the poor frustrated pensioners, especially, my security guard who retired many years ago from government service, and hovers between Abuja and Lagos without any hope of getting his entitlement.”

The Archbishop of Abuja further made reference to the parable of the bramble in Judges Chapter nine, a parable he said teaches leaders how not to be leaders by force or by fraud.

“We read of the treachery of selfish ambition when one of Gideon’s sons, Abimelech, by a Shechemite concubine, wanted to become the leader above the 70 legitimate sons of Gideon. His mother’s family provided both political and financial support that resulted in an ambush of Gideon’s sons at Ophrah wherein all 70 were murdered “on one stone” except for the youngest, Jotham, who hid himself and escaped the slaughter,” Archbishop Kaigama recounted.

The passage in Judges further indicates that the deceptive and murderous Abimelech was crowned king beside the “oak of the pillar which is at Shechem.”

Jotham who escaped into exile told the parable of the trees wanting to anoint a king over them, by inviting the olive tree, the fig tree, and the vine, which all refused, the Archbishop narrated.

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He added, “Finally, all the trees said to the bramble, ‘You come, reign over us!’ The olive and fig trees and the vine knew what they were created for and were not tempted to covet a role that was not theirs, but the bramble which did not have the characteristics of leadership simply wanted to rule, and so, readily accepted the offer of kingship, but ruling with coercive dominance.”

The parable of the trees, Archbishop Kaigama said, provides a powerful insight into the dangers posed by “ambitious, self-centered and dominating leaders.”

“Leaders are called like Christ to serve rather than be served,” he said, and added, “Let us pray fervently today for Nigerian leaders especially those with the ambition to rule this nation or their states or local governments, that God will imbue them with the qualities of truth and selfless leadership.”

The leaders, he said, should be like the productive olive tree, fig tree and the vine, and not like the brambles in the parable.

The Solemnity of Christ the King is also a source of hope to the people of God who are weighed down by various challenges, the Archbishop said.

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“Today’s celebration points to God as fundamental to our existence. He alone is King of the world,” the Nigerian Bishop said, and added, “Even as we battle with climate change and the destabilizing COVID-19 Pandemic, it should be a sober reminder that we cannot do it alone.”

“We may boast of huge advances in science and technology, but like the sons of Adam building the tower in Genesis Chapter 11, our innovative and magnificent technology could disappoint us badly. We are to seek God and be always guided by Him,” he said.

Archbishop Kaigama further called on the people of God in the country to allow Jesus to be king of their lives “just as He is the universal and cosmic king.”

“Today’s feast tells us that we must think of Christ not only in the past or in the future. He is already here,” he said.

He added in reference to Jesus Christ, “If His words in the beatitudes and His commandment to love one another should be our guide, then the world will be a delight to live in. But when we ignore the fundamentals of justice, cordial interpersonal relationships and tear at each other, this world becomes hellish. When what is yours is unjustly denied you, life becomes unbearable.”

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