Forgive me for dragging you along with me on my penchant for prayers but it is the only way I know. And you know what’s more, it works for me. So let’s settle this: prayers work, at least for those who believe in it. If you don’t, I respect your choice and added to that, I wish you the best.
On the premise of the efficacy of prayers which I just tried to sell to you, I want to suggest that this man, Muhammadu Buhari who was sworn in two days ago as President of Nigeria needs prayers. Buhari himself knows this. I recall that he said the following at the inaugural gala held at the presidential villa on the night of the inauguration: “Nigeria prays a lot; we need to even pray the more for luck so that the expectations our people have, especially the youth, would be met.”
It would be the third very inspiring thing from the president that day. The first was the “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody” sound bite. I also find it inspiring that he considers the operation of states and local governments worthy of attention and that he coveted the prayers of Nigerians in the very onerous task of nation building which lies ahead.
Buhari has more than enough to deal with. He has inherited a prostrate economy where revenue has dwindled but work is much. Power supply is at miserably low, unemployment is alarming, insecurity is pervasive and corruption has become a way of life.
Tackling all of these problems and others that will surface in the days to come will require more than Buhari’s towering ascetic reputation. It will take guts, it will take the assemblage of a good team as well as the continued support of the party on whose platform he became president. Which is exactly where trouble might be lurking.
As time goes on, Buhari may discover that his greatest challenge is not necessarily the myriad of problems piled up by the actions and inactions of past governments, especially that of his immediate predecessor which is labelled by a lot of people as the most profligate and incompetent administration ever, (even by its very architect who was president for eight of the 16 years since our return to democracy) but the change of heart by some of the people with whom he has travelled before now.
Given the pecuniary nature of our politics and the fact that this would not change soon, the kitchen may soon get too hot for some of those who walked with the President until now. Some would stop believing in the dream or refuse to travel the route through which the President wants to achieve the dream that they dreamt together. At such moments of disappointment, the President’s self-discipline and incorruptibility will have no answer.
Those profound statements made by Buhari will come back to haunt him. In his mind, he thinks he belongs to nobody but those who think they own him will claim their possession. His kinsmen will come for him, his political party will grab his coat tails while retired generals will remind him about espirit de corps
There will come moments when Buhari will feel weary and tired of it all. Moments when he will find it difficult to trust anyone other than Aisha, his wife, who unfortunately, may not have solutions for him.
Here Buhari will need God like never before. Unfortunately, he may not even have time to pray! The weight of administering Nigeria with all its complexities might leave little room for our president to get personal with God the way he should at that time. This is when the prayers of Nigerians will work for him. I promise you that Buhari will get to this point. Every leader who desires change gets there and it is only God who sees them through.
This reminds me of the story I read about what American Civil Rights Leader, Martin Luther King faced shortly after he was nominated to lead the Montgomery bus boycott as a young, 26-year-old pastor.
The account said that after eight weeks, Luther King got weary. He got to a point where he could abandon the struggle as his strength was finished. He then turned to God and offered the following prayer: “Lord, I’m down here trying to do what’s right. Now, I am afraid. And I can’t let the people see me like this because if they see me weak and losing my courage, they will begin to get weak. I am at the end of my powers. I have nothing left. I’ve come to the point where I can’t face it alone.”
Coretta King, wrote in Standing in the Need of Prayer that: “When Martin stood up from the table, he was imbued with a new sense of confidence, and he was ready to face anything”
Although his house was bombed a few days later, no one was hurt and that gave King the confidence that God was on his side. He transformed his fear into assurance through the power of prayer, moving on from there to lead the struggle. Those who love Nigeria, must want Buhari to succeed and those who want him to succeed must pray for him.
May God endue you with strength and grace for the journey, President Buhari.
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