Our nation today can be likened to the deplorable state of the walls and gates of Jerusalem before it was rebuilt by Nehemiah and his team. We have never needed urgent rehabilitation for both the citizenry and the nation as we do today. All the sectors of the economy have been badly managed and abused such that, to an outsider, it will appear as if our past leaders calculatedly and deliberalety pillaged and pilloried the economy.
Majority of the states of the federation are owing salaries of between six and eight months, not to mention pension arrears. Our debt profile has risen beyond every past known and unknown limit. As if the economic woes aren’t enough, we are having to contend with threat to our national security and safety through the onslaught of the deadly Boko Haram sect. Several thousands have lost their lives since this war began and millions have been displaced both internally and externally.
It was therefore not surprising that Nigerians chorused in unison for change during the last poll and voted out the PDP led government. While some voted for President Buhari because of his personal integrity and character, a lot of people voted for him because they wanted GEJ out. Will PMB maintain and strengthen that confidence reposed in him by Nigerians?
Anyway we now have PMB in charge and he has been running the nation’s affairs in the last eight weeks. Is he the messiah we are looking for or should we expect another messiah? Like John the Baptist sent to Jesus and asked “Art thou he that should come? Or look we for another?” (Luke 7:19), Nigerians are also beginning to ask. The answer to this question may not be fully answered until maybe another one year or so.
Be that as it may, Nigeria needs leaders like Nehemiah urgently. At the Federal level, State level and Local Government level, we need leaders in the mould and similitude of Nehemiah. We need leaders who are builders. We need leaders with the courage and boldness to pick from the ruins of our economy and rebuild our walls and gates. If President Buhari is to succeed as our President, he must borrow a lot of lessons from Prophet Nehemiah.
Who is Nehemiah?
Nehemiah was the cupbearer to King Artaxerxes of Persia. He was the greatest king at that time ruling over several nations. Nehemiah was from Jerusalem and was among those taken into captivity after Jerusalem was besieged and taken over by the Babylonians. He was one of the Prophets in the Bible. He was a builder. He was a leader. He was a governor in Judah.
Nehemiah was a man with passion for his country. He sought information about the welfare of his fellow countrymen who escaped the captivity and how Jerusalem was faring. Despite being favoured in a strangeland and having access to the King, his mind was on his birthland. He wept when he learnt about the state of Jerusalem from Hanani his fellow countryman. (Nehemiah 1) He sought the face of the Lord for his nation through prayer and fasting. Our leaders must have passion for this great nation to succeed in their positions or offices. They must be willing to leave their comfort zones to rebuild this great nation. PMB undoubtedly is passionate about making Nigeria great again. It takes a man of passion to contest an election against the incumbent four times before winning. Let him sustain this passion and let the passion sustain him.
Nehemiah was a man of integrity. He was trusted by King Artaxerxes to return back after rebuilding Jerusalem. The King asked him when he will return after Nehemiah sought permission to go and rebuild Jerusalem. He gave a time and kept to that time. Nehemiah 2:6, 7:1-2. When he had completed the task of rebuilding, he handed over the nation to Hanani, a man he had found faithful. PMB should not make the mistakes common to African leaders, believing they deserve third term or life presidency. If he so desires to go for second term, he should. However he should not assume he has monopoly of wisdom to solve our myriads of problems. He should surround himself with people of like passion and integrity. He should not be blinded by ethnic and religious bigotry. He will fail if he does so.
Nehemiah was a man of discretion. He carried out his plan with huge sense of responsibility and secrecy. “And I arose in the night, I and some few men with me; neither told I any man what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem: neither was there any beast with me, saved the beast that I rode upon.” Nehemiah 2:12. Our leaders talk too much. They say too much to the press. They reveal too much of their plans before they even begin implementation. This remains a recipe for failure across all races, times and divides. PMB cannot go far if he is always revealing his plans to the public, especially on security matters. There are many Sanballats and Tobias around him. He should be careful.
Nehemiah refused to be discouraged by the resistance of Sanballat and Tobias. He read though all their schemes and received divine direction from God on how to counter their every move. He chose the right people in the project of rebuilding Jerusalem. PMB requires discerning spirit and grace to know who is who. He needs to be prayerful and close to God to lead Nigeria successfully. He must be able to hear directly from God himself and rely less on the plethora of fake ministers of God in our nation. Woe unto that nation whose leader cannot hear the voice of God. We all saw how the last election divided the church in our nation. Such a shame that some leaders in the church threw all cautions to the wind and declared that there was no vacancy in Aso Rock. PMB should surround himself with religious leaders who have been known to speak the truth regardless of popular opinion. Sometimes in governance, voice populi may not be vox dei. PMB should note this.
Nehemiah was a man who did not convert state resources for his own advantage. During his twelve years of his reign as governor, he never ate the governor’s bread. He didn’t exact from the people to feed himself or his family. “Moreover from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year even unto the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that is, twelve years, I and my brethren have not eaten the bread of the governor. But the former governors that had been before me were chargeable unto the people, and had taken of them bread and wine, beside forty shekels of silver; yea, even their servants bare rule over the people: but so did not I, because of the fear of God.” Nehemiah 5:14-15. PMB must continue in his commendable banner of prudent mangement of the nation’s resources. He must not abuse his office and follow the path of his predecessors. That path can only lead to ignominy and shame.
Nehemiah took responsibility and took charge of Jerusalem. He acknowledged that they had sinned against God and pleaded for mercy on behalf of his people. He never pushed the blame to past leaders. PMB must accept full responsibility for governance and focus on correcting past errors without pointing fingers. He should strengthened systems and structures that will address cases of corruption in the past administration to such extent as will not distract him from his core function of charting a new course for Nigeria. If he must succeed, then he must make diversification of Nigeria economy a major policy thrust during his administration.
Finally, Nehemiah relied on God all the steps of the way. He knew God and recognised God’s plan. He was not overly reliance on foreign powers. While foreign help could be good and sometimes needful, President Buhari should not overly rely on foreign powers to solve our problems. He should careful in signing pacts with US or any other nation. Solutions to many of our problems are available within the boundary of our nation. If we harness our diverse strengths well, we will become a force to reckon with among the comity of nation.
Here are my bits of advice to President Muhammadu Buhari.
Will he be the Nehemiah of our time?
God bless President Muhammadu Buhari.
God bless Nigeria.