As the 2019 elections draw near, renowned economist and politician, Prof. Pat Utomi, has called on Catholic faithful in Nigeria to get active in politics and aspire to position to enable them change the system and bring good governance.
The Political Economist, said Nigeria needed people like prophet Amos and a liberation theology where lay faithful to be involved in politics, adding that “if you do not get involve in politics, you are doing yourself a disservice.”
He spoke at the 2018 edition of the Catholic Men Organisation convention of the Catholic Archdiocese in Lagos, where he urged priests of the Catholic Church in Nigeria to encourage lay faithful to participate in politics, quoting Pope John Paul II who had said in 1982 that, “the place of lay men in the church is the market square as they are better positioned to making Christ present at the Market Square.”
Utomi lamented that the biggest problem of politics in Nigeria is that it extremely monetized, explaining that this kind of politics can be changed if many God fearing men and women get into politics.
He gave the South Korean example where candidates had to debate and tell the people their plans if they were voted into office.
He said that the change Nigerians needed in politics must come from Catholics urging them to remove fears and join the political train to make things better.
“Until you learn enough of what is going on in your environment and engage in reasoning public conversation and influence people to seek to work together for the common good of the society what you get is this rat race of grabbing, me, myself and I and in the end, we all under perform.
“Until men like you stand up and say that public service is about sacrificial giving of yourself for the common good of all, our society will continue to experience the kind of problem we experience in politics.”
He criticised the rampant defection of politicians within the last couple of weeks, saying that those defecting do not believe in the survival of Nigeria, but in survival of self.
The Catholic Archbishop Lagos, Alfred Adewale Martins, said in his goodwill message that taking look at event in our society, “if and whenever stand up for Jesus, then we can hope that our country will be faced with a future that is bright and prosperous.
“In order to stand up for Jesus, we must put our armor of God and persevere in the battles which we fight in this life.
“Amidst this realities and challenges, what is expected of Christians, especially Catholics, is to continue to bear witness to the truth taught by our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ and also to emulate the life style of Saint Joseph the worker, the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary.”
He urged the CMO that as fathers their families look up to them for guidance and provision and that the church expects them to be firm in faith committed to the duties of Jesus Christ.
Two earlier speakers, Reverend Fathers Gabriel Iheanacho and Bonaventure Ifejigbo, had called on the Catholic Men Organisation members to search and ensure they find Christ, but in the search they must ensure they are holy because the Almighty God is holy himself.
Father Iheanacho said holiness is not an aspect of God because He is holy in his nature, while urging Christians who want to reach God to first acknowledge their unworthiness first before Him.
He said appeals like this to God would bring down His mercies insisting that what follows after acknowledging your unworthiness is repentance for sin.
He said, “Repentance is not a call to reject sin alone, it is also a call to calculate, take decision, be so resolved that you are battle ready.”
Quoting from Romans 2vs 4 , he said “In repentance we pledge our will to God. Repentance is a process of having our will power healed. In repentance God is calling us to auto transcendence which rising above yourself, in repentance God is calling us to be bigger, in repentance you retract your actions.”
Similarly, Father Ifejigbo spoke about discipleship and the cost and benefit of being a disciple of Jesus Christ, saying that discipleship entails making disciples who disciplined.
Earlier, the President of the CMO in Lagos Archdiocese, Mr. John Aigbokhaode, said the organisation was conscious of events around it, hence the choise of the team Stand Up for Jesus and Eliminate the Vacuum.
He said that it is only when members of the organisation genuinely come together to seek the face of God and act for the common good of the people that they can have a viable organisation worthy of the name Catholic Men Organisation.
He lamented that there is a great vacuum in the leadership of Nigeria, especially as Christians get the raw end of the deal, saying, “We must stand up to eliminate this vacuum.”