While basking in the euphoria of the new year and in the anxiety of what 2018 brings, not necessarily for me as an individual but for us as a nation, I decided to pick up my phone and browse through the prophecies of our numerous and most respected Clerics as it has become a tradition that they paint for us, a prophetic picture of what every new year is going to look like.

Yes, almost every one of them brought a message from “God”, about how God told them which politicians will fight each other, the ones who will continue to have health complications, the friends who are going to turn foes and even how the economic recession is even going to worsen. I must confess, only a few of them brought soothing prophecies this time.

Anyway, of all the declarations, the particular one which tickled my fancy is one mentioned by a very popular religious figure in this country where he, during his crossover service, declared to his congregation how God has told him to run for president but hasn’t told him when to contest. Now, this is where my curiosity arises, and it is on the issue of whether religious figures should really participate in politics.

Don’t get me wrong, I honestly have no issue with anybody declaring their intention to exercise their franchise as it is every citizen’s right but I have reservations not only towards them using religion as a platform but also with men of God and the political precedents set in this in this country, then my doubts are valid. I also feel the romance between religious figures and politicians as witnessed in this country is not only sarcastic, but has also never done us their followers any good.

Normally, all things placed as it should be, there is a bar-line between religion and politics as some of the principles which religion thrives on in my set cases, negates that of politics, especially in the areas of laws, morals and to some extent logic and this is where for believers, the orientation about politics being a dirty game birthed from. I feel men of God should have no business with politics and propagandas as much as we witness in Nigeria.

My other reservation with men of God, as we call them, wanting to double as politicians in this clime of ours is the fact that they all don’t cut out for me, as a better option than the regular politicians we’re already complaining about. You all even need to see how much politics play out in our churches and mosques. For some of us who have had experiences with men of God and their domineering and self-righteous nature, we’ll understand why I fear it may even end up being a ‘from frypan to fire’ situation for us as a nation. Is it not these same political partisans in the mold of clerics?

Are they not the same clerics whom we’ve seen try to exercise influence by telling followers which politician to support and vote for? Are they not the clerics with personal political interests, even within their own faith? Are they not same clerics who do not even love themselves enough to now talk of them loving citizens of diverse faith, ethnicity and beliefs and to integrate us as one? Pleeaassee, I think we a whole lot more options to consider amongst us.

On the flip-side, I understand it is not totally wrong if a religious figure steps up and considers himself competent enough and possessing the qualities to lead us as a nation, it isn’t bad if he feels he is the messiah we need, but the poser remains… Can we trust them enough with our votes? Are they the best option for our growth and integration as a nation?

My take hereby is, let religious figures remain men of God and continue to focus on their spiritual mandates while politicians remain politicians until we find the right one. God bless Nigeria!!!

Temidayo E. Ayodele

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