By Pastor Otive Igbuzor, PhD
Outline Of Lecture At The Petroleum Industry Christian Fellowship International 2016 National Prayer Conference On 2nd October, 2016.
Let me commend the Petroleum Industry Christian Fellowship for the idea behind setting up the fellowship and for organizing this programme.
The topic Making Nigeria a Desired destination of choice is very timely. Nigeria is grappling with a lot of political, social and economic challenges. The country is currently in recession. Insurgency and terrorist attacks have been going on for the past few years. The militants in the Niger Delta have resumed attack on oil pipelines. Only a few days ago, the wife of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria was kidnapped. Many foreigners are afraid to come to Nigeria for business or visit. Advisory from the embassies of many countries warn them that Nigeria is not safe. Meanwhile, every country needs other people to invest and visit the country because we live in an interdependent world. It is therefore necessary to make Nigeria a destination of choice. To make Nigeria a destination of choice is to turn Nigeria into a place where investors and people want to invest and live.
WHAT IS THE PRESENT SITUATION?
The ease of doing business index ranks countries against each other based on how the regulatory environment is conducive to business operations.1 Economies with a high rank (1-20) have a simpler and more friendly regulations for businesses. Ease of doing business in Nigeria averaged 141.88 from 2008 until 2015 reaching an all-time high of 170 in 2014. The figure for 2015 is 169 (Compare with Singapore 1; United Kingdom 6; United States 7; Mauritius 32; Rwanda 62 and South Africa 73).
The World’s Economist Intelligence Unit report which ranks the best and worst cities to live in the world indicated that Lagos in Nigeria is the third worst city to live in the World.2 The other countries are Damascus, Syria (1); Tripoli, Libya (2); Dhaka, Bangladesh (4); Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (5); Algiers, Algeria (6); Karachi, Pakistan (6); Harare, Zimbabwe (8) and Doula, Cameroun (9).
It is therefore clear that with the present situation, investors and tourists will not choose Nigeria as a desired destination.
Only recently President Mohammadu Buhari assured global investors of Nigeria’s commitment to work hard to make Nigeria one of the most attractive places to invest.3 The President has set up a Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council and promised reforms including creating opportunities around seaports, airports, visa-on arrival, improving speed and efficiency of land titling as well as business registration, tax holidays up to five years, absence of restriction of expatriate quotas in free trade zones and a low VAT regime of five percent.
There is no doubt that making Nigeria a desired destination of choice requires more that policy pronouncements. It requires comprehensive change in all aspects of life in Nigeria.
HOW CAN NIGERIA BE CHANGED?
The President Muhammadu Buhari administration was inaugurated on 29th May, 2015, a time of monumental changes across the world. There are a lot of changes taking place with increasing uncertainty, growing ambiguity, increasing complexity, access to massive information and new technology.
The past five decades have witnessed monumental changes in the economic sphere. Global economic wealth has increased sevenfold and average incomes have tripled. Yet, poverty has increased to record high levels. The major problem is that wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few people while majority of the people live in abject poverty. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in its 1998 report documented that the three richest people in the world have assets that exceed the combined Gross Domestic Product of the 48 least developed countries. In 2014, eighty five richest people in the world had the same wealth as the poorest 50 percent (3.4 billion people). By 2015, only 80 richest people have the same wealth as the poorest 50 percent. In the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, income inequality is at its highest level in the last fifty years. The average income of the richest 10 percent of the population is about nine times that of the poorest 10 percent. It has been documented that the drivers of inequalities include globalization, skilled biased technological change and changes in countries policy approaches (ascendancy of neo-liberalism).
In the last ten years, there has been a lot of changes in political leadership across the world. In 2008, the political leadership of the United States of America changed from the Conservative Party to the Democratic Party. In 2011, the political leadership in the United Kingdom changed from Labour Party to Conservative Party. In the last decade, there has been changes in many countries across the world including France, Italy, Greece, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Cote D’Voire, and Senegal. One slogan that has reverberated across the world is change.
We have always argued that change will happen in any society when the conditions are ripe. In our view, for change to occur in any society requires the presence of objective and subjective conditions. Objective conditions exist when situations are evidently abnormal with huge contradictions which can only be resolved by change. The subjective conditions are the organizational preparations required to bring about change. There is no doubt that the objective conditions for change has been existing in Nigeria for a very long time. There is high level of poverty in the midst of plenty. Corruption is widespread, endemic and stifling progress. The wealth of the country is concentrated in the hands of a few. There is social disintegration with high levels of promiscuity and divorce. Rape is on the increase. There are several cases of incest. There is high level of greed, selfishness and nepotism. The state of affairs is not sustainable. The challenge has been the absence of the subjective conditions with the requisite organization and platform to mobilize for social change. It was therefore easy for Nigerians to buy into the change agenda of the All Progressives Congress leading to the inauguration of the government on 29th May, 2015. The challenge before the government and the Nigerian people is the nature of change and how to actualize the change.
We have argued elsewhere that the kind of change required in Nigeria must be comprehensive affecting all facets of life. The change must affect the five key areas of security, economy, politics, social and technological. It is obvious that without security, there can be no development. In the economic arena, there should be change in the structures and institutions of economic management; diversification of the economy; promotion of transparency and accountability and promotion of pro-poor policies. In politics, there should be change of the 1999 Constitution; institutions of horizontal accountability; the electoral system; democraticculture; party financing, campaign finance and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). In the socio-cultural arena, there should be re-orientation on social values; re-orientation on work ethics and corporate Social responsibility and investment. Finally, there should be focus on acquisition and utilization of new technology. In addition, there should be change in the way public administration is organized.
In any case, it must be recognised that to bring about change in any country is a process that must be meticulously thought out and implemented. It should start with accessing the need for change. This assessment should affect all aspects of life of the country including structure, culture, strategies, human resources, organisational processes and leadership. It is on the basis of this assessment that the government can decide on the change to make. While deciding on the change to make, cognisance should be given to possible resistance. There are many reasons why people resist change. Some people are establishment or status-quo prone and will resist change. Others resist change because of self-interest or misunderstanding of the content or nature of change. Studies have shown that globally, about 70 percent of all change efforts have failed.
The challenge before the President Muhammadu Buhari administration is to put in place a strategy for change and a model for managing resistance to change. A strategy for change should recognise the three basic stages of unfreezing, moving and refreezing in the change process. Unfreezing is the stage where you conduct a diagnosis and then unfreeze the old organisational culture. This involves clear communication on the negative consequences of old ways while developing new modes of operation. Moving is when you produce a new strategy and initiate new ways of doing things to effect structural, cultural and individual change through effective leadership. Refreezing is a systematic way of strengthening new behaviours that support change and reinforcing the new behaviour continuously.
A model of managing resistance to change will include specific strategies to enlist co-operation of the people to support the change process. Several approaches can be used to enlist co-operation. The citizens should be educated about upcoming changes before they occur. The nature and logic of the change should be clearly communicated. As the change process is going on, the government should listen to the people affected by the change. Training and resources should be provided to the people who need to carry out the change and perform their roles under the new circumstances. Incentives should be offered for co-operation and punishment should be applied to those who resist change.
In addition, government should recruit change champions. These are people who are passionate about change, know the nature of change required and are prepared to lead the process of change. They should be able to develop a vision and strategy for the change process including a description of the state of affairs after the change has been implemented. The vision must be clearly communicated and the people mobilised to support it.
THE ROLE OF CHRISTIANS IN SOCIETY
In other to understand the role of Christians in society, it is important to give a brief review of the history of the church. The history of the church indicates that it has passed through different phases. In the first three centuries, church growth was accelerated by the persecution of the church. In the fourth century, Christianity became the official Roman religion. In the seventh century, Islam was founded. By the tenth century, 50 percent of former Christian areas were under Islam. By the 14th century, John Wycliffe translated the Bible into English and emphasized the sole authority of the scriptures and the priesthood of all believers. In the 16th century, the years of reformation promoted by Martin Luther King and others emphasized justification by faith and priesthood of all believers. The protestant reformation was anchored on three issues:
1. Authority of the scriptures,
2. Justification by faith and
3. Priesthood of all believers.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the emphasis was on revival, missions and holiness. In the 20th century, the emphasis was on Pentecostalism- Holy Ghost baptism and empowerment.
It is therefore clear that the reformation and revivals that happened within Christianity were meant to ensure that the authority of the scriptures were maintained and the adherents of the faith conducted themselves in line with the belief. Unfortunately, one aspect that suffered neglect is the social arm of the church to make the integrated mission of the gospel complete.
Integrated mission is an approach that recognises the need for spiritual and social ministry to respond to the spiritual and temporal needs of the people in a changing and diverse world. It also aspires to reduce the distinction between priests and laity in carrying out the mission of the gospel to ensure participation of all who profess the faith. Finally, it involves nurturing an environment that allow people to live abundant life in line with the scriptures.
It is important to note that there are differences between biblical and secular world view to many issues. Kariithi and Tongoi give a summary of perspectives to economic issues which is shown in the table below4:
Issue Biblical worldview Secular worldview
Resource ownership God owns, people use Leviticus 25 People own Luke 12:13-21
Access to resources Open Deuteronomy 15:7-11 Closed Isaiah 5:8
Consumption Based on need Luke 14: 12-14 Based on want Amos 6:1-6
Distribution flow Have-have-not2 Corinthians 8:13-15 Have not- have Amos 8: 4-7
Scarcity/Abundance God made enough for all/faithGenesis 1:31 Not enough for all/hoardAmos 3:10
Wealth Wealth defined by leisureZechariah 8:1 Wealth defined by having more than the other Amos 6
Surplus To the needyDeuteronomy 14:28-29 To the elite (wealthy)Amos 4:1
Enough? Finite: the provision of allDeuteronomy 15:1-11 Infinite: never enoughAmos 8:5-6
Creation StewardshipPsalms 24:1 ExploitationLuke 16:19-31
Relationships Harmony Conflict
Jesus Christ showed the way by engaging in a threefold ministry: prophetic, priestly and kingly. The prophetic ministry involved the proclaiming and teaching of God’s word; the priestly involved the conduct of worship, making sacrifices and mediating between God and his people and kingly involved serving people of the world. As Christians, we need to follow the example of Jesus.
THE IDEA OF PETROLEUM INDUSTRY CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP
As noted above, the reformation and revival of the early church left out the social dimension of the gospel: the deepening of spiritual life with social action; addressing the causes of destitution and poverty; and the continuing duty to apply the value of the gospel to the problems of society and so help all members of the church, lay, religious and ordained to play an active part in striving to build a just and compassionate social order.5 The aim is to bring about a good and fair society for the benefit of everyone. This is why the preface to the Common Good and the Catholic Church’s Social teaching stated clearly that:
…the church has the right and the duty to advocate a social order in which the human dignity of all is fostered, and to protest when it is in any way threatened. Thus, the church opposes totalitarianism because it oppresses people and deprives them of their freedom. While recognizing the importance of wealth creation, the church denounces any abuses of economic power such as those which deprive employees of what is needed for a decent standard of living.6
There is therefore a great need for all Christians to go back to the basics and prioritise social dimensions of the gospel as part and parcel of the integrated mission of Jesus Christ.
The idea and formation of the Petroleum Industry Christian Fellowship is a commendable initiative. Petroleum occupies a central position in the political economy of Nigeria. The current economic recession is partly as a result of dwindling revenue from oil and the high level of corruption in the oil and gas sector. Several reports have shown that the oil and gas sector is a cesspool of corruption. Members of the Petroleum Industry Christian Fellowship can act as salt and light in the sector.
The vision of the fellowship is to establish the kingdom of God in the Petroleum industry; improve its performance; advocate just and equitable distribution of its associated wealth for social change and nation building. The mission is to act as a platform for networking and interaction for the sharing and advocacy of best practices, highest moral and ethical values, coupled with the fear of God towards social transformation. The core values of the fellowship are:
1. Fear of God (Departing from anything that does not please God),
2. Integrity (walking the talk)
3. Excellence in service (Meeting the benchmark)
4. Justice (being equitable and fair in all dealings)
5. Honesty (Truthfulness in all dealings)
All over the world, there are challenges of insecurity, conflict, violence, poverty, inequality and humanitarian crisis. Ethical values of justice, honour and integrity have fallen to abysmally low levels. Governments are failing to protect the weak, punish the wicked and promote the welfare of the generality of the people. Meanwhile, Christians should be encouraged to exercise their rights and meet their obligations within the rule of law with strong work ethics and to be good stewards of community and national resources.
COMMITMENT OF A CHRISTIAN TO A BETTER SOCIETY
A person becomes a Christian by giving his/her life to Jesus Christ and accepting him as his/her personal Lord and Saviour. You become a Christian by receiving Jesus Christ by faith (John 1:12; Eph 2:8-9). Any person who gives his life to Jesus Christ and becomes a Christian should show a threefold commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ7:
1. Intellectual Commitment: A Christian should have a clear understanding of what is involved to be a Christian. He should know what God’s plan is for all his children; and that there are responsibilities and privileges of being a Christian. He/She should understand that he/she is a royal priest.
2. Emotional Commitment: A Christian should understand that man is an emotional creature by nature. Some people have dramatic encounter when they give their life to Jesus Christ e.g Apostle Paul in Acts 9. Others give their life in a quiet manner without drama. He/she must understand that emotions can deceive and that it is by faith that a Christian is justified (Rom 1:17). Anyone who has given his/her life to Jesus Christ can have assurance based on the authority of God’s word (1 John 5:9-13); the internal witness of the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:16) and the changed life of the believer (Col 1:6; 1 John 2:3-6).
3. Commitment of the will: The Christian must make a commitment to do God’s will, obey the truth and walk in the light (John 7:17). He/She must be prepared to love God, prepare his/her heart, trust God unconditionally and resolve not to allow wilful sin.
Showing the commitment of a Christian requires one to buy into the integrated mission of Jesus Christ which encapsulates the vision, mission and values of the Petroleum Industry Christian Fellowship.
ILLUSTRATION WITH OPPRESSION
A clear illustration of the commitment of a Christian to integrated mission is how he/she responds to oppression. Oppression can be described as the repeated use of force or trickery to limit access to resources and take rights away forcefully. Oppression is the cruel use of power or authority (compare power with and power over).
· Oppression can take different forms:
(a) Physical-curtail movement; curtail expression; take away your resources; physical assault.
(b) Spiritual oppression- operation of curses and demonic attacks. Some people oppress others by pronouncing curses when the person has done nothing. The Bible is clear on the effect of such curses: Prov 26:2 As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come (KJV)
The Story of Ahab and Naboth 1 kings 21:1-11. (King Ahab coveted the vineyard of Naboth and with the help of his wife (Jezebel) killed Naboth and took his vineyard.
Bible Teaching on Oppression
1. God hates oppression: Amos 4:1-2 Cows of Bashan (Prisoners are led with a rope fastened to a hook)
2. God commands us not to oppress (especially widows, the fatherless, aliens and the poor). Zech 7:9-10 (This is what the Lord Almighty said: “Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other(NIV)). Prov 14:31 (Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their maker, but whoever is kind to the need honours God (NIV); Prov 22:16(One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and one who gives gifts to the rich-both come to poverty (NIV).
3. God protects those who are oppressed: Ps 9:9 (The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble (NIV); Ps 72:12-14 (For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no help. 13 He will take pity on the weak and needy and save the needy from death.14 He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight (NIV); Luke 4:18 (The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.
4. God will punish oppressors: Ps 72:4 (May he defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; may he crush the oppressor (NIV); Ps 12:5 (Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan, I will now arise, says the Lord. I will protect them from those who malign them (NIV); Mal 3:5 (So I will put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud labourers of their wages, whon oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you justice, but do not fear me, says the Lord Almighty (NIV). Message to Oppressors- Do not trust in oppression Ps 62:10 Trust not in oppression, and become not vain in robbery: if riches increase, set not your heart upon them(KJV). Oppressors are cursed Is 10:1. Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees (NIV).
5. God demands that we resist oppression: Ps 82:2-4 How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked? 3 Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. 4 Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
How can you resist Oppression?
1. Knowledge: Know your rights (Cf Internalised oppression). Understand the structures and mechanism of oppression and the schemes and devices of the devil.
2. Overcome slave mentality: For example: 430 years of slavery made the Israelites to have slave mentality Ex 14:11-12 (They preferred to remain as slaves in Egypt. The spies in Numbers 13: 26-33 saw themselves as grasshoppers. Many people see themselves as subjects and not citizens.
3. Speak out against oppression: Ps 82:2-4
4. Organise against oppression: Protest, publicity, high level pressure. The example of Martin Luther King.
5. Show the way: Do not oppress others-subordinates, children, younger ones.
From the above, it is clear that when you see oppression and look the other way, you are not a good, practicing and committed Christian. You are not obedient to the commandments of God.
Challenge To Members Of Petroleum Industry Christian Fellowship Members And Indeed All Christians
All Christians have obligation as Christians to be involved in social dimensions of the gospel as followers of Jesus Christ.
All members should commit their time, energy and resources to fulfil the vision and mission of the organization. For this to happen requires training. The work of the social dimensions of the church requires certain kind of skills including mobilsation, campaigning, advocacy, communication, analysis, research, networking, fund raising, monitoring and evaluation and activism. Members of value must build their skills in these areas. Finally, members must be prepared to take action when the need arises. Action may be required to support humanitarian services or to protect the poor and oppressed or to protest against an unjust law, policy, programme or action.
As at today, Nigeria is not a desired destination of choice for investors and tourists. But it is desirable to make Nigeria a destination of choice. The government is making efforts to make Nigeria attractive to investors. But there is the need for the efforts of the government to be comprehensive, well thought out and clinically implemented. Christians have a great role to play in contributing to making Nigeria a desired destination of choice. The idea of Petroleum Industry Christian Fellowship International is a good initiative to contribute to the integrated mission of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I challenge all members to be committed to the ideals of Petroleum Industry Christian Fellowship International to build their skills and commit their time, energy and resources to the realization of the vision and mission of the organization.
1 Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria
2 The 9 Worst Cities to live in the World
3 The Guardian Newspapers 2
October, 2016 Nigeria to become choice investment destination says Buhari
4 Kariithi, K. K. and Tongoi, D. O. (2005) (Eds), Building a Prosperous Kenya: A Perspective for the Church-God
’s Primary Agency for Social Tranformation. Nairobi, Christians for a Just Society.
5 The Common Good and the Catholic Church
’s Social Teaching: A Statement by the Catholic Bishop
’s Conference of England and Wales, 1996.
7 Bright, Bill (1981), Handbook of Concepts for Living. California, Campus Crusade for Christ Incorporated.
Pastor Igbuzor is the General Overseer of Palace of Priests Assembly (PPA), Abuja.
Website: www.priestsassembly.org ; www.otiveigbuzor.com