1.1 Background to the Study
Church is the translation of the Greek term ekklesia, and is used in the New Testament to identify the community of believers in Jesus Christ. It literally means assembly, congregation, or meeting. A similar term was used in the Old Testament referring to experiences such as “the day of the assembly,” “the Lord’s congregation,” or “meeting before the Lord.” The early Christian church had no buildings, at least not in the sense of what we would consider church buildings today. First century Christians were often persecuted and, as a result, often met in secret usually in homes.
As the influence of Christianity spread, eventually buildings dedicated to worship were established and became what we know today as churches. Worship is God-centered and Christ-centered. It is not about entertaining Christians with flashy displays or presentations, but about expressing our love by worshiping our Creator. Edification is also a role of the church. It involves edifying believers, but also nurturing, building up or helping believers to mature in Christ. To this end, churches are tasked with a variety of ministries such as Bible study, continuing education in related areas, praying for one another, acts of genuine hospitality and more. Evangelism is also a key role of the church. This means reaching out to a lost world with the Good News about Jesus. Beyond evangelism in the sense of reaching out with the gospel, the church also express compassion and mercy tangibly by helping others. In following Christ’s example to love others, the church, too, must seek to make a real difference in the world while not neglecting to share the message of Christ.
In Nigeria, bribery and corruption are hydra-headed twins that have eaten deep into the fabrics of the society. Starting from the colonial era of Nigeria, bribery and corruption have made steady and seemingly unstoppable progress up to the present. Whether during the colonial era, or when Nigeria gained her independence in 1960 or for the long years of military rule, bribery and corruption have become a recurring decimal (Achunike, 2006). Chuta (2004) traced the problem of corruption from the pre-colonial to the colonial and self-government era. He further traced corruption to the First Republic (1960-1966) down to the different stages of military era, even to the second and third republics. In all these cases, Chuta stood on the assertion that majority of Nigerian’s have been corrupt. Ugwu (2002) traced corruption to colonial period when he posited that:
It has been argued that the major roots of corruption were sown during the colonial period when a lot of structures were created for the purpose of administration. The pro-colonial society knew little or nothing about corruption but soon after Nigeria’s independence in 1960 and shortly afterwards in 1963 after Nigeria had become a republic, there grew in galloping proportions corruption in every sphere of human life.
Kalu (2007) posited that the under privileged are the victims of corruption while the ruling class hypocritically engaged in the condemnation of acts that benefit its fold. Over the years, the vast majority of Nigerians have learned and experimented on bribery and corruption. Corruption therefore, seemed to have become part of the daily life of Nigerians. Not many Nigerians think that hard work pays. Equally not many think that honesty is worth trying. Achunike (2006). Madu (2003) opined that hardwork has been scarified at the altar of easy ways of making money like 419, ritual murders and corruption in its different ramifications. That materialism has gone deep into the psyche of people that spiritual values are de-emphasized, as even, one can discern from the prosperity sermons of many of the anointed men of God and their materialistic life-styles. Meanwhile, twenty-two years ago Achebe (1983) observed that:
The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely, a failure of leadership. There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian land and climate or water or air or anything else. The Nigerian problems are the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise up to the responsibility, or the challenge of personal example, which are hallmarks of true leadership.
From the observation of Achebe, it is understood that the common man looks up to the ruling elite to learn and be directed to avoid corruption. But such expectation from the leadership in Nigeria has failed. Democracy which supposed to be the government of the people, has failed in Nigeria. When the first generation rulers in Nigeria became corrupt, Major ChukwumaNzogwu and his military colleagues struck. Nzogwu in his broadcast pointed out that they have come to save Nigerians from the hands of inept and corrupt leadership. Nzeogwu cited by Uju in (Ugwu, 2002) opined that “Our enemies are the political profiteers, the swindlers, the men in high and low places that seek bribes and demand 10 percent, those that have corrupted our society and put the country back by their words and deeds”.
The above statement was contained in the national broadcast of ChukwumaNzogwu on 15th January 1960.The aim therefore was to give good governance to the vast majority of Nigerians. However, the military consistently failed to salvage the masses in their political governance. Corruption and abuse of power has long been features in Nigeria. Joseph, R. S and Taylor, A. A. (1996) has described Nigeria as an “unfinished state and as a truculent African state tragedy”. Ayittey (2006) posited that in the midst of abundant human and material resources, efforts at building a democratic polity further entrapped it at the “political cross- roads”. Yet, with enormous wealth from oil resources, economic endowment, social and political strength, Nigeria has not qualified to be called the giant of Africa. Kew (2006) has noted that:
The giant was brought to its Knees by 20 years brutal and corrupt military rule, which left a legacy of executive dominance and a political corruption in the hands of Nigeria’s so- called “godfathers” powerful political bosses sitting atop vast patronage networks who view the government primarily through the lens of the own personal enrichment.
As a result of the instability, the focus of the leadership became parochial with the overriding consideration for personal survival rather than national development. Attempts at promoting “democratic consolidation” were hampered by the personality cult of the emerging political gladiators who exploited the instrument of state power to promote their personal agenda.
Obviously, the Church as a segment of the civil society should be concerned about arming their brains for good governance in the country. She has to speak out with any articulate voice on moral failures within the Church as to reflect positively on the country’s political process to appreciable extent (Ojo, 2004). As such, the Church has to carry out its missionary and prophetic mandate to the society. Against this background, this study examines the role of the Church in combating corruption among Political office holders in Abuja.
1.2 Statement of problem
Corruption is an ubiquitous phenomenon, as old as human existence and has adversely affected the society since time immemorial. In the pursuit of the specific purpose of this research, the assumption that are verified in this scholarly exercise are formulated and stated that it is believed that there is no positive relationship between Church and political leaders in Abuja; and corruption has eaten deep and replicated itself in Abuja since its creation. Corruption can take different forms. It can occur in the misappropriation of money or property or in an illicit influence on decisions by bribery, which always involves both active and passive participants. In the following paragraphs, some of the forms that have been observed will be described.
Misappropriation may consist of private use of the project funds or resources, use for purposes other than designated, unjustified disbursement or stealing of these funds or resources. Funds are used for purposes other than agreed. For example buildings constructed with project funds are used for purposes not agreed in the project contract, or in extreme cases for private purposes, or luxury vehicles are bought. Funds are used for another project to make up for funds lacking there due to earlier mismanagement. Project goods are misappropriated for private use or for sale, and stock lists or recipient lists are forged, or project goods are exchanged for less valuable goods, or medicines are diluted. Receipts are forged, which is especially easy under the conditions that apply in developing countries. Funds are used for pastoral purposes instead of the agreed development purposes.
Another form in which corruption among political leaders may occur is nepotism. In placing orders and recruiting personnel, persons are preferred who are close to the principal (by religious, ethnic, social or family relations) which leads to recruiting rules and quality standards being neglected. The beneficiaries of this treatment may even take up jobs which are not needed, or may be granted higher salaries or purchase prices. Jobs may also be obtained by bribery, ranging from teaching and nursing jobs in church institutions to bishop posts in Protestant churches. In many Protestant churches the bishop is elected by the synod, sometimes for a limited period, sometimes for life. In certain churches these elections have been distorted by the payment of bribes to the electors. The candidates know that the invested sums can be recovered later, but not through their regular salary.
An office-holder who needs to cover his abuse by forged receipts or other forms of corruption may bribe those who know of it to make them cooperate. In extreme cases, this method may even cripple the work of supervisory bodies which were created to prevent corruption. Threats against whistle blowers who uncover corruption are not supported, but threatened or punished by repressive treatment. Local and deployed staff may be drawn into conflict situations if south churches demand loyalty to the local employer, while north churches demand a correct use of funds, when both of these together are not possible. Office holders also pay bribes to speed up customs handling, the award of state permits, telephone connections or similar. In many cases this is done because the success of the project would otherwise be at risk.
The Church with its institutional strength and moral sanity should be able to pose frontal attack against corruption in Abuja. Its voice has to be strong enough to fight against the spate of corruption, which has been looming large in the society. The Church which is the moral light of the society should be able to light up the dark clouds of corruption that has closed Abuja. It is the expectation of the researcher that the work will help Abuja Government and the Church to reflect on the best strategy for fighting against corruption and redeeming the society from the apparent socio-economic and political decay.