By Aliyu Dangida
The Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, (CISLAC), Auwal Musa Rafsanjani said religious leaders have lost their integrity and respect, adding that they’ve become “beggars to political leaders.”
Rafsanjani stated this in an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Monday.
According to him, communities and religious leaders who ought to uphold justice and serve as beacons of truth in society have become ‘beggars’ of political favour.
He said, “In the past, we all knew how our grandparents stood for the truth. They would face a governor, a minister, a local government chairman, a director, or a president and tell him the truth, not in an abusive way but in a very corrective way.
“Now tell me, who do you see speaking the truth to our leaders, whether privately or openly? We hardly see those things happening and that is why now you will see that religious leaders have practically become (with due respect) beggars.
“A governor will call them and they will rush to come to him. In the past, a governor would have to come to community leaders or religious leaders in whatever capacity they found themselves. Now they are running after the government house all the time or running to come to the villa,” he said.
“I think that has grossly undermined the integrity and capacity they are supposed to have and also caution leaders when they are doing wrong things.”
Rafsanjani said Nigerian elites appeared to have lost their bearing in their fight for justice, adding that materialism has taken over many people’s consciences and weakened the integrity of the entire system.
The human rights activist said, rather than condemning the actions of the political elites, religious leaders have kept mute and asked their people to pray for their oppressors.
Rafsanjani said, “Most people that are in the position to speak the truth, you tell them they are not speaking the truth or they are simply being quiet.
“This is a major challenge and you can look at it from different stakeholders in Nigeria. Religious leaders who are supposed to tell the truth sometimes just decide to keep quiet and ask their followers to pray for oppressors. Community leaders are also in the same shoes.”
Rafsanjani said Nigeria will suffer if every Nigerian remains silent for fear of not being appointed to public office.
“If every Nigerian now will have to keep quiet because he or she is afraid that they will not give him an appointment, money, or table, then we are in trouble.
“That is the reason why, in particular, judges are given this special consideration of respect and regard: they are supposed to play justice; they are not supposed to compromise and be doing all these kind of funny things that we are seeing, delivering judgements through Zoom.”
Rafsanjani, however, urged the media and civil society to continue standing up for the truth and advocating for change.
“Civil society has a responsibility to promote communication and mutual understanding between the government and intergovernmental organizations in order to support efficient government operations,” he said.