Pastor Ladi Thompson is the founder and senior pastor of Living Waters Unlimited Church, located in Lagos. You are not wrong if you refer to the preacher as a shrewd activist. He is at present active in different NGOs such as The Macedonia Initiative created 14 years ago, the Gabasawa Women and Children Initiative, Men of Destiny, and a few others. In this interview with Sunday Sun, he poured out his mind on the totality of Nigeria. Excerpts:
Ahead of the elections, what are your thoughts?
Let’s say it like this. Nigeria is at its point of harvest. I’m talking about seed sowed about a hundred years plus somehow at a point of harvest now coinciding with an election. So, there are many more complications to this election than to any other election Nigeria ever had . And that’s the reason why the election’s outcome will either destroy Nigeria completely or set it on the path of its original destiny which was to be the trail blazer in Africa, the salvation of Africa. These are my reflections.
Are you not worried about the tension in the country these days?
Any sensible person should be worried, but if we’re worrying then we are at fault. We need to sit down, look critically at the major issues worrying us and become proactive because a lot of these problems can actually be solved. Some can be solved without government help; some need government help to solve them. Any wise person should entertain worries because of so much escalation of hostilities all over the place. But we must not stop at being worried, we need to look for solutions and make plans for the generations ahead of us.
What came to your mind the day it was announced that the election was postponed?
It’s a very interesting thing. I think the manner in which it was postponed and of course Nigeria being what it is, the rumors had gone round that elections will be postponed. Initially, it was met with a lot of skepticism and people wondered how can that be possible? Now to make it more interesting, the Independent National Electoral Commission Chairman, Jega spoke with such clarity, and it was obvious that the postponement was not necessarily an INEC issue but something nfluenced by the powers that be. Naturally, whatever sympathies that one may have had for the incumbent government was reduced, because by the time people put two and two together, the answer will be obvious. It was a tactical move but not very well thought out. The reactions really initially were one of unbelief. When we saw it come to pass and we listened to Jega, we realized that the magnitude of the problems he has is even much more than what we thought it was.
But we were told the postponement was mainly because many people are still without PVCs?
There is something going on in the country. It’s called opinion molding, and there is an exercise going on right now. No statesman, no elder, no wise person, and no leader in the country is deceived by what is going on right now. What’s going on right now is like a damage control exercise. This is where I would like us to be very, very wise because I have found out that in Nigeria, the leadership operates as if Nigeria is an isolated country in the world and end up doing more damage because they don’t know how to go about things like this.
Prior to the postponement, yes, the National Security Adviser, NSA, was in Chatham House talking about PVCs. Coming back to the country, the INEC chairman was unequivocal and he spoke with great candor and clarity. Since it was a speech of a very educated man, it was difficult to pretend not to understand what he was saying. He spoke too clearly, and knowing the Nigerian penchant for fire brigade approach to issues , he was very clear to point out that service chiefs were the ones who were behind this postponement because as far as INEC was concerned, the people would at the last minute pick up the few more millions outstanding and they will also give a backup so that the cards will still be picked up on the day of election. So, if you look at elections all over the world and you look at the percentage of people who normally vote and all that, the Nigerian election, even if it had even held then, would have made no difference.
Definitely, the tactical advantage, part of it was that unfortunately, so many things were happening at the same time. I wish the government had done a more intelligent campaign abroad. It’s one thing to tell Nigerians one thing, and assume many believe it based on the fact that the larger percentage of the population is poverty-stricken. It’s not the same to persuade foreigners who are also watching. Yes, they have vested interests, but it’s more difficult to call a baboon a dog where there are foreign observers. So, that has worked a lot against the Federal Government’s strategy. It’s obviously a strategic move that was based on incumbency. So, the effort right now, bringing the issue of PVCs up, bombarding the public with talks supported with facts, is only making it more embarrassing because they underestimate the level of intelligence of the Nigerian public. There may be a few people who may be carried away by the media briefs of spin doctors who are trying to sort out a lost cause. It’s a lost cause, because it’s clear that the elections were postponed for tactical advantage by the incumbent.
With the goings on now, can INEC conduct a free and fair election again?
Like I said at the beginning, Nigerians need to sit back. A lot of things are coinciding. Let me give you a good example. If you plant cocoa, it takes about seven years before its first harvest. If you plant tomatoes, it takes you a few months or weeks before your first harvest. When it comes to nations of the world and the forces that matter in nation building, a lot of things are coinciding around these past few years and this year. It was in 1914 that we had the amalgamation. There were things that happened during the amalgamation that we did not address in 100 years. So the harvest has come. You see, sometimes because the average Nigerian has been impoverished, you find out that thinking is something that is becoming rare. It’s a delayed strategy because you can engineer a people to a point where they can’t think anymore, and when people cannot think anymore superstitions take over, rumors arise. And they are easier to manipulate and to rule if you have a negative form of rulership in line. So, over many years, especially during the military regimes, Nigerians have been bruised, brutalized, and defeated. The inferiority, disorganization, the inability to harness what we have in the right direction, to think of the next generation is very abnormal. You see a lot of that in the Nigerian world. What you don’t realize is that the Nigeria you see today is a product of more than a 100 years colonial engineering, plus the brutalization of the military and many unresolved issues. All of them have come together at the same time.
First of all, it was a good thing that a person from the Niger Delta became the president of Nigeria. It was a good thing because it meant some of the ancient problems are gradually being addressed. In 1957, before independence, there was what we called the Wilinks Minority Commission Report”. And the minority fear then was domination. So, the fact that somebody from a minority tribe could become president of Nigeria is good. I have always been one of the people who feel Nigeria has been cheating the Niger Delta for many years, even though their people too have not put up any strong moral leadership. There was only a very weak resistance along the way, but generally, Nigeria has cheated them a lot. I am one of the people who feel that the imbalance needs to be addressed, so that cheating will stop being part of Nigeria’s national credo. Nigeria has cheated them for many years.
Finally, a lot of imbalances were addressed. People of the Niger Delta are in the reckoning. It’s very good for the psychology of the person coming from that part of the country. It’s good for the whole country. But while that was going on too, we must remember that the Boko Haram and global Islamic terrorism came. Already across the globe, we have what we call the resurgence of global Islamism. The resurgences have been there and when the global meet with the local, we move from bow and arrows to IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices). All those things were contending. There were forces that were angling to tear the country apart that have matured. It has nothing to do with political leadership, not necessarily because it was Goodluck Jonathan that’s president.
Many of these forces were there before his tenure. Also, we had a problem of corruption. Corruption started from colonial days; we learnt it from the colonial masters. One of the early Nigerian nationalists said that the colonialists tried to compromise them. I sent a team to Kings Gardens in the UK. A lot of these documents have been declassified now. I think the media needs to send its people out to do relevant research in all these areas. Now, when you read a lot of the declassified materials, you will see the mind of colonial government in those days. How they covered up a lot of embezzlements, corruption and even induced people.
This is because people that you can corrupt are usually easier to control. In fact, the first time somebody sold a public building, they caught him, reprimanded him and helped him to open a Swiss account for him to keep the money that he stole. Some weeks later, they gave him a British medal for honesty, valour and whatever. It was part of colonial engineering. If you trace the tree and the root of corruption, all that you will find is that it has escalated through the years. Of course, the notable sparks in the escalation came under someone like Ibrahim Babangida and his government who threw caution to the wind and helped corruption to thrive. Practically, every government has had its own fair share of corruption. The buildup of corruption has gone on unabated for years. Of course, apart from the draconian measures of Idiagbon and Buhari who tried to stem it then, but not necessarily in the most intelligent manner, not much has been done to stem the tide. After Ibrahim Babangida, things turned from bad to worse.
Unfortunately, by the time the Niger Delta was trying to pencil down possible names of people for government, it has a lot of people who could be in leadership. I am not sure they presented the very best available. Many of them on paper, some having PhDs. But the challenge comes from the fact that, though a nice and malleable fellow, the president the Niger Delta presented is not a man who is a problem solver. He is not a problem solver and he’s not a man who faces up to hard challenges.
On a normal day, in a developed world and country, such a man will be an asset. But in the Nigerian setting, with all these things like corruption growing in leaps and bounds, and with him being a man of compromise, every time there are major corruption issues, he will compromise. This is encouraging many more people to be more corrupt unknowingly. Unfortunately, corruption itself has reached a point where on its own, it could destroy Nigeria. Boko Haram on its own could destroy Nigeria. His handling of corruption has not been very convincing. Unfortunately, his handling of the Boko Haran issue on its own shows a lot of naivety. He does not understand that this is a global problem.
Not understanding how to handle the appropriate bodies, not understanding how to build up the right coalitions, not understanding even how to work out the solution to Boko Haram, which I believe is 14-17 percent military. Majority of other things that need be done are yet to be done till now. So, it has made the country vulnerable. Hence you have Boko Haram raging on one side unattended, corruption raging on another unattended.
What about the Chibok Girls?
I‘ve always been half and half about the campaign. Like I said, foreign countries take advantage of Nigeria’s inability to attend to problems properly. The kidnapping of girls have a very long history in Nigeria. In 2004, I sent my team, from one of our NGOs, the Macedonia Initiative, 16 of us, went to ask for the freedom of two girls who were kidnapped in Pambegwa, one village outside Kaduna. If you go into archives of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, it will tell you that kidnapping of Christian girls is as old as ages. Usually, you go and plead with the Sultan who will intercede sometimes and have some released, maybe about 12 percent of those kidnapped. But the rest would have been beaten to submission; some would have been impregnated and all that. When Chibok issue came, it was a benchmark. That number has not been taken at once before. Cumulatively over the years, a few thousands have been taken.
So, it helped the western world to make noise for us since we are at that animalistic level where we have been trained or we have been subdued to the point that the average person doesn’t care about the life of any other person. The Chibok thing would have been good if it had a bit more conscience added to it. There was a take out in Abuja. Then, there was an issue of hiring people to pretend as if they were from Chibok. The public didn’t know. There were lots of back and forth. The presidency has been deceived by their friends who said those girls were kidnapped in the first place. So, it was a very messy affair. You know Chibok is about 90% Christians and so we have some NGOs working there. We have been bringing people out of that zone. I granted an interview to The Sun in 2012, where I did say that Jonathan was a ‘War Time President’.
At that time, it was a very unpopular statement, this was because we were already in the fields, we saw the atrocities, and we knew that this was a full scale war and that the president refused to recognize it as a war. It was not his fault but there were so many compromises in his security systems and his chain of command that a lot of information obviously was being kept away from the president. Probably, things could have been different if he had known – definitely he did not know. By the time he will finally discover the kind of specialized knowledge he needs to handle these issues which for now is obvious that he’s bereft of, the kind of peculiar leadership skills needed in times of crises as this, it’s obvious that he didn’t have what it takes. Good advisers could have helped, but obviously that was lacking too.
Secondly, his press is very bad. I remember when we went to Washington in 2012, we were contemplating on what we could do to protect Nigeria’s integrity. What can we do to protect the Muslims who don’t want to be radicalized? What can we do to protect Christians who are victims already? What can we do to stop the spread and expansion of the terror front in Nigeria? We had begun to pursue a political hearing in the US congress at that time and some other countries in the EU including the UK. But the one in the US was going to be the most tactically useful which I was working on, with that team as well. When we got to the US, my greatest surprise was that even when Nigeria had an ambassador at that time, the prevalent opinion in Washington at that time was that the President of Nigeria, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was a fumbling dullard.
This was the impression in Washington at that time. The impression was that he was just a kleptomania, just stealing everything available with the able assistance of his wife. The impression was that he was somebody who didn’t care about governance and so, the same people who had done these jobs on his PR were wise while his PR people here were fast asleep. They also painted the Boko Haram as a freedom fighting group and anti-corruption force. Nigerians will never know what we escaped from. People will say whatever they like. Though there are some sections in the American government that are working for the disintegration of Nigeria, not the American government. I am happy they have been corrected now and sanity has come into proceedings. But the truth is that the FBI is in support of the FTD (Foreign Tourist Organization Designation). The CIA, Justice Department are in support of the FTD as well as Home Land Security . They all know what is going on in Nigeria. They know it’s an ideological thing. That time, what America did was that they took two people who were heading Boko Haram and gave them special designations as foreign terrorists. Now, they took the heads as foreign terrorist, but the organization itself was not taken as a terrorist organization, which was a contradiction in Washington.
When history is written, it’s one of the good things that Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor did in his time – his speech in Washington is still available. He worked quite hard in Washington to correct the impression that Boko Haram was an anti-corruption group. It was some mischievous members of the State Department of America, working with some local forces that were reinventing them like that. Some of them are still in circulation, but now the totality of the State Department has changed. Anyhow, I think the point is made. All these things that have coincided at this same time needed strong leadership skills, and unfortunately over the past few years, we couldn’t erase this anymore . The incumbent government did not supply these leadership skills. It appears not to care. They escalated corruption, which they presumed like all other problems including the Boko Haram could be solved by spending money. It’s very unfortunate that these are all the things that are coming together at the same time when there is an election.
Right now, if you ask me what would have been the ideal solution to Nigeria , if we look at where Nigeria is, global terrorism has a solution and the solution is in Nigeria . But this is a story for another day. Going by research findings and what is physical, the solution to global terrorism is in Nigeria. Unfortunately, there is no organ of government right now, or even organizations right now that can help us to bring it to the fore, to apply it, solve it in Nigeria, and lend the rest of the world a solution.
The situation now is that there should be a group of statesmen in this country who should feel concerned enough to realize that if we allow what is paining us to continue, and with an incumbent who is reluctant to leave, even when he’s incapable of supplying the leadership skills, then there is trouble. And then, if the Tsunami going on now is allowed to keep going on, no matter how much money is being spent, the devaluation of human worth in Nigeria will reach an all time low. That means there’s no value to any human life in Nigeria. Corruption has reached its peak where it’s going to tear the country apart. Boko Haram is raging.
Frankly speaking, there is no time in the history of Nigerian Army that we have seen an army that is so demoralized. Now, corruption is also inside the army. When you get one wounded, the impression from the war front, from the young boys is that it’s better for you to die than to be wounded. Nigeria will prefer you die than for you to be wounded. Even if the incumbent government were to win this election, the ability to handle these challenges will need to be manufactured from somewhere. And if what I see right now, which is the confidence that money can solve all things, is what they continue to carry about, we are in trouble. Now, there is a final dynamics that has even been added to make matters worse.
This is because of politics. Unfortunately, the political terrain of Nigeria has been allowed to recover one of the things that we had already gone past. Based on divide and rule tactics, the British left a political formula that would have left northern Nigeria in ruins forever. But because of growth and maturity, we got to a place where that formulae was broken. But the problem of dogma allowed that formulae to reassemble. All of a sudden, we have only one northern candidate vying for presidency which was part of the formula given to them by the British which they disobeyed. If they had stayed with the formula given to them by the British, things would have worked out for them before now. That formulae was handed over in 1914. The British had given them impression that northern Nigeria belongs to Emirs.
Indirect rule helped them have ownership mentality. By 1948, after the amalgamation in 1914, Sir Ahmadu Bello had introduced what we call the northernization agenda. The northernaization agenda was very simple. He used Christianity to demonize the south, such that you will prefer a goat to a southerner in northern Nigeria from 1948. Now, when it was obvious there was going to be independence, Britain ran quickly and did something in Northern Nigeria that they did not do in the rest of Nigeria. They urged them to have a conference in 1958, where they helped Northern Nigeria to forge a single identity. They were able to achieve it within six weeks, but they didn’t do the same thing for the whole country. And then they set us at loggerheads, they divided and left the country in such a way that Northern Nigeria will forever rule the country. But you know through patience, love, faith, a lot of things started happening , disintegrating all these hate doctrines of Northernization.
So, we are now getting to a point, where Nigeria will be totally free from that formulae. Just as Nigeria was becoming free from that formulae, this government saw that one northern candidate is emerging, looked ahead and saw that it was losing the Southwest’s patronage that helped it gain its position in the presidency in the first place. Jonathan did something that only the future will credit him for, a very brilliant move indeed. People have always underestimated Goodluck. He created the southernization agenda. This he did by rolling on the floor for church leaders all over the place. Many of them were deceived. All he did was copy what Ahmadu Bello did, which is to use Christianity now to demonize the North. So there is hatred right now in the country arising from the southernization agenda which people think is a Christianization agenda.
So, if you watch very well right now, over the past two years, he’s been taking time to court the church, tell the church how he is a Christian. He is not a Christian. No Christian does this kind of thing, and I have to speak with candour because we are looking at a lot of bloodshed in the future, if these things are not arrested quickly by statesmen. This is what Obasanjo is dancing around without being able to articulate it properly. He can see the breakup of Nigeria ahead, but he’s not able to articulate it and pinpoint what we need to do. When the northernization agenda that has been working from 1948 succeeded well, a southern Muslim is even unacceptable to Northern Nigeria even though Islam was the religion used for that agenda. A northern Christian for a position is preferable to a southern Muslim. Now the southernization agenda. He was able to do it within two and a half years successfully, from towards the end of 2012 till now. He succeeded in getting many church leaders who are feeling very flattered because he is rolling on the floor for them and all those things , to think that he’s the one taking them as fathers. No, they are working for him. They don’t know.
And of course, the compromise axis of the church. He’s spending money among those ones as well. I have a bishop who called me up, whose conscience was troubled, and he explained a few things that are going on. These things are not right. It’s an embarrassment that there are many people in church leadership today who have allowed themselves to be used . They will be responsible for the blood of many young and innocent people in this country, if nothing is done. The point is this, things got so bad that you see southern Christians are being encouraged to slaughter anybody who looks like them. ‘That means Northerners, not realizing that there are millions of Christians in Northern Nigeria who have now been declared collateral damage.
I work in agencies that help to bridge north and south Nigeria. I worked with Macedonia Initiative for many years . There’s a project we carried out called ‘Novad Project.’ It’s Non violence for African Development. What we have noticed is that the average southerner is hardened in attitude towards the average northerner. The average Nigerian does not think. He has been so impoverished, battered and bruised over the past two decades and into centuries. The average person walking in the streets all over Nigeria today is a man who has a survivalist instinct, who is better suited living in the jungle than in a civilized environment. Taking advantage of that, this hate agenda from the south is now colliding with the ancient hate agenda from the north from 1948.
Even if President Goodluck Jonathan wins election again, he has opened a Pandora box that cannot be capped anymore. The hatred is increasing. I am analyzing these things for you with clarity of mind. Many foreign nations can also see what is happening. But some of them are laughing at us, and they are coming to demand that we begin to sign peace accord. Asking us to sign peace accord with what is available on ground is asking us to sign an accord that there will be no violence, or that there should be snowfall in Nigeria immediately after the election. We might as well gather people out to come and sign an accord that snow should fall in Nigeria.
What the international community is doing is terrible in that they are taking advantage of the lack of leadership in Nigeria right now, and lack of deep thinking. They are taking the advantage to even push us faster towards the abyss, by bringing into the consciences of people, the harkening tensions and the dangers without solving the problems but asking for a paint job. So, you are painting outside, whereas the problem is from the inside. How wouldn’t there be violence when there are hatred philosophies that have been poured into people over decades?. How won’t there be violence when the manner in which we practice our democracy is designed for the warpath? How won’t there be violence when all the ingredients that will cause the violence are ignored?
They are taking advantage of the fact that we don’t think. You see from the international community, they know that Nigeria if we get our acts right, we will be the champions of Africa. So, there is an axis that will rather continue in a quiet way, and not be a supremacist culture as long as it’s done in a refined manner.
In another time, and place, he is a man of compromise. He will be an excellent president in an environment where there is no corruption, where there is no Boko Haram. Where there are no desperate men all over the place, he would have been an asset. I mean, in any other setting where there is no problem of corruption, Boko Haram, no war , a nation where you need to just work out compromises among civilized people. But for where Nigeria is right now, as long as he stays in view, he will supervise the end of this country. Funnily, if the southernization agenda works, there is also a school of thought. If you go to the UN today, there is what we call the “minorities right for self determination”. I won’t be surprised right now, if there are Niger Delta boys working in the UN, talking about Niger Delta being a nation of its own. Their research is going on right now in the hope that if we can scatter Nigeria, the Niger Delta will emerge as a nation on its own. Assuming oil is $30 dollars a barrel, that little kingdom as a nation on its own will then be very prosperous. Right now, the southernization agenda clashing with the northernization agenda, this hate thing is leading to the disintegration of Nigeria and it’s going to be very costly. Already, so many people have died.
Frankly speaking, it’s too late. We are not dividing this country anymore. What we are going to do in this country is, we are going to sit down and talk . We will sit down, and at the end of the day, hopefully without any bloodshed, if at all, with minimal bloodshed, engage ourselves. Right now, if we had our way, we don’t want an interim government with the same spirit of all these funny people. If we have our way, we want to engineer a new nation in which young people will be in leadership.
When I say young people I am not even including myself. Well, maybe people like me may just manage to be in for a few years. All over the world, people in their thirties are running corporations. All over the world, the kind of problem Nigeria is facing today can be solved by brilliant young minds. All these people who don’t know how to operate smart phones, who don’t use computers should be in retirement homes. We should have a plan where elder statesmen can come together with mature leadership, saying we are keeping Nigeria one, but we are going to put certain protocols in place.
This is what was missing in 1960 that led to where we are now. Number one, corruption must go. Anybody who thinks there will be Nigeria without us tackling corruption is a joker. Corruption has killed us; the obituary is what is being written right now. Secondly, freedom of religious worship must come. We have the solution to Boko Haram. The solution to Boko Haram is within Nigeria. By the time we select the right people, put them together in a group, they will show you over 80 percent non litho force that will dissolve Boko Haram.
It will shrink by itself. Not only that, we will have protocols that govern relationships, to guarantee liberty of religion and then amicably we must solve how the various Nigerian units will live together. Why? Whatever works in resolving the Nigeria equation will work in dissolving the Africa equation. Whatever peaceful dialogue, peaceful means, fresh concept that will work, we have to do it quickly. We have to do it quickly because ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) is a reality that will come to pass. You have seen it in other parts of the world. It’s a global affair and not a Nigerian affair.
As long as Nigeria keeps dilly-dallying, and they catch us unawares, they will make it a reality here. Yet the solution is here. We are the only one saying these things without purpose of war successfully for at least fourteen hundred years. So, the solution is here. We need to do it quickly, or else there will be no future for the children. There will be blood in the streets. The speed with which the chaos will spread, we won’t believe it.
Are you saying now that Buhari is a better candidate?
Not necessarily. Ideally, if you ask people like me what we should do, which unfortunately will be very difficult, Buhari honestly in the area of corruption is a better candidate. Nobody will dispute that. The truth is this; the problem goes just beyond corruption. The problem goes into taking Nigeria out of the Stone Age and bringing it into modernity. Everybody knows that with mechanized farming and with the climate Nigeria has, one city in Nigeria can feed the whole of Af rica with proper agricultural policies. The solution to housing problems in Nigeria today is not all these archaic thinking. There are young architects today, when they show you modern housing units you will be amazed. We need fresh thinking, the amount of sunlight we have in Nigeria means that we can build smart houses for the low income group and everyone. You don’t need any electricity to light up your house at night in most parts of Nigeria.
All you need to do is to build smart houses. We need young fresh thinking. In some places, they are experimenting now on roads; solar panels are built into the roads, so that all the lights will lighten the roads. What we have is excess of sunlight. The technologies that can handle all these things are already being developed in all parts of the world and some of the people working on all those things are Nigerians. What Nigerians need right now is a reengineered country where value is given to light. Then we create a template. We don’t need all these stupid quota system and all these funny things that speak of inequalities that make one side feel superior to the other and the other rubbish. We need a level template where the very best can work for the country, not for their stomachs, but for God and the country. The funny constitutional conference that held way back could have been used for that. They could have created a fresh template that would project a better picture of the person that should rule the country.
The president shouldn’t be more than 48 years, maximum 58 years old. The president of the country has no business being above 60 for any reason. Ideally, it should be men in their prime, who have learnt from generations ahead, who need a council of elders to assist them. Believe you me; you will see Nigeria move from the so-called Third World country into a nation that is sporting space technology. Within seven years maximum, there will be a reckoning of space technology. Every Nigerian will have a roof over his head, water will be flowing, you will find out that a lot of what we are importing today, will no longer be imported. You will find out that as in the earlier days of the Western region, we will have an industrial axis within Nigeria where high quality products will be turned out by Igbo boys everyday. That is all we need. But the enemies of these things are the imaginations of the people who are contending right now not to handle it. It is in that sense that you will not see a man like me saying ideally a Buhari, is cut out for victory , or if choices are given right now, looking at the fact that Jonathan has not been able to handle this particular type of situation, anybody from anywhere who can just handle one or two things would sensibly be the best.
What I am trying to point out now is that much as I am not eulogizing Buhari, but for now, when it comes to corruption, he is a better option. When it comes to handling Boko Haram, he is the better option, because Jonathan is not a GOC, and if he continues, he will kill the Nigerian Army. How many officers were found in the Boko Haram notes selling off young boys to Niger? Even when they are caught they are redeployed. You are not smart enough to know that you need a shake up in the army. The young boys decide they are not going to the war front without being equipped, you begin to courtmartial them and making noise all over the whole place. Had you executed those boys that would have been the end of the Nigerian Army. The ideal right now is for Nigeria to say, we have discovered that our function is to be the giant of Africa, the trail blazer of Africa. We want to undo all the damage of the colonial era, the Berlin Conference, families separated, all these language issues, all these religious issues, we want to undo all and create an ideal nation in Africa using African protocols and wisdom. Let us sit down and reorganize Nigeria without firing any gunshots.
Let us put down the parameters, let us lay down this, let us before everybody say it’s not a matter of money and convincingly design some amnesty programmes. But if that will take too much intellectual ability and too much discipline, we have to settle for what we have now. Only in that sense right now that the Buhari presidency will work. I have a soft spot for an Osinbajo. Not because he’s from the Southwest, not because he’s a pastor. There are many criminal pastors today. Pastors who are receiving money all over the places and creating chaos are pastors as well. Why do I have a soft spot for him? Prior to his being appointed as the commissioner for justice and attorney general of Lagos State, I can tell you, go and find out, armed robbers convicted in those days could go scot-free with a little over a million naira. The corruption in the justice system was so terrible, armed robbers were getting away scot-free.
The fact that when this man came in, he did not just come in retiring people, he first improved the condition of service of those who are working in the judicial system, and then began to weed out the bad eggs after the conditions of service has been established. That tells you this is a thinking man, that tells you this is a good man who has the understanding that some are into corruption, not because they want to, but out of necessity. Within two and half years, indices were that he brought corruption down from 84 percent in the justice system to 4 percent. And in his second tenure, he brought it down to zero. When you see a man that has been able to achieve something like that in Lagos State, he must have the skills, the wisdom and God must have been with him to achieve that kind of feat in Lagos today. If you meet lawyers today, they will tell you the Federal Government is trying to copy the model he left behind. Why do I say so? This is a man we were all aware was offered attorney generalship of the country, if we were rightly informed, that one of the reasons why he would not take it up was that he only demanded a free reign to handle corruption. His methodology in handling corruption is not abrasive, it’s not draconian. I have a soft spot for Osinbajo. Even if an Osinbajo comes in there, may Buhari live long and help to supply discipline. Whether we like it or not, throughout Northern Nigeria, what is happening to Buhari is not support, it’s called worship. Right now, we are being careless, we are being irresponsible. Even Christians in the south. We allowed millions of young boys in Northern Nigeria to grow up without any care, without values, without anything. That population is now a major problem to the country. Nobody can have peace until we take care of those boys. We need to take care of those boys.
The person who can bind those boys and hold them in peace while we take care of them now is Buhari. From what I have witnessed, I am just talking wisdom here, I am not even talking politics, I’m talking pragmatic wisdom for Nigeria.The first of young potential murderers, potential Boko Haram soldiers who ran into millions but have not yet joined Boko Haram, is because they are looking at salvation coming from Buhari in Northern Nigeria. Once their hopes are dashed, take it from me, they will join Boko Haram. If somebody like Buhari comes in and he’s able to hold those boys, fine. It’s not easy to discipline those who have not been disciplined. We have to spend money on those people, rehabilitate them, manage their generation, make sure that the next generation is snatched from the feudalist system that is running underground in Northern Nigeria. I attended Ahmadu Bello University, and I saw those things. As long as those things remain, we are on a time up. Since they believe so much in Buhari, he will be able to hold their dreams and aspirations and we can manage that generation of young almajiris until they become useful adults in crafts and in all sorts of areas. Meanwhile, to make sure that the next generation of northerners are progressive, their education must be paid for by the Federal Government of Nigeria, not depending on all these people who prevented them from getting education deliberately so as to rule over them.
Because they can’t think, they cannot process thought in a way and manner that will make them useful citizens. It has to become our responsibility to make sure that they are okay. It is our responsibility to make sure there’s development, because they are part of the same federation with us. Given the options on ground from within, if Nigeria cannot take the ideal, which is to find a handful of statesmen who can call everybody to a meeting, who can take wisdom to talk to Buhari, use wisdom to persuade Jonathan to help him, and stop him from destroying this nation completely, it’s not going to be a good thing for you to go down in history as the person who destroyed peace in West Africa. We are not talking about the waste of money called the constitutional conference where youths were represented by less than three percent . You brought old people there to come and be dying there, sleeping there and be talking about the past instead of the future. To bring in the future, there are elders who may not be technologically savvy, but they know the power of ICT , they know the power of modern methodologies of doing all things from farming to you name it, and they know that they don’t have the knowledge, and if they are trying to learn it now they can not master a computer. Groom young men now, for the religious institutes. Get away from money and from politics, and even get away from business and go and sit down somewhere. Concentrate on morals, build for this nation a sound moral base. It’s what we are asking from the religious community. Leave the economic theories. What the church was doing in those days was creating a moral environment of honesty to battle corruption. So, it’s the churches’ duty to help in battling corruption.
As a pastor, how did you feel when you learnt that some men of God collected N6billion?
I didn’t feel anything. There’s nothing new about it. As a pastor, let me tell you what the Bible tells us. The Bible says in the latter days , perilous times will come, men will be lovers of money… these are men who love pleasures more than they love God. The Bible has warned us that in the last days, a lot of people like these are going to be citizens of every nation in the world. There must be a church for these people to go to. It is called the last day churches, and last day churches must have last day pastors. A pastor who will help you to increase in bribery, corruption, and will make sure they find a Bible verse to support it. The church has always failed God in church history. There is nothing new about this. I will give you an example. In Britain, the Abolitionists’ banished slavery. It was won by the hard work of individual Christians , people like William Wilberforce, Thomas Boston, and a number of them. The Church of England was making money out of slavery, and the Church of England was quoting to people that slaves obey your masters in the lord, to point out that slavery from the Bible was supported by God.
So, using the Bible for wayo is not new. It’s just that Nigeria has a big share of these kind of ministers today who look convincingly, talk convincingly, but actually these are people who support the systems of the world. Take an innocent person who loves God, who wants to make discoveries, who wants to do well, once he attends their service once, he forgets all the ideal things God wants him to do. What comes to his mind is to become a millionaire, to buy jet. You just become a saint, or a servant of mammon. I don’t think it’s a big deal. Whether it’s in the mosque or in the church, 2 Timothy, Chapter 3 has shown you that in the latter days perilous times would come.