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Bishop Charles Ighele
By Odinaka Uruakpa
Nigerian leaders, were recently in Lagos urged to use their position and power to seek solutions to the teeming problem facing the country so as to better the lot of the nation and people.
The charge was given by Bishop Charles Ighele, General Superintendent of Holy Spirit Mission Church also known as Happy Family Center while speaking with members of Association of Christian Correspondents of Nigeria (ACCoN).
Speaking on All Progressives Congress’ (APC) Muslim–Muslim bid, Ighele expressed concern that if the party won and ruled for another eight years on this ticket, and the presidential slot returned to the north for another eight years, it would amount to 24 years of leadership by same faith Presidency.
Said he: “My fear is that if Asiwaju Bola Tinubu wins as president and serves for two terms of eight years, when it goes back to the north for another eight years they will not give it to a Christian northerner, another Muslim northerner will have it and it’s quite suffocating. Is it that there are no competent Christians in the north?”
Noted he on what the Church should do to ensure Christians participate effectively in the 2023 elections: “When Buhari won the last elections, it was generally free and fair. My problem was that the religious content was huge. The president then would go to churches, go to crusades and address people and then the Muslims they do their own quietly in the mosque. And I say this is dangerous. And now, it has become more dangerous. Christian brothers versus Muslim brothers; we have never been as divided as we are right now along religious lines.
“People like the Sultan of Sokoto those days tried to see how he would bring out one north with the ethnic groups. Now, all that is no more. I really find it shameful to say Christians do this; Muslims do this because I feel that we are in a country where the forces of centripetanism should be at work than that of centrifugalism. We should see how we can unite our people. Don’t use religion to destroy our people. Development knows no religion; the emir of Dubai had developed Dubai as a world stage”.
He said President Mohammadu Buhari brought religion, ethnicity and sectionalism to a level that it is almost destroying the nation.
Observed the cleric: “I hold him responsible. He’s to be held responsible for everything because you have followers, these followers are afraid to talk to you. He has to stand as a leader. He has failed woefully and no apology about it at all. People around him are dancing to the bad music he is producing”.
When asked what steps Christians should take in the light of recent attacks on the Church, he said the nation had come to the stage he referred to as the Hobesian nature propounded by Thomas Hobs, where life was short, brutish and nasty.
Said he: “The National Security Adviser is saying we should be security conscious. Yes, we should be security conscious. When you are security conscious and then 100 people on bike with guns come to your village. What can you do? How can you fight back? We have security forces; many from the army, by the time you add the policemen, civil defense, we are going to have like a million armed people in this country. Where are they?
“I can’t blame them because they are not motivated. The bandits are not more than 100, 000, and our armed forces are about a million combined, including immigration, customs and the rest who are normally armed. People were clamouring for change of service chiefs, even if you change them things will continue to be the same.
“If you bring American service chiefs to come and be in charge with the kind of leadership that we have, things will be the same. So, security wise, the soldiers are not motivated to fight. The love for their fatherland is not put in them. How can I go fight against superior weapons when billions of naira is voted to buy weapons? We are talking about a leader, a president of a whole country who enjoys just being in power alone, feeling good at being in power and not using power to do good for the common man. That is where the problem is”.
On the attack on the president’s convoy, he said: “The disgrace is too much and you should not respond to everything. Kuje is about an hour to Aso Rock where the president stays and about 30 minutes drive to the airport. As it is currently, if one thousand or two thousand bandits should reinvade Abuja, with our soldiers who are not motivated enough, what will happen? it is not laughable. When it is said that soldiers must secure Abuja, it means Abuja has almost fallen and it is shameful”.
Stated Ighele on increase in fuel price in the country: “I am from Niger Delta and I grew up seeing oil in my place, things were bad, as well as road. when the Niger Delta militants were fighting, Obasanjo was able to curtail them. Then Yar’Adua and Jonathan came in and were able to finally curtail them, there is always a way out”.
Concerning the senate under the leadership of Ahmad Lawan and impeachment threat on President Buhari, there is something about Lawan that smirks of lack of competence, adding that that was the reason his fellow Northern rulers said he cannot be president.
Said he: “Why would you agree with your fellow senate members, then within few minutes, you backtrack? I like a vibrant senate, when Tinubu and his group where in the senate as a vibrant senate, I liked it. People must talk. Under Obasanjo, under Jonathan the civil society was active, opposition was active, politicians were active, but when the present group came in, everything was swallowed. Look at Saraki during Buhari first term, Tabuwal under Jonathan, this is how politics should be, there should be a vibrant opposition”.
Replied he when asked if he thought Nigeria was a failed state: ‘We meet all the parameters of a failed state. Looking at security, this is one of the worst nations to live on earth. Now economy. When I bought my first car in the 80s, it was 7,200. The naira has now completely lost its value. Prices of foodstuff are nothing to write home about. The poor are going out of the country to survive; many are dying because of poverty. As a pastor I know. Unemployment is everywhere, infrastructure are limited. Nigeria is a completely failed state. There may be shining light from one or two state governors, but this federal government is what I am talking about. I have said that the day this president hands over power, whoever wins is not my business, i will throw a party”.
Stated he on there being a chance of a revolution in the country: “Looking at revolution, the religious and ethnic factors have been used to divide the youths and it always comes in. I call it DART- Divide And Rule Tactics.
“The EndSars was a message and since then things have not improved at all. A government that will say, ‘what are they saying.’ Even if they it was a way. But wait for Buhari, he will blame everybody because he never does anything wrong, since he is the messiah. He is not a messiah, he is a fellow Nigerian like you and I, and he has these few months to change.
“This government has put many governors in trouble but they cannot talk, i know that there are many governors in his party who do not like what he is doing but ca not talk for the sake political unity and not to rock their own boat, but they know in their heart. i know that every governor, every minister can run this country better. We are in great trouble unless he wake up in this remaining period that is left for him”.
Said the cleric on what CAN is doing to secure church members: “CAN is not a country, it does not have armed forces, so in our churches in the North and Lagos we said no more all-night, but places like Edo, Delta, there have all-night”.
Concerning ASUU strike, he said he was to make a placard and T-shirts in support of the ASUU strike.
Said he: “Primary schools have been destroyed, secondary schools destroyed; many of the teachers cannot speak good English. So people are taking their children from public primary schools to private primary schools, same for secondary schools, but people cannot take their children to private universities because of the cost.
“ASUU is on strikefor the whole educational system. Many students are not competent. I know because I have heard that some people who pass through our schools go abroad to study and cannot meet up and then they had to sit again to get things done”.
Speaking on facilities in schools, he said: “Compare the toilets to the toilets of the University of Ife in the 70s; the central cafeteria of University of Ife in the 70s was like a four-star hotel. Every right thinking Nigerian should support ASUU strike”.