• Thursday, May 30, 2024
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Jonathan not the problem of Nigeria, says Okonkwo

Mike Okonkwo, presiding bishop of The Redeemed Evangelical Mission (TREM) has said that the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) and Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) have done a lot to alleviate the plight of Christians in the North East who are victims of the insurgency.

Okonkwo, who made the claim during an interview with BD SUNDAY, said: “We have done a lot, for instance, we have a special relief fund in PFN for that very area and we have been sending relief, I know that CAN has too. There are many victims of the insurgency that we have rehabilitated, widows that we have to build houses for outside that location, children we put on scholarships; so the church is not folding its hands. The only issue is that the numbers of people involved are so many. That is why we are trying to get government involved, they should not just talk but get involved to rehabilitate these people and pay the money that is necessary so that at least the people will get a little breather.”

On his assessment of Nigeria at 54, the bishop said Nigerians have every right to celebrate the fact that they are still together.

“At times, I laugh when I hear people say divide Nigeria. Do you realise that the Ogbomoso man cannot agree with Oyo man; a Shagamu person will not agree with an Abeokuta person, the same thing with Ibibio and Efik. So if we split, we will have a mega problem in our hands; we should be thanking God, because the strength of Nigeria lies in our unity, even though we are diverse we are still together.” According to him, the day they succeed in dividing this nation, then the citizenry will see what they have done to themselves; they would have shot themselves in the foot.

“I know there are things that are not right, obviously, at times if you look at the country generally, you will feel discouraged. If you think in terms of the resources that God has given to the nation, if you think in terms of the human resources, vast land, you think of all that and then compare it to what you have in other countries, you are tempted to be discouraged. But at the same time I believe that our democracy is evolving, we need to keep on enlightening the public on a regular basis,” he said.


The cleric further said that Jonathan is not the problem of this country, stating that the problems plaguing Nigeria was created over the years by other people, “but unfortunately Jonathan now happens to be the scapegoat, so everybody is calling his name. Let us be real, to say it mildly, I am not a strong advocate of Jonathan or no Jonathan, but to be honest, is Jonathan the problem of this country? He is not”.

Asked about the controversies surrounding Pastor Ayo Oritsejiofor’s jet and the $9.3m arms deal, the bishop maintains that there are no controversies and that the aim of whoever perpetrated the story was to put the integrity of the man in doubt.

“I was not in the country when it happened, but the moment I read the article on the internet, I have not discussed with him, I did not ask him but I knew that this is not the truth; the whole truth is not yet told. Why I am saying so is because I know Pastor Ayo personally. If you do not know him and look at how he looks, you will think he is a cowboy. Unfortunately, his look does not depict who he really is; and many people misunderstand,” he said.

The Bishop further said: “First, they said the president bought him a jet, that is not true and that I know very well; when that did not work, then this issue. He is not the first minister of the gospel to own a jet; Bishop Oyedipo has more than one jet, Pastor E. Adeboye has a jet; he just got a jet the other day. Now, the presidency ‘supposedly’ went to buy arms and they have close to 10 jets in the fleet of the Federal Government. In this country we have, for fear of contradiction, close to 100 jets. You are looking for a jet to use in the purchase of arms, how come it is his own they went after? Why not another one? People should put two and two together. It is simply because he is the president of CAN. 2015 election is coming so let’s make his words not to be accepted; whatever he says should not be regarded. So you are an arms dealer, you are a money launderer and you are a gospel preacher, so that sells, that is the catch”.

Charles Ikeh-Oko & Mabel Dimma