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Buhari brought religion, ethnicity and sectionalism to a level that is almost destroying Nigeria – Bishop Ighele

The General Superintendent of Holy Spirit Mission Church (a.k.a Happy Family Centre), Charles Ighele, recently spoke with members of the Association of Christian Correspondents of Nigeria (ACCON) at his residence in Lagos; where he highlighted the socio-political implication of the Moslem/Moslem ticket of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and other national issues. Excerpts by SEYI JOHN SALAU:

What is your view on the overall security security of the country?

In the Hobbesian world, we talk about society of those days, the state of nature where life was short, brutish and nasty, which we call the Hobbesian state of nature; we have come to that stage. And when things go like that, the national security adviser is telling us to be security conscious, telling us to secure Abuja, so that Abuja does not fall, O God! Where are we? My advice is this, yes we should be security conscious. We are security conscious and then 100 people on bikes with guns come to your village, how can you fight back?

We have security forces, many from the army, police, civil defence, 800,000 to one 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 forces are over a million combined, including immigration, customs and the rest who are normally armed.

I said some time ago when they said to change the service chiefs, I said, well, I have no objection, but if you bring American service chiefs to come and be in charge with that kind of leadership we have, things will be the same. Our soldiers are not motivated to fight; the love for their father land is not put in them. Tobi Amusan won gold some days ago, I mean, I was saying it was her effort.

Then when Chioma Ajunwa who won gold in Long Jump years ago, when they interviewed her, how do you feel over Tobi Amusan, she said that the girl had been suffering, and then she found her way, she is on scholarship in US, our top athletes are there in American Universities, they struggle, then after honour to the nation, you come out to say, our girl; which girl?

She is not your girl. Now, for you to go and fight and die you must be motivated, how can I go to fight against a superior weapon, when billions of Naira that was voted to buy weapons cannot be accounted for.

El- Rufai has been saying they know where these Boko Haram insurgents are, they know where they are; so a leader, a president, of a whole country, who enjoys being in power alone, feeling good about being in power, and using power to do good for the common man, no, so that is where the problem is.

When Obasanjo was there, the security forces were dealt a blow at Odi in Niger Delta and Zakibiam in Benue State, when Obasanjo descended on them, I am not saying he did it well, he overreacted, but let me tell you, they kept quiet. What are you telling me?

ASUU has been on strike for about six months now. What is your view on our education system?

Something happened that I couldn’t do what I planned to do over the ASUU strike issue. I was to make a placard and T-shirt for myself and my wife to go to the street in support of the ASUU strike. Primary school destroyed; you see, nobody who earns even N50, 000 a month will say my child goes to a public primary school: secondary school destroyed. In some schools about 500 pupils use one toilet.

The teachers, many cannot speak good English; so people are taking their children from public primary schools to private primary schools. Secondary school, and now university education is also destroyed and people cannot take their children to private universities.

So, ASUU is fighting for the whole educational system whereby our children can finish from the University of Lagos, University of Ife and they go out to the US or UK and pick a job, but right now they cannot, because many of them are not competent. I have had people who passed through us and then went abroad to study.

They could not meet up; so now they have to sit again to get things done. So, the entire education system has failed completely. Go to the universities, look at their toilets, compare them to the university of Ife in the 70s, O my God, the central cafeteria was like a three or four star hotel, everything in order.

With 10 kobo in the morning you have nine slices of bread, with an egg, with either coffee, that is as much as you can take, or tea or beverage, the Quaker Oats all those things, N10 kobo. Lunch, N20 Kobo, either eba or Semovita, or Amala with different kinds of soup, two heavy chunks of meat with ice-cream.

Then in the evening, night meal, fruit must accompany it, do you understand, but now the whole system has crumbled. So, every right-thinking Nigerian should support the overhauling of the educational system. Look – in the US, my grandchildren who are there; they attend public primary school because there is no need to go to private primary school because they are well taken care of.

Do you know my grandson who is in primary five or six was given a project to write on. The project was on agriculture. He came home and said Dad my project is on George Washington Carver, they said no it is George Washington, he said Carver; they went to Google and found out that there was one man called George Washington Carver who changed the agriculture system in America, we said chai! Primary School!

Things have to be done well. Now, every right-thinking Nigerian should support the ASUU strike. The president said enough is enough, and then after that nothing; now I am telling him president enough is enough. Now I don’t know whether it is true; the Sunday Telegraph reports on how we want to use N3.1billion to modernise Customs- loan to modernise customs? Now you see the extra crude account that Obasanjo saved, the minister announced it has depleted from billions upon billions.

In June it was thirty something million dollars, in July, it was hundred and something thousand Dollars, less than half a million dollars. I listened to Prof Pat Utomi when he was being interviewed and other people also. It was Adam Smith who is known to be the father of capitalism and people always see him as a capitalist but he has written a book before on morality, the moral behind it but we forget the morality behind the story.

He wrote that book, ‘The Wealth of Nations’, why are some nations richer than other nations? And then he brought these four things: Capital, entrepreneur, land and labour. The educational system produces the labour force, look at what MAN said, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria some years ago, it said when they employ Nigerian graduates; it takes them time to retrain them.

Talking about election in relation to level of electoral awareness. Getting the right education system, for instance, begins with electing right people into government. The level of apathy among Nigerians, particularly Christians, has always been high; what can be done to change this trend ahead 2023?

When Buhari won in the last election, one of the papers interviewed me, the way they placed it, it was two pages, so they said this is the worst election in Nigeria’s history, then one other general, whether Shagaya or so, said this is the best election in Nigeria’s history. What I meant was this: in terms of religious content, the election was free and fair; it reflected the will of the people, yes there was rigging here and there; this was the 2015 election that brought Buhari to power.

So, I like to be as honest as possible, though I didn’t vote for him, my brother Professor Osinbajo, my Christian brother was there but I didn’t vote for him because I saw what was going to happen, and leaders of the church in this country they know my stand on that and why I took that stand. And now I am being vindicated; yes, I saw it coming. So, the election was generally free and fair.

But my religious content was huge, the president then would go to churches, go to crusades and address people and then the Moslems would do their own quietly in the Mosques, and I said this is dangerous, and now it has become more dangerous: Christians brother versus Moslem brother, it has become more dangerous. We have never been as divided as we are right now along religious lines.

And Northern Moslems, people like Babachair, Dogara, I mean people like Saduana of Sokoto – the premier of the Northern Region, in those days, he tried on how he would bring out one north with the ethnic groups, the people in Southern Kaduna were not being killed, now all that is no more.

I really find it shameful to say Christians do this, Moslems do this; but I see that we are in a country where the forces of ‘centripetalism’ should be at work than those of ‘centrifugalism’, we should see how we unite our people; they should not use religion to destroy our people.

All our best books I have today are the books written by the Emir of Dubai on Development. Development knows no religion; the Emir of Dubai has developed Dubai, I like to read about development as a preacher. And when I read that book, my God, my vision!

Read also: Religion raises political stakes, risks dividing Nigerians

You see, at a stage one begins to feel oppressed, and I have never been like this before. This President, this particular President, Muhammadu Buhari, he brought religion to a level, ethnicity to a level, sectionalism to a level, that it is almost destroying the nation, I hold him responsible; he is to be held responsible for everything, because you know, you have followers and these followers they are afraid to talk to you.

You know the story of a king who danced naked, yes sir, yes sir, you fart, you fart, the people say yes sir, this your fart can make good perfume, put it in a bottle, sycophants everywhere, but you have to stand as a leader.

He has failed woefully. I have no apology about it at all. You see people under him dancing to the bad music he has produced, because there must always be a party. In a party you prepare all the food, isn’t it? Then the music is not okay, people will still dance, he has produced bad music, and good people and bad people are dancing to the bad music.

Finally, one issue that will not disappear from our political space is the Moslem/Moslem ticket by the All Progressives Congress (APC); as a political scientist, what is your view on this?

I don’t think I have anything against Bola Ahmed Tinubu, personally. I have nothing against him. I know the time he was governor of Lagos State, that time I was still in Benin, Edo State before I moved to Lagos, when he took over from Colonel Buba Marwa, and Marwa was quite charismatic, he was popular.

When Tinubu now took over as governor of Lagos State, for the first year there was some criticism; he was not performing well, then he rejigged, and I said on my pulpit in Benin City; I said watch out for this man, he is a strategist. This man will go somewhere high, he is a planner, and so that was my impression of him.

So, I see him do all these – I am not surprised. I told my church then, he would go somewhere, not as a prophecy but by seeing how he was trying to see how to get Lagos on a developmental process, which I like.

So, it is not about Asiwaju Bola Tinubu but my concern is this, and this is what is disturbing me seriously. Now, if he wins as president and he serves for two terms of eight years, which means under a Moslem/Moslem ticket, when it now gets back to North, another eight years, they will give it to another northerner, another Moslem/Moslem will surely have it, and it is quite suffocating.

During MKO Abiola; myself and my wife were enthusiastic, we queued up and voted for him, so my concern is what I told you right now. It is suffocating. Is it that there is no competent Christian, but now Buhari eight years, if Tinubu wins, eight years, that’s 16 years, and then it goes North again, eight years; that means 24 years, haba! It is suffocating, so that is really my concern.

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