If Nigeria returns to God through repentance, he will turn things around for good – Udofia

In the recent past, clerics and some Church leaders have been the target of bandit attacks with the recent lynching of the Catholic priest in Niger State; Emmanuel Josiah Udofia, former primate of the African Church, shares his thought on this and some other national issues with SEYI JOHN SALAU, and urged President Muhammadu Buhari and other political leaders to dialogue on how to get Nigeria out of her current economic woes. Excerpts:

We are counting down on the presidential election; what are your views on the forthcoming general election?

We all are living witnesses to what is happening in Nigeria. Nigerians should not go after the name of any party; they should go after the name of anybody they know and have the conviction that such a person will deliver – such a person will do well when by the grace of God he gets into office. He will not only be much after his own party but will be much after the generality of Nigerians, and Nigerians should not sell their rights because of money because in due cause they will cry for that evil which they have done.

So, we should vote for righteousness, we should vote for integrity, vote for godliness; anybody we know that carry the mind of God – large heart of God; such a person should be voted for. Not just for anybody from any party but somebody who has a large heart for this country; somebody who loves this country and who will by the grace of God be there to make sure and harness the resources of Nigeria for the benefit of Nigerians.

Some clerics have urged Nigerians to pray against cancellation; do you share the same sentiment?

We believe that if everything is done well by the grace of God there will be no cancellation. But if it is not done according to God’s will, God can cause it to be canceled. God can do something beyond every human imagination, and that’s what we are trusting God for. This forthcoming election, any form of manipulation, any form of inducement that will make people to misbehave, that will make people to do anything that will not be to the glory of God – we are praying that God will intervene. And by God’s divine intervention, everybody knows what that means. God is not respecter of anybody; so, we are trusting that everybody will do what is right.

Towards the end of 2022; the same faith ticket of APC dominated the social media space. But, that seems to have died down now; what is your view on this?

We are talking about the unity of Nigeria – we have been saying that we should do everything possible to avoid anything that will lead to dichotomy (Christian-Muslim, and so on and so forth). We should do everything possible that will make us see ourselves as one Nigeria. So, I am still not happy with that situation whereby some group of people will say no ‘O it must be those from our group that must lead Nigeria.’ It is not proper in a developed society; it is not proper in a civilised society – we must do everything possible to keep Nigeria united. God knew why He never allowed one religion to exist in Nigeria; so we must see ourselves as Nigerians not from a particular region or ethnic group. We should try to avoid anything that will keep dividing us; I don’t like it and I will never like it.

As a retired clergyman, are you not worried that bandits and other criminal elements are attacking clerics?

Well, I don’t know personally why the bandits decide to go after the clerics because the clerics by the grace of God are those by calling have set themselves aside for the gospel of the kingdom of Jesus Christ; who are out there to give directions and to guide those in authority on what they should do for the benefit of all Nigerians, not only for a particular class of people hut for all Nigerians and those who are in Nigeria.

So, the clerics by the grace of God their responsibility is to pray for the wellbeing of the nation because these are the people who have set themselves aside – not that they are being paid by the government but by the grace of God; every day, every night they are interceding that God should have mercy upon our nation Nigeria. So, I don’t see any reason why they should be attacking the clerics; any cleric at all- he is trying to help the government; he is trying to help the society to be governed well. For anybody to go after clerics – they are not fighting the clerics; they are fighting against God because these are God’s representatives.

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Nigerians are suffering with the high cost of living in the country on the back of the current fuel scarcity; what do you think the government should do?

I don’t think our leaders have done well because I expect them to have sat down, call themselves together and say: what have we not done well? Which area have we failed or where have we disappointed Nigerians? So, from there they will know how to right the wrongs from where they may have fallen short in one way or the other. Look at it now, we knew what we passed through last year and this year again look at fuel – we buy fuel in some places N400.

In December I was buying fuel at the rate of N400, now in some places N300; N270; N280 and so forth, and it is the masses at the grassroots that are feeling the suffering mostly because they have to move their goods or whatever they have to the city and by that logically the movement of materials or goods from one place to the other automatically increases, and that will increase prices of commodities. Now rice, garri and those things that are mostly needed by people at the grassroots are not commonly come by.

So, I think our leaders should call themselves together and sit down together – our economists should sit down together to ask where have we not done well, and so they begin from there. Now, they want to hand over power in May; is this the kind of situation they want to hand over to the next regime? Where people are crying everywhere – I pray that God should help us. Those areas they have done well, they should add more efforts, and those areas they think they have failed; they should do something before they leave in May.

Finally, your New Year message to Nigerians, members of the African Church?

The moment you begin to look at human being, you may have heart attack – you are bound to have ill-feelings about life generally. But, when you look at God, you see hope; when you look up to God you see satisfaction in Him. When you look up to God you see blessings. By that I want every member, every Nigerian to look onto God as our life and our salvation, and the strength of our life. And, our supplier of everything – so Nigerians should look up to God.

When we put our trust in God and not in man; God will turn everything around for good. God created Nigeria and knows what to do if Nigeria turns unto Him, and if Nigeria returns to Him through faith and repentance – God knows how to turn Nigeria around, and God will do it by the reason of the prayers of the saints in this country.