Nigeria @62: We haven’t even started the journey to nation state – Bishop Ilechukwu
Cosmas Ilechukwu, the national secretary of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) and the General Overseer of Charismatic Renewal Ministries spoke with SEYI JOHN SALAU on Nigeria’s 62nd Independence anniversary and other pressing national issues. Excerpts:
Nigeria @62: Do you think we have made the desired progress towards nationhood?
We haven’t made any significant progress. We haven’t even started the journey to nation state. We are still a divided mosaic – we have tribes; we have states; we have quasi regions, but we have no nation because we have a faulty constitution which can never give us a nation. Nigeria can never build a nation state based on the contraction that was foisted on us by the military, which is nothing more than a military degree. The agreement of our fore-fathers was to form a federation, and Nigeria is not a federation; we are a unitary system of government, and that can never deliver the nation we envisaged.
Does it call for celebration?
There is nothing to celebrate. Those are just means the government used to siphon our money and plunder our commonwealth. What are we celebrating? We are celebrating insecurity; we are celebrating political ineptitude; we are celebrating being the poverty capital of the world. What are we celebrating: tell me what is worthy of celebration in Nigeria? Nothing. We should be mourning; people should wear sackcloth and ashes, and go to their churches, mosque and shrine and cry out to their God in outright repentance for His mercies and deliverance.
But, some Nigerians are of the view that the Church is also culpable that it has not done enough to deepen conversation on the nation-state discussion?
That is nonsense; it is never the responsibility of the Church. Go to our constitution and see whether there was any role assigned to the Church to do that. It is not the role of the Church – the Church does what it could, but we have political leaders who make decisions that determine the political trajectory; the economic trajectory, and the social trajectory that the country will follow. It’s not the Church that does that – let them hand this country over to the Church; let’s see whether the Church will not work. Are our Universities working? But the Universities owned by Churches are functional. Do we see the natural resources to make decisions; do we sign the national budget of the country; do we make the laws of the country? These are done by politicians and they should be ashamed of pushing the blame to somebody else; which Church?
The campaign season officially started on Wednesday; what is the PFN looking out for in the campaign?
PFN is looking at a candidate that is honest; a candidate that has verifiable credentials; a candidate that is tested, that is not corrupt; a candidate that relates with the people amicably; a detribalised candidate; a candidate that do not see Nigeria as a right that must be given to him; but a candidate that is out there to convince the people that he’s worthy of leadership. That is what PFN stands for, and that is what PFN is looking for.
Do you think the PFN can deliver bloc votes in the forthcoming elections?
I may not be able to speak on that; we have not discussed that. But, I know that every PFN member is a Nigerian, and everybody has felt the pain, the embarrassment of the fiasco we have called Nigeria. And, that the common pains; common frustrations we have endured will guide our voting patterns.
During your last meetings in Lagos, you spoke extensively about the ongoing ASUU strike; two months after ASUU are still on strike, what could be wrong with the sector?
We should hold the government responsible. They say that there is no money to pay what ASUU is demanding, and we know it’s a lie. Look at the primaries conducted by the two leading political parties; the APC and the PDP, see how much money was spent in bribing people – where did they get that money from? Where did they get the dollars in their thousands with which they bribe people? Is it not our commonwealth that they cornered and profligate? How can such money be available in a country that is the poverty capital of the world? Our politicians have cornered our commonwealth and they are using it to buy their way to offices and do stuff, and turn around and tell ASUU that there is no money – there is money: they should go and settle ASUU.
As we get into the campaign season proper; what is your advice to the electorates?
The electorates should not allow themselves to be deceived again by a gift of one Naira. That was Communist approach; they will impoverish the nation, and then give people peanuts and the people that receive the peanuts will call them heroes. We must understand that this is not helping Nigeria; we must reject their salt, reject their rice, reject their envelopes, and go out there and vote according to our conscience. Go out there and vote for a person that is honest; a person that is tested, and a person with verifiable credentials.