The chairman of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Ikeja province, Tope Ilesanmi in this interview speaks about the call for state police, insecurity and efforts made at deepening peace across Nigeria. Excerpts by SEYI JOHN SALAU:
The southern governors met recently in Lagos and reached a resolution that the next president of Nigeria should come from the south; do you think this is what we need at this point in time?
As traditional politicians they may be correct because Nigerians view themselves by tribalism and ethnicity. By now, a more developed nation should focus more on serious issues. Of course, it may be because of the complexity but I know there are countries that have more ethnic groups than we have in Nigeria. What Nigeria really needs now: if they can search for the best material. In management we call them level five (5) leaders actually. These are leaders who have the knowledge to actually know who and who are needed in any department of the organisation, and solve it. So, that should be the proper thing; but we on the other hand because of the way Nigeria is structured – they may be correct in their own way.
But if you look at the situation of the country critically; are we not trying to replay the 2015 scenario?
Well, I have told you sometimes ago that as far as Nigeria is concerned, the present crop of political leaders that we have cannot take Nigeria to her destination because this is the mind that rules the system. They don’t really have the mind of building Nigeria as a nation. For that reason – what is objective is not their focus: you will agree with me that what is in the mind of 90 percent of them is: ‘what is in it for me?’ Once that becomes the motive, then even though there is a critical subject before them, they will set it aside. That is just the problem.
Let us look at insecurity in the country; what do you think security operatives can do differently to savage the situation?
Yes, Kaduna is having a lion share of kidnapping at the moment, but down the south too; we are having our own, there is no place in Nigeria that is safe. When I went on a spirituality index few weeks ago; only Lagos State seems to be working – some are in red zone, some are in amber zone, while Lagos and one other state is in green. And it’s so bad that when you have 90 percent of all the states in state of insecurity. I feel the best thing for the President is to step aside. Babangida did it; so let him step aside for someone else to lead. Because there is nothing you can suggest to the president that he will use. State police that many states are trying to resort to may, to some extent, help them. Amotekun will somehow help them, but when that thing will turn against us as a nation, because the governors that have put them together – they themselves are immature in leadership. So, they will use it against the system in years to come. The best that we need right now if Buhari wants to solve the problem- it won’t take him more than one week- is just for him to tell the Air Force people to bomb everywhere they see these people. They know where they are – an investigative journalist wrote some time ago that he was tracing the movement of bandits that kidnapped his friend (in the morning, in the evening; in the morning, in the evening); so this thing is not cast in iron – it’s something that is doable, but since the leadership of this nation is not sincere, there is nothing they can do about it than to step aside and allow people that at least want Nigeria to succeed, even though they cannot take us to our destination.
With just two years left for the administration; will it not create some political imbalance for the country should the president step aside?
Is the nation Nigeria balanced as we are talking? Everything is on disequilibrium and for that reason, you will agree with me that for the next six month to one year – let me not take you too far; when Yemi Osinbajo stood in the gap for Buhari when he went for medical break in 2017; do you know the level of fairness; do you know the level of economic changes that happened within those few months? And so, the person that knows what to do if he should take over now – give him between three to six months, there will be calmness; there will be security and then we can have some relief. Imagine exchange rate of N500+ to a dollar, whoever would have imagined that such a thing would happen in Nigeria and nobody will respond. So, the best thing to do between me and you, and the ancestors on Nigeria is for this man to step aside; there are people he can hand over to. He can hand over to his VP; he can also choose to hand over to somebody else, after all Tunde Bakare said he wants to be 16th president and he understands Hausa – so he should hand over to him. Nothing good can ever come out of this system again because it has been programmed to fail. A deliberate programme – we are not suffering from external forces; we are suffering from internal forces, which the Federal Government is complicit.
Still on insecurity; another set of students were kidnapped from the Bethel Baptist College in Kaduna last week, which forced the state government to shut some schools. If we are shutting down schools for these bandits, is Boko-Haram not winning through the back door?
Well, the answer is still the same. Everything rises and fall on leadership. The people that says they don’t want western education; their leaders have become multi-billionaires through western education. Is it not western education that enlightened them and made them to compete a little with the southerners? And, if they say they don’t want it, it is a deception just to mislead the southerners. The truth of the matter is that the leadership of the North wants only few elite to remain in power – go and check; all of them sending their children to the best schools abroad; are you saying they don’t want western education? Sending their children to U.S, to U.K to study – they want it, but they are not making provision to protect the interest of the poor which should also go to school because they know that when the people are enlightened and educated they can free themselves from the indirect slavery that members of the northern elite are keeping the people. It is not as if Boko-Haram is an impossible task but it is because it is also feeding the egos of the northern elite.
Now, let’s come to the Church; the PFN recently launched a N200 million fund for its state secretariat. Why build a state secretariat when there is a national secretariat in Lagos?
My own province being an investment secretariat and that is exactly what the Lagos State PFN is trying to do. It’s an investment secretariat; not just secretariat of a few offices – only a few parts will be reserved for offices, the rest are going to be commercialised so that it can generate fund for the state. It will reduce the financial burden on the members if that is done.
In other words, you are saying PFN wants to be sustainable for the future?
Yes, it will be self-sustainable, financially, as the years goes by.
But, PFN is a strong organisation in Lagos and members pay dues; are the dues not enough for the day-to-day running of the secretariat?
We call it subscription. And it is grossly insufficient to meet the running of PFN because there are lots of challenges that the members are going through. And when I say members; there are some big ones that have made it, but the upcoming ones need some leverage. Without that there are lots of such challenges that keep coming that PFN might not be able to handle and even the subscription that is being contributed yearly are grossly inefficient. As a province chairman, if I tell you how much I have to spend personally from my own pulse – is much. And it is more for welfare because when founders are just starting ministry there will be test and trial of faith. At that time they need some measure of help from those that have made it. Personally, I have to be responsible for their well being – the subscription is too low compare with what the challenges are.