Leonard Umunna, a bishop and founder of Bible Life Church worldwide, in this interview with ZEBULON AGOMUO, Editor, decries the socio-economic, political and spiritual states of Nigeria, calling on all citizens to make conscious efforts to return the country to the glory of yesteryears. He urges Christians in partisan politics to show the light. The multi-talented cleric also speaks on the forth-coming general election, expressing the optimism that it would be violence-free contrary to speculations.
As a Nigerian and a cleric who have operated in the country for many years; how would you describe 2018?
God told me at the beginning of that year that it was going to be a year of greater glory manifestation to Bible Lifers and all true Christians in the country. The church (in general) made a lot of progress last year. People came to church for help; where government could not provide the basic things of life, it was church that filled the gap; where the people lacked security, the church provided. The church provided hope for the hopeless. It was the church that held programmes and fed millions of participants across the country. The church visited the Internally Displaced Persons’ settlements and provided for them.
The glory of the church was lifted last year and it is going to be far lifted up this year because God is God of progress.
In every area, if not the church, it would have been very, very terrible. If not God, it would have been very bad for this nation. Last year, Nigeria was declared the world poverty capital.
But to us, God has said in famine we will smile. We really smiled despite all the negative news and happenings in 2018.
Concerning the nation (Nigeria) and the world in general; I told you last year that God said it would be a year of WWWL (War, Wisdom Wealth and Love) we saw it, from herdsmen, to Boko Haram, everywhere it was war, conflagration and aggression. It was also a year of wisdom. For instance, some parties had better ideas, even the PDP that could have been totally disintegrated got wisdom to conduct presidential primary that was seamless, scandal-free and noise-free; nobody went to court for the first time. That was wisdom. It was also a year of love. In the midst of the crises, musicians released albums that called for unity, peace and love. It was also a year of wealth. Yes, things were hard but it was a year of wealth. The summary of last year is that it wasn’t a bad year as I sang in my newest album. ‘I have no regrets, all I have are challenges; the more they come, the more I win.’
What are your expectations for the current year?
It is a year of ‘Ruling and Slaying Giants’.
That’s what God told me. You can see that this is an election year for Nigeria; and there is apprehension everywhere. You can see now that the whole of North East is virtually engulfed. The bloodshed is getting so much that if government does not up its game to arrest the situation it will become very catastrophic for Nigeria, because every bloodshed cries to the God of vengeance. The former President Goodluck Jonathan said his election did not worth the blood of any Nigerian.
The blood of one person spilt unjustly is enough to make heaven to shut its doors against a nation when the leader does not fight for that very soul, not to talk of hundreds of thousands of souls. Now, join the carnage in the North East to the activities of kidnappers, ritual murders, the militants and politicians who want to win election in a do-or die way. They are now getting involved in human sacrifices just to make money; make name or win election. The evil of Nigeria has reached the high heavens. So, the way I see it this year, is what God said to me that it is a year of ‘Slaying those Giants? And this year has an acronym – Last: It is a year that will last in the memories of citizens. It is a year that comes with light to expose the evil works of many. It will help us see the future ahead. People will become aware of the state of the nation. It will bring more illumination for advancement to us.
A- stands for advancement but for adversity for those who would want to continue in their evil and pernicious ways.
S – stands for sabotage. It will start with the coming elections. Those who said yes in the open will say no at the polling booths. It is a year of surprises and embarrassments for some people.
Despite what you said about the role the church played in the physical economy of Nigeria in the last year, how would you rate the church in terms of corruption and unrighteousness?
Don’t go there. It is far from expectations. Nigerian churches are not there at all. Only few are still marching on; they are hardly seen; they are underground. What we see today is that many of them are gathering money just to build edifices like the people who built the tower of Babel; just for their honour and glory. Only a few are blessing God will obedience and acceptable service. Some have even gone to acquire occult powers just to be seen as being powerful. The level of deception is very high.
Now, elections are by the corner and people are saying true Christians should go into politics to change the wrong way things are done there. But there are also some people who argue that the Christians who are there are not showing the light. What actually do you think is the trouble with Christians going into partisan politics in Nigeria?
I think things have gone so bad in the nation’s politics that it is even possible to believe those who are into occult than those who hide under Christianity. Those in the occult know that nemesis will catch up with them, whereas those hiding under Christianity are still deceiving themselves.
So, if that is the case, where lies the solution?
The solution is in what God is doing this year. You are going to see some demystification this year. If they had allowed the youth to come into politics, they would have learnt, but the youth have no foundation in Nigeria at all. The foundation they have is carrying the bags of old politicians, rigging of elections, who do you know; your godfather and your financial base and worth. That’s all they know that matter in politics. All the laws that could have been made now to give us a new Nigeria have been abandoned. One would have thought that by now we would have advanced to the point of staying in our homes and voting. We don’t need to come to the polling booths; merge the person’s identity with the fellow’s bank account and other items of identification/particulars, and you will see that this thing called corruption would be reduced to the barest minimum if not altogether wiped out in some cases. We thought that by now they should have put it into the laws and statutes of government that any person going to vie for an election, generation of the fund must come from the public and not from the individual. That would mean that those aspiring to public office would begin early to plan and it would be only for those who have the servant-leader heart; and not those whose only motive to go there is self-enrichment.
Government says it has outlawed hate speech but critics say government is even more guilty in this case than any other person…
What you sow you will reap; don’t bring hate action that will provoke your brother who has been pushed to the wall. He has gone into the wall and you are still pushing him; what then do you expect of him? He should not defend himself? Our people say, you don’t beat a child and still stop the child from crying out. If he cries out and talks you say it is hate speech.
Now, the question is, what concerns do you have for the 2019 general election?
I had some concerns before, not any more. This is because if not God there is no hope; I know that Nigeria is bigger than those who are beating the drum of war. Nigeria will survive it. Nigeria will come out of this and shine. It takes one ‘mad’ person to change the course of things, like what Jerry Rawlings did in Ghana. I am not supporting bloodshed; but if it is the only way to save Nigeria, ‘O Lord, clean the Augean stable’. If that is the only way to get things work for us in Nigeria, let God have his way.
Nothing is working. They continue hopping from one excuse to the other. Today, they will say it is dam; tomorrow they say it is distribution; that if they generate so much, no distributive capacity. Another one now they will tell you that all the things we need have arrived at the Wharf in Apapa and that they have been cleared but no facility to distribute them. When there is facility; they will come up with ‘O, they have stolen them’. Now, the ministry has compounded the problem by making budget for the purchase of generators. No hope. I tell you, anybody trying to tell you that Nigeria is working well should examine his head, and ask the fellow if he/she saw Nigeria when I saw Nigeria. I was born in 1954. Nigeria was like a huge aeroplane that took off; but something happened midair; it force-landed and since then every attempt to make it fly again has been in vain. Generation of engineers have come and worked on it without success. They don’t even know how to get the parts not to talk of how to do it.
We are seeing all manner of endorsement of candidates by pastors. There are too many prophecies and counter prophecies about the coming election right from the pulpit. What should be the acceptable limits of these pronouncements from the pulpits?
I have told you that when God wants to help a man, he will be using natural forces supernaturally to enable him gain momentum and his enemies losing momentum. They will still be explaining it away until the final hour. When you interviewed me on former President Goodluck Jonathan in those days, I told you that God said I should not say anything about Jonathan; that it is the end that would justify the purpose why he was placed there. We saw what happened in 2015. It was the step he took that averted war in the country at that time. In some states, the momentum will be rising; while it will be going down in some. At the federal level; people will change their mind at the point of casting their votes at the polling booth; last minute decision. But I must tell you that the way the election will go eventually, there will be nothing like ‘They rigged it’, this time. The thing has gone the way it should go already. Those prophesying are prophesying for the sake of it.