• Sunday, July 21, 2024
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‘I pray for a pragmatic, forthright leader that will be concerned about the people’

2023: PFN urges Christians to vote candidate with capacity to move Nigeria forward

The National Deputy President, of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), John Praise Daniel, who is also the presiding Archbishop of the Dominion Chapel International Churches and Presiding Prelate, of Pentecostal Bishops Forum of Northern Nigeria, was recently in Lagos for a conference where he spoke on some national issues. Excerpts by SEYI JOHN SALAU:

62 years after independence, Nigerians still lament over some teething challenges; does this bother you?

I am a lot bothered especially when I go to other countries, especially smaller countries and see what is happening there. Earlier this year I was in Cotonou and Togo, from the airport, I was telling God ‘why can’t our leaders see what is happening even in these smaller countries?’ If you land in Lagos airport you will see grass around the runway but if you go to Rwanda or Ghana you will see the setup of their airports. When you enter the tarmac of our airports here in Nigeria it is so disappointing. Part of my training is transportation engineering, I specialised in highway transportation and tarmac construction. I noticed that most of our airports are not built to standard. It bothers me that things are not being done rightly in our nation.

My prayer is for a pragmatic and forthright leadership that will be concerned about the people other than themselves. Also we need a leadership that will get governance to the grassroots. Look at our roads you can hardly travel by road to anywhere. I went from Abuja to one of our churches in Nasarawa and I was lamenting over the state of the road.

I believe this country can be better and that can only begin with good leadership. By the time we begin with the right leaders I believe that things will be put right in this nation. I pray that God hears the cries of His people. Let us also be optimistic that God will turn things around for good. I will also like to point out that having travelled to many places, I also think we have not done badly in terms of development looking at Abuja and Lagos, we have some things to show.

So, we cannot totally say we are behind in terms of some roads, buildings, construction and other infrastructures. There was a time I went to the third largest city in Kenya for a conference and we were with the president at the stadium. I looked and said even my local government stadium cannot be like that.

A measure of development is going on in the country and the fact that we have not done badly does not mean we cannot do better. We can have better roads and other infrastructures put in place here in Nigeria.

Nigerian leaders travel to enjoy good infrastructures in foreign countries and feel at ease not replicating the same here; why is that so?

I think it has to do with leaders that are nonchalant. Sometimes, I wonder why they are this way. Look at what happened during COVID-19 where travelling was restricted, I thought they would have learnt and tried to put medical facilities in place for people to avoid travelling and to have our doctors stay back.

I tell you the truth, this country is the best, we have the best weather, the best set of people, rich in human resources and rich in mineral resources. I am sure some countries are jealous of us, maybe that is why they keep causing trouble so that we do not enjoy peace. It is time for us to maximise what God has blessed us with in this country and ensure we have the best living standard instead of people leaving here for other countries.

I pray that the candidates running for presidency should begin to think in the direction of representing the people and not going there for themselves. I am happy that they have all been in leadership, Tinubu has been a governor likewise Peter Obi, also Atiku has been a vice president. They should not go there to incur debt for the nation or to carry the money we do not have. They should see how to make this country develop, move forward and get away from poverty.

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What is your view on the issue of the Academic Staff Union of Universities’ strike that has lasted for months?

It was one of the things discussed in our last Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) meeting held on September 25, at the Continental Hotel in Lagos. We are pleading with the government to do what is needed for our children to go back to school. It is important that the strike is called off and lecturers go back to work because the strike is affecting a lot of things. The Federal Government and ASUU should not insist to the extreme they should come to terms for

You were in the news recently for meeting with the APC presidential candidate; was it on the same faith ticket of the APC?

The party that did it was not very sensitive to the feelings of the Christian body especially from the northern part. I am from the north and I know the Christians from the North do not feel quite good about it. Efforts were made initially even after the appointment of the Vice presidential candidate.

Concerning the meeting with the APC presidential candidate that raised some uproar, I have been directed not to grant an interview on that. However, by the grace of God, the Pentecostal Bishops Forum of Northern Nigeria hosted Tinubu to a parley on September 22 at Johnwood Hotel in Zone 5 and not the campaign office as reported in many papers. I said ‘let us listen to him in line with John 7:51, you do not judge a man without listening to him.’ Also, to ask how the church under his administration will not suffer if he becomes the president and he tried to answer a few questions.

We are not happy at the insensitive decision but there is room to make an informed decision on who to vote for. Vote according to your conscience and how God is leading you. The same faith ticket decision has been made already so the next is having a way forward. Besides, this present administration has the Vice President as a Christian but that did not stop the magnitude of killings especially in the North. In fact when the President was away and he made some changes, the President upon return reversed the changes.

My humble advice is that we should not fold our hands but to encourage candidates with strength of character to fight corruption, capacity to rule, can bring about positive changes and end insecurity, embezzlement and other things that this country has been challenged with. CAN gave the guidelines on things to look for in voting not only for the next president, also for the governorship position and other electoral positions. I believe it is critical to consider the voting guidelines CAN gave in order to move the nation forward.

Is Nigeria a failed state?

Not quite. A lot of things have not happened right but they can still happen. Nigeria is not a failed state and we can do better to make it a better place.

Finally, the 2023 general election is just four months away; any thought on the feelings across the country as regard the election?

I am optimistic that the election will be held by the grace of God because we are praying that God will sanitise the country and bring peace. In the North-East in terms of security, things have not been as bad as they were a few months ago. There is some level of quietness and sanity being returned unlike we have had before. Kidnappings, killing, and banditry seem to have reduced. I think the military is on their toes, it is a very good omen. I have always said that the primary duty of every government is the security of lives and properties. Again, I am believing in God that the election will hold. So, let us be prayerful. A new government will be sworn in and Nigeria will move forward.

We have had a lot of issues with the outgoing government but I believe God will orchestrate a new beginning. Absolutely, I know a lot of Nigerians are full of fear, I have been to the embassy a few times to collect my passport and I discovered a massive crowd because people are leaving the country. God took me to Philippians 4 verses 6 to 7; you know during the election in the past administration there was much fear than now but the election came and with Buhari leading going by the results, a phone call was made by Goodluck Jonathan to Buhari which brought peace.