Same-sex marriage: We need to take the gospel to those practising it – Prelate
The Prelate of the Methodist Church Nigeria, Samuel Chukwuemeka Kanu Uche, recently reiterated the position of Methodist Church Nigeria (MCN) on the same-sex marriage, positing that it has no place in the Church, while speaking on other national issues with SEYI JOHN SALAU at the Wesley House in Marina, Lagos. Excerpts:
What is your view on the same-sex issue in Methodist Church of England and the implication on Christianity at large?
Missionaries are not Jesus. Most of us have studied more than the missionaries. Some of us have gone to school; some of us have seen manuscripts – I have seen the original manuscript of the bible and manuscripts are the real doctrine from the source. So, if there is any manipulation, it is man-made; and you know the Europeans are trying to bring their culture into Christian religion – they were not originally Christians, but were Christianised by the apostles. The white people are confused; we can’t follow them. Up till now in the Hebrew land, same-sex marriage is an abomination; it’s not practised. So, we have gone beyond Britain, America, and the missionaries in Nigeria. If you go to the original Christian practice, even before Christianity came to England and America, the original teachings of Jesus Christ and even the law – if you go to Deuteronomy, it prohibits this same sex marriage. In fact, one of the reasons God drove the Palestinians away from their land and gave it to Abraham and his sons; why must you go back to such practice? So, it is absurd and we need to take the gospel to them. And, the person who started Methodist Church, John Wesley, started it on sound doctrine. People like Kumuyi, Adeboye; people like Oyedepo; people like Olukoya; they all refer to him, and that is where we stand.
The PIB, if signed into law by the president with 3% going to host communities; do you think it will promote peace in the oil-producing states?
I stand with the Southern governors on 5 percent. Government should tread with caution. In fact, I travel around the country and I know every city; every village; every suburban area in Nigeria because my Church is everywhere. We have about nine churches in Sambisa forest. So, I know all these places; I visited them myself. I am a pastor for all Nigeria. If you go to Niger-Delta areas – the Rivers, Bayelsa, part of Delta; they can’t drink their water, they can’t do their business of fishing, they can’t even farm. So, five percent is even nothing to me. I would have preferred seven percent to host communities to enable them to take care of their land and compensate them for the damage. There are a lot of damage done by those who vandalise oil pipeline and the companies (Shell and others) who exploit oil. They have done so many damages to the communities – so they need some compensation and to give them a sense of belonging.
But, some are quick to point out that the Niger-Delta cannot justify the 13% derivative it gets from the Federal Government. Do you share this sentiment?
Well, whoever embezzles money meant for such people should answer for it. Whatever we do on earth must be subjected to judgment by God Almighty.
Many Nigerians including Churches embraced Social Media because of the lockdown; is the government’s drive to ban, regulate or even sensor media space good for our democracy?
For me, there should be a law that whoever engages in the false dissemination of information should be persecuted. Emphasis is on falsehood. But if you air your mind on anything – it is permissible. Freedom of speech, freedom of worship, expression of opinion, freedom of association is enshrined in the constitution – if you take away people’s freedom, what do you do for them? So, government should not gag people or oppress people who air their views on issues, unless we are not practising democracy. If we are practising democracy, people should be allowed to air their views. For instance, I don’t see anything wrong when people were expressing their views about what happened at Lekki toll gate. Why are they feeling embarrassed? If the government is embarrassed by certain things that people say; they should be very, very cautious about how they enforce the law because any aberration, people must talk about anything contrary to the law. I believe that as citizens, we should respect government because nobody comes into any government office without God’s knowledge, especially elective offices. Anybody elected or anybody brought in by the court should be respected because the Bible says that elevation does not come from east, west, north or south – God elevates; God dethrones. So, when God allows somebody to come into the office, we must respect the person. Can you imagine that Paul writing to Timothy, his son in the Lord (I Timothy 2:1&2) said ‘I urge that prayers be said for all men, including those in authority; so that under them we may be truly and quietly covered: that is peace.’ So, we should not be abusing people God has placed over us. We should respect them; but when they err, we should point it out.
What is your view on the call for restructuring?
Personally, I don’t support fragmentation of Nigeria. I believe in a negotiated Nigeria where all the people come together. And I feel that the decision of the 2014 National Conference set up under Jonathan should be released to us. Some of the cogent points, implemented. They talked about devolution of power; they talked about press freedom; they talked about regional government; they talked about federal character, and fortunately the person who presided over it; the former chief judge (Kutigi) was a Muslim and he wasn’t bias. I don’t know why some people decided to bury that report.
Why are present politicians scared of fiscal federalism?
Personally, the level of underdevelopment in local government is very bad. In fact, it is not the governors that should control the local government chairmen; by constitution it is the state legislative houses. So, there are many things that the states Houses of assembly need to get right. In fact, they should be directly monitored and supervised by the state houses of assembly. They should properly report how they use their money to the state assembly and the honourable member representing each local government should not be alone in carrying out the supervision, because when I visit local government areas; there are places that don’t have to covet and nothing to show. That means people are corrupt and are only sharing money. That is why I will throw my wealth in support of the change of that situation.
In your visits to local government areas across the country, you must have seen for yourself the high level of poverty and suffering Nigerians are going through. What can the church do in giving more support to people at the grassroots?
When I went on my tour recently, I spent N2 million from my personal money to empower ordinary women in the village to do some petty trading, and the N2 million is about 200, 000 per family. We have done it before under my family NGO – Pray and Touch. Some of the people we empowered are women and young people. In fact, I am an advocate of doing what Buhari promised in 2015 when he was campaigning – to give N5, 000 every month to unemployed youths; I don’t know whether they have done it or not. If they have done it, people from my village have not benefited from it. People from my church have not benefited from it: that means that that promise was not kept.
But government revenue is largely dependent on oil…
Nigeria should depend less on oil money. We should go into agro-industrialisation. We should also go into agro-economy, developing our agriculture products. And, how do you do that in the midst of insurgency and insecurity – that is another problem. So, the problem we have is more than we can carry. Once there is security, some of the villages where people are thrown out of their houses and are now feeding from hand to mouth; I believe that if we are serious and restore sanity in the country, many households will be feeding. For instance, when are we growing up, we didn’t depend on the government for everything. We were making our cassava that sustained us all round the year; vegetable from our farm; yam from our farm; cocoyam from our farm. The little things we buy from the market was rice and some condiments. But, since the end of the war, everything has changed; everybody started looking for the oil money, which is very bad. In fact, my prayer to God is that let the oil dry up. I know that the economy of Japan, China, and even Singapore and many other countries depend on manufacturing. So, I don’t know why our people are lazy looking for oil money.
Finally, any word of encouragement to the congregation left behind by T.B. Joshua?
I don’t know about the church, but from what I saw, I believe the wife is capable of handling the church. So, let the wife do what Mrs Idahosa did. Let her take over the church until the children are grown up to manage it. Giving it out to people will bastardise it. Some of the churches don’t have constitution. Some of their GOs can hire and fire. In Methodist Church, Anglican Church or the Roman Catholic Church; they have a solid structure and a method of succession. So, if the leader dies, there is no problem; but when it is a family church, there is a problem. The pastor is the president, founder; he manages church money anyhow he likes and nobody quarries him. However, what I will advise is that they learn a little from some of us that are mainline churches and have a structure.