October 7, 2022

Elder Sunday Oibe, Secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), North West Zone has decried the insecurity buffeting all parts of the country, noting that God is angry with the country.
In an interview with NOAH EBIJE, the former spokesman, Northern CAN, regretted that in spite of the might of the Nigerian military and the police, insecurity has continued without abatement all over the country simply because the Federal Government has failed to muster the political will to end the problem. He decried the attitude of Nigeria’s politicians who he said created religious and ethnic disharmony in the country. He also lamented that many Nigerians have no means to feed or shelter themselves even as politicians spend humongous amounts of money in foreign currencies inducing party delegates at the recent presidential primaries of the APC and PDP.
As the Secretary of CAN in the North West, how is the association faring in view of insecurity in that zone?
We have become helpless, but we are hopeful because our God is on the throne. From Zamfara to Katsina, from Katsina to Kaduna, we cannot move freely. Look at the distance between Kaduna and Abuja, if you are travelling, your heart is in hands; you have to do fasting and praying. You cannot travel from Kaduna to Jos freely. You cannot travel to Katsina freely. People in Zamfara cannot go to places of worship, they cannot go to the farm. They have resorted to fasting and prayer because of insecurity.  Church attendance has reduced because people are afraid of being kidnapped. As I speak with you, a Catholic Priest with whom I have been doing interfaith has been kidnapped, along with his colleagues. The kidnappers are demanding N200 million. How do you expect them to get N200 million? What is their offence? We the Christian leaders in the North like any other part of the country are in trouble because as insecurity affects your members, it affects you as the leader too. We are not happy at all.
What is your reaction to this horrific killing of worshippers at Saint Francis Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo State by terrorists about two Sundays ago?
My immediate reaction is not just the issue of condemnation, because Nigerians are good at condemnation without finding solutions to what happened. My immediate reaction therefore is to identify with those who lost their loved ones in the attack. And I want Nigerians to know that God is angry with this country because life is sacred, life belongs to God. The blood that was spilled are innocent blood and they are crying unto God. From the Christian perspective, if a brother kills a brother, such a brother becomes a vagabond from the moment he killed his brother. There’s no place in the world that you can see people celebrating when others are being killed. In animal kingdom, animal kills animal only for food. But we are killing one another for the pleasure of killing. It is absurd, it is crazy, it is madness. My heart aches, my heart bleeds because I can’t just understand why people should be killed while they are worshipping God. They did not commit any offence, and you think we should just condemn the act, and that is all? It is the duty of the government to protect the lives of the citizens, and if government fails to protect the lives of its citizens, then something is fundamentally wrong. Such government is sick. Nigeria is sick; it is almost at the emergency unit of a hospital. Unless all Nigerians unite and come together to stamp out this madness, we are in for a very big trouble ahead of us.
What is your assessment of the presidential primaries of the political parties, especially those of the APC and PDP?
Well, ordinarily I wouldn’t want to comment on this, but since I am a Nigerian I have to comment because anything that happens politically affects me. If what I read in the newspapers is anything to go by it, then Nigerians have not learnt their lessons yet. The huge amount of money they said delegates collected, the huge amount of money that delegates were induced by to vote for a particular candidate showed that something is fundamentally wrong with our psyche. Do you know why something is wrong with our psyche? It is because our politicians have this type of money and we have families around us here who cannot feed three times a day. There are countless IDPs camps in the country where displaced persons are sleeping in the sun and rain. There is a particular IDP camp I visited where husband, wife and children using a mosquito net covered with leaves to serve as their shelter. If money is available everywhere, why is nobody attending to the issue of our children staying at home because of ASUU strike? I see democracy as government of the people and by the people, so I expected the delegates to vote for candidate that can lead the country to the promised land, but whereby the delegates were induced by naira and kobo, dollars and pounds, then the future of our country is bleak. I am troubled. I am seriously troubled because he who pays the piper dictates the tune. If they spent this huge amount of money to get to office, they will not do anything for the people than to recoup their money first. The delegates don’t know that they have mortgaged the future of the people they represented for the next four years. It is not a thing for us to laugh, rejoice over.  For me, this is corruption and the two major political parties are guilty of it. Where is the fight against corruption? This is not a healthy development because one must not have dollars chest before leading the people. So I am not comfortable with this development. It is a thing of concern, that is why I am not comfortable.
Less than one year to leave office, this government is still battling with insecurity. Do you think the next President will inherit a clean security record?
You journalists should be able to ask President Buhari this question. This question should be directed at the President because he promised when he was coming to power that he was going to solve the problem of insecurity within one year. They used insecurity slogan to campaign against the then sitting President Goodluck Jonathan. Today, seven years down the line, the situation is worse than before. It is only the President that can tell whether he’s going to handover to the new president a country with little or no security challenges. May God bless Nigeria with a president who has the political will to end this insurgency. If the next president takes joy in backing the terrorists, then Nigeria will go into the abyss. But may God forbid. Any President who comes after Buhari and doesn’t have the political will to deal with this issue of insecurity, then we are in big trouble. But I can tell you that Nigeria’s military and the police are not weak. The security apparatus knows what to do but there is no political will to deal with the situation. We have not seen our political leaders with the political Will to deal with insecurity in this country and that is why we found ourselves where we are.
The APC is believed to be contemplating a Muslim-Muslim ticket for the 2023 presidency. What is your reaction to this?
If it is true, my advice to Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the APC Presidential candidate is that Nigerians will reject Christian-Christian tickets, Muslim-Muslim tickets, even Pagan-Pagan tickets. The reason is this; Nigeria is a very sensitive country where issue is measured along religion and ethnicity. What pains me is that our politicians use religion and ethnicity to divide the people. If religion favours them, they said it’s governance, and if it does not favour them, they say it is politics. They have succeeded in dividing the people along religious and ethnic lines. But any sensible politician will not bring religion to clash with governance and democracy. However, we should not lose sleep over such things because we have our PVC to vote whoever we so wish to lead us. It is your rights to vote out anybody that you know will not protect your interest. The 2023 election is going to be a decider in the history of Nigeria, and those who are saying that a particular presidential candidate should pick a Muslim-Muslim ticket have an agenda. I think it is a booby trap set for this particular candidate to fall in and fail woefully. It is a game they are playing because it is not in Nigeria of today that one should promote Christian-Christian, Muslim-Muslim or Pagan-Pagan ticket for any political party because it is not going to work. We have forgotten federal character, but what about the sensitive nature of this where every group needs to be brought on board? If you bring Christian-Christian ticket, my Muslim brothers will reject it. If you bring Muslim-Muslim ticket, my Christian brothers will reject it. If you bring Pagan-Pagan ticket, both my Christian and Muslim brothers will reject it. So we must balance the political arrangement whether we like it or not. However, I don’t lose sleep over a Muslim-Muslim ticket because nobody will force me to vote for him. I have my PVC. If you bring a Christian-Christian ticket, will you force my friend, Abdullahi to vote for you? The answer is no. Anybody who wants to fail, I wish him well. We don’t need to make noise about it. But I know that Nigerians will reject Muslim-Muslim ticket, Christian-Christian ticket or Pagan-Pagan ticket because it is a sensitive matter. You can’t take people for granted. And I repeat that 2023 is going to be a decider factor because Nigeria is at the precipice as politicians are trying to divide us further.
But the Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-rufai has argued that there is nothing wrong with a Muslim-Muslim ticket, saying that Nigerians should try to remove religion from politics and stop attaching religion to politics…
Governor El-Rufai is entitled to his opinion. That is his opinion. His opinion does not count. There were political aspirants; did he vote for all of them? If he said there is nothing wrong with a Muslim-Muslim ticket, that is his opinion, and he is entitled to his opinion. The question is that is it the opinion of the larger society? The answer is no. Will he be able to convince the entire Nigerians to vote for a Muslim-Muslim ticket? The answer is no. Is Kaduna State Nigeria? The answer is no. Even the Kaduna that we know, our Muslim friends will not support a Muslim-Muslim ticket neither will our Christian brothers support a Christian-Christian ticket. I am a Christian, but I will not support a Christian-Christian ticket. If a Christian presidential candidate says he wants to pick a fellow Christian as his running mate, I will not vote for him because he is not sensitive to the feelings of non-Christians.
But in Kaduna State, El-Rufai succeeded in picking a fellow Muslim as his deputy, and nothing happened…
If you said he succeeded, let him try it again. Kaduna is not Nigeria. Let him try again. Look, my people say if you take your right hand to hit your left hand, don’t say I am strong until you grab your age mate and inflict some pains on him. Then you are strong. The fact that you did it in Kaduna does not mean that you are going to do it in Nigeria. The political atmosphere in Nigeria today does not warrant this. I have said it that as a Christian activist, I will not vote for a Christian presidential candidate that picked a fellow Christian as his running mate. I know that my Muslim friends will not vote for a Muslim-Muslim ticket. So we must be sensitive to the feelings of other people. I know that anybody who struggled to pick a presidential ticket must be more reasonable to think of having a one-sided running mate.
Many political stakeholders have advised against voting along religious and ethnic lines in 2023 elections. How will you react to this advice?
Who are those who brought the idea of voting along ethno-religious lines? It is the same politicians. That is why it pains me that politicians speak from both sides of their mouth. They take us that are not politicians for granted; they think they can manipulate us. When it comes to governance, they bring religion suit them. They forget that they cannot plant groundnuts and harvest cassava. You cannot plant yam and expect to harvest banana. What they planted over a period of time have started to germinate, producing fruits. So they cannot deceive us with a wave of the hands. Politicians are the ones who divided us along religious and ethnic lines. They cannot come now and tell us that we should not vote along religious and ethnic lines.
My own take as a person is that the person who wants to lead me as the President, does he have the capacity? Does he know how to fix the economy of this country? Does he have the template to be able to unite Nigerians without allowing high level of nepotism as we witness today? Is he the President that will be fair to Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Fulani and the rest tribes in Nigeria? That is the kind of President I am looking forward to. Today we cannot run from the fact that religion has a role to play in Nigerian politics. It has a role to play in our politics. May God give us the President who will not say because he is of APC, all the PDP people should die. Or a president who is of the PDP and will say all APC people should die. I am looking forward to a president who will love all Nigerians irrespective of their ethno-religious differences. There is a difference between politicking and governance. Governance is a serious business. When you become the governor or president you become the father of every Nigerian. I am looking forward to a president who will allow a Hausa man to live comfortably in Rivers State, a president who will allow an Igala man to live in Sokoto without anybody harassing him, a president who will allow a daughter from Sokoto to live in Akwa Ibom without anybody harassing her. This is the kind of leader I am looking forward to, not these charlatans that want to divide us and go to the pages of newspapers to tell us different things. It is possible for Nigerians to be united because we love life; we love each other. But politicians are trying by all means to divide us. However, politicians cannot determine 2023. It is God and the electorate who will determine the kind of leaders we want. The electorate will put all the presidential candidates on the weighing scale and should be able to know which of them has the capacity to lead the country.
What should Nigerians expect from the next president in 2023?
What Nigerians should expect from the next president in 2023 is a one trillion-dollar question.  I said so because nothing is as dangerous as election corruption. If Nigerians are not allowed to vote for a candidate of their choice, then the storm of destruction will hover all over the county. But God forbid. There is fear. My people say he who promises a lot hardly delivers much of such promises, and we have seen it happened in this country. If you ask me, honestly, I am not expecting anything from the next president because I don’t want somebody who will promise and fail and I begin to lose my sleep because I was disappointed. I don’t have any expectation. But I want Nigeria to be peaceful so that farmers can go to the farms, and traders can go to the market, businessmen can do their businesses and children can go back to school. From what I have seen over the years, it is difficult for me to have any expectation.
You mean the presidential candidates should not campaign and make promises at all?
They are good at making promises as they go on campaign. But fulfilling the promises after being sworn into office is another. The politician who promised to tar my road is yet to fulfil the promise after seven years. He promised to provide water; no water after seven years. And you expect me to believe every politician now that they want my vote? And that is why I said I don’t expect anything from any politician because they want my vote for the 2023 elections.

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From Obinna Odogwu, Awka Many Nigerians, especially Ndigbo and people from other ethnic nationalities that made up…

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© 2019 The Sun Nigeria – Managed by Netsera.


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