Archbishop of Ibadan Province and Bishop of the Diocese of Ibadan North, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Reverend ’Segun Okubadejo, in this interview by KEHINDE OYETIMI, speaks on insecurity, the newly elected public officers, among other issues.
Why the focus on God’s divine nature at this year’s synod?
If we look at what is happening not just in Nigeria but all over the world, sin has taken over and it seems even Christians we don’t know the nature of God concerning sin. Jeremiah, from the text I have chosen, says “God is someone to fear and sin is something to worry about.” if you ask any Christian about who God is, they will give you attributes about God: omnipotent, omniscience and all others. That is why we do whatever we like. But do you know the nature of this God? God is merciful. But this God says “I am a jealous God.” We often don’t remember that. He is also a double edged sword. We don’t remember that. This God is a consuming fire. We often forget that. He is a consuming fire; that is why things are consuming us because we are falling away from the nature of God. He wants us worship Him, fear Him and to run away from those things that are not righteous.
But many preachers do not emphasise this aspect of God. Why is this so?
The scriptures have said it that about the last days, there will be commercial preachers who would tell people what they want to hear and not the message of God. Repent and be saved is supposed to be the message of this generation but we are not preaching that; some people are afraid that when you speak the truth you won’t have a lot of members. But God is not a God of crowd or numbers. The story of Elijah who thought he was the only one but God reminded him he was not the only one. The walk with God is the majority.
Last year, you canvassed for a new political order, are you satisfied with what you saw after the general election?
I won’t say totally satisfied, but halfway satisfied. From general observation, we could see that people voted their conscience this time around. People did vote, not really voting parties but personalities of those contesting. I believe this would be okay. The other observation of new intakes too is there, I believe these new people will perform.
What will be your charge to them?
It is simple they should let the power of love overcome the love of power. That’s it. Once you follow that principle you will do well because once you allow the love of God to overcome, there is no way you would be selfish and forget those who voted you in.
Many governors are clamouring for a review of the revenue allocation formula between the federal and state governments. Are you actually satisfied with these governors over the years with what they have done with their allocation as from the Federal Government?
Fair is fair. Whether they have done well with it or not, I think the centre is too powerful and it has to be reduced. That is why we are asking for true federalism and restructuring. People may want to believe we are archaic but I believe in the regional thing where we were before. Take for instance, the Western Region and what they did as a region; see the Cocoa house, with the little they had they did many things. But now, since the centre is powerful, I think there should be restructuring.
A few days ago, the media adviser to the president, Femi Adesina said that despite the rise in insecurity challenges in the country, the government is doing very well, and do you attest to that statement?
Not really, I don’t think they have done enough as far as security is concerned in this country. There should not be killings at all, let alone comparing the numbers of those that have been killed rather than finding a means to stop the killings. I think they should go back to the drawing board and find a way to combat terrorism, and then the Zamfara problems. They should find a strategy to tackle the forces.
The Anglican Communion all through the years has been known to be a foremost Christian church in championing qualitative Western education but we are still finding serious rot in the educational sector. How do we come out of it?
It is a big problem. Over the years, we have been having orijo, expo, -incriminating materials- but parents were not involved, but nowadays parents have now taken over. Whether we like it or not, it is not helping anybody, a child that does not know anything and you find a way of buying marks for him or her, when the child enters the university, what would they do? Garbage in, garbage out. What we need to do is that parents and guardians should desist from the act and secondly, the government at all levels should really focus more on the educational sector. There must be adequate materials for teachers; they have to be treated well, if they are okay, they will be willing to do more.
I remember some weeks ago, a foremost Christian leader in the south-south, who has just bought a private jet and another one who has about two private universities, who is still going to four, and two private jets said that every cleric in his denomination would have a private jet, which is his target. How do we balance this very showy nature and then on the other hand, God’s nature? How do these pastors show God’s nature to their members?
Well, I don’t have the pastors to blame, it is the followership. People are just gullible and once a pastor sees that gullibility, he will capitalize on it and that is what is happening. People don’t go to where they are preparing them for the kingdom and it is a narrow way, where people need to be rebuked, convicted of their wrong ways and so on but people don’t want that. They want a funky funky broadway where once you are able to bring wealth to display, you are respected. A person who boasts is not preparing people for the kingdom. They know their pastors use this money from them for materialistic displays but they are with them. The scriptures did not say we should not live well but does not support the extravagant life. We can blame the pastors but the followers should sit back and think. People say it is not just by ordinary talking to these people but through other diabolic means which I do not know how far it is true but we have heard stories of rituals to hypnotise these people amidst others. Well, that is talisman and not scriptures. People should be aware of where they go, seeking first the kingdom of God. All these universities, private jets and all will perish after or even before death. They are all ephemeral. They will pass away. “This world is not our home”, which is the message we are supposed to keep drumming into our ears. That is why the scripture says it is better to go to funeral services than marriages because we think of the end. It says we should also apply our hearts to wisdom. We need to retrace our steps
What is your reaction to kidnappings and insecurity?
There was a last case of ransom of N45million to be paid for kidnap. It is everywhere and that is why we are asking the Federal Government to look into this. Nigeria now is a case of people praying not to be kidnapped because those in charge do not really care. The issue of the multitude of youths in the North, who are not educated, should be a thing of concern. Majority are cobblers, gatemen, and so on. We need to sit down to fix it and get the right education for them.
It has become fashionable for a herdsman to have AK-47 while rearing cattle because they are doing that and the police are not saying anything about it? That weapon is expensive and you wonder how they get it. Is it from the army? Some people must be supplying them. Where they get these arms from should concern the government, ensuring they use it as defence and not to attack people.