Clearly pained by the dwindling fortunes of Nigeria and the uninspiring attitude of those at the helm of affairs, Bishop of Ibadan North Diocese and Archbishop of Ibadan Province of the Anglican Communion, Church of Nigeria, the Most Reverend Dr. Segun Okubadejo, in this interview by KEHINDE OYETIMI, takes a swipe at those in government while reacting to several issues of national relevance.
In 2015, we had retired General Muhammadu Buhari come into the office. By 2016, many argued that a year in office was not enough to interrogate his competence in leading this country. Today, however, it has been five years since he became president. In your estimation, do we have a president or a presidency that is in charge of this country’s affairs?
That has been the question on the minds and lips of many Nigerians. I feel the same way too. It is like we don’t have a president. People have also thought that the man there is not a real person. They have also said that if he is the real person, he has no say in what is going on in the affairs of Nigeria. People believe that there is a cartel that is ruling this country. Our belief then was that it was Abba Kyari. But Kyari has gone yet the same thing is happening. We have a president who is only for a section of the country. That is my view. We need a president for Nigeria, not a president for a section of the country. This is why many have put up the conspiracy theory that he is for the Fulani and also why the Boko Haram insurgents and the herdsmen are still perpetrating their atrocities. When you look at the constitution which allows for the federal character, it has been abrogated. He does not even believe in that. When you look at the appointments that he has been making, it is tilted towards a particular area of the country. The army has been compromised. We are drifting as a country. We have been talking and writing but it is as though nobody is listening. It is easy to say that we have handed everything over to God. Yes, we can say that but we need to do something. All we can do now is talk and talk. But to be silent is dangerous. I believe that at some point, our voices will be heard. Presently, I just pray that things will turn round for the better. Right now, I don’t think we have a president for Nigeria.
The army which has become the face of the war against terrorism in Nigeria carried out a major shakeup in its formation following the redeployment of over 30 generals. I recall that recently too, the president warned the service chiefs to sit up. How come it took the president almost five years to notice the incompetence of his service chiefs?
The way appointments are made is haphazard. We are not putting the right peg in the right hole. They are like sacred cows: whether they perform or not does not matter. Until we change that orientation and start looking into the security architecture properly, things won’t get better. The president can say something to us publicly but the instruction that he gives to them privately may be different. That is my thinking. Since Buratai moved his office to the North East, what has happened? Nothing! They are just deceiving us.
Ibrahim Magu, the suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was picked and made to face a probe panel. The allegations leveled against him, not by the opposition party, but the president’s Attorney General of the Federation are disturbing. Is the fight against corruption really a reality under this administration?
With the revelations that we have from the Magu trial, one can say conveniently that it has been a fraud.
Recall that the former Senate President, Bukola Saraki and other lawmakers in the last National Assembly insisted on not confirming Magu as substantive chairman of EFCC but the president refused to bother. How do we reconcile all of these?
It is like finding jobs for the boys. The president insisted that this was the person that he wanted. The senate said no. People wondered why the president refused to change the man when there were allegations leveled against him. I believe he became too big for himself. How do you imagine the disturbing allegations leveled against him? That is the hand of God still at work. I am sure the person there now will be careful. Many people have been wondering what had happened to all the money recovered under him. At least, all these monies should have impacted on the standard of living of the people.
The coronavirus pandemic has opened up the underbelly of our failures as country: non-existing health infrastructure and education. Following the spread of the virus, Nigeria’s Federal Government recently announced that students in terminal school years won’t sit the forthcoming examinations organised by the West African Examination Council (WAEC). Is this the way to go?
The church had an agreement with the government to open up worship centres and ensure that people follow the laid down safety protocols. Oyo State decided to open up the schools. It is obvious that the governor was prepared for this in assuring the safety of the children. The same thing can be done by the Federal Government. But it is not ready to do that. Look at the Minister for Education. I don’t think he values education; he does not know anything about education. He is not even thinking about the future of these children. Canceling that will be a year wasted. It is going to be tough. If you say about 1.5 million students will not sit for the examination this year, the number will increase the following year. I hope the Federal Government will listen to the voice of reason. The state governments are prepared for the safety of the children.
Many had concluded that the Anglican Communion, Church of Nigeria, will not be holding the yearly synod considering the COVID-19 pandemic. But here we are preparing for another synod. What are the challenges superintending over a synod at this time and what are you set to achieve?
We are grateful to God for providing an oasis at this time in the desert. We thought that it won’t be possible. Usually we hold this synod in May but because of the global pandemic we could not. We also need to thank the governor of the state for his bold step in combating this pandemic. You can see that even the Federal Government is taking a cue from him in some of the decisions taken. While others were shutting down everything, he was very concerned about the people. We also thank God that the cases are reducing. It is because the governor has lifted the ban on worship centres that is why we are able to slot in the synod.
We dialogued with the government to allow people return to their places of worship. We know that people may not listen to the government but not so with their religious leaders. They listen to their religious leaders. Whatever we tell them to do, they do. We will ensure that the precautionary measures are put in place.
The synod will not be to its full capacity. We are going to follow all the laid down rules of the government. We are using the synod to carry out an audit of all that we have done in the last one year and to also see where we are going. I looked at the social, spiritual things around us before I chose the theme: ‘Why have we become tired Christians?’ I already chose this theme in December 2019 not knowing that a pandemic was coming. I looked around at Christians. I am a priest; I have a congregation of followers of Christ. First, I am addressing Christians and then the larger population within and outside the country. There are many causes for tiredness. People are clueless. This weakness can be physical, emotional or spiritual. I stressed more on the spiritual reason for the tiredness. One of these reasons is the long patience in dealing with the uninteresting race of life. Many things are calling for our attention. People have been witnessing man’s inhumanity to man and the prosperity of the wicked. There is corruption everywhere. There are also the exacting demands of Christian living amidst the corruption-riddled world. There are also inexplicable failures. The righteous still suffer. Many Christians are also forgetting the cross. No cross, no crown. All people hear now is prosperity. Christ never said we won’t have tribulations. Many are also tired because they are glory-seekers. A lot of us also experience the silence of God. This is because we are getting away from the scriptures. But God is not like us.
The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that development gets to this region. But sadly this appears not to be the case going by the revelation of sleaze in the commission. The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio and the former managing director of the NDDC, Ms. Gbene Joi Nunieh, have been throwing corruption allegations against each other. There were allegations that N70 billion was paid to non-performing contractors. It is said that the issues at stake are yet to be addressed. Why this?
We have turned ourselves into a laughingstock, especially those that have been placed in positions of authority and responsibility. The trading of words can’t solve any of these. We do not need all this nonsense. They should go to court. How can you pay N70 billion to non-performing contractors? You can see the level of corruption and degradation in this country. We thought we are getting out of all these, but clearly not.
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