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Unitary system imposed by military not working— Primate Akinola

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Primate Akintola

Retired Anglican Primate Peter Akinola is a well-known outspoken cleric, who does not shy from calling spade a spade. Many times, he has publicly condemned actions of political leaders, which are inimical to the country’s progress. In this interview with CHARLES COFFIE GYAMFI and ADENIJI SIMISOLA, he spoke on the state of the nation and how to move forward. 

it to that of the Southwest and Southeast and then judge. You have a situation where a decision has been made even before people cast their votes. The democratic process in this country is fraudulent. Whether you call it rigging or manipulation, it is fraudulent.

So, the people’s ideas or views have no relevance. It is what those that are governing us want that counts.

You are sounding like those who believe there is no hope for Nigeria…

I wish there were. The situation is so bad. The more you think of Nigeria as a country, the more saddened you become, especially if you think back to when Nigeria was a great country. But they have destroyed everything that would have made Nigeria great.  

In the early 60’s and even the time before the civil war, Nigeria was still a country to be reckoned with. Electricity was stable, the roads were narrow but manageable and people were safe. I drove from Lagos to anywhere, day or night, and it didn’t make a difference.

What I cannot do now, I did then without thinking twice. The education system was so strong and significant that if you got a degree in this country and travelled out for further studies, you were given exceptions in the courses because of the high value of our education system.

The hospitals were fantastic, but these days, any rich man or woman who is sick would prefer to travel abroad for treatment. Where is the hope for the common man?

President Buhari wants to go for second term, but majority of Nigerians believe he has failed woefully. Should he contest or not?

President Buhari is a Nigerian, and he has every legal right to vote and or be voted, contest elections. It is also the right of Nigerians to vote or not vote for him.

But for me, looking at the whole political agenda from where I am, I think Nigerians need to look at the fact that this man came to them three years ago, and in his political manifesto offered to do certain things.

So, if he is seeking re-election, Nigerians should ask if he has fulfilled his promises to justify voting for him again. 

Three years ago, he told Nigerians in very clear terms that he was going to tackle security headlong and that the issue of people killing themselves and Boko Haram would be a thing of the past.

He also offered to tackle the problem of corruption, that under his watch, corruption would be a thing of the past; that the foreign exchange rate of Naira to Dollar would be brought down to such a level that the economy would bounce for joy. Those were three broad areas of his political campaign.

Now three years down the road, what is the situation regarding security? Over a year ago, he said Boko Haram had been defeated technically. However, Boko Haram is still killing and kidnapping.

The Fulani herdsmen have now taken the second stage to inflict hardship and inhumanity against fellow Nigerians in the last three years. If Nigerians should judge, based on the rate of killings and kidnappings by Boko Haram and Fulani Herdsmen, this government has failed in the area of security. So, they should be given second term or chance to do what? 

In the area of corruption, yes, there has been media war against corruption. We have been naming names of people, calling them corrupt, but how many people have been convicted? The people being named are members of another political party.

In other words, it’s a kind of witch-hunt. The war against corruption we claim to be fighting is just a way of clamping down on political opponents.

The key leaders, who are holding power in All Progressives Congress (APC), are men and women who left Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). They came to APC with their political garbage and mind-set. So, how can you say they are not corrupt, when they only came to APC as a kind of safe haven to prevent them from being targeted for prosecution? So, for me, we have not even started fighting corruption yet.

Corruption has gone beyond the level of just politicians. How about the civil service? There is deep corruption within the civil service, but it appears the government is yet to beam the searchlight on that area. 

I can tell you categorically today as a 74-year-old Nigerian going on 75, that corruption is much worse today in our society than it ever was before now. Nothing gets done in government circles without you giving money to government officials. There is also corruption and stealing in the marketplace, offices, church, mosque and everywhere.
 
The economy is even worse. Three years ago, the exchange rate for naira to dollar was N160 to N170. Today, you need N365 to get one dollar. Unemployment has gone through the roof.

Today, we have over 70 million Nigerian youths at the crossroads of life, roaming the streets, jobless. In 1978, our current President was the minister of petroleum, as well as the Chairman of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC.)

As at then, we had major fuel crisis in the country. Forty years down the road, this man is today the President, and still no clue to solving fuel crises.

When you talk of cluelessness, you have it in abundance in this government. Nigerians should do proper thinking and face the facts on ground. 

Today, if you are lucky, you can get petrol for N140 at NNPC. If you move to other petrol stations even here in Abeokuta, we are talking of N150 to N160. That’s more than double the amount it used to be three years ago. Kerosene is the worst. It is now N220 per litre. It’s outrageous. 

So, what solutions would you proffer?

Generally, Nigerians don’t see anything wrong per se in what we are saying. They see it as a way of life, because those who are doing it are doing so with impunity and they get away with it.

So, the solution to this problem is to reengineer the way we embark on the journey to nationhood. We have to start from scratch, sit together and agree on the kind of Nigeria we want.

It would involve a lot of re-orientation to change the mindset of Nigerians and we must agree, as a people, that in our nation, these are core values and no-go areas. Once we agree, then there would be appropriate sanctions. The rules we have now are imposed.  

You believe there is no difference between PDP and APC. Do you suggest that a new political party should take over?

It is not the party but the people. It is not the name but the people who lead it. That’s where the issue is. Have they been “born again”? Have they experienced a rebirth, or a transformation from within? Do they have passion for the country and its people?

It is when you have men and women who have genuine concern for the wellbeing of the Nigerian state that you can begin to talk of party or no party. Since these people who came mostly from PDP are now in APC, have they made anything better?

Have they stopped stealing? Are our roads now better or is electricity more stable? Is our education better, or the health system?

If anything, they are now getting worse by the day. This old brigade holding Nigerians to ransom since 1966 is still directly or indirectly calling the shots.

Nigeria needs a new set of young people that are passionate about the country and are committed to making things better. No deceit, no falsehood, no fraud.

African countries pray more than developed countries, but those who don’t pray as much are experiencing growth, while Africa imports almost everything. Why is God not making us to be independent?

You don’t blame God in this. Much of the religiousness in this continent is fraud. Much of it is about money-making. Genuine Christianity would not make you dependent on others.

If anything at all, the injunction is that every man should work hard to be able to earn his own living and not depend on others. But a situation where one is perpetually in slavery to other people, it is not Christianity.

The Bible I read tells me that he who does not work should not eat. But people are so lazy and want easy money without working for it, and somehow there are preachers who encourage them. They say come for your breakthrough and miracles. Much of the religiousness in this continent is fake.

It does not represent the mind of God. He wants us to use the wisdom, ability and grace he has given us to produce what we need. 

Would you say the Church or Christian leaders are doing enough to help Nigerians to grow? 

When they are preaching prosperity, miracle and breakthrough, the answer is no. I don’t think they are. If they were, you would see more of young people going to the farm, working in industries and growing. We would be a lot more productive.

If we are to help our people, they must lead them in a way that would make the people more productive. 

The British Prime Minister, Theresa May, gathered Commonwealth Heads of States in Britain and tried to impose a gay agenda. What is your view on this? 

In the Western world in general, the gay agenda is coming out of what you could call sexual revolution. Human sexuality, in their understanding, has moved away from the traditional historic understanding.

They seem to have forgotten that their civilisation grew out of the Judo-Christian heritage and all that is taught. They have gotten carried away with modern ideas and have ignored their Christian heritage.

They have had economic, political and industrial revolution and now they are adding sexual revolution.

They also think that everybody should follow them.

That is the background to this call: If the Western world gives the lead in other areas, why not in the area of sexual orientation? But this is where I differ. 

We have our own African values. In 2004, Obasanjo said homosexuality is un-African, unnatural and unbiblical and we are to keep to that. Let Britain and America continue to go down the cliff of this sexual revolution and let us wait and see where it would take them.

It has now gone beyond homosexuality to bestiality and incest is now being legalised in some countries. All those things they attached great values to in the past, they are now removing and creating new cultural ways. Nigerians and Africans should have nothing to do with that. 

One of the reasons for marriage is procreation. In Europe and America today, people no longer believe in marriage like they used to, and now their population has gone down. They have to depend on immigrants to work in their factories. There are so many consequences.

There are still men and women of integrity, who are pious in this continent. The nation should not follow Theresa May, a daughter of an Anglican priest.

God created man in His own image and gave man the gift of freedom to choose to follow or reject Him.

But whatever choice you make, you are going to give account. We already have problems that are beyond us in our hands. Why add more to it?


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