Government’s next level should be seen and felt by citizens — Omobude
Rev. Dr. Felix Omobude is the National President of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) and General Superintendent Gospel Light International Ministries; a.k.a New Covenant Gospel Church (NCGC). He spoke with AYOYINKA JEGEDE on the state of the nation.
Government is yet to bring killings and kidnapping to an end. Do you think enough efforts are being deployed?
Indeed, Nigeria has never faced worse insecurity challenges as we are facing today. No part of the country is exempted. And in all fairness, no religion is exempted. We believe very strongly that the primary objective and the first responsibility of any government is the safety and security of life and property of citizens. This is where we hold this government responsible.
I wouldn’t say government is doing nothing, but whether what they are doing is commensurate to expectations is another thing. Now, I ask these questions. Who supplies these Fulani men arms? How many of them have been imprisoned since the killings started? How do they vanish into thin air? Are they spirits? It’s not enough for government to come out to condemn the killings. We want to see those responsible for all the atrocities pay for it according to our laws, not for them to be shielded.
How would you advise government to manage the herdsmen/farmers challenge?
We have continuously advocated ranching as the solution to the problem of migrant cattle rearers. PFN has continued to state that the time of migrant cattle rearing is outdated. There are cattle in Europe. They eat beef in Europe and America. They eat beef in Saudi Arabia and in Israel. But you don’t see their cattle or cows parading the streets and destroying people’s farmlands.
So, this is why we are saying Federal Government should come out with a clear-cut statement. If in Edo State for example, cattle rearing were to be our main business, then the state government should do things to enable us improve. Why must we destroy other people’s businesses with ours and possess their lands?
States that say they don’t want to give cattle settlement have the right. What that means is, if I am interested in cattle rearing, I should meet the natives and talk with them, if they’ll sell land to me. Cattle rearing is a private business, and not government’s business. If I go to Kano and I say I want to plant cassava, I can’t ask Federal Government to make a decree, so that Kano State government will give me land. I have to go through the required process. That is what we are saying.
PFN wants a free Nigeria, where citizens are free to live wherever they want and practise their faiths, as well as do their businesses without let or hindrances. We are not advocating war. We call on all those talking about war to have a rethink, because Nigeria is bigger than any individual or groups.
Now that we have ministers, what agenda would you set for them?
PFN is watching. First, the process took too long. One would have expected that after the elections, declaration of results and swearing-in in May, the names of ministerial nominees should have followed. That doesn’t show any preparedness. I think they need to show a little bit more seriousness.
Perhaps, the President was being very careful in picking ministers. But looking at the list, it is more of patronage than proficiency. I believe competent people that can effectively lead this country can be found everywhere, irrespective of whether they voted for you or that they belong to your party. We should look for efficient men and women to handle the country’s affairs.
Nigerians want the best from this government. And what Nigerians are asking for is not unattainable. Nigerians want constant electricity supply and water, as well as other basic amenities. The level of poverty is too high in the country. Nigeria has overtaken India as one of the poorest nations in the world. So, what are we talking about? If we are fighting corruption and we are gaining and moving to the next level, it should be seen and felt in the lives of the masses.In all honesty, corruption has dealt a very deadly blow on Nigerians and every attempt to fight it is a just one, but it should be done holistically.
Federal Government has said it will now regulate marriages. What’s your take on this?
PFN has advocated that the current federal structure be decentralised. There is need to restructure. A restructured federation will help this country. The Federal Government is controlling too much power. Why would local governments not have their own form of police? Why should everything be controlled from Abuja? And recently, even the Federal Ministry of Interior wants to control marriages conducted by the church, which local governments could do. The Federal Government should be unbundled. We must do away with some of these things.
How can religious bodies bring succour to the country and citizens?
Though it is true we hold government accountable, the issue of security and indeed reformation of this country is ever Nigeria’s responsibility. We must collaborate with government to make Nigeria a safe place. Nigerians must realise we all have a stake in this nation. We must learn to respect our institutions. The Presidency is an institution, whether you like the face of the person occupying Aso Rock or not is irrelevant. We must respect the Presidency. The judiciary is an institution that must also be respected. And yes, the Police have faults, they have problems, but they are the ones we have. So, we must cooperate with them to make things work.
I believe Nigeria has a great future. We only have to roll up our sleeves and face the reality of the time and learn to accommodate one another.If God wanted an entirely Christian nation, He would have removed all Muslims from our midst by now. If He wanted an entirely Muslim nation, He would have removed all Christians from here. But in His infinite wisdom, He has allowed us to be together. So, we must appreciate the fact that we can build our strengths from our diversity to make Nigeria a better place.
The case with Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo and Busola Dakolo has not died down…
Currently, PFN has set up a panel to investigate the matter, and the work is ongoing. I would appeal to everyone to be calm. We believe the man that has been accused has the right to defend himself. We also say that Busola should not be demonised, because some people are saying she is a Delilah. She is a child in the house, a church member. Fatoyinbo is also a church member. So, we are looking at it objectively, and hopefully, they will allow us to carry out our work. We will handle it in a family way.
How does the church as an organisation deal with erring ministers?
All along, the Church has a structure of discipline and restoration. We don’t send anybody to prison or use cane to flog people. Our discipline is corrective. We will not shield evil. Anyone
that helps us to expose an evil person among us is actually helping the church. And if the accusation is genuine, we will look at it holistically.
We have a forum in PFN, both at the national and state levels, where we train ministers under PFN on the right way to live their lives according to the scriptures. The Bible is our constitution. You cannot write another book, so we follow what the Bible says.
Does the PFN have a position on Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky’s matter?
PFN stands for truth and justice. Our earlier stand had been that, if a competent court of jurisdiction had ordered that El-Zakzaky be allowed on bail, we do not see any justification in Federal Government keeping him behind bars, especially when considered in the light of the fact that he has been sick. If the court said he should be granted bail, then so be it. PFN believes in the rule of law.
Indeed, PFN would have joined in the protest against detention of people against court order, except that the Shitte’s protest turned violent. If it were to be a peaceful protest, we would have supported it, no matter who was involved. All persons held behind bars illegally should be free.Except government has no confidence in the court, we believe the court would have taken cognisance of what was involved before saying a detainee should be granted bail. So, if the court says this is the way it should be, then it should be done that way.Any government that tramples on the rule of law is calling for anarchy. The court is the hope of the common man. The court knows what is in the national interest, as it stands for justice and truth.
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