2023: Tinubu will not be as bad as most leaders we’ve had — Umunna
Bishop Leonard Umunna, General Overseer of Bible Life Church Cathedral, Olodi Apapa, Lagos, turns 67 this year. In this interview, the cleric spoke on a number of issues, including insecurity, the need to change the current Constitution and why Tinubu is best choice for President in 2023, among others.
How do you feel about the state of things in the country?
First, the general insecurity in our land is worrisome because once life is threatened, what else is there? If people cannot be assured of their welfare and security, then life is not worth living again. That is number one priority for the citizenry. Another issue is electricity, which government is not attempting to resuscitate, so that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) can operate at minimal cost, which will surely shore up the economy. It will shore up the exchange rate and life of Nigerians will bounce back. Unfortunately, what is happening in the power sector is equally affecting other sectors, such as health and education.
Meanwhile, many nations are increasing their budget for education. For instance, I learnt what the Ghanaian government allocates to education alone is far more than what Nigeria is allocating to some ministries. These things are spelling doom for our nation. If those in authority were to be made to have no light, no diesel, no fuel and no generator to operate businesses and home, they will surely fight to ensure that this nation is better. Similarly, if their children were denied education abroad and they too were denied access to foreign medical treatment and consumption of foreign commodities, things would be made better, as they would put up much efforts and harness what we have to meet people’s needs.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo once hosted you at Aso Rock and you prayed for the country. After that, one would have expected things to improve…
I told Obasanjo the truth and those things I said actually happened. The truth is that most Nigerians are not sincere. The leaders in power are not helping the matter. Just like what the late Chinua Achebe said, the main challenge with Nigeria’s success is bad leadership. South Africa had its own challenges, but when Nelson Mandela came out of prison, he signalled a change. When our own Obasanjo came out of prison, he also started well, but midway, things went wrong. That is the problem. The Bible says, ‘when the righteousness or right-doing people are in authority, the people rejoice because of their policies, because of their tendencies.’ It is who you are that will decide what you can do. What we do for others, we do for ourselves. When you are a lone ranger, you are the only good person in the midst of many people, you can’t really decide the result.
That is why I have been harping on changing the Constitution and if possible, change Nigeria’s name. For instance, the Constitution virtually decides what you do in any nation, although I said, and I still believe that if you give a good man a bad Constitution, he will still find a way to do well. But if you give a bad man a good Constitution, he will mess it up.
What caused it then is still causing it now, and you can call it oligarchy or any other name. There is a mafia somewhere and the members are opinion leaders to those who publicise their kind of will. There is this kind of ‘we are superior; we are the owners of the country or the land. We cannot let this happen.’ This kind of idea never allows any nation to progress.
What I prayed for is what we normally pray for here. For instance, when the North was faced with Boko Haram insurgency and they were going about kidnapping children and it was becoming terrible, I called for prayers here and we spent a night praying to God that things must change, and they stopped killing children. Later, they were going to schools to kidnap students and professors in higher institutions, but God again answered our prayer. I cannot pray otherwise than to say, ‘God please put confusion in their midst.’ I used wisdom, just like when Jesus asked Peter in Matt 17, He said: ‘I have been asked by the tax officials that we should pay tax. We are children of the Kingdom, and we are not supposed to pay tax. But in order not to offend them, go to the sea, you will see a fish. Open its mouth, take out the coin and pay for myself and yourself.’ That is how I should base my prayer in public. Let God continue as He was doing and He is now doing among the military. There is confusion and that is why we are seeing victory. If you pray the right prayer, God will always answer it.
Are you saying the name Nigeria has anything to do with challenges the country is facing?
I am a of Global Leadership Award winner. I am also a British Chambers of Commerce Heart of Gold Award winner with Dangote. In the list, I am number one. I have over 100 awards from different nations and organisations. On the homefront, I’m a king of my people and king of the gospel and many more. Why am saying this? If you know who is giving you this idea of changing the name Nigeria, you will know it is a reality. My name was changed because God saw the need for it. This is to tell you that name plays a major role. For instance, if God didn’t change Abraham’s name in the Bible and others, there would be no need for me to say this. He did it for me when I suffered the worst of life as a child. I was eight months old, when a doctor gave me injection and I died. It was my father’s prayer that brought me back to life. After that, I became paralysed and stayed three years in a hole. If not that the Lord Jesus healed me, I would have died a long time ago. That change of name is a must, because when God changed my own name, everything took a new dimension.
Nigeria means progressing with war, with bloodshed and with inequality and many terrible things. In the numerology sector, it is number 18. Some have suggested Naija, which is not fair. Though the name Jezebel is not the best, but in spiritual calling, it is different. For example, if your name is Chibuikem and you shorten it to Chiboy, you have altered the destiny with the popular one people call you. Check out those names that are great and prospering. Some may answer Wood, Spoon and so on. There is spiritual connotation and that is why some people who have realised this either add a name or remove from it. If they obey the rule, they will see the difference within six months to one year. They should give us a befitting name, and make it work. They must protest when people try to call that old name.
Has God spoken to you concerning the new name?
I have tried my best that in case they come for it, the whole thing is ready.
Can you mention one name?
I cannot, as it will cause problems out there.
What is God telling you about insecurity in the country?
We have drones and different kinds of weapons that could achieve devastating results. We have well trained people that should be given free hands. The Nigerian Biafra war confirmed what I am saying. The Biafrans didn’t have such heavy weapons as we have today, but they did the job.
At the inception of this administration, God said, ‘Umunna, don’t say anything concerning this administration.’ It was the same thing God told me in the time of former President Goodluck Jonathan. When he was very lackadaisical, I felt so annoyed and wanted to speak out, but God said ‘Leonard, it is at the end that you will know why I put him there.’ And we saw that he prevented a civil war.
At the presentation of Pastor W.F. Kumuyi’s book, the professor that gave the keynote address blamed men of God in the country for what is happening today…
(Cuts in) That professor should exclude Leonard Umunna. Bola Tinubu has been very good and when God told me that he would win the governorship election in Lagos State, he eventually won. Some people said he wouldn’t return the second time. God said I should tell him that even 10, 000 detractors would not stop him. That professor should be told, just like when God told Elijah that there were 7,000 prophets that had not bowed their knees to Baal. Umunna has served this nation for over a decade in one of the most corrupt companies in Nigeria. I came out without a query, but received promotions. This was a place where people enriched themselves, but I left with nothing. I got married as a virgin. I have never smoked or kept bad company. I have not seen where people will say, ‘Umunna, this is your evil.’ Why should somebody indict all pastors? He should exclude Umunna. They can trace my life from childhood till now. I am not saying that I am the holiest person. Olodi Apapa used to be terrible in those days, but since this church was established, many people known to be bad have been transformed. The kind of serenity we have here cannot be found elsewhere in the whole of Nigeria. Somebody’s works should speak for him. The government is partnering those that are like them and those who want to be paid before they can pray.
For instance, on the day I was to go to Pakistan to preach, Bola Ahmed Tinubu sent people to fetch me, just like the day I was to go to Britain to preach, and President Olusegun Obasanjo sent his youth team to fetch me. I told them at each occasion that I was on a missionary journey. I cannot obey the president or the governor, when the God of heaven has assigned me a job to do. I told them that when I returned, I would attend to their requests. If somebody has done well in his beat, he should be commended.
As 2023 approaches, do you have some people you think if given opportunity can lead this country to the promised greatness?
God is never left without a man. He has too many of them. Everybody knows that there is no region that has no good leader. If it is on the basis of track record you will see it. If it is on the basis of character, you will find it. If it is on the basis of ideology, you will equally find it. So, let us not deceive ourselves. We have more than enough qualified people to rule Nigeria, but we still go to that circle of oligarchy. We don’t elect them; rather, they are nominated and that is the problem with Nigeria.
You have said much about Tinubu. Do you think he is a credible candidate for 2023?
I have full support for him, as long as he continues doing that thing God told me that made me to prophesy him into office. I also prophesied Obasanjo into office. Tinubu is not the only one. I have said it that God has not spoken to me about his ambition for 2023. But I know if human beings agree and put Tinubu there, he will not be as bad as most of the governors or presidents that we have had. That is my assessment of Tinubu.
You mean he has a good tract record?
I didn’t say so. But I want you to look at what he did during his tenure as governor of Lagos State. Then, Babatunde Fashola in a paper signed by him, had to thank me for the little prayers I offered for Tinubu and other things I did. They were published everywhere.