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With detribalised president, Nigeria can rise again — Ighele

By Isaac Taiwo
07 January 2023   |   4:06 am
My New Year Message to Nigerians is that people should learn to know their rights and fight for their rights. A lot of Nigerians are living in ignorance.

Bishop Charles Ighele

Bishop Charles Ighele is the General Superintendent, Holy Spirit Mission (a.k.a Happy Family Centre). He spoke to ISAAC TAIWO on the state of the nation, 2023 general elections and the new Nigeria of the citizens’ dream.

New Year message
My New Year Message to Nigerians is that people should learn to know their rights and fight for their rights. A lot of Nigerians are living in ignorance. They do not know who they are, who they are supposed to be, where they are supposed to be and the role of the government to put them where they are supposed to be. This nation is what it is today due to peoples’ ignorance. It is the right of the community to be given a borehole by the government. What is found in Nigeria is that after rightly sinking a borehole for a community, you find the local government chairman, or a commissioner or even a governor commissioning the same borehole with an amount that is more than what was spent to execute the project and giving the impression to the people that they have done them good. However, it is the duty of the government to provide water for its citizens and the right of the people to have the water project to their advantage. It is one of the basic things for the government to provide for the people, including hospitals, amenities. Nigerians should wake up and know their rights.

Role of religious leaders as political candidates campaign for 2023 general elections
We are all Nigerians, whether clerics, laity or general citizens. Religious leaders’ duty is not limited to spirituality. We are all here on earth as extension of God’s domain to compliment His will as it is being done in heaven. Our roles as religious leaders should not be put in one corner. It is all about good governance, the way God wants it. Religious leaders should be less partisan and more Godly. The reason is that once a religious leader becomes partisan, he becomes blinded by the colour of the party he or she supports. Even if a religious leader should support a party, it has to be from the perspective of godliness. Religious leaders’ major role should be to direct the people the way they should go and they should be careful in directing them. I would want religious leaders to be less militant in the way they air their views. We can put our heads together and peaceably air our views. We can see how we can consolidate and confront issues in a united manner.

What should be the qualities of new president of Nigeria
Things are not all right with Nigeria today as evidenced by the situation in the country. Nigerians would need a new leader who will give the country a new direction and lead her out of the woods. Nigeria has been described as the third worst governed nation in the world. The truth is that anyone contesting for the exalted office of president must know the magnitude of the problems confronting the nation and be ready to face them. There is the statistics that more than 60 per cent of Nigerians are poor in all aspects. More than 30 per cent of children are malnourished. Malaria kills between 200,000 and 300,000 people every year. Mortality rate of little children is worrisome. Aside the new president, every person aspiring to the leader, including governors, should sit up and be ready to do better than their predecessors. All candidates can do better. Records show that a lot of Nigeria technocrats are migrating to other countries, culminating in the reduction of the beauty of the country. Larger percentage of Nigerians are extremely poor. This nation has been so badly governed to the extent that the level of degradation can be described as unprecedented. The worth of Nigeria as a country has decreased drastically while the worth of a nation like Rwanda has increased, bordering on good leadership.

However, Nigeria can rise again if the country is privileged to have a quality leader that is not tribalistic, that will not be giving attention to a particular set of people, that will not rule by sentiment. Over the years, the money has been there. While other nations use their money to develop their countries, money in Nigeria is cornered by a few people for the benefit of a few class to the extent that what goes to the masses is so little. No system, including the banking sector, is effectively serving an average Nigerian but only the few that are rich, as no man can walk to the bank and ask for a loan. Those that are without their own houses and on rent are at the receiving end and at the mercy of the so-called landlords when the government cannot provide accommodation through mortgage or even build houses for low-income earners. We need a new president that would appreciate every child going to school like his own and ensure that they get quality education without stress. I mean a president that will see the children on the streets as his own children who are entitled to quality education like his own children abroad. The person that built modern Singapore wrote a book that I read.

One of his ministers saw children that closed from the school and were trooping home and his heart almost hanged as he was thinking of how to get jobs for the teeming children after their education. That is the type of president Nigeria needs: leader who is interested in the wellbeing of Nigerians and the development of the country, not just to be in power. A President that will appreciate the fact that human beings are the centre of development. God first created everything, according to the scriptures, and created man last, for whom he created everything. So, man is the reason for creation. He put everything in place for man. We want a president that will see development of man as the reason for being in office, such that every Nigerian would have the advantage of highest development. This is the essence of being in power. When someone is in office as President and the number of poor people increases, number of shanties is on the increase, crime is on the increase, poverty level is on the increase, people are becoming less educated and less civilised, then the government of such a president has failed. Nigeria needs a president who will be a father for all, who will be thinking of everybody.

Muslim-Muslim ticket
Personally, my primary goal is who can bring development to Nigeria: the person who can be a father to all Nigerians and not one who is tribalistic or a religious bigot. I am talking about president that has a large heart, who will be able to see Nigeria in that light as one. There are some people living in rural areas with diverse religions. A president who will reach out to them irrespective of their religion and give them liberty is what this country desires. This is what I am after. However, all these factors notwithstanding, I am an advocate of the fact that it is important to be sensitive in picking the president and his vice. If it is possible to avoid Muslim-Muslim ticket, it should be avoided.

Advice to Nigerians on 2023 elections
My advice to Nigerians is to think of what they want. Today, most Nigerians are in poverty. Should their children continue to live in poverty? They cannot send their children to good schools. What do they want? They cannot assess quality healthcare, what do they want?
It is unfortunate that Nigerians are too docile. I heard sometime of the saying that some politicians are even surprised that Nigerians believe what they, the politicians, tell them. That is the attitude of politicians, telling Nigerians anything, and unfortunately they masses take them all hook line and sinker. Nigerians must wake up. England was like Nigeria before. For many years, the elite dominated the scene with their children going to the best schools while majority of the people were peasants. The poor were working for the rich. This was the situation until 1381 when the poor people declared “enough is enough”. One Mas Tyler led the masses in a revolt against the rich. They were able to capture half of London. The revolt shook England and the monarchy. They were able to calm the poor with arms and Mas Tyler was executed. However, the leaders sat and they agreed on doing something to avoid a worse incident. They now put up diverse institutions that made the children of the poor rose. They even came up with the House of Commons. That was in addition to the House of Lords. Every good thing was put in place for the poor to the point that the poor could get scholarship to go to school. This has continued to this day. Mexico was more developed than United States of America. However, America used the system of paying attention to the poor while Mexico was caught up in the system of ‘who you know’ than ‘what you know’ meaning ‘who you know’ takes you to the top and not ‘what you know’. In Nigeria today, it is the same idea of ‘who you know’ and not ‘what you know’, that is what is in operation. Any country that is governed this way does not develop. I am reminding the government that the #EndSars revolt should remain a warning and not to be swept under the carpet. The way I operate is how the church can contribute to the development of the nation. Leaders in Nigerian can sit and make a space for every Nigerian that wants to rise to rise. I know that when greed and self-centredness become part of someone’s DNA, it would be difficult to thing aright.
To avoid revolt that would consume the ruling class, something like what happened in England has to take place with leaders coming together and think about how commoners can enjoy the resources endowed the nation.

Fight against corruption
We all know that corruption has increased. When this administration took over in 2015, for the first month or two, people tried to sit up, thinking that the administration meant what it proclaimed during its campaign that it was out to fight corruption. However, there was no intellectual and pragmatic ability to leverage on the momentum or atmosphere at that time to nip in the bud the problem of corruption in this country. One of the problems that bedeviled the administration’s war against corruption was that there was recycling of leaders. Those that were in the previous governments were those brought back. Actions of the leadership can make the subordinates fear and repent and support, but when they capture the loophole that the leader himself does not know how to go about his intentions, they capitalise on that and the business comes back as usual, and even worse.

I read a story of someone who stole Nigerian money and declared it as his own retirement benefit. Corruption has become worse and made the government to be worse. The local government that ought to be the last engine room of development appears not to be in existence. In the 70s, when the local government came to be, there was the hilarious joy that development has come to the grassroots. For some time, it was better before it faded away.

Today, the idea of the government lifting the people out of poverty appears to be a mirage.

There was the accusation that the governors are responsible for institutionalising poverty in Nigeria as instead of focusing on the rural areas, construct roads and make transportation easy to bring out their farm proceeds, they keep on concentrating on developing the urban areas. Corruption has permeated everywhere.

Politicians build houses outside the country and they hardly go there. Our prayer is that they will turn a new leaf this new year because a good name is better than silver and gold.