Good people should be interested in politics, says Omobude
As the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) prepares for its biennial conference, holding in Benin-City, Edo State, from February 7 to 9, 2017, President of the organisation and General Superintendent of Gospel Light International, Rev. (Dr.) Felix Omobude, spoke on a range of issues at a media chat with press men at the PFN House, Isolo, Lagos. DANIEL ANAZIA was there.
• ‘Pentecostal Leaders Are Encouraged To Obey The Laws Of The Land’
Recently, Pastor Adeboye urged members of his congregations to join political parties and be card-carrying members. What is PFN’s position on this?
FIRST and foremost, those who pray, ‘Oh Lord give us David’ should also be ready for a David that will commit adultery with Uriah. I think we have gone past that. The PFN’s position is that we are encouraging the Pentecostal to be interested in their country’s politics. Gone are the days, when we say we are not of this world, and that we are going to heaven. And then we spend our time in the prayer room and allow those who don’t know God to play politics the way they like. I believe if we want to change this nation, Christians must be willing to get involved in politics. Good people must go into politics. That is PFN’s position.
The Church has continually said Nigeria cannot be islamised. Recently, some churches in Jigawa State were burnt and the trend continues unabated. Should Christians continue to pray and do nothing to counter such moves?
I appreciate the passion behind your question. What do you recommend that the Church should do? Would you recommend we take up arms or we come up and say, ‘let us take up arms and fight?’ Let me also tell you that the Church is not scared. Go back to memory. Those who fought against the Church, some even said, ‘let the Bible be completely amended.’ But the Bible outlived them.
Our taking a position of peace does not mean weakness. The Church is not sleeping. We are called to pray, we are called to evangelise. So, we are not going to raise an army with bows and arrows, and I do hope they don’t push this nation to that point. I’m as worried as you are, but let me tell you, when it comes to a man’s faith; he can give his life for it. So, we are peaceful. We are not weak. And I think this is just the best way I can say it for now.
Let nobody count it as weakness on the part of the Church. No one actually has a monopoly of violence. We are restraining our people. If we want a developed society, if we want an atmosphere that will allow us to be progressive, we must work for peace. And those using religion to fan embers of disunity must realise that it’s an ill wind that will blow no one any good. I would like to call on our government to be fully in charge. That’s why we have the police, the SSS and the military. If any group chooses to be criminally minded, it should be brought to book; except we are saying we don’t want any government, let’s have a jungle kind of life, which will set us back.
When Christians come under attack, what do you advise them to do?
There is no law, whether in our law books or even in our faith, that forbids you from defending yourself. Of course, if you have the capability to defend yourself, why won’t you? Especially when those who ought to defend you are not doing so. So, our leaders that have called those at the centre of this crisis to defend themselves are not out of place. We cannot just watch and just allow these things to continue. If government cannot rise to its responsibilities, there are lots of communities in this country that have Civilian JTF. What are they doing? They are defending themselves.
The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) code was recently suspended by government, apparently for further review. Would there be input from the PFN?
I am not aware that it is for further review. However, PFN’s position is that we are not stopping government from doing what it is constitutionally empowered to do. We only feel that it is none of government’s business to tell us who to employ, how we employ him and his length of service. That is an internal affair of the church.
The PFN has nothing to hide. We submit ourselves to the laws of the land. And I would like to stress it again: all our Pentecostal leaders are encouraged to obey the laws of the land and pay their taxes and rates, as and when due. But to tell us how to run the church, how to preach and how long to preach, we don’t believe that is what government should be doing.
Our expectation is that government will call on the various interest groups to make inputs before coming up with the code. I didn’t hear the details of what the G.O. said, but I do not think it is because of the financial code that he asked his members to go into politics. That has been a standing instruction from the PFN. We are encouraging all our people to be interested, and participate in the nation’s politics. We have drummed that loud and clear.
After all, the Vice President is a member of the RCCG.
In any case, this current issue about the code is also a wake up call for the Church. We at the PFN are putting measures in place for our churches to be accountable, at least to keep their books safe. I think it is a wake up call and we will positively use it.
There is suffering in the land. Employment is on the increase, just like the prices of food items, while cases of kidnapping and rape of minors are also on the rise. What is your take on these?
The PFN is honestly concerned that the living standard of the average Nigerian has gone so low. I would like to call on Nigerians to hold their elected officers accountable. If when you were assuming office, the price of a loaf of bread was one naira and you promised to bring it down, but instead of it coming down, it’s going up, Nigerians should learn to ask appropriate questions.
When this government came in, one dollar was about N180, now it’s almost N500. We were here, when the campaigns were on. Some campaigned that they were even going to bring it at par. I’m not saying they are all at fault in everything, but Nigerians should learn to ask and hold their elected officers accountable, whether at the local government level, the state or federal.
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