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Ighele: Buhari’s successor should focus on nation building

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Charles Ighele


•The President Has Reached His Peak
Bishop Charles Ighele, the General Superintendent, Holy Spirit Mission (Happy Family Centre), just clocked 66. In this interview with ISAAC TAIWO, he speaks on his church’s mission, his programmes for youths and the nation, while proffering solutions to some of the challenges facing Nigeria

Considering the current economic, social and security challenges, would you say Nigeria is a failed state?
In Nigeria today, you cannot be driving at night or going on a journey and see someone needing help and stop to help. On the contrary, in developed countries, for instance the U.S., one can travel from the East Coast to the West Coast and sleep in your car on the highway by the roadside without any harm befalling you.

In Nigeria, aside security challenges, we also have problems of education, poverty, agitations, as well as problem of inequality. Sincerely, this is a failed state. Rwanda knew it was a failed state and rose up to the challenge and rebuilt. Whoever takes over from Buhari, whether PDP or APC, or any other political party, should as a matter of priority, concentrate on nation building.

So, what specific things would you want Buhari’s successor to do?
I want Buhari to succeed. But, he seems to have tried his best, which is not pushing the nation forward. These are facts and simple truth. Every person has his capacity. I am not indicting him in any way, but he has reached his peak. We can only hope that the next election will throw up a candidate that will focus on nation building, a person that can move the nation forward, and not those that would be using one ethnic group to intimidate others.

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It would be unfair of me not to say the truth. I know what he is passing through. Whenever it seems that I have reached my capacity, I read books of those that I believe were stronger than me. I was shocked when I discovered that rich people read for about four to five hours everyday.

They are rich and still read the books of those who are not as rich as they are to boost their capacity. We have many successful presidents we can learn from like the man who built Rwanda. There is no age limit to reading. We can meet people who have the knowledge and experience and who can help. If the President can meet those who can assist him, there is hope. If not, we should wait for the next President.

Do you feel like exhorting Nigerians…?
I have been talking about the problems all along. I feel that Nigerians should look at solutions. First, quality educational standard should be ensured; it should be as high as that of developed countries, from primary to secondary and university level, so that there will be no reason to send children to private institutions.

Second, about two million children are out of school. They should be identified and put in school. If not, problems are looming. Third, all primary school dropouts that cannot be properly equipped should be accommodated at local governments headquarters and towns, where high standard vocational institution is established. They should all be registered and given both formal and vocational education. They should be made employable.

The secondary education dropouts should be another category. Government should establish educational centres for them, whereby they are trained and re-trained and be made to understand what life is about. They should also be given proper education and vocational education, so that they will become useful and employable.

University graduates who dropped out and are unemployable should be accommodated in centres where they would be allowed to go for another form of education for one or two years. These projects should be well funded. We can bring people from outside the country to run the scheme. By the time we engage all the children, there will be no one to be recruited by bandits again. This is because with education, the children are now civiliased and would jettison banditry or kidnapping. These can be achieved in 10 years, and Nigeria will stablise. Any nation that has been distabilised can get stabilised again. A failed nation can rise again.

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How does it feel to be 66?
At 66, more than half of my sojourn on earth is through. So now at 66, my concern is what I can do or contribute to make planet Earth better than I met it. It is a driving force. This thought has always been there since I was a little boy. Then, I use to ask myself, ‘what can I do to make life better than I met it?’ It goes beyond the car I ride. Every car I have today is a gift. I have vowed that my life would not be spent in a corner. I must play a role, which I started doing gradually. I desire that the quality of an average Nigerian family is better, as the family is so important to me.

Presently, we are on the project of how many families to pull out of poverty every month, whether Christian or Muslim. If poverty is the biggest problem and Nigeria is tagged as one of the poorest nations in the world, this is an area we need to address. For me, it is not how many churches we have or the number of members we have. Of course, they are important, but how to improve lives is my priority.

At 66, I see myself in my final lap of life; this is a goal to accomplish. And this is why we are building African Children Village in Ogun State. It is some sort of an orphanage village. It will comprise bungalows in a community. Phase 1 will have 30 houses.

My take is that a nation that cannot take care of its poor is weak. Each of the bungalows will have a mother to cater for people that have problems with their lives. There will also be a mother and a hired nanny with children in a bungalow. I will have my personal house in the place. We have started with the first structure and would soon put up the second. In a few years, we will finish the construction. We are pursuing this with zeal. Also, we are trying to go into agriculture and rural development. We had to register with NAFDAC, as we want to produce garri that is of good quality. I am happy that NAFDAC is co-operating with us.

We are also proposing a University of agriculture for brilliant but indigent children, who have been farming with their parents in rural areas, but whose parents cannot afford sending them to University.

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The idea is to get our friends to pay their school fees, so that the University can run itself. They will produce natural food. Already, we have our technical partners and we have signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). As they graduate, they return to their villages to start practical agriculture, where they will become rural elites.

What is the nexus between your Church’s name and the focus on families?
The founder, Bishop Michael Marioghae loves families. He loved marriage and he had a sound marriage. He used to hold seminars on marriage. When I took over, I found myself in that capacity also. It is an area God gives to our ministry to touch humanity. So, in every service and in all our churches across the nation and beyond, which are about 80 branches all over the world, there is a segment devoted to marriage and family.

So, by God’s grace, there has been no divorce in our ministry. Things that cause problems in homes are taught every Sunday for about 20 minutes. The average person in the church, including those who do not care about marriage, usually have a change of heart. Many people, including Muslims, benefit from our programmes on air and others.

Can you share your thoughts on the marriage institution in Nigeria?
Marriages in Nigeria are suffering. What we have been seeing in them is poverty. Also, parents are not able to properly raise their children. Children are high-minded. When I sometimes go out on the streets, I see youths with funny hairstyles. You see boys wearing earrings, which tells us what is happening at the family level. If all is not well with the family, it will adversely affect the society. Families are producing children that, if not well trained, will be problems to the society. A typical Nigerian father and mother have little or no knowledge of how to be good parents. It is so sad. It is all so shocking.

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Charles Ighele
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