Nigeria Will Gain Nothing From Political Violence, Says Fadayini
Rev. Paul Fadayini, District Overseer of Foursquare Gospel Church, Ifako Ijaiye, Lagos is the Chairman, International Conference for Ministers and Leaders (ICML) 2013 of the Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria. In this interview, the eloquent teacher and preacher of the word spoke with BISI ALABI WILLIAMS on the state of the nation, the need for Nigerians to embrace peace, as well as vote wisely to elect credible leaders that will turn the nation’s fortune around.
What is your assessment of the campaigns so far?
THE rallies have been somewhat peaceful and quite more mature than what political rallies used to be in the past, at least during the First and Second republics. But we are of the opinion that the political parties and political office seekers would do us good, if they can base their campaigns on issues that have to do with the sectors of the Nigerian economy, governance, infrastructure, education, health, social security and others they are set to transform if voted into power. If we are not out to deceive one another, we must all come to terms with one painful truth, which is that Nigeria has big gaps to fix in the sectors mentioned above. We are a nation blessed with huge human and material resources, but our nation’s development has been seriously slowed down by poor infrastructure, especially in the power sector, and poor governance, which invariably affects the education, health, employment and social security sectors of the economy.
What do you consider the way forward in this election?
Our understanding of these economic, political and social realities should guide us the electorate, as we make our choice of a new set of leaders that will govern this nation. With the national election around the corner, what should the electorate look out for in candidates to be elected or re-elected? The candidate for any post should be a Nigerian that strongly believes in the unity of Nigeria; a person that truly understands the realities of our economic, infrastructural and social backwardness, and has workable plans for bringing a turnaround in these areas spelt out in his or her political agenda. But do the electorate have access to the political parties’ manifestoes? Do these parties even have manifestoes that proffer realisable solutions to the defects in the current national development plan? If a candidate would give us a workable formula that can transform this nation, as entrenched in his or her party’s manifestoes, then we can rally round to vote him or her into power, believing that such candidate will stick to the letters and spirit of the formula. Candidates who spent campaign time commenting on the personalities of their opponents have no meaningful agenda for nation building. The electorate should look before leaping this time, when the power to move Nigeria forward lies on our fingerprints on voting days.
How can Nigerians deal with the fear of possible violence?
One common fear that must be addressed is premised on the question of whether the incumbent government will make people’s votes count after the elections. That is a problem common to many developing nations, but Nigeria’s democracy seems to be turning the corner. Judging from the recent governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun states, the Independent National Electoral Commission could be said to be living up to its billing. INEC will have to raise the ante during the coming polls and make Nigerians proud of their fatherland wherever they are, home or abroad. The wide publicity of election results mounted after Osun State governorship election by the major parties and the Nigerian press should be sustained and improved upon during all elections. Adequate security at polling booths and collation centers should be ensured, while incidents of ballot box snatching should be absolutely curbed. INEC and the government should provide good election security network for all the states, regardless of the party that has overwhelming presence in a state. By now cases of multiple voting should be decisively eradicated in our polity. This is one aspect of the endemic corruption stagnating the wheel of progress in our country.
What is your take on multiple voting?
Multiple voting, ballot box snatching, biased and inadequate security deployment during elections are some of the key causes of election violence, which many pessimistic watchers of our electoral process expect to mar the peaceful conduct of the upcoming elections. The pessimists should, however, note that Nigeria is being watched globally, and the government and INEC may not find it fitting to allow anarchy or any form of violence that will paint them as corrupt bodies. The two bodies must also realise that we have grappled with enough political violence in the past and, as expected, we have gained nothing from those bouts of violence, nor shall we ever gain any jot from choosing the path of violence during the coming polls.
To curb election violence, more campaign should be mounted in the media, and state contestants should sign peace agreements and local government levels as the main presidential contenders did recently, while inducement of voters with cash and material gifts should be prohibited before and during voting. But a school of thought has argued that this may be a herculean task because a sprawling majority of our youths are jobless and may find it hard to resist material satisfaction offered under any guise. This view cannot be repudiated because it calls into question the issue of our morbid national orientation and mindset. This is another agenda for our incoming leaders.
Some media reports have indicted some pastors of receiving bribes from politicians to sway votes in their favour. Is this not a dangerous trend?
What are the likely implications?
Perhaps I need to give my opinion on how the issue of orientation or mindset affects religious circles. I will state without mincing words that I do not cast my lot with preachers with the do-as-I-say philosophy. Certainly I have read some media reports indicting some pastors of receiving bribes from politicians to sway votes in their favour.
This is a press conference, not a tribunal. We do not intend to castigate or judge any one. But I daresay this portends disaster for our political system.
For if the head is corrupt the whole body will stink with corruption. No doubt! Some have dared to cook up a fake defence for this matter with the argument that the ministers concerned cannot draw the line between ordinary gift or support and bribery.
What is the full import of this?
The full import of this is that is the Nigerian style when it comes to the issue of corruption. That is when our countrymen and women cannot brace up to call a spade by its real name. And with that attitude we may not go far in the war against corruption. I am constrained to view the phenomenon this way – that any form of assistant given by political office seekers during a period of electioneering campaign is tantamount to voting inducement.
Or where were those moneybags in the first three or four years of their outgoing administration or the years their parties have been in power? Were they doling out support to those pastors or religious organisations periodically before INEC lifted ban on political campaign? How is the money given to those pastors or organisations different from the rice and money shared to the masses in political gatherings? These and many other questions demand answers from all of us. One duty the cleric owes Nigeria is ceaseless prayer for the peace and stability of the nation, as well as national growth and development.
In I Samuel 7:8-9 the Holy Bible records thus: “So, the children of Israel said to Samuel, “Do not cease to cry out to the LORD our God for us that He may save us from the hands of the Philistines. And Samuel took a suckling lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the LORD. Then Samuel cried out to the LORD for Israel, and the LORD answered him.” That was a noble duty on the part of Prophet Samuel, which should be emulated by any spiritual leader worthy of his or her calling.
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