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Monday, 17 August 2015

Cardinal Okogie Blasts Nigerian Pastors Who Deceived Jonathan, Says CAN No Longer Following God

Former President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Anthony Cardinal Okogie, talks about former President Goodluck Jonathan’s presidential ambition, President Muhammadu Buhari’s corruption probes and religious leadership, in this interview with LEKE BAIYEWU
What do you want Nigerians to learn from the 2015 elections?
I think the first lesson Nigerians will learn from the election is that God was on their side. They prayed for change because it felt as if everyone was fed up with what was going on, and they got the change, they were looking for. But the problem is, are we really experiencing the change now? In less than four years’ time, (President Muhammadu) Buhari’s tenure will be over. Are we really feeling anything? The only thing people are talking of now is probe, probe and probe. Probe is not the only thing that we are expecting. We want to see change in the dividend of democracy; we want to see change not just in corruption. Corruption is not something to wipe out during this man’s time, I can assure you that. He can only try to lessen the rate of corruption.
Now that Buhari is the President, do you see him as a repentant dictator?
One thing people don’t understand about Buhari is that he is not a dictator; he is a disciplinarian. That is who Buhari is. This is not his first time of being the Head of State. Even in the Army, he did not like things to be done anyhow. Look at when he was the Head of State – remember Tunde Idiagbon and Operation War Against Indiscipline – he (Buhari) was a disciplinarian and you could feel it in the air. You dare not throw (pieces of) paper around, people will shout at you. But now, we are not seeing this kind of change.
Don’t you think people would have continued to tag him as a dictator if he had issued such orders now?
No. What happened during the time of Idiagbon and himself; he was the Head of State but he delegated the civil jobs to his vice. That was the command. What is his vice (now, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo) doing? All that most people have been reading about him is that he visited places; that is all we have been reading. Is that the work for a vice? It is true that the vice should do whatever his boss asks him to do but is it only ‘if there is crisis anywhere, go there?’ That is the impression most people are now having about his vice. But there is much to do.
When the Peoples Democratic Party criticised Buhari for being slow in governance, the Presidency claimed that Buhari was busy clearing the mess left behind by the last PDP-led administration.
He has four years; before you say Jack Robinson, a year will be gone. Almost 100 days are gone now. All we are hearing is probe! Probe! Probe! Probe is not the whole thing we are looking for. It is good; it is part of the cleaning but it is not one-tenth of the cleaning that should be done. Look at the country, it is still dirty. Nothing seems to be moving. You are a Nigerian; I am a Nigerian, we cannot see it.
Do you think the President can move faster than this?
Of course! Even if he has not gotten his ministers in place, he can still do a lot with his assistant – his vice. Who is helping him to change the service chiefs, removing (sacking) this and putting (appointing) this? Who is helping him to do that? But he is doing it because he feels it is necessary. There are many things that people are expecting from him.
But it appears that he wants to first pay attention to the biggest problems – corruption and insecurity. Are you saying they don’t need urgent attention?
The emphasis right now is seen to be on one side; it is 80 per cent on corruption. The only side that I can give the remaining 20 per cent to is Boko Haram. That is all. If you come to this area (somewhere in Ikoyi) at night, it is dark. You will think you are in hell. And there is a police station not far from here. That was why when they were constructing this building, I told them to fix all these street lights you are seeing just to throw light around. I am paying for it. This is a government job but I cannot allow people to be dying or be kidnapped unnecessarily. Why am I here, when I call myself a man of God? For example, this month, I am paying N99, 000 all because of all this mess. This is just a street.
Insecurity is still there. Even if you say you want to handle corruption and insecurity, there will still be a parallel line of duties: ‘Oh my vice, help me to look at this side while I focus on that.’ I read in the papers that the service chiefs have been asked to ‘finish’ Boko Haram in three months; have they got the necessary instruments? That is one thing. The equipment, are they ready? And are they properly trained for it (terror war)? It is one thing to sit down and say this must be done, that must be done; another thing is action. We need actions now, not words. There are too many words. I think as an ex-military man – a soldier is always a soldier — he should come out really to say this is what we want to do. At least, let people feel that the trait is still there. If I remove this (my) robe tomorrow, my conscience will still be telling that ‘don’t forget what you were before.’ You have already imbibed it; it is there; it is now part and parcel of you. We want to see more of this (action).
I don’t know how people will take it but look at (former Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde) Fashola; he was going round. He was not just sitting down in a place, he moved. That is why Lagos is what it is now. I know that the APC has a manifesto and blueprint. In their states, it is only the stupid governors that will not follow the blueprint. And that is why anywhere (state) you go to, you can see the signs that there is progress. It was not like that in the PDP. Challenge me if you can!
With this example, do you believe that Nigerians are better off under APC?
You mean the entire country?
Yes.
How many months have they spent?
But you just said it is a party with a blueprint, which the PDP lacked.
I said only a stupid governor will not follow the blueprint. How many of them are following the blueprint? ‘Let the money come out. Let them release the money,’ that is what we are hearing. Then, you will hear ‘there is nothing in the purse.’ Why do you go for elections if you know there is nothing in the purse? What did you do with the money? How did you campaign and win? Did you use stones or air?
Although there is a new administration, what are the things you feel the last administration left undone?
Jonathan was like a bird in a cage when he was there. Every time I still recall when he was vice president and he asked me to pray for him. I warned him, ‘I am not a seer; I am not a prophet.’ He said a simple thing, ‘Bishop, please pray for me.’ And I said, ‘What do you want from God?’ I asked, ‘Why are you asking me to pray for you?’ He said, ‘Don’t you know I will be running for election? This is 2011.’ I said, ‘Don’t worry about 2011. You have won the election but you will not rule.’ He shouted, ‘Why?’ I said, ‘Simply because the people around you do not want you to rule.’ And that was exactly what happened. When he first started, all the dead woods that Nigerians were talking about – that he made ministers – he relieved them of their duties. But unfortunately, he made the greatest mistake; he brought them back with different portfolios. And that is what Buhari too should watch out for. Whether it is Hausa, Igbo or Yoruba, he has to be very careful. They are still there; they are watching like hawks. I think he is looking for saints as ministers. You watch the kind of saints he will get as ministers.


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