I Can’t Assure Anyone Nigeria Won’t Break Up, But God Has Told Me To Keep Quiet – Bishop Umunna | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Faith, LIFE

I Can’t Assure Anyone Nigeria Won’t Break Up, But God Has Told Me To Keep Quiet – Bishop Umunna

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Posted: Jul 10, 2016 at 1:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

*Nigerians Were Never So Divided in Religion, Tribalism As Now

The General Overseer of Bible Life Christian Church, Bishop (Prof.) Leonard Umunna, recently hosted some journalists to a media chat during his 62nd birthday celebration, where he spoke on pertinent national issues.  CHINYERE ABIAZIEM was there for Independent Sunday. Excerpts:

How does it feel to be 62 and in the service of the Lord?
It is now that I think I am beginning, because I have acquired experience and knowledge though not enough. But with good, better, best becoming the result. I tell you and I stand by it that I have never had a better yesterday; it has always been good yesterday, better today and best tomorrow, because I am a ‘possibyterian Jesusian’, I speak the ‘Christiania’ language .

At 62 can you to take a look at the state of the Nigerian nation?
Nigeria is now a laughing stock among many people all over the world.  In the comity of nations, we have been less then ‘A’ again. You know you have ‘A’ list. Football wise, they will prefer so so so, economy wise the same and we were named one that has the best economy in Africa. But now, we are not even a good economy. What do you want me to say of Nigeria now? In the days we were born we enjoyed Nigeria but we didn’t know. We thought we would have it better when the Europeans leave us but now, we know that some of our leaders did not learn from the Europeans before they took over.  It was those whom they groomed that tried to mange it a bit.  If my children were to have a bit of what we enjoyed in those days, is it in the streets when you are walking and you see orchards? Is it in the school that you would go with your uniform and return clean? Is it in the office when you graduate you have a car and big jobs waiting for you? Is it in the home you will sleep fine and wake up? What is that you are proud of in Nigeria now? Please let someone tell me? Ooh we are proud of the light. Then we had Electricity Corporation of Nigeria (ECN), and then we were proud of ourselves in the comity of nations.  Our pounds, shillings and pence were enough match for any international currency. Is it educational attainment? Any certificate you had in Nigeria enabled you to stand with your equals anywhere. Our people were accorded due honour when they traveled abroad.

At what point did Nigeria start nose-diving?
The trouble started before the civil war. The one of oil was after Gowon and co. Before the civil war, at that time there was heavy disenchantment in the West – ‘Operation Wet E’. That tribal, regional statement became punitive. The present administration has further polarised Nigeria. Before, we were a bit united; at least, people believed in our government that we have a Nigerian government. But now, they don’t believe that there is a Nigerian government.

That was before the war?
Yes. Now this was before virtually any war; things continued to worsen. That was what triggered it. What made Nzeogwu and co want to take over power? Was it not this kind of things, political appointments? We were never so divided in religion, tribalism and government as now.  Then it was step one; now it is step two. It is there in the history books. It’s with us again.

Are we at the verge of a revolution?
We are in a revolution already. It is only that the powers that be are silently suppressing them. There is revolution in the North; there is revolution in the East; there is revolution in the West; and also at the center. Didn’t you hear that they were planning a coup?

Even in the Niger Delta?
I said in the East, not only in the Niger Delta. There is no part of Nigeria that is not marginalised. Now that they have found something to vent their spleen, this cattle ranch thing and partly corruption charges. Boko Haram has not stopped because ISIS is restrategising; because they feel that the man who was in league with them did not do well. They asked him to do this; he did that. That is why they suffered damage; now they are restrategising. They want Islamic state. Go to the East, you think that they have kept quiet. But they have taken to arms now; it is only that their leaders are not pleased with them because it will affect the leadership more now. It could have been easier in the time of Odimegwu Ojukwu, because they had gun and soldiers but now they are not finding it easy. Let truth be told; even now you all are not sitting comfortable; you are sitting on a keg of gun powder. Any day there is a bang, you could be thrown off your job.

How do we get out of this, what is the solution?
I have given the solution before and I repeat.  Let’s start from the head; that is where the fish starts to rotten. Buhari should reshuffle his cabinet.

The cabinet is not the head. The head is Buhari himself….
Buhari is the one I am referring to. I said let’s start from the head. Buhari should reshuffle his cabinet. He is the head of Nigeria. He should restructure Nigeria and restructure each ministry; and spread it down the ladder.

Restructure Nigeria?

What do you mean?
The regional style was better.  You are calling federalism; yet we are running nothing less than unitary. It is military. The Western side, the Northern side and Eastern side ask them they were better off under the regional arrangement. After the war, Gowon divided Nigeria into 12 states. Later, it became political divisions; so that the wife of Babangida will have a state for her parents. And this time, it did not serve the purpose again. May be Gowon did it then to avoid unnecessary power belonging to the blocs and so that it can easily be check-mated. But now it has gone as far as security, to politics. If we want to correct these things, we should start from the head.

Should we then go back to the national conference recommendations or a referendum?
When I recommended referendum it was due then before the coming in of Buhari’s administration. But now, I don’t think the referendum will agree that we be together. The current realities will make to say let’s part our ways. That’s why I am saying restructure. The truth about it is this; this nation has refused to take the right advice. The constitution should be changed, not amended. We should change the name; it has a spiritual vibration that will make it to continue like this, fighting to progress and not making any head way. If the constitution is not changed in line with the current realities, all the problems we are passing through will persist. I was coming from Pakistan the other time passing through Dubai, and came back.  I said oooo, it is a question of time before we see war between the Delta people and the state now that oil has been found in Lagos and others are saying they have and this and that. Injustice is in the land, that is the problem. There is no oil producing nation, state or people that are not living better except Nigeria. How do you dash me my thing, and then they expect me to keep quiet? That is where the greatest injustice is in our nation.

The recent CAN election brought a division among Christians in Nigeria, what is your comment on this?
It is a product of our economy and the realities in our nation.  Righteousness helps a nation when you have the right leader at the top whether you want to believe it or not. Once there is economic restoration, once there is good leadership at the top, you will see that it will affect CAN.

Is President Muhammadu Buhari the last President of Nigeria?
I don’t predict. I tell you till tomorrow God has told me to keep quiet and he has not told me anything about Buhari. He is the only president that God told me not to say anything. During the time of Jonathan, I wanted to correct him of all his weakness, but God said don’t correct him that he has a purpose for which he put him there, towards the end we will see it and we saw it towards the end of his regime, he saved Nigeria from war. But I can’t assure you that there will be no war for now. I can’t assure you that there will be no Nigeria or not. I keep telling you. I can’t assure you that we will not split. Going by the trend of things unless something is done quickly, sorry, one of these days you may ask how is Nigeria and someone may ask you which part or we are fine?  We can remedy it because there is still chance.