Obinna Odogwu, Abakaliki
Bishop (Dr) Anayo Ernest Ilo is of the Greater Riches of Grace Bible Church, Abakaliki. He is currently the Director, Zonal Issues and Social Welfare (South East), Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN); and was recently elected the President-General of Urban Community Forum, Abakaliki, which is the umbrella body for all the residents of the Ebonyi State capital. In this interview with Sunday Sun, he speaks on a wide range of national issues.
How would you assess Buhari’s presidency so far?
Buhari’s presidency is a failure; his presidency is not just a failure but a shame to the outside world. This administration is one of the worst regimes Nigeria has passed through both in the military and civilian governments. This is a nation where indiscipline rules over the affairs of the people. This is a nation where the president’s fight against corruption is focused only on those who are not members of his party whereas a recent publication in the an American magazine shows the money deposited in American banks by people in Buhari’s administration, and the All Progressives Congress, runs into billions of dollars. Why is it that no member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has been prosecuted or called to order? We know his ministers; we know his governors. None of his governors is doing even better. So, he has not fought corruption which he told us he was going to fight; he has not brought discipline to bear. This is a government that is full of nepotism, sectionalism, tribalism, and full of dichotomy. Look at what is happening. Buhari’s government wants to lead this nation into another civil war. If a governor of a state in Nigeria could call on his people to defend themselves even with stones, you know what it means. In the Bible, David defended himself with stones, and you saw the result of it. A nation like this where T.Y Danjuma called on Nigerians to defend themselves; a nation where the former President could call on the people to stand up and resist the government; a nation where animals are preferred to human beings; a nation where animals occupy the expressway and other roads and cause heavy traffic for humans. I think Buhari’s government is not to be rated with anything. It is a failure and as such anybody that is telling him to come back to rule again is not thinking well about this nation. On my assessment, it is better for him to respect himself and go home as an old man and rest. I also pray to God to forgive him for the souls of innocent Nigerians that where killed under his administration.
Recently, prominent Nigerians called on President Buhari not to run again in 2019. Don’t you think his second coming would give him the opportunity to right his alleged wrongs in office?
I am in full support of that call from prominent Nigerians. I am saying that Buhari should not come back as the President of this nation in 2019 because his government has collapsed. He is a failure. And as a failure, you don’t need to continue with a failure. We need to make a change.
Recently, General T.Y. Danjuma called on Nigerians to rise up and defend themselves. He was followed by Governor Ortom of Benue State who asked his subjects to defend themselves with stones. Don’t you think those calls if heeded might breed chaos and violence in the country?
The call became necessary where a group of people in the same nation are allowed to carry arms and not just that they carry arms, they’re causing mayhem, vandalising and killing people and raping women in their farms. They destroy our farmlands. Now that we are talking about going back to farming, it has been discouraging people who are interested. These people go into villages and set same on fire; killing people anyhow. When you’re pressed to the wall you don’t have any other option than to defend yourself. So, it is not out of order but this will lead to anarchy. This means that the government of Buhari is coming to an end because when everyone is to pick stone up to defend themselves, you know what it means. So, that shows that Buhari should not come back.
When we discussed earlier, you alleged that the President wanted to cause chaos so that he would declare state of emergency and extend his tenure without passing through election. Can you throw more light on this?
Yes! I said that Buhari did not have good agenda to offer to Nigerians. He came with a mission. And that mission is to Islamize the nation; to complete the work of Uthman Danfodio which is to dip the Koran into the ocean. Now, that was his aim and purpose of coming into the office. He did not campaign against Goodluck Jonathan because his administration was the worst, he campaigned because he wanted to come in and accomplish the purpose of jihad in Nigeria. And that is his primary aim. You can see it everywhere. He started from the Middle Belt region. Talk of Jos and all the states within that area; you will see that they have been taken over by the herdsmen. And this time around in this civilised world, a set of people would think that they could kill a group of people and occupy their lands. It is too primitive. It is a very primitive idea where you think you can come and clear the people that are there and occupy their land. It is not possible in this day again and anybody thinking towards that way is making a big mistake because if you kill the people in that environment what about their people living outside the state? They will still regroup themselves and push you out of their land. So, that was the aim of Buhari. And now, with these herdsmen, you saw what happened in Abuja the other day? How police fought with the Shiites group and how they killed some persons. These are sponsored groups. Why is it that the Shiite did not come up three years ago when Buhari came into office? Is it now that he is talking about whether he is contesting or not contesting that Shiites group is coming up? Even, Boko Haram is a sponsored group used against Goodluck Jonathan. The same group is now using the Shiites and Fulani herdsmen to cause more mayhem in Nigeria so that Buhari will see an occasion to say that there is crisis in the nation and he would start declaring state of emergencies. And in the process of declaring state of emergencies, he would start posting military administrators to states. And these military administrators will come and occupy positions as governors and he himself will remain as the sole dictator. That way, there will be no election in 2019 and he will prolong his government. And he will make sure that he accomplished his purpose of being in office, which is to Islamize Nigeria. But I know that people’s eyes are open towards that. And when people are to defend themselves with stones, they will also resist that move with stones.
Recently, the Senate called for the sack of service chiefs on the grounds that they have failed in their responsibility of securing lives and property of Nigerians. Do you hold a different opinion?
We have 36 states in Nigeria made up of many tribes. When we talk about national issues, we talk about equity in sharing of positions but you saw that Buhari was sectional in his appointment of service chiefs. All the service chiefs are all core Fulani people. Why did he put all his kinsmen as the service chiefs? He did so, so that they will help him accomplish his agenda in this nation. How can a sitting president ask the Inspector General of Police to go to Benue and he will stop on the road in another state where there was relative peace instead of going to where the President sent him? And after a while the president said that the IGP did not carry out the assignment. Till today he has not done anything. Why is it that there is an accusation by a prominent Nigerian that the military collude with armed herdsmen against the people of the land. It means that the service chiefs have failed. And if they have failed, the Senate has the right to advise the president to remove them. The senators also have constitutional right to refuse recognizing them in that office if the president decides to do otherwise. And when these things start happening, there is no respect to the separation of power. Even Buhari is not obedient to the rule of law. Before he became the president, he was called to panels severally but he refused to go. Even in his presidency, he has violated the rule of the court which means that he is a dictator. He does not have respect for the rule of law. But if he has respect for the rule of law, he should listen to the Senate.
Some people have predicted that this country will disintegrate by 2019 or thereabout. They cited marginalization, alleged disobedience to court orders by the president and others as indicators. Do you see Nigeria disintegrating anytime soon?
I am seeing anarchy; I am seeing a situation where blood is flowing in this nation. I am not seeing disintegration but that may lead to disintegration. But I am seeing anarchy. I am seeing unsafe situation. As a prophet, I am seeing blood flowing over this nation and our youths taking up arms and that may not go down well with us. That’s why I have warned the President to be careful not to provoke a second civil war because it may not be like the Nigeria-Biafra war. It may not be the Igbo people that will start it. It may start from the North and when it starts from the North; that is where the main trouble will be.
When is this prediction likely to take place?
I am looking at from now, 2019 and beyond.
What do you think should be done to save this country?
What I think should be done to save this country is for the President to step down. Once he steps down and says that he is not contesting the pressure will go down. He will now give room for politicians to come up and contest. And you will see the confusion that is everywhere now will start coming down; people will now know that it is a question of a year for this man to go. But for him to insist that he is going to perpetuate himself in that seat, it will bring a lot of confusion and anarchy for this nation. So, I advise him to step down.
Igbo people want to be president after Buhari. Do you see the possibility and what do you think can be done to achieve that target?
With God, all things are possible. If we are really part of this nation, it is possible. All that we need to do now is to begin to sensitize our people. One, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has started rigging the election by sending faulty registration computers down to the South-East and South-South. These computers cannot register up to 50 persons in a day. They usually breakdown. That is one of the steps to rigging that election and to rig the Igbo out of what they are doing in Nigeria. That is why in the whole Igbo land we have not gotten up to 8 million voters registered by INEC. Our people go to INEC offices and voting centres and wait all day yet they won’t be registered because the computers are faulty. Some of the people that registered, till today, they have not been able to give them card. Some of us that are changing from one polling booth to another, they have not been able to effect those changes. These things are tactical ways of rigging our people out of the system. But that notwithstanding, I am calling on every Igbo man to come home and obtain his Permanent Voter’s Card. Our vote is our power. We have the highest population of people in this nation. There is no part of the world you will go to and you will not see a reasonable population of our people far greater than those other people who’re not indigenes.
The Igbo people, especially the young people are calling for the Biafra State. What is your position on this? Again, do you think the International Community has been fair to the agitators?
Our young people calling for Biafra are not out of order. When a man is pressed to the wall, there is nothing that you expect him to do if not to struggle for survival. And agitation for Biafra is their right. Everybody has the right to agitate for freedom. I am even against the Nigerian government calling them terrorists because they have not carried any gun. The people who are killing us with guns have not been tagged terrorists. Is it the people who are agitating for their rights that you are calling terrorists? I am sure that Biafra may come one day. Where I fault the Biafra agitators is where they are telling people not to obtain their voter’s card. This is because with that campaign, they are reducing our population. Like what happened in Anambra State, the number of people who voted in the last election in Anambra State was not up to 15 per cent of the total population of voters in that state. And if that is to happen, it means that this tyrannical leader called Buhari will now use it against us. So, I want everybody to come out and obtain their voters cards. Let them know that population wise, we are not what they are taking us to be.