(By Christy Anyanwu)
Reverend Ladi Thompson is the founder and senior pastor of Living Waters Unlimited Church in Lagos.He is passionate about the affairs of this nation and often leaves no stone unturned to bare his mind about the polity. He spoke with Sunday sun recently about the state of the nation and what we hope to see in the new year, 2018.
It’s the end of the year and political campaigns have kicked off with President Buhari giving indications that he may likely recontest for second term, do you think Nigerians have fared well under his administration?
I’m yet to get any confirmation that he’s going for second term. Have you confirmed that from sources? Until the person himself confirms it, anything is conjecture and as a minister of God it’s not nice to engage in anything that is founded on hearsays.
What if he now broadcast to the nation that he’s coming back in 2019?
I doubt if we should use this kind of season to do that. Let’s not beat to the gallery. I always concentrate on what I think, or I know that will affect lives. Where is Nigeria right now? Nigeria is about to approach the midnight hour of history. What saves us from civil war is the grace of God. The situation in this country is such that elitist are building up tension, divisions have been shackled; there is a lot of frustration in the Nigerian polity. Not since the end of the civil war have we ever had the kind of animosities that are boiling now. Not just causing tribal problems but religious problems. Even in the build up to the civil war, we don’t have the kind of complete distrust of constituted authority like we have today. Even in the buildup of the civil war; our economy was not as bad as what we are looking at today.
The most important factor of all of these is that, the youths of Nigeria have voluntarily chosen to travel to become prostitutes in foreign nations rather than remain behind in the night mare that Nigerian life has become. The young men are blazing desert hazards and things like that just to get away actually not from Nigeria but completely from Africa. I’m saying that we should sound an alarm bell; this is a more important alarm bell to everybody. To government, to the political space, to the civil societies, to the religious authorities. I will say that what is very important right now is that we sound that alarm bell as loud as possible that Nigeria is descending into the midnight hours. And the midnight hour is just for us to see that we are approaching the time of darkness. These things never happen, once it starts happening, people who are prayerful and people who think can see clearly ahead where we are going. If we don’t do anything about what is happening right now, the next elections in 2019 will be the bloodiest elections that Nigerians have ever seen because it coincides with what I call the lowest worth of value to human life. The value of human life has been descending in Nigeria and in ‘Africa’. The truth is this; combine all these with the corruption in Nigeria, knowing that the worst form of corruption is devaluation of human life. Take note, kidnapping, ritual killings are on the rise, sons are slaughtering fathers and mothers in the hope of escaping the trap that we are seeing today. Boko Haram has made life very cheap. Fulani herdsmen have even cheapened life further.
I have said before, I’m saying again, a lot of the problems we are seeing that have escalated are a harvest , and a lot of those problems have been with us even before Nigeria was formed as a nation. What we are seeing now is a harvest of centuries of abuse. Let me give you a good example. In 1942 Nnamdi Azikiwe and his two friends when they saw that life had nothing ahead of them, he and his friend called Sidney and another friend called John decided that they must get to America at all cost. At that time, Sidney Brown (That is the name of his friend) was a technician at the P&T, John Anyazo was a trader. But when they looked ahead as youths they saw there was really nothing in front. They saw there was nothing ahead of them that Nigeria had to offer. The three of them saved money for one year. Quietly, the three of them without telling any relation, father or mother, were able to approach some sailors. On D-day, they took canoe and went to the boat they were suppose to follow – RMS Appam. They were to stow away inside this life boat. When they sailed from Lagos, from the first night, Sidney was feverish and was vomiting. They managed to get to Accra. From Accra they sailed to Secondi. In Secondi, Sidney’s condition got worse. He became incoherent. John called Zik to one side, and said, ‘you know what? I can’t let anything stand in the way of my ambition, life must be better. We have left Nigeria already and we must get to where we are going. He now suggested to Zik that they throw this boy aboard at midnight into the ocean so that he will not disturb them from achieving their ambition. Zik now interceded and said, “No No don’t do that.”
I’m using Zik just to bring all of us to our senses. This incidence happened in 1942 and we don’t realize that it’s all these unattended issues that have all of us running around in circles like fools. Here we are again, thinking we are going to have another election, but I’m telling you that all indices show from what is on ground now, the level of desperation now is higher than the last election. The readiness to go to war, to shed blood, to achieve ambitions is higher than ever before. The frustration of the youths is making a tick that we have not seen ever since Nigeria was put together by the amalgamation in 1914. So the thing for us as wise people right now, is also to realize that none of the so called people who have shown interest to rule Nigeria has demonstrated to us that he has any plan that will make any major difference in the lives of the average citizen. Things can only get worse, it cannot get better. For Buhari’s administration, some of us looked at him as a good alternative to what was available then, It was because dark cloud had gathered over Nigeria’s horizon and we knew that there was a need for someone with military skills to tackle Boko Haram and whatever. Mark my words, what Nigeria needs is not good leadership, what Nigeria needs is exceptional leadership.
How do we get that exceptional leadership because some people are of the opinion that people who are ruling us are old and should give way to new people to move the country forward. Do you share in that opinion?
I don’t share that opinion. The failure that we are looking at today is the failure of a system, the products of that system are generally people who are emotive, intuitive, hyper religious and lack the ability to think critically. The educational system was even destroyed a long time ago, so the quality of thinking among the younger generation actually is even worse than they used to be before. Across all generations in Nigeria, we need to bring out people who have substance, who understand the situation and have a plan on how to revamp the system that is working in Nigeria which actually would also be the inclusion to the system in all other African countries. It’s not a matter of changing age bracket. Infact, the younger ones are just the worst because the morality in the younger generation, the boldness, audacity and desperation have increased; it has not decreased. I think it’s a matter of us trusting that we can sift across all generations, the very best that Nigeria has. For example, who will say that we have not seen the difference that the touch of a well educated and a highly moral person like Osinbajo has made in governance? There is no one Nigerian who will not confess that the leadership skills demonstrated by the vice president are somehow different. Why is it different? It is different because Nigeria was programmed to be ruled firstly by military and former military leaders, secondly compromised politicians who are already corrupt, well corrupted by the colonial system and thirdly, we are designed to be ruled by despots, people who hang on to power at all cost. Those are the three categories of people who will always rule Nigeria except there is disruption. The first disruption we have seen in the political arena came in the form of Osinbajo because he is not a professional politician developed through the Nigerian programme neither is he military or ex military neither is he a despot. I believe God designed Nigeria for Nigerians to taste what can happen if we escape the program that produces wrong leadership not only in Nigeria but all over Africa. If we haven’t noticed that by now, the bloodshed will be something else in 2019.
We are told we are out of recession but it’s not reflecting in the economy. People are groaning that there’s no money to spend. What exactly is the problem of this country, though this has been a long standing issue?
Good. I’m happy you are saying this finally. Now, you will hear something I have been saying for a very long time. Let me tell you what the real problem is, where it lies. All those great indices that government is quoting and people have always been quoting are part of the trap that has put Nigeria to where it is today. It’s a global trap. It’s a terrible global trap. What is actually happening is that Africans don’t want to admit that we don’t have the understanding of the machinery in global economies. You are aware that if you add all the 54 nations that make Africa and the 10 independent territories, add all together, do you know that our share in global feats and investments all of us put together is less than 2 percent of the global. That means, add Dangote, Otedola and all the people we hear about, put all the wealthiest people in Ghana, take all the wealthiest people in all the African countries all over Africa, put all their assets together, we contribute less than 2 percents of global trades and investments. What we are seeing is actually a failure of humanity in Africa not only in Nigeria. We are approaching the midnight hour of history where there are only three options ahead of us. What everybody is crying out for is either we go to a meltdown, when I say a meltdown , I really mean meltdown, there will be escalation of violence like never before, the devaluation of human worth will be like the days of human sacrifices. Blood will spill.
But people are saying Nigerians cannot move forward except there is restructuring, do you take to that?
There is something called determinative chaos. It is something that is used for failure engineering. If you want to build a house as a contractor. Let’s say 45 storeys and you put the foundation of a bungalow can that project succeed? If an electrician decides to be very naughty and wires your house so that when you put on the air conditioner it will short circuit and your entire switch will get bad, can there be any successful operation in that house? What we are refusing to acknowledge is that we were designed to fail permanently. It is called deterministic chaos. When people call for a restructure, we are to be careful to let them understand that in engineering, when you talk about restructuring, there is always a super structure and there’s a soft structure. The real re-engineering we need primarily is inside the foundation. Imagine a house where people are calling for a restructure and your foundation is faulty, some people say they should change the roof, some people say they should change the walls, I don’t know what restructuring means to many people, but I think the real word is not even restructuring, the real word is re-programming. We need to re-program Nigeria. In doing that, we need to look at its foundation first and to do this, we need to first do something that is called disruption. Nigeria needs a disruption. And if we don’t do it voluntarily, it’s going to come by force. If we are wise enough as a nation, to foresee what is coming up we will become true leaders of Africa because whatever reprogramming we do for Nigeria, as long as our GDP is under two and a half percent, or two percent, no matter the political group you vote in as president, governors, prime minister or whatever we call it, is a waste of time. The fault is not the people, the fault is not the political parties, and the fault is not with the leaders, the fault is inside the programme. So, for all those who are going to answer you in this interview and abuse Buhari, Jonathan, etc, all of them are victims of the programme. That was what the programme was created for. We will fight among ourselves, we will quarrel among ourselves but we will never touch the real solution.
But some people, especially northerners, even the government don’t want the country restructured?
Let me tell you why it’s like that. Don’t forget that in 100 days, one part of Rwanda killed 1.2 million fellow Rwandans who come from another part. Nigeria was designed not to work as one country but to work as North versus South? So what is surprising in the South making certain request? What is surprising that the north says we don’t want that as long as we are in the same programme? Divide and rule was designed to do what it’s doing today. So, the divisions we are seeing should have been expected. I wonder why anybody is talking or why is it even news? The first thing we must do when we want to reprogramme is if we want our children to survive to see tomorrow, whether you call it reprogramming or restructuring I don’t care. What I’m just saying to you are the things that matter most. The first thing we need to do before we can even reprogramme the foundation is that we have to introduce something called Non Violence Communication (NVC) into the Nigeria national narrative. What does NVC do? It becomes a mandate for everybody no matter if you are from North or South, no matter your tribe, no matter your religion will adopt a platform that all communication must follow the principles of NVC. What does NVC do? NVC helps us to remove the clouds and the dust covering everybody’s eyes. If North, South communicates with NVC, we will locate the real problem of Nigeria and the real enemy of our destiny. But without that Non Violence Communication being made a standard of discourse, Nigeria will utterly be destroyed or go into more mess more than this one. Let me ask you a rhetorical question? Whether it’s Buhari or its Jonathan or anybody that comes back, will it make our share of global investment to be more than two percent?
When Buhari was coming in, he talked about corruption, revamping the economy, security; can you give them a pass mark so far?
I will give the administration a pass mark for effort. For success, I don’t think the administration itself would give itself a pass mark, which brings us back again to one thing. What this present administration has not discovered is that corruption is part of the programming of Nigeria. And no matter what they do, as long as they continue to fight corruption as a crime not knowing that it’s part of the cultural programme that was given to us…
I think the attention should be on the programme and how to reverse, re-engineer the programme using Non Violence Communication. I have sent people to the colonial archives to study some of the classified documents. This programme was the normal programme in the days of colonialism, human slavery, apartheid, segregation; we are the ones who made a mistake trying to build on a programme like that. We didn’t have the architects of thoughts to decode it. The truth is that if Zik ran away from Nigeria at age 17, the same cycle is coming back again and again until the system breaks down.
Your message for the New Year?
Unarmed truth and unconditional love will find a way for us in 2018. Morality, respect and love cannot be legislated and this is the foundational flaw of the modern African society. The Law can penalize a terrorist for killing the innocent in the pursuit of his misguided objectives, but no amount of regulation can make him to love and respect his fellow man. Societal rules and education can work to deter a murderer from murdering you, but cannot remove the murder from the murderer’s heart. Agape is a totally different kind of creative and redemptive force. 2018 will take us into the midnight hour and that is where the light will shine. … Nigeria is already a few steps into midnight. Midnight hour is when there is a moral darkness and the light of righteousness has dimmed. A time for the survival of the fittest, a time for the 11th commandment; thou shall not be caught. A time you can embezzle but must not steal. Midnight is when the form of godliness multiplies, but it’s an empty shell devoid of redemptive power. Politically, socially and economically Nigeria is in the midnight hour where Life for the citizen is reduced to a daily struggle for stomach infrastructure! All colors are greyed and look the same. Midnight is when it is easy to stumble and fall. Standards can be compromised at midnight and no one is the worse for it since very few will notice. Midnight is when the preacher focuses on preaching about your personal breakthrough, personal prosperity, personal wellbeing and personal triumph while neglecting the greater good. Go ye into the whole world and make men rich and happy is the message. In 2018, Nigeria will discover that Church is not an entertainment center! It is meant to heal the broken hearted, provide cure for frustrated potentials, and revive dead dreams. Church in 2018 will not permit men to resign in despair. Unarmed truth and unconditional love will be the game changer in 2018.
I believe that the key to Nigeria will come from God fearing people. Why? I believe that when things get bad enough, what we discover is that as we enter darkness all colors are the same, life will be colourless for everybody. We are still on our way there, we are not yet there. At that time, people will be ready for a solution if God can raise for us, and I know that God is raising for us a people who know that apart from legislation, God is going to bring Nigeria out of the brink. All the laws we can make, all the rules we can make, they are only useful to the people, but they can never solve Nigeria’s problem. So, what does Nigeria really need? Nigeria needs something creative and unconditional love that is reposed in the kingdom of God. That those God fearing men all over Nigeria, no matter their religion can relate with. There’s creative force, there’s a redemptive power in unconditional love.