Archbishop of Enugu Province, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Rev. Emmanuel Chukwuma has warned that nobody should rejoice yet over the outcome of the February 23 presidential election, saying that God has not finished on the issue. He spoke to RAPHAEL EDE in Enugu.
How would you assess the conduct of the 2019 elections by INEC?
We thank God that in Enugu we had a peaceful election; no killings, no rancour and everything went well but not withstanding I will score INEC 80 per cent in the sense that delivery of materials to different locations was not fast enough. So many places did not start voting until mid-day even in the state capital until when I mobilized the materials by myself, moving them and also providing tables and chairs for the officials to start election which I feel INEC could have done with their logistics. I feel that the collation of results had some faults where have mutilation of some votes, which raised some dust and controversies. INEC should be more sincere in the conduct of elections because many people after the Presidential and National Assembly elections don’t have confidence again in the Commission. The military coming into election is not supposed to be because election is a democratic process and I do not think that in a democratic process that military should interfere. In those days, the military was not seen on the street, they were kept in the barracks. Police are meant to do their jobs but with combined police and army yet we still have killings in some areas. People still snatched ballot boxes and many of them have not been arrested probably because they belong to certain political party. So I feel that the presence of the military should definitely be far away from the electorate because we are not fighting a war. What we are doing is a democratic election for a civilian government which should be respected and INEC should know that election is put for people to choose leaders they want and not who the INEC will rig into office. It is wrong for INEC to condescend so low to rig the presidential election. So people should not rejoice yet because if it is not the will of God whatever INEC has done will boomerang. So, people should stop rejoicing, it is not time to celebrate anything yet until when there is stability, swearing in and court cases settled. It is too early in singing praises and congratulating. So far, there are so many controversies surrounding the elections of 23rd February and people are not happy.
What’s your take on the militarization of southern Nigeria during the polls?
It is unfortunate that this kind of security can be mobilized when they should go to Sambisa to fight Boko Haram and killer herdsmen in the northern part of Nigeria. We don’t have problem in the south. The insecurity is due to people who are selfish and I must say people who belong mostly to ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC), who feel they should distort the government of that place and want to take over by force. So the agenda is wrong because if PDP is ruling those states and you want to take it all by force it is not going to work because people will definitely resist it. The verdict of the people must be respected and that is what I stand for. Once the people have passed their verdict, the military and police should allow that to stand because forcing any government on the people there will be friction. If anybody is going to force himself against the will of God on the people let the person prepare for the judgment of God. So, for me there is nothing to celebrate yet, let us wait and see what God has for Nigeria and for the states.
What’s your reaction to the use of smart card reader for the elections in parts of the country?
That is part of selective negligence of INEC and I think that doesn’t make Nigeria as one when smart card readers are mainly used in the south and overlooked in the north. Where there is this discrimination of use of card readers that is not a democracy. The card readers were not very much efficient; some of them have failed in many places in the south but if in the north that you don’t depend on the card readers why should it be used in southern Nigeria? That is discrimination and selective negligence and that is what I am saying that there is ulterior motive to deliver one particular candidate by the north against the popular will of all Nigerians. However, if it is actually true that card readers were not used in some parts of the north; then we are not one country again. We should not condone such electoral discrimination and Nigerians should speak against it.
Let me warn that anybody who gets to the office through manipulation, that person will not enjoy the office. I want to warn all politicians that God will make it ungovernable for anybody who is put in any office by rigging or by suppressing the will of the people. So, let them not tempt God because this country has been so blessed and God has given us lots of resources, which are being mismanaged. All we want is to have a good governance, a government that feels that everybody belongs, a government that will bring peace and unity, a government that will make employment possible and power stable and make sure that healthcare is attained. We are tired of manifestos that were never manifested; we are tired of people coming into government with selfish reasons or money bags grabbing positions and getting to office and want to recover the money instead of serving the people. It is unfortunate and one wonders if the money spent on politics and elections have been diverted to create employment or providing food for the poor; people would have been so happy and the killings would have been less but that has been the case. After these elections people want to recoup their money and somebody will say that he was voted in because of the money he spent. Let them determine that they are coming to serve the people; that they are God’s chosen instrument to make sure that life becomes better for poor Nigerians. We have suffered enough. When we are talking about next level, is it next level of suffering and killing or the next level of better life? We are looking for a better life in the next level; a better life where people will breathe a sigh of relief from the present suffering in Nigeria. Nigerians are suffering and we have suffered enough. We are praying in this Lent season that God will deliver us. God will save us from this type of Babylonian experience. We are tired and I say let my people go in the next level, that is what we are praying for.
What is your expectation from government after May 29?
Well, they are talking about next level, I don’t know what that means but I am expecting that if sincerely it is God’s will that the next government will be as God wants it, then there should be an inclusive government. There should be no discrimination. They should bring technocrats and people who can save this country from collapse. They should also make sure that people who are there now that should be retained are retained. It is not good enough for the president to say he is Minister of Petroleum and somebody is Minister of State. I think Ibe Kachikwu should be given an opportunity to prove himself of being a full minister likewise other ones who have done well so that they can make sure they perform. So, we are expecting that people who are knowledgeable and selfless will definitely come up in the next government without any party discrimination. So we are praying for God’s intervention and blessings for Nigeria. We prophesy goodness for Nigeria not evil and false prophets should stop false prophecy and let us face the real facts that Nigerians need a better Nigeria and good governance. People should also be ready to make sacrifices and render selfless services for Nigeria. We are looking for a future Nigeria that will be redeemed from the present suffering through the service of credible people.
What do you think should be the proper way to fight corruption?
Corruption is not the Nigerian word. Corruption is an English word; I have not found corruption in Igbo translation. The foreigners have taught us corruption and therefore, we have perfected the act of corruption and this is what is killing us today. Let everybody examine his conscience; both leaders and followers. All have a part to play in stamping out corruption. Everyone of us is corrupt one way or the other, let us not pretend about it. The issue is that if we want to fight corruption let approach it with honesty and with fear of God not with selective negligence whereby some people because they are not in your party you witch-hunt them. Fighting corruption is different from witch-hunting; witch-hunting is not fighting corruption and when you want to fight corruption you should lay a good example yourself. Those who are fighting corruption are corruption themselves and they also hide and protect those who are corrupt. So it makes it unclear and insincere that we are fighting corruption when those fighting corruption are corruption themselves. Our leaders should know that you don’t fight corruption in the midst of hunger. In the midst of unemployment, discrimination, violence and insecurity, you cannot fight corruption in the midst of all these. If you want corruption to be fought, then address unemployment, address the grievances of the people, address discrimination, address inequality, address injustice and address also the minds of the people; the mind set of people today are disrupted and people no longer see anything sinful as sin again.
I think we should stop talking about corruption and think on how to make life better for Nigerians. So let us think about the welfare of the people first and when the people are well paid and well cared for, corruption will disappear naturally. We should stop acrimony and personal vendetta, and obey the rule of law.
Finally, Fr. Mbaka just celebrated his prophecy about Buhari’s victory. How do you feel about this?
He celebrated it before until the whole country started going bad and he said he regretted supporting him. So, it is not a new thing as far as I am concerned. Like I said it is not time to celebrate anything yet because God is not yet finished with Nigeria election and results. He is only deceiving himself. Mbaka is a businessman and I don’t think he is spiritual. So he is a gambler and when he gambles with spiritual prophecy, it seems as if to say that all is going well. It is not a matter of whether his prophecy has gone well with Nigeria. He himself is there begging people for money, is it well for Nigerians? How many people among his congregation has he sorted out their problems and employment issues? It is not well with Nigeria, so for me, it is not time to rejoice yet.