Okey Sampson, Umuahia
Bishop Goddy Okafor is the chairman, Southeast chapter of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). In this interview, he spoke about the killings in Southern Kaduna, activities of herdsmen, doctors leaving the shores of the country to other nations for greener pasture and many other national issues. Excerpts:
What’s the position of Southeast CAN on the killings in Southern Kaduna?
The killings going on in Southern Kaduna are very disturbing. We’re one people and we believe we’re one nation. But for these persistent killings going on in Southern Kaduna to keep occurring without the Federal Government doing something drastic to stop it, is very disturbing. So, we’re beginning to ask questions; is it that the Federal Government of Nigeria does not know what to do to bring peace to Southern Kaduna and stop the killings or they do not have the political will to stop it? Or could it be that what Femi Adesina said two years ago is beginning to play out when he said that if Nigerians want to stay alive, they should give their lands. Everytime we blame what’s going on bandits. So, we keep asking, bandits are they really human beings or spirits? So, if they’re human beings, our law enforcement agents should go after them and stop them.
These people that are being massacred day after day are Nigerians.
They’ll finish and go and nothing will happen. And when the Southern Kaduna people who are being killed say let’s try and defend our land and few of their men pick up sticks, cutlasses or Den gun to scare away their Invaders, they’re the people the government will go after.
The bandits are not being talked about. This is very disturbing and Southeast CAN has become uncomfortable with the killings. We’re calling on the Federal Government to do their best and stop this.
There is this report that some medical doctors were planning to leave the country for greener pasture abroad; what’s your reaction?
Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) has cried out to the Federal Government that our best hands are leaving this country for better opportunities. Should FG keep quiet and allow these movements to continue and allow our best hands to keep leaving, what’s the future of this country? So, I look at the rate our doctors are leaving this country, I get worried.
What is CAN’s position on the rate at which the nation’s youths are involved in cultism?
Go to our communities and see how our youths are going deeper and deeper into cultism and drugs and you begin to ask, what’s happening?
Our youths graduate from different universities without jobs. They loiter our streets with no vision and nothing to assure them that their future is assured. This has increased the level of criminal activities our youths are getting into. The other time one of our youths was arrested in Dubai and people were saying all kinds of things about him, but blame him till tomorrow, there are still such young men growing up on daily basis. What’s the future of this country? What’s the assurance that tomorrow will be better? When I look at our youths, something keeps telling me that the Federal Government of Nigeria has no interest in giving our children direction and hope.
Could you comment on the menace of herdsmen in different parts of the country?
Everyone is left to himself. I have a farm and I was called by my caretaker to come and see what was happening there. I was optimistic that I was going to get something good out from my farm. But when I got there, I saw how herdsmen brought their cows and damaged everything there. Even as we were trying to fence the place, they broke it down and forcefully moved in their cows. One is helpless here. Who do we call on and who do we run to? Defend yourselves? But if you’re found with a stick or cutlass you’ll go in for it.
Meanwhile, someone who is moving about with AK-47 is free and nobody will go after him.
Are you happy the way the COVID-19 pandemic is being handled across the country?
Government that could not build one standard hospital, because of COVID-19, every state has suddenly woken up and we’re now in a hurry to have Isolation Centres. My question is, after COVID-19 what next?
Are you satisfied with this administration’s fight against corruption?
Every time, they said EFCC recovered this and that, but we’ve not seen anything to show for it. Every day you parade people on television, you’ve recovered this building, that money here and there, but show us what you’ve done with the loot recovered so far, no way.
What’s your take on the condition of roads in the Southeast?
Look at our roads. Go through major cities in Southeast, there’s no road. I travelled to Delta State the other day on getting to Mgbidi, that’s Onitsha-Owerri Federal Highway, there’s no road. The whole road was blocked because of a pothole at the middle of the road. And I asked myself, when this thing was showing the sign, why didn’t the government do something. We have FERMA, what’s their job? We were directed from one village to the other before we were able to get out to the highway again. I ask myself, why are we suffering like this? If you have a meeting in Calabar now, tell me, how do you go to Calabar? Look at Akwa-Ibom and Abia, to go to Uyo now is a huge problem.
The FG is making arrangement to lay gas pipelines from Port Harcourt to Kano and some people are complaining. What’s your reaction?
You want to lay gas pipeline from Rivers State, Imo State and the other oil and gas producing states to Ajaokuta, Kaduna and Kano for industrialization. And I ask, what about the cities in the Southeast?
Aba also needs to be industrialized. Why can’t you put Aba in your budget? Why can’t you remember Onitsha, Nnewi, Enugu, Abakiliki and Owerri? You cannot lay your pipe from Imo State while Imo cannot feel the impact of it.
What about rail lines?
You came up with issue of Western rail line and you want to run it from Lagos to Kastina. Why not do the same servicing for Eastern rail line as well? After all nobody will enter the train and not pay. It will generate more revenue for you. What have we done that we’re neglected in everything? You’ve gone to borrow money that all of us in Nigeria will pay, so why marginalize Southeast. I want to say to the Minister of Transport, he’s our brother. He should remember that there are still people who live around this area and tomorrow he may benefit from it. The Eastern rail line will not serve the people of Southeast alone. It will run from here, to Benue and down to Maiduguri. If you go to borrow money and you don’t balance what you’re doing, people will feel marginalized.
There have been calls for the sack of the Service Chiefs, what’s your opinion?
The recent call to sack the Service Chiefs is not the first time such calls have been made. If you watch our president’s body language, you’ll see that he’s not thinking along that line and that’s very disturbing. You ask yourself, is he waiting for everyone to die? Perhaps the people who are dead as far as he’s concerned are not Nigerians. If the president cannot listen to the National Assembly at least he should listen to Nigerians and sack these Service Chiefs. We still have intelligent people in this country that can turn things around if given the opportunity. Why should they remain there while things have gone totally wrong? Nigerians had so much confidence in this president when he was about to be elected. That was why they gave him massive support. We’re still waiting for General Mohammadu Buhari to show us that he’s still the same man Nigerians voted for.
What’s your position on this Chinese loan that has been in the front burner of late?
Chinese government has seen that some African leaders are very corrupt and that most of them are short-sighted. They don’t see tomorrow they see today. China has taken advantage of it to come into Africa.
Nigeria is not the first country they’ve given such condition. They’re doing their best to take over Africa maybe because of their population. It could be that they’re seeing what we’re not seeing. How can the Honourable Minister of Transport tell Nigerians that the clause in that their agreement with China that will see Nigeria lose her sovereignty doesn’t matter at all? How is he going to pay? How’s Nigeria going to pay? Must they accept every condition? Must they borrow from China simply because they want to see money for whatever reason? This present administration should not mortgage Nigeria.