Rev. Ladi Thompson is the special adviser to the President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) on Anti-Terrorism and Conflict Resolution. Also, he is the senior pastor of Living Waters Unlimited Church, Lagos. The cleric spoke to Sunday Sun recently.
What are your expectations for the government in this New Year?
My expectation this year 2020 is that government will be able to open the eyes of the Nigerian citizens to the fact that our problems are systemic and we are in dire need of a reprogramming exercise. No matter how well intentioned, our $36 billion budget for a nation with 200 million citizens is a cruel joke. Our economic fortunes are DOA (dead-on-arrival) unless we create a disruption with brilliant digital innovations to neutralize the global economic death grip. We must destroy the Dangote-delusion of wellbeing to remember that all 54 nations of Africa joined together with its 10 dependent territories contribute less than four per cent of global trade every year. The Nigerian complexity has both analog and digital dimensions to its chaos and our liberators could not lay a firm foundation for Nigeria because of the exegesis of their day, but hoped that the future would provide founding fathers for Nigeria. My hope is that president Buhari will embrace the role that General George Washington played in the history of America and induct digital generations to counter-balance the analogous anachronisms in his cabinet. This would make him one of the founding fathers that Awolowo, Azikiwe and Balewa dreamt about. The highest points of the Buhari legacy can be birthed this year if the principles of inclusion and pluralism are injected into the national programmes. A unified, united and prosperous Nigeria would then have the strength to beat all the opportunistic threats of global terror. The digital generations coming would celebrate him as the courageous leader who braved our mix of ancient and modern problems to reset Nigeria for true success.
There have been several predictions by some men of God concerning the nation in 2020. How would you advise Nigerians to take these prophecies?
The average Nigerian is very superstitious and the veneer of sophisticated thought that you see in most places are deceptive. It’s a waste of breath to advise Nigerians in general concerning prophecies because the proliferation of prophetic publication every New Year is an ancient tradition that predates Nigeria itself. It is, therefore, a traditional practice that contains both good and evil, genuine and fake participants. The term “men of God” is also a very elastic phrase with a loose definition in Nigeria so we should content ourselves with providing guidelines to genuine believers concerning annual prophecies. The first counsel is from 1John 4:1; Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. The 2nd counsel taken from Acts 16:16-18 is a warning that says the fact that it is good does not mean it is from God. The very best way to process annual prophecies is for every professing believer to activate the mind of Christ. This special mindset is a basic part of the salvation package promised to diligent believers in 1Cor 2:16 and it was what set the disciples of Jesus Christ apart.
Boko Haram terrorists on Christmas day executed 11 Christian hostages on sparking concerns over the safety of Christian adherents in the country. How did you receive the news and what are your thoughts on this development?
We are saddened, but not terrified nor surprised because the spirit behind the terrorist group, ISWAP, that perpetrated the atrocity is demonic. The group satanically announced that it was a brutal act of retaliation for the deaths of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajir killed in Syria. Technically, it was an appeal by the Boko Haram for foreign funding and a costly publicity stunt to announce that they are still in reckoning as the victims had earlier appealed to the Nigerian president, Muhammad Buhari and (CAN) the Christian Association of Nigeria to save them. The development is neither surprising nor unexpected and the best thing CAN could do to honour these martyrs is to publish a document stating the Christian Agenda for Nigeria containing the standard gospel strategy of the Christian church to religious terrorism. The church must refuse to be intimidated and use all acceptable means to lobby and persuade the Nigerian government to accept and declare that there is a state of war in Nigeria. The ideal would be for the Nigerian president to react by interpreting the atrocity as
an act of war against our sovereignty and an abuse of our policies on religious freedom, religious tolerance, basic citizenship rights and the devaluation of our citizenship worth. On this note we could unite the country against a common foe.
It is over 10 years now that Nigeria has been battling with security challenge posed by the Boko Haram terrorists. What do you think the government is yet to get right in its pursuit to defeat this monster?
The government has tried its best, but will never be able to defeat this new war until we accept that it is primarily a shape-shifting, global hydra with a supremacist agenda cloaked in religion. It is intelligent, unmerciful and unrelenting and collapses nations from within. It has studied Nigeria and is exploiting all our differences and cracks, it worked quietly for decades before the killings began and it has infiltrated the ranks and file of our security and government structures. The little window that we are enjoying is because the global funds have bigger priorities than Nigeria, but that window will not be open forever. There are four basics that must be in place for Nigeria to survive and they are, a superior national ideology, value system, architecture of thought and robust military response adapted for hybrid threats and asymmetrical warfare. Even with two out of the four in place, our nation will not stand. We need a united nation and bi-partisan government effort to win this war and the foreign factor is one of the reasons we have not yet experienced an all-out assault. The government has a disadvantage because of the un-papered cracks in our foundation and the onus of this nation’s salvation could be burden that the church needs to take responsibility for because the mosque itself is under severe pressure. Muslims too are being slaughtered by the supremacists and the old emirate system will be wiped out if the terror war succeeds in Nigeria. Every Nigerian has so much to lose because our nation will soon be over-run by light skinned African-Arabs who detest the black pigmentation. As Nigerians we have every reason to unite across the religious and tribal divides if we see what is ahead.
Besides insurgency, Nigeria has other major security challenges to grapple with among, which are kidnapping for ransoms and cybercrimes. How best do you think the government should tackle these problems?
The word insurgency legitimizes this supremacist invasion in certain ways and supplies proof that we are losing the battles of narratives in this new war form. All the kidnaps, ritual murders, blood spills and desperate cybercrimes are all symptoms of a deeper rot. The devaluation of human worth is the worst form of corruption that produces all other forms of corruption. It is the reason young females prefer a life of prostitution and the young men are embracing modern slavery in foreign nations. Unfortunately, the government’s war against corruption is yet to address the devaluation of our life worth. If it is addressed Nigeria will cease to be a predatory nation with a food chain where its citizens lives are worth nothing. The CAN chairman in Taraba, for example, has just been kidnapped and the ransom raised will be used to further kidnap others for more money to fund terrorism. When the Christian Association of Nigeria releases its Christian Agenda for Nigeria, I expect that it will contain policies that reflect our faith. Similar to soldiers, the genuine Christian signs away his life to serve Christ and the everlasting life we preach negate the fear of death. Our Bible points to a voluntary no-ransom policy since our lives are hid in Christ. Leah Sharibu has already voiced God’s opinion. Phil 1:20 says that Christ must be magnified in us whether by life or death! Perhaps we need to open a national “Book of Life” for Christians that agree that no ransom should be paid in the event of kidnap. The sacrificial life style of the Christians will no doubt trigger a national revival to resist these devils in human skin hiding under religion. To pay a ransom is to finance the death of others! To refuse to pay would be to unmask the Islamic religious disguise of the demons as other good Muslims too would follow the CAN example. This was how the church defeated human slavery in ancient times and it will work for this no less demonic form of terrorism. If the Nigerian church leads the way the Nigerian government might find the mojo to purge the security services and government offices to get rid of the moles hiding in our systems in order to reset the value of human worth in Nigeria.
There have been divergent views on the issue of border closure. What is your assessment of government’s decision to shut down the nations land border?
The land border closures are palliatives needed to shore the economy of Nigeria and there are many stretches on the Nigerian border, certain parts of the country that cannot be shut since there are no walls or gates. These unguarded stretches don’t have much economic relevance, but are security risk. Beyond the palliatives, however, the Nigerian economy needs curative solutions. The Nigerian economy is a study in chaotic complexity that has been victimized by a neo-classical global economic equation. To escape poverty, Nigeria and Africa by extension has to come up with creative and disruptive innovations to unhinge its economic fortunes from the established global grid. The forex value of the naira is a product of naïve simplicity and ignorance of the inner workings of the global economic machinery. The Uber narrative is a good example of the digital disruptions that take advantage of technological advances to improve on the old order. By exploiting block chain technology, crypto-currencies and dedicated exchange platforms, Nigeria could deliver itself from the vampiric global economic equation, but this is not something that the mind of the analog dinosaurs in charge of the nation’s economy can understand.