From Geoffrey Anyanwu, Enugu
The Archbishop of Enugu Province of the Anglican Communion, Most Rev. Emmanuel Chukwuma has said that President Muhammadu Buhari is in the best position to resolve the security challenge facing the country, accusing him to be the architect of it.
The cleric, therefore, warned the president to be fast in resolving it, advising Buhari to close the pit he claimed he dug for former President Goodluck Jonathan or be ready to fall into it himself.
He alleged that Boko Haram was the product of Buhari’s threat to make Nigeria ungovernable for Jonathan while jostling for the presidential election that brought him to power.
In this interview with Sunday Sun, Bishop Chukwuma also spoke on 2023, saying that Biafra agitation will die a natural death if the Igbo are allowed to ascend the Presidency. He also spoke on other national issues. Excerpts:
Year 2023 is raising some anxiety in the country, what is your take on the 2023 presidency?
Well, people say it is too early to talk about 2023, but as far as I am concerned, you have to begin from now to project and sensitize on 2023; 2023 is a year that is pregnant and also backing a baby, that means, it is a very difficult time to predict what will happen with what is happening around us. It is unfortunate that some other areas or zones have decided not to come out plainly to say this thing belongs to Southeast. Going by what had happened in the past, Southeast is so marginalized a zone since after Zik and we seem not to belong to this country, Nigeria. One has to ask question, is this the way the leaders and political parties in Nigeria will treat the Southeast after the civil war? The civil war has really dealt with the Southeast, that there are so much wounds and these wounds can only be healed and assurance given to the Southeast that we belong to one Nigeria as it used to be a slogan that “to keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done,” if the Southeast is given the opportunity to produce president in 2023. And one is wondering, therefore, what is in the mind of somebody like Yahaya Bello whom I think is joking and moving about with malady, showing he is preparing for 2023 presidency, I think he is in a state of confusing himself. But let me say this that 2023 is going to be possible for the Southeast to be if all the political parties will present people from the Southeast as their presidential candidates, whereby they did not do so, then we lose it. Number two, whereby the Igbo of the Southeast will not be united, 2023 will be a joke going by what is happening now in Ohanaeze. That is why I am warning them now that if you want 2023 to be possible, let there be one voice and let Ohanaeze be united without any form of discrimination or form of division. If we continue this type of quarrel and not accepting ourselves in the election that has been done and people are still not coming together, then they should forget about 2023, because charity begins at home. So, that is where my bitterness is, we are trying to find a way to reconcile them to be together, but it’s unfortunate that some people are still stubborn, both in and out of Nigeria, by not wanting this case of Ohanaeze election to be put to rest and so that is where they will destroy, and will be held responsible for losing 2023 if they don’t get united in Ohanaeze, we are watching them. So, these are the things and it’s a matter of equity anyway, that the present president should know that Igbo are intelligent, Igbo are hardworking and the Southeast people are very much ready if they are given the chance to turn things around for this nation to be better, because this country has become so bad. We are known for changing things when things become so bad, but where is the opportunity? That’s why we are saying give Southeast the opportunity and see what will happen, this country will be better because we know how to make good the business.
With the situation of Nigeria today what do you think of the agitation for Biafra? And Asari-Dokubo has announced himself the new leader of Biafra agitation, what’s your take on that?
When you talk about Biafra, Biafra has been a slogan, it’s not a thing we should worry ourselves about because the Biafra thing is agitation because of marginalization. Biafra will fizzle out if you give the Southeast the presidency. What’s Biafra, many of them agitating for this Biafra did not even see the civil war or even suffer civil war like most of us who saw it and suffered it. Where was Dokubo when the civil war was being fought, even Kanu (Nnamdi) himself, they did not experience the Nigerian civil war, so they should stop all these their harassment and confusion, let us begin to focus on what will be the share of the Southeast as far as 2023 is concerned. If by 2023, Southeast is not given opportunity to produce the leader of this nation, then more agitations can come from whatever platform, but for now I think they should just sheathe their sword and focus on how to be united. So, it’s not a matter of fighting to become leader of Biafra, it’s not our priority at all, leadership of Biafra is not our priority because as far as I am concerned, that will not sort out the problem of the Southeast.
The issue of insecurity has continued to linger and kidnapping and banditry are not abetting, and schools are now the major targets for kidnapping. What do you think is happening and what is the way out?
Well, you see, when you talk about Boko Haram, Boko Haram is a negative language against education. Boko Haram, which means “book, no way, book, not good,” that is the signal. But it is unfortunate that the whole thing that is happening today is caused by the president himself who said during the time of President Jonathan that he will make Nigeria ungovernable for Jonathan and then invited some of these people into the nation and after he become president they were not settled. So they now want to show their grievances that having been rejected, the next thing they can do now is to really make the government ungovernable for Buhari himself. Let us be very sincere about it and that is why they are dealing with him in Kastina, dealing with him in the northern areas. It is unfortunate that when this is happening, they are worsening the situation by trying to dialogue or trying to settle them with so much millions and billions of naira when people are crying for minimum wage, when people are dying of hunger and they are trying to settle criminals. One wonders, therefore, what the Service Chiefs have been doing, they have to wipe these people off and not a matter of negotiation. And that is why I have continued to say that it is corruption making the Service Chiefs that have just left office ambassadors because these people need to be probed. They need to be probed because for them not to have ended Boko Haram within these 11 to 12 years is a shame. Nigerian civil war was fought for three years and was ended, Boko Haram now going for 11 to 12 years and nothing has happened, is a shame to the security forces and they should reexamine themselves. And presently, it’s unfortunate too that some governors and some people in the North are aiding and abetting these bandits and Boko Haram people. Buhari knows what he did, so it’s he who dug the pit that he is now about to fall into, because they did it at that time against Jonathan and now that Jonathan is no more there, they have not been settled and they are confessing that they have not been settled, so this is the issue. So, it’s part of the grievances of the government that brought them in from all over the whole place to destabilize Jonathan’s government and now since that has not come, they are now trying to destabilize the government and making Nigeria ungovernable for Buhari who was bragging that he will make the country ungovernable for Jonathan. Let us be frank to ourselves, Mr. President should be honest to himself, he should know how to deal with these people and now he is reaping the fruit of what he had sown. It’s unfortunate that the schools are targets now, if they say Boko Haram that they don’t want schools, that’s their own problem, but it’s high time the governments of northern Nigeria came together and stopped settling bandits and Boko Haram people. It is unacceptable to settle cases with these people who are killing people, who are abducting children, it is abomination settling with such enemies. Why shouldn’t they be wiped out, what is the Air Force doing? Air Force with all the equipment at their disposal, they should fight these people on the air, the Army can’t fight them on the ground. What has happened to the roadblocks when these people are being taken away? What has happened to the security? These are the problem, are they sleeping? So, there is collaboration between the Army themselves and the bandits and Boko Haram. I can’t believe that Boko Haram is better than Nigeria Army and Air Force; it is a disgraceful and means they are incapable of securing Nigeria.
Before the former Service Chiefs were appointed ambassadors you called for their probe and recently there was an issue of missing arms fund, do you still want them probed?
That is exactly why I said they should be probed, we should not compromise. Mr. President should not compromise or put his eyes off. What has happened to the monies that were allotted for arms and are now missing? Who are they deceiving? It is unfortunate that we have heard about monkey carried away money in Nigeria, we have heard about snake swallowed money in Nigeria, this is bad and I think Nigerians have suffered enough. Time has come that if we don’t take time, with all these happening now, they are calling for revolution, don’t be surprised if revolution happens anytime soon and that was what caused this #EndSARS and they used intimidation, do you think you can intimidate the young people. Whether you like it or not the young people will determine what will happen in 2023, the youth will determine it and the older ones who have messed up this country should begin to hide their head.
CAMA Act is before the court now…
Yes, CAN has gone to court, why should that happen in this government? Why should they come and say that Corporate Affairs Commission should now be doing this, we are not under the government, and the government does not subsidize the church. The church is a charitable organization not minding that some of our people try to commercialize the church, but notwithstanding you can control the number of people who are commercializing the church because many of the churches are being polarized, many of them are being commercialized, but the church is controlled by the Holy Spirit not human beings. So, we are protesting that CAMA cannot regularize the church or control the church.
The Enugu State Assembly introduced a Pension bill for the ex-governors and their deputies. This has ignited much reaction, what is your take on it?
I think it’s madness for anybody that was sponsoring that bill. You cannot come and sponsor a bill that is selfish and also in the midst of poverty when civil servants are not getting their minimum wage. I totally condemn that bill and whoever that is sponsoring that bill should be mobbed. I do not support that bill and that bill should be quashed and be thrown away. Most of these people who were in government that they are trying to pass that bill for have stolen a lot of money from the government and they’ve had enough. They should find a way to go and set up businesses that will give them money and not again taking more money from the government. The House must not pass that bill rather they should throw it to the trashcan. It is unfortunate and whoever is behind it should retrace his or her steps.