His Eminence, the Prelate of Methodist Church, Dr. Samuel Chukwuemeka Kanu Uche believes that it is possible to have a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction in 2023.
He spoke to VERA WISDOM-BASSEY on various issues.
What should be Buhari’s priority as he settles down for a second term in office?
I am happy that we have had 20 years of uninterrupted democracy in the land, we have seen the bad, good and ugly but there is nothing like democracy, it gives people freedom of expression, freedom of association and religion; that is what democracy should give the people, but where this is not the case, it does not mean well for the people. I can say that without fear of contradiction. Recently, we are beginning to see what looks like militocracy which is not good. Even though the president is once a military man, I wouldn’t want his advisers to lead him to militarizing the system because they would like him to use force to rule Nigeria. He should do everything to ensure democracy thrives in Nigeria; there should be power sharing and the judiciary should not be gagged or used as a tool. What I am seeing portends danger, because is likely President Buhari may not mean harm for the country but his followers may want him to use force to rule the country and that will not be nice.
If you look at the area of security, I don’t know the fear they have, all the security chiefs apart from Chief of Naval staff, and defence are from one side of the country. Now in the judiciary, I understand there were 27 appointments to the supreme court, the apex court of the land and none was give to the South East, while South West and South South got two each probably. I want to plead with this country that people should be allowed to exercise their franchise and make up their mind and not being killed or ostracized. I don’t believe every Igbo man voted one side but there were divergent opinions and inclinations to various parties. What I am seeing is that the Igbo race is singled out for punishment. I don’t feel happy as an Igbo man but that is not to say they should take up arms against the government. Some of us are reasonable and love this country but in the scheme of things, your people are not considered. It is not fair; equity should be enthroned and be the order of the day in either appointment or sharing of resources or other areas of national life. No area should be marginalised or treated as second class, after all, all of us fought for the independence of this country. Notable among those that fought for independence were Nnamdi Azikiwe, Michael Okpara, Awolowo, Tafawa Belewa. We should not do business that will threaten other people’s life, but do business in the outmost atmosphere of peace, harmony devoid of ranchor and bitterness; that is what we should do and look out for in the polity.
What is the best way to tackle the worsening security situation in the country?
Let them look at the area of intelligence; there should be police intelligence; they can be trained on intelligence gathering, military intelligence and other forms of intelligence. The ministry of interior should be up and doing. The most important of all is to douse hunger; if you are hungry, you are angry. If youth are being employed and industries are alive, then our youths will have jobs. When I finished school in 1974, I had five job offers. I had opportunity to work in about five of them but I did not do any of them. I had opportunity to work in a big conglomorate, even to teach because I had a good result then but I did not do any of them. I did not do any of them because I was compelled to serve God. I had opportunity to serve in the church and I am happy even though the financical growth was not very fast. I am a leader of the church. If you have a boy or girl who has completed school for 8 or 10 years and there is no job, and the parents are not well to do, the person may end up in militancy, or join bad gang, or may go into hostility and prostitution. I want the second term to address the issue of poverty in the land; it is too much.
Secondly, they should close our borders, they are very porous; people should be trained to man our borders and before you enter the borders, you will be thoroughly searched. Go to our borders in the North, they are very porous. I worked there; go to Gombe, Sokoto, Maiduguri, that is why you have intruders in our country from there. They have so many track roads and it is difficult to know who is a Nigerian and who is not. That is why we have insurgency in the land. In Egypt, at a time they tried to build a wall to protect their people; that is a form of security
Criminality is now the order of the day even in broad-day light, what should be done?
Some of them are acting under the influence of drugs; they are not normal and they drink tramadol. Some of them are as a result of idle mind. What do they do, they have nothing doing.
The basic need of a man is food and shelter. It is when you have food and shelter that you go to the next level which, is security. It is then you go to build a house and then you go to what is self esteem and self actualisation.
With all that is happening, would you say Nigeria is a failed state?
God did not plan us to be a failed state. If I were God, I would make the oil dry, but God is merciful. Everyone is among the leaders who are not doing well; they will reap what they are doing either now or later. It is there in the Bible and Quran. Some of the bad people in the country are the elderly; they act with impunity; those destroying Nigeria are among the elders, they are not laying foundation for tomorrow; they should ask what they are leaving for the unborn generation. Everybody is looking for what he will eat or drink. Only Tony Elumelu foundation is thinking about the young people; they are doing their best and we see it. They are doing a lot to help the young ones and there are others who are silent and nobody knows they are doing anything. Some steal and are allowed to become members of the House of Representatives and the Senate who are replicating evil. So, corruption should go to a level that you tell people that you cannot be elected nor contest for any office. We should have such things. There is moral corruption and attitudinal corruption and all these corruption must be checked in Nigeria.
Some states are not able to pay even the N30 minimum wage
The most important thing is let the Federal Government do the infrastructure and pay the federal workers and let the states lessen the infrastructure they are building. In Germany, there are no new building, even in Philadelphia the old buildings are being maintained from time to time; they a maintenance culture but in Nigeria, when they build roads, it does not last for more than four years. They do shady jobs, they don’t do quality jobs, because they are interested in money and not how much they can get and not how much they can give. Nobody thinks of what they can contribute. Even me as a pastor, the money you see here is going to different people and not for my family members but those who are in need. We don’t have copious attitude on money among my family members but to be content. I have trained my children to know how to manage poverty and wealth and we are contented. Content is the attitude of the mind. For those who do not know God, it is not so; that is why they steal money and hide under the bed and allege that one animal stole the money. Have you heard anything about the money of the whistle blower. During the campaign, every outing those politicians make, they make new uniform, instead of washing the old ones.
So can you see the people’s mentality? They even buy new buses and they say they are fighting corruption. But still, Nigeria is not a failed state, there is hope if we can change our attitude.
How do you think the Republic of Nigeria should uphold equity in all ramifications?
We have a good constitution, even though it was military constitution. We talk about the people’s constitution but we have not come up with the people’s constitution. I have read it many times; if we operate it the way it is and obey that constitution, there is no problem. It talks about federal character, respect for human rights, equity and people’s opinion -all are embedded but it is being violated.
Is it possible to have a president of Igbo extraction in 2023?
With God, nothing is impossible. If one tells you that Israel will become a nation, you will not agree, but became real and there were many invasions by the Romans. After one thousand years, they had their own nation and they have their own army today and have the highest technology. So, no matter how you suppress a nation, one day, they will survive so you cannot say your suppressing them. If you live in a glass house, don’t throw a stone because if you kill, one today, the others will leave. So, there are more Igbo in Diaspora than in Nigeria; there are the segments in Nigeria that I don’t see in those countries most times when I visit outside the country but I see some set. I don’t know I could eat Nigerian food when I travel abroad but I will eat Ukazi in Germany and so on. Even in those countries, you eat fresh Nigerian food, including palm wine for those who drink. So, don’t humiliate the people you see today. I was in Israel when Russian Refugees returned. Those in Diaspora,can you go there and kill them? Let us live in harmony and peace. Poverty is an ill wind’ so let’s live in peace. The person you want to kill may have a brother outside Nigeria.