Reverend Ladi Thompson is the Senior Pastor of Living Waters Unlimited Church and the international coordinator of Macedonian Initiative, a non-governmental and non-denominational organization established to provide succour for Christians persecuted because of their belief in Jesus Christ.
He is also a security consultant. In this interview with the Sunday Sun, he spoke on the state of the nation. Excerpt:
President Muhammadu Buhari has declared that he would run in the 2019 presidential election. What is you opinion on this?
Nigeria needs to raise statesmen who need to go beyond politics at this time. You can only rule a nation when it exists. My advice is this: statemen, patriots, people of substance need to do the impossible right now which is to convince the politicians not to be so distracted with politics to ignore the fact that the country is being destroyed and politics is being used as a smokescreen while the destruction is ongoing. If it were even possible, Nigerian citizens should gather together to have a plebiscite and a vote. Like I insisted during the days of the past dispensation, I said (Goodluck) Jonathan was a wartime general, who refused to recognize that the country was at war. Things have come around and we are here again now. Unless we have an open declaration that this country is at war right now, with the active participation of all cultural nations, 2019 is irrelevant because it’s being used to distract attention from the fact that the country is being overrun, divided and taken over. One of the things that the present leadership can do for us is to see that we need to get away from politics and secure our nation, we should not only go for an acceptance of a state of war and all the measures that come with that.
Going from what you just said, what is your view on TY Danjuma’s recent outburst?
TY Danjuma’s comment is not something that can be discounted easily. No wise person in Nigeria will discountenance TY Danjuma. On the other hand, however, there is a set of dynamics that will also be reckoned with when we look at what he said. First of all, let us credit TY Danjuma to remember himself and Isa Dikko in the military years. We’ve always had this tussle with some religious correlations as well. It probably may not be street knowledge but it is well known in many circles that the balance of religion while there were many others who helped to keep the Islamic balance, the major figure that helped to maintain the balance on the Christian end was TY Danjuma and, of course, people like Isa Dikko in those days. So, looking back to the days when it was just a balance of religions, even in the days of military years, the church in Nigeria needs to show gratitude. In fact, I don’t know how far this is true, but it is said commonly among the people who come from his area that as professional a soldier as he was, they said that his mother had told him from a very young age that he must never ever deny Jesus Christ as a military officer. Of course, this was in those days when it was a bit more profitable to be Northern Muslim than to be Northern Christian. So, it is to his credit that through the years, he has stayed focused. What Nigeria is evolving right now is something so delicate that it has to be handled with higher level of wisdom than what obtained in the military years. Yes, Nigeria has been in denial for many years before it finally accepted we have a local face of a global problem. The problem that we are facing in Nigeria is one such that once you misdiagnose it and you use the wrong medicine for it you are going to end up destroying our country faster. That was why I said that when he made his comment, saying that there seemed to be collusion between the armed forces and the insurgents from Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen, he was confirming what has been off the grid knowledge for quite a while. It didn’t start yesterday. But what we have to be careful about is that we cannot just ask people to arm themselves without providing an overriding strategy. Or else the confusion that will ensue will consume Nigeria faster, to the delight of those who are behind the troubles of Nigeria. Let me make it as clear as possible: Nigeria is facing a supremacist ideology that is covered with theology. That is, there is an entire global financing with global thinking, global research and global backup. It is a narrative that has a local face and one of the things that it tries to do is to separate Christians and Muslims and make the conflict a religious war. So, what we are trying to point out here is that I mentioned it to the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) when this issue came up about five years ago. On the surface, it looks like a Christian-versus-Muslim issue, but I said that if you remove the surface, the problem we were seeing would kill Muslims as well. It wasn’t up to three weeks after that they started killing Muslims as well. So, what you discover is that those who have sound understanding of what Nigeria is facing should help us to recognize that we have a satanic problem with a religious cover that doesn’t care for human lives at all. If we make the mistake of picking up arms along the lines of religion, we will destroy the country faster, and that will help the terrorists because in order to keep their campaign going they have what we call the radicalization procedure. For them to be successful in radicalization, they must separate Christians from Muslims and make them hate each other as much as possible. So, we must be careful.
What about the killings all over the place?
I will tell you why this is happening. I said this about 10 years ago. As I said earlier, if a man has typhoid and you keep treating him for malaria he will end up dying. What happened was that in the last dispensation, Boko Haram took control of over 30 local government areas in the North-East and had expanded from guerilla tactics into full-blown insurgency. With the coming of this dispensation, they were able to take charge of the military, play down on the divisions in the military at that time, and were able to take back the territories. This forced Boko Haram to go back to its strategy of using guerilla tactics again. But as long as just taking back territories was what the government achieved, then we are still in trouble. Nigeria is yet to accept that what it’s dealing with cannot be solved through military might alone. We need to understand that Nigeria’s problem is very complex. Nigeria doesn’t want to understand there’s a degree of sophistication behind the global threat that is showing up in a local face. I have always said this many times, there is nothing like Boko Haram. What we had were different terrorists cells in Nigeria. After the 2009 incident in Maiduguri, the Yussifiya group was renamed as Boko Haram by the western press. This gave the terrorists cells the emblem that we describe them by today. But the people who kidnapped the Dapchi girls are different from the ones that kidnapped the Chibok girls. There is nothing like Boko Haram. These are different cells. In order to defeat any kind of insurgency or this kind of warfare you must promote a stronger ideology, a stronger value system, and a stronger security environment than what your opposition, Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen or maybe the Almajiri that is coming in front is doing. If you don’t provide yourself with the ideology that bonds the whole Nigeria together and makes sure that every Nigeria is on the same page, that everybody has something at stake, that everybody is a winner when we beat this threat, we will still lose the war for not providing a stronger ideology. When the Dapchi girls were returned, the insurgents scored a major victory. The people of the town were grateful and cheering them; so what you are seeing here is the fact that they have been able to re-invent themselves from the monsters that they represent into a contender for the Nigerian future.
What past leaders said about Nigeria
Obafemi Awolowo predicted all these things that are happening right now. He said that at the conclusion of the national conference in London in1958, he had an overpowering feeling of foreboding that something untoward (negative) was going to happen to Nigeria: “That it would happen I felt sure but when it will happen I had no inkling. At first I felt there was nothing I could do about it but later on, I thought I might do something about it.”
This is recorded in his book entitled: The Travails of Democracy and the Rule of Law, published in 1987. What was Awolowo pointing out? When he looked at the way we agreed to start independence as he was leaving the constitutional conference held in London, he saw the tricks that had been played, and he realized that we were in trouble. Tafawa Balewa too said this on October 8, 1960 at the UN General Assembly in New York. He pointed out that there was going to be trouble and he spoke about certain problems that could not be easily resolved in Nigeria and he advised on how to solve them when they come. If we are pretending that these things are surprise to us we should be flogged. I want to take one more quote from Awolowo. He was at a book launch written by one C.O Taiwo, who wrote on “The Past, Present, and Future of Education in Nigeria.” Part of what he mentioned in the book was that by 1906, the gap between South and North in education was already 50 years. By 1980, the gap had widened to 75 years, he now said that 10 years from then (1990) the gap between North and South in education would have gone to a 100 years. He advised in 1980 that if we started then to reduce that gap, we could reduce it to 25 years but if we did nothing at all and allowed the gap to continue, he said the consequences were too gruesome to mention. Where are these things today: suicide bombings, insurgencies, and no value for human worth. Add to this, the possible disintegration of the nation.
Having said all these, what are your greatest fears about Nigeria?
I have no fear in Nigeria. I saw the rise of these problems. I tracked it and we helped to set up early warning systems in many of the geopolitical zones. We tried our best, saved as many lives as possible, we moved to strategize, to raise partnerships across the board but we found out that the Nigerian set up itself is too flawed. The greatest problem in Nigeria is that we have a culture of corruption. We found it moving from one zone to the other. I believe that the South-south, South-east, South-west should be putting in place right now regional defense structures which have to be done and put in place by patriots working together with government and they must work with cultural nations. I’m saying to you that if within the next six to nine months regional defense structures are not put up, in the next two and half years you may not have the opportunity to interview me about Nigeria in a peaceful situation; things would have gone beyond all these in the country.