Judex Okoro, Calabar
Bishop Gospel Emmah Isong, the National Publicity Secretary of Pentecostal fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, has said that merit was not considered in the appointment of the incoming ministers.
The anti-corruption crusader and a trustee of the Religious Leaders Anti-Corruption Committee, RILACC, spoke to Daily Sun on various issues.
Barley six months into the second term of the present administration, the struggle and intrigues for the 2023 Presidency are increasing in tempo. Already, there is a clamour for the office from the South East, South West and even the North. Is it not too early in the day?
It is not at all because politicians always start talking about the next election. After 2015, they started talking about 2019 and after 2019 attention have moved to 2023. They are not even talking about 2023 but 2030. They have gone very far and politicians are like that. That is why all their moves and permutations have wrong calculations because it is not for the good of the population; it’s for their personal interest. Very soon, another defection would start because they are hustling for power and this is heating up the system. All what they promised the people in 2015 were not done. That is the Nigerian system-bring up hype, then, Nigerians would easily queue into the debates. I can tell you that Nigerians can easily be ruled.
For zoning, I have never believed in it and I am not a zoning person. I believe that the problem of Nigeria over the years has basically been that of zoning. Zoning is unconstitutional but I think it is in agreement with party leaders for social justice and equity and federal character. However, if it is good for the goose which is Buhari, it should be good for the gander which is the South East. It is not debatable that the South East zone should produce the next president of Nigeria if we are applying our language of zoning in 2023. If I may ask when last was an Igbo man the president of Nigeria? What offense have they committed that they are being punished and denied the Presidency? The North, South-West and South-South and the Middle Belt have at various points occupied Aso Rock. If those who clamour for zoning want to be honest, then the Igbo man should be president because what is sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander. Either from APC or PDP, party is not important since we are talking about the presidency of the country.
Nigerians are crying over the high level of insecurity in the country even when the present APC government had made security one of the three-point agenda. Can you say this administration has done enough in that area of security?
Our security system is a coat of many colours. The kidnapping has even transposed into three forms. We have the political kidnapping, economic kidnapping (robbers who have not dropped their guns but use it for a different purpose) and religious kidnapping (those found particularly in the Abuja-Kadunna Expressway manifesting as different forms of banditry operating from the bush). But what have worsened the security system of Nigeria are three things. Firstly, our security forces are not cooperating and synergising as seen in the killing of three police officers in Taraba state. There is total lack of cooperation, synergy, collaboration and sharing of intelligence.
Secondly, there is total economic breakdown. The economy under this administration has consistently and dangerously gone down the drain. I don’t care what the indices used in measuring economic growth, particularly at the National Economic Council, but if Mr. President and some of his advisers can hear from those who buy things from the market, then they will know that the economy has gone bad. Please somebody should tell President Buhari that there is hunger in the land. The hunger leads to frustration and then criminality. When people are frustrated and hungry, even righteous men will commit sin. The bible says do not let the rod of the wicked fall on the lot of the righteous so that the righteous do not carry arms and commit sin. However, too much hunger is not enough justification for anyone not to keep his acts together.
Thirdly, it is for religious reason. There is an agenda to either cristianise or Islamise Nigeria, whichever one or whoever is in power. Religious biases and of course religious agenda linked to Iran, Saudi Arabia, Israel or Jerusalem. We are instigating religious crisis when government people are sitting inside government and wearing religious robes, it is our politicians who have clandestine motives in throwing up wrong policies that wear religious robes and carry faces of religions. It is from the Presidency and through the clerks in the offices down into the security architecture. They carry out their clandestine motives, they discuss in the night, come in the day, push it like an agenda; suggest it like a development and day-after-day as is the case with RUGA.
Nigeria security situation is a veritable one because people are waiting to supply arms to Nigeria forces to fight. Nigerians are not intelligent enough to know that if it happens like it happened in Congo and Rwanda, it is the people who pay the piper that calls the tune. War in some African countries is a lucrative business to mafias in Russia, Iran, America and Saudi Arabia. They will make money from you. Nigerians are crying and shouting against these unpopular polices. Insecurity is gradually gathering momentum, the clouds of evil are gathering day by day and anyone that speaks against it will be picked up. The government should retrace their steps if they want peace in Nigeria. Every politician should concentrate on the challenge of protecting lives and property and not advancing religious agenda of any faith.
Corruption is one of the mantra that brought this APC government to power. But Nigerians have expressed some reservations on the composition of the upcoming federal cabinet considering the fact that some of them were in PDP government that were alleged to be very corrupt. Do you share in such sentiments?
You don’t know how ministers are appointed, let me tell you how. Ministers are not appointed by the President alone. Don’t let Mr. President deceive you. It is a product of the ‘political loans’ that the party borrowed to run the 2019 general election. So after the election, they have to pay back those ‘loans’. These were the sponsors of that election and now the party and its leadership are obliged to reward them by either appointment or anything just to offset it.
I doubt if Mr. President appointed any of those ministers alone and that’s why the ministerial list came last after all the elections. So, the leadership would sit down and then you bring the list, which is called compensation list. The compensation list is where you accommodate people who worked hard during the elections and almost killed themselves. You now bring them out and say my brother don’t worry, we could not make you senator, governor or anything, collect this and chop your money. Next time you work harder.
Indeed, there is no Nigerian that will convince me that most of those people have no question to answer EFCC. The list sounds very laughable considering what we were told about Buhari’s coming in 2015. We had expected that by 2019, there would have been total implementation of change mantra. Behold, we are back to the same circle of settling politicians who were accused of running Nigeria aground with another appointment. So, welcome to Nigeria!
Does this not conflict with the president’s integrity and his avowed fight against corruption?
If the President is honest about the fight against corruption, should people who have questionable character or have cases to answer be sitting around his table to wine and dine with him? I hope Adams Oshiomhole’s language has not come to pass when he said come unto the APC and your sins shall be forgiven. Perhaps, he took it from the scriptures when the Lord Jesus said come unto me and I will give you rest. So, if Mr. Oshiohmole of the APC can say that, then that language has applied in all his appointments.
There are subterranean moves to smuggle RUGA through the backdoor. There are even speculations that it is in the budget. What is your view on the planned reintroduction of this issue?
We have noticed from the inception that the present Federal Government has good intentions for the people, but the surreptitious way they creep and smuggle in some of these policies have become a source of concern to Nigerians. Their vigorous pursuit for RUGA has called for questions and that is why you see the outcry and condemnation especially in Southern part of the country. Cattle rearing are not the only source of protein. Other sources of protein are fish, bush meat, chicken and goat from South-South and South East. So, what plans does the Federal Government have for the people who breed these? Before now, we had Cocoa for the West, groundnut for the North, palm oil for the South East and all these products were domesticated for each region. So, I don’t know why the Federal Government wants to force cattle rearing on every part of the country.
And because of the resistance from communities in Southern Nigeria as well as fear of unknown considering the discreet agenda of Federal Government, their states government had discreetly gone into the business of cattle rearing. For instance, Akwa Ibom State government for instance has bought 2000 cows from Brazil just as Anambra State has developed their own cattle rearing businesses. And if that is the case, then states should be left with the business of developing and managing the business of cattle rearing while the Federal Government sends down the funds to them. It must not be the Fulani alone left for the business. I have never seen any government anywhere taking special interest in individual businesses if not for ulterior motives. Therefore, the Federal Government persistence on bringing back RUGA through the backdoor confirms people’s fear of Islamisation.
The government said this RUGA is to reduce the herders/farmers tension but the same government told Nigerians that these killer herdsmen are foreigners. Now, are you going to give land under RUGA to Niger, Libya and Mali people to live in and farm? Is it not then a policy somersault because the government itself had admitted that these killer herdsmen are not Nigerians? Besides, some prominent northern elders also admitted that these killer herdsmen are not Nigerians and a day after you say you want to give lands to these people, are you now accepting that these people are now Nigerians, this is where we are all confused.
So, now we have rejected outright whether through the front door or backdoor, let Federal Fovernment go and sleep and talk of another matter.
For me, one of the solutions is that each of the state houses of assembly should vote for or against RUGA. The states that vote for RUGA, take it there while those who vote against it should be left alone. You cannot force a policy on people who do not want it. Agric is a culture and is peculiar to certain community.