By Gilbert Ekezie
Bishop Titus Onyeozirila Akanabu, is the chairman, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Imo State chapter and General Overseer, Seed of Life Christian Mission. He spoke on state of the nation, 2023 presidential election, wayforward for Ndigbo , Nigeria and other issues.
In what areas are those in leadership of Nigeria not getting it right?
The leadership of the country is not getting it right is in the area of equity and justice. The principle of fair play should characterise governance at every level and strata. No tribe should be regaded as superior to the other. The common wealth of the nation should be made to get to the poor and the less privileged.
What is the way out of what Nigeria is facing?
The way out of the country’s problems are many. We must keep praying so that God will give us selfless leaders. Most of our leaders in this country are selfish and self-centered. They stock billions and trillions of Nigerian and foreign currencies for even their unborn children to the disadvantage of the poor masses. That’s cheating. One of the things that create problem every where, in families, LGAs, states and the nation is selfishness and self centeredness. Our nation should stop borrowing billions and trillions of money from other countries or IMF. Let the leadership become more proactive, creative and productive. We have enough natural resources that can be harnessed into other meaningful exports to other nations of the world. Nigeria is a rich country, but we are misusing our potentialities.
What do you have to say on the security situation in Nigeria?
The security situation in Nigeria is very bad. Look at what is happening in Kaduna and other states in Northern Nigeria, where people are being killed like ordinary animal. The value of human life has reduced to not only zero, but negative minus 200. Kidnapping and assassination are witnessed across the country. So, we call on the federal and state governments to try as much as they can to look into it seriously and find a way to stop all the kidnapping, banditry and all problems associated with insecurity. Sometime ago a rich man was driving in Owerri, and some young men came up with their gun from a vehicle, shot in the air and suddenly everyone was dispersed by the gunshot and they bundled the man into the booth of his own car and took him away. Up till this moment, nobody knows if they have killed the man for ritual purpose or whatever. And, surprisingly, it is alleged that some higher people are involved in all these things. Whoever that is involved let them get away from it because God is seeing everybody and knows everything that is going on.
In what areas can men of God contribute in fighting insecurity in Nigeria?
As men of God, we believe and trust that the Almighty God, through the fervent prayers of men of God, will intervene in every situation. Just like the recent one that happened in Owerri, where a bishop was abducted, some of us had to fast and pray and called God to do what he did in the Acts of Apostles Chapter 12 , when Peter was put in prison by Harold , the church prayed, and he was instantly released. Through prayers, an angel visited that prison yard, opened the gate and Peter came out alive. So, on our own side too as men of God, part of our primary responsibility is to pray to the Almighty God because there is nothing God cannot do. We as a body of Children of God, ministers of God, bishops, pastors, evangelists, missionaries, prayer is very important to consolidate and institute peace, love, safety and good governance.
Prof George Obiozor from Imo State was recently elected President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, what are the expectations?
As it concerns Prof George Obiozor and his election as the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the expectations are much. Ndigbo need good administration and he should carry the entire Igbo along in the way of culture, tradition and nature. As Ndigbo, we have and know the way God created us. Therefore, as a core Igbo erudite personality, we do not expect his leadership to be dictated or remotely directed by non-Igbo philosophies that will conflict with Igbo natural agenda and ethics. We would not expect Prof Obiozor to allow his seat to be stolen by politicians and political jiggeri-pokery of Nigeria politics. Also , Prof Obiozor must understand the stuff he is made of in the four walls of academic wisdom. He is qualified as his other contestants, but he got the highest vote as was declared by those who conducted the election. He had been an ambassador of Nigeria to many places , including Israel and the United States of America. His 313 paged book entitled: ‘NIGERIA AND THE WORLD (Managing the Politics of Diplomatic Ambivalence Among Nations,’ was given to me in the US in 2016 by his nephew, Chinweike Mackanthony Obiozor who hosted me.
How do you see the second wave of COVID-19 and measures put in place by the government to contain it, especially, as they affect the worship centres?
The Bible says we should respect every authority in the land, pray for those in authority and submit to the ordinances of the laws of the land where we belong. However, there has been a lot of complexities, and intricacies about the COVID-19 pandemic right from time the wave started trickling in, but the Almighty God was gracious enough to save you and I. At least, we did not witness it the way it happened in several parts of the world. Though, all of us faced the lockdown seriously. But this time around, there is a vaccination they are talking about, and are saying that people should be vaccinated.
Do you support making the vaccine compulsory for everyone to take?
You know, everybody has a DNA that is controlling his or her life. Also, certain things can be altered in human life. Inasmuch as we are not going to say no to the government, but in terms of vaccination or anything that has to be injected in any human being , one has the right to accept the injection or not. You could remember that if anybody is to undergo surgery in any medical centre, someone has to sign to approve if the surgery would be performed. That means the medical doctors know that if the person or his family says no, the surgery will not be carried out. So, anything that has to do with injection into someone’s body chemistry, taking blood because blood is life, or injecting something that may eventually alter a chemistry of someone’s life, one has the right to accept or reject them medically. It is not compulsory. For instance, people like Faith Tabernacle who said they don’t want to take drugs, will you kill them? You won’t, whether they are taking the drugs secretly or privately, but the world knows that members of Faith Tabernacle do not indulge in taking drugs. You can’t kill them. Also, members of Jehovah’s Witness do not believe in anything called national anthem, this and that. They should be allowed to face their own. The faith of human beings must be respected. What controls every human being is his faith in God. If you want to inject me and I say the God I worship , will take care of me, and that I don’t need the injection, you don’t have any right to go beyond that. So, for whatever that is called Coronavirus, I would also say that we should depend on the Almighty God who has kept us, if not God, all of us would have gone and perished. We know the number of people that died in America, Italy, China and the rest of them. But in Nigeria, God really granted us grace.
Churches like the Lord’s Chosen do not belong to PFN, how do you relate with them?
You see, the value one has is what gives him brand name. The value inside you is your brand name. By every ramification, The Lord’s Chosen, as charismatic as they are, as revivalists as they are, as a preacher of salvation ministry and one where God heals and perform miracles, they should be reckoned with. There is nothing Jesus said we should do, that you cannot not find in The Lord’s Chosen. That was why we honour and identify with them.
How best do you think the president of Igbo extraction could be achieved?
I think the president of Igbo extraction could be actualized by mutual agreement and consideration of other ethnic groups , realizing that it is the turn of the Igbo to rule this country. It is well known globally that ‘the Igbo’ are special species of human beings and prominent in Nigerian polity. Let them be given a chance to produce a president of this nation and let’s see if we can have a measurable degree of difference in governance. Again, the various political parties should also come to agreement in bringing out their presidential candidates of Igbo extraction.That would create a better opportunity to actualize the dream.
What is the role of Imo PFN in the development of the state?
On the role of PFN in the good governance of Imo State, I would say that PFN has been a serious Christian body in the state and has been doing a very great work. One of the great works PFN does is prayer, praying for the government, any government. But, we have not been fully privileged to have very smooth governance in the last two years. This one will come and goes shortly and another will come. In fact, we are having a kind of vibratory kind of leadership in Imo State, unlike when Owelle Rochas Okorocha served for eight years. And, you know , PFN belongs to Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), when you are talking of Imo State as a body, each of the bodies, CAN, PFN play major role, and as I am telling you now, there is what we are doing in our local government areas, I and my executives have been touring the 27 local governments areas of Imo State , preaching messages of hope and courage, because the world is full of discouraging events. Also, from time to time, we personally get close to the people at the head to share with them, the cries of the people. For instance, the civil servants and some pensioners are saying that they have not been paid. Sometimes, when we get to some high level meetings, we chip in such issues, because every leader must have advisers. When one has good advisers, he comes up as a good leader. So, the major assignment of PFN in Imo State, is cardinally to pray for the good governance of the state, the country and advise them when they are going wrong. We also ensure that we do not compromise our Christian faith.