The General Overseer of Trinity House, Pastor Ituah Ighodalo has called on credible Nigerians to get involved in politics, even as he stressed the importance of Christians getting committed to nation building. In this interview with VERA WISDOM-BASSEY, Ighodalo said, leadership grooming before vying for leadership position in the country is necessary.
What do you think should guide Nigerians in choosing leaders in 2023?
We need a literate nation. A friend of mine told me that some area boys were complaining about the leadership of the country, and he told them, ‘you voted them in’, then they replied, ‘we didn’t know who to vote for; it is what they told us to do that we did.’ So, they gave them money and they voted them in. All that must stop in Nigeria. In this vein, my campaign is literacy. It is knowledge. It is educating the common man to know the difference between right from wrong and good from bad. Secondly, the quality of being a leader is very clear in I Timothy chapter 3. I was watching a video recently, where a man from China said, ‘some people in America, Europe, etc, who are addressed as world heroes cannot be leaders in China; that for you to be addressed as such, you must start from your ward, and when you become ward leader, your seniors will assess you, your juniors will assess you, your colleagues will assess you, and when you passed, you are adjudged to have done well.’
In this instance, you go to your local government, then to the zone, then the state or province, then you control a set of states before you offer yourself for national leadership and this takes about 30 years of leadership grooming and knowing these people before they become leaders.
So, at the end of the period, you can know the next president of China, who is among a maximum of 10 people, who have been tried and tested. In Singapore, if you have not controlled a company of 5,000 employees, or do anything as a governor in a certain region, you cannot aspire, but that cannot happen in Nigeria, because our constitution allows any man to wake up from any village and declare his interest in the presidency or governorship. You want to be head of state, where is your pedigree? What we need in Nigeria is someone who has led before, and that he or she has a proven track record of having led a group of people, either you have led a big organisation or a big church, by then, you would have understood the dynamics of managing people, and if you have not led in a certain areas, you cannot be a leader.
A leader must have a vision, what is lacking in Nigeria is that we have been blessed with leaders who were not expecting leadership; compromised leaders. A lot of them wanted to go to the Senate, but some people pushed them to the presidency; they have no experience and they only listened to those who pushed them to the post. You cannot take people to where you don’t know, that is why Moses spent 40 years in the wilderness, looking around the wilderness, so that when it was time to take the children of Israel he would know the way he was taking them through.
Our leaders must tell us where they are taking us. We don’t know the direction that Nigeria is going because we don’t know the competence of the leaders. We have parties who do not have a manifesto, no policies, no process; what we have are political platforms, for political leadership. No unity within the party. If you go to Britain, you know what the Conservative Party stands for, what Labour Party stands for; the same in America, you know what Democrat stands for and what Republican stands for, but in Nigeria you don’t know what anybody stands for. Thirdly, any person that aspires for leadership must be disciplined, the Bible says, the husband of one wife, not giving to alcohol, not giving to unfaithfulness, not abusive or erratic, not mad; the person must be disciplined, both corporate and personal disciple. He must have a skill, human management skill and ability to handle people in a multiethnic society as Nigeria, listening and having the skills or ability to take the right decision. The person must be hardworking and consistent. He must have passion for Nigeria; the common people of Nigeria, as well as passion for not being interested in himself.
Many people have interests in making money, but serving the people and making sure Nigeria becomes a better place is a tall order for them. Some politicians build houses here and there, wasting our natural resources in other people’s economies.
What do we do to get Nigerian youth involved?
A lot of our young ones have left Nigeria and have vowed never to come back. They are in the age bracket of 18 and 30, and are the backbone of the economy. Canada, Australia and America are begging our people to stay. If you remove Nigerians out from their academics and other sectors, their economy will collapse, as their best doctors, professors, best hands are Nigerians.
So, efforts have to be made to gather some of these people and bring them back to build a better Nigeria, where there is infrastructure, where there is power, where there is education, where there is health care. These are some of the things we need a leader in Nigeria to provide.
We should not be concerned with what part of the country a leader comes from; we should be detribalised. We shouldn’t care where you come from, as long as you are competent to lead this country.
An example of Allen Onyema, who said that his manager is a Yoruba man, likewise his technical manager, but he is an Igbo man. So, what he needs is somebody who knows how to run an airline, irrespective of where the person comes from.
So, you see one of our problems in this country is that we celebrate mediocrity; we don’t celebrate people who are competent and people who can do things. We do things for the wrong reason. The budget is politicised, and everybody is trying to share from national cake; if we have a big cake it will be enough for everybody to share. And we all must get involved in leadership one way or the other.
Does the media have a role in this?
The press should stand for the truth, write the truth, and say the truth. They must evaluate our governors, who are doing well or doing badly. Let them show what they have done before they are awarded the Governor of the Year, and how the governor has spent the public money in his possession, not when he constructs a bridge that costs N10 million, he claims he did it for N100 million, and pockets N90 million. The money that was supposed to be used for a meaningful project is squandered or used for the wrong thing. Nigerians must hail good works, as well as condemn over poor or bad works. If you are credible, get involved in politics; do not be frightened because of the assumption that politics is a dirty game. The right people must get involved.
How can the church get involved in politics and nation building?
The church and her members must get involved, because if we all work together we can make Nigeria great.