The Anglican Archbishop of Enugu Ecclesiastical Province, Dr. Emmanuel Chukwuma has condemned the arrest and detention of Omoyele Sowore, by the Federal Government over his recent call for a national protest tagged #RevolutionNow. Chukwuma, who also accused President Buhari of having increased hardship since he commenced his second tenure, however, declared that spiritual revolution was imminent in the country.
What is your rating of President Muhammadu Buhari’s performance in the first 100 days of his second tenure?
As far as I am concerned, there is nothing to celebrate and nothing to cheer about his 100 days in office. Okay, we are celebrating squandermania and more corruption. All we have had are more insecurity, increased killings, more hunger, more bad roads, more failed infrastructure and more insincerity; buying more time over new minimum wage, and closure of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport with no sign of commencing the proposed repair works, among others. What is there to celebrate when majority of Nigerians are visibly disappointed with the latest verdict of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal? What are we celebrating when the marginalisation of Ndigbo is on the increase? We are celebrating selective negligence and total squandermania of our commonwealth. When you keep hearing about huge sums of money being doled out for security, and insecurity keeps worsening by the day, what do you call that? We are celebrating because the Service Chiefs apparently have nothing more to offer, yet, they are still allowed to continue. So, we have nothing to celebrate because things have continued to get worse and foreign countries are making mockery of us, ridiculing us and treating us like lesser beings.
Look at how Nigerians are being killed in South Africa and other countries, even in Congo, Ghana and everywhere. Before now, we used to say Ghana-must-go and a brand of bag was tagged Ghana-must-go bag. But, Ghanaians took their bags, returned home and fixed their country. Today, it has turned to Nigeria-must-go; soon we will have Nigeria-must-go bag. It is unfortunate. We need good leadership for Nigeria to become a country of pride because it is a nation that is so blessed by God.
Are you satisfied with the recent move by the South East governors to tackle insecurity and herdsmen’s attacks in the zone?
South East governors are doing their best. The truth is that because governors in Nigeria answer chief security officers but are not in control of heads of security agencies in their respective states, they are handicapped. Thank God that when the former Commissioner of Police (CP) in Enugu failed to perform, we cried out and he was removed. When you keep sending Northerners all the time as CPs to the South East, what do you want the governors to do? Most of these officers are Fulani and Muslims, so, they are bound to compromise. We need Igbo officers as CPs and security heads in the South East. Let us experiment that and see if insecurity would not cease in the zone. We will continue to support our governors in prayer. When you have an army GOC that is a Fulani Muslim, and does not have any passion for Christianity, what do you expect? But, whether anybody likes it or not, South East is a Christian zone and we want GOCs and CPs that have passion for our religion. Those with negative passion will always offer insecurity. That is why the establishment of forest guards and neighbourhood watch groups are very commendable initiatives by the governors.
The outcome of 2019 Presidential election and the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal have been described in some quarters as untidy and unfortunate developments; what are your thoughts?
Our Presidential Election Petition Tribunal has not given us honour or cause to be proud wherever we go, just like the outcome of the Presidential election. We have a government that lacks integrity and so, the entire system is without integrity. When a President cannot produce his certificate, and the institution that is supposedly the last hope of the common man tells you that you do not need a certificate, but just an affidavit as pre-qualification to run for office of President, what integrity is left in the system? We have a President that has no WAEC certificate in a country that parades tonnes of academic professors, and highly educated individuals locally and internationally. Yet, a critical institution has the boldness to declare that it is not a big issue to be unable to show clear evidence of possessing a credible basic certificate. But, I declare that it is a big issue. In the 1960s and 70’s, there was no WAEC certificate that bore candidate’s photograph. How come Mr President’s certificate bears his photograph? I have said it before, and I am saying it again – Buhari is only pretending to be fighting corruption. Time has come, and I give this advice as Archbishop Chukwuma, that he should declare himself inefficient and unqualified to rule Nigeria and consequently resign. People are talking and calling for revolution. There will be revolution indeed! The country is being put into total chaos because this is the worst government ever in Nigeria; the bloodiest government we have ever had. This is a government that has subjected citizens to so much hunger, unemployment and insecurity. This is a government where selfish and evil cabals reign supreme and Mr. President is not allowed to be in charge of anything? I don’t think Buhari is in charge of the government of Nigeria. That was why he openly directed that the Chief of Staff should oversee all affairs of Nigeria. I wonder why he should issue that kind of directive. We cannot be ruled by proxy. It was Charley Boy that floated #Ourmumudondo campaign, and I agree with his idea.
When you mentioned revolution a while ago, were you referring to Sowore’s recent controversial revolution campaign?
Look, this is not a matter of muzzling and arresting a man because he said that he was going to organise a revolution rally because revolution is imminent in Nigeria. It is looming and it could come in various forms. God is going to visit Nigeria with revolution because there is total wickedness in the land. You can scuttle physical or human revolution but nobody can stop spiritual revolution. Spiritual revolution is akin to hurricane or wild fire; it is more devastating. There could be spiritual revolution in Nigeria because we can pray government to power and pray any government out of power, as well. A plan to redeem Nigeria has come, and I will stand by that plan because standing on the power of the almighty God, who created all of us, we can move mountains. So, let Buhari know that all the evil things happening in Nigeria and all the evil things happening to Nigerians in South Africa and other foreign nations are signs that his government is not acceptable by God, and that God is not happy with the government. Our country is richly blessed by God but bad governance and evil people have destroyed it, and citizens are suffering in the midst of plenty. We must return the country to what God had originally designed it to be and I trust that God will deliver us.
Is it true that you no longer eat beef out of protest over killer-herdsmen menace?
I do not eat cow meat anymore and I will never eat it again. I said that nobody should eat beef anymore because if we cease to eat it in the South East, there would be no need for the Federal Government to think about having RUGA or a camp for cows and herders in the zone anymore.
So, I have banned cow for all occasions and ceremonies in my diocese and I urge that the ban be replicated in the entire South East so that the Ogbuefi (cow killer) becomes Ogbuewu (goat killer) or Ogbuefi Igbo (Igbo local cow specie killer). Let us begin to rear Igbo cows, which we were once known for in the South East. Once we take such collective decision and begin to implement it, they will cease to bring in cows here because the market or demand for cow will cease. Then nobody would think of where to settle or how to kill us or rape our women under the cloak of cattle herding.
Do you doubt the FG’s capacity or will to contain killer herdsmen and bandits?
I am saying that if President Buhari continues to fail to call Fulani herdsmen and bandits to order, then we are going to bring out Ogbunigwe to face insecurity within the South East, and that is why I have told the governor of Enugu State not to bother himself again. It is approaching a time when we shall return fire for fire, and it is a pity that we have not done what we ought to do to save ourselves from the ongoing mess.
You are among the leaders that spoke out when Nnamdi Kanu was arrested; are you happy with what the IPOB is doing now?
I am not happy with them because they are biting the fingers that fed them. How I wish that Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB would understand that they were delivered by the people they are now insulting and harassing. They should realise that the case is still in court and that it is not yet over. They should repent, apologise and be more sensible in fighting their cause. You cannot be somewhere outside the country enjoying peace while the people that you said you are fighting for are here suffering, losing their lives and closing their shops and offices. IPOB should respect Igbo elders and governors and team up for us to fight the common cause in a more sensible and responsible manner than what they are doing today. I feel so bad because even though Nnamdi Kanu is fighting a just cause, he thinks that he can achieve his aim without carrying us along. No tree has ever made a forest anywhere. He is fighting the cause with a lot of selfishness, arrogance and pomposity, and that is not good. IPOB should desist from creating house enemy but join hands with their elders to fight our outside enemies rather than fighting ourselves within. That is the way to go.
Then to the Igbo nation, Igbo youths have ridiculed the elders, so the elders are losing the seal to defend their cause outside. How I wish the IPOB will go and fight in South Africa, rather than fighting Igbo elders. The IPOB is fighting absolutely a useless battle for the Igbo, and I challenge them to go to South Africa and fight the South Africans rather than insulting their elders. The manner, in which IPOB insults leaders, leaves one with the impression that they have gone out of their senses. If they keep insulting and ridiculing elders, which elder would rise to defend the cause of their children, when they have not been respected? It’s a pity. So, Ndigbo must unite and speak with one voice. Do you find any Hausa or Yoruba crying that their people have been killed? Igbo are very hard working. They are very enterprising and very reformed in business and that is why they are more in South Africa. Talk about electronics, motor spare parts and several other businesses; they make great impact in South Africa, thereby creating so much jealousy among South Africans, and that is probably the main cause of the xenophobic attacks. Most South Africans are naturally lazy and that is the issue. And unfortunately, the Igbo who are there live extravagant lifestyles which attract so much jealousy on them. I urge Nigerians to always humble themselves wherever they live, so they can enjoy their wealth peacefully. We hear that many of them engage in drugs and crimes, so, we have a lot to do to recover our lost integrity to end being ridiculed by outsiders.
How do you feel about the killing of blacks in South Africa?
I feel very sad. It is unfortunate and so dishonourable for blacks to be killed in black continent by fellow blacks, and one wonders what the so-called African Union, AU, is doing about it. Again, it is unfortunate that most of the people affected are Igbo and that is why it is of much concern to us. We, therefore, commend Air Peace and the FG for their efforts to bring those affected back to Nigeria safely. But, notwithstanding, I think time has come when the Nigerian leader must ask himself why the exodus of Nigerians to other countries where they end up being treated badly. If Nigeria is comfortable, if there was favourable business atmosphere and availability of employment, would citizens move out of the country in such embarrassing numbers? How many South Africans are in Nigeria? When it is not safe enough for people to live and earn their living in their country, they are forced to look for alternative places.
What should be done to stem the tide?
We need to look inwards first because Nigerians are not safe even in Nigeria here. If we are so concerned about ongoing attacks and killing of Nigerians in South African, what about Fulani herdsmen killing Nigerians in Nigeria? What about Nigerians killing, maiming, raping and kidnapping fellow Nigerians in Nigeria, with reckless abandon, under the guise of Fulani herdsmen, bandits, Boko Haram and what have you? So many lives are being wasted under the current government, while government stands and looks helpless.
How does the scenario that you just painted relate to the xenophobic attacks in South Africa?
It has everything to do with it! The present administration in Nigeria does not respect life and because of that, foreign nations no longer have respect for the lives of our citizens outside. Many people have been killed, their hard-earned valuables get razed every day in this country and nobody cares, not even compensations are paid to victims. Now, you are pressing for compensation in South Africa. Although that is not a bad idea but I am saying that charity should begin at home. It is unfortunate that we have exposed ourselves to more dangers outside by not respecting lives in Nigeria. This is a country where cows have become more important than human lives. When animals become more valuable than human beings, what do you expect? That is why RUGA is still in contention in Nigeria. If the money they have earmarked for the controversial RUGA project is used to establish businesses to engage those Nigerians in South Africa, that would have been more reasonable. And if that is done, virtually all of them will come back home. So, we should stop disgracing ourselves. We should stop belittling ourselves and making fun of ourselves. We should look inwards and start doing things right.
Because citizens are not safe in Nigeria and their rights are not respected, we are seen as useless outside the country. If lives are secured in Nigeria and the Federal Government values lives more than animals, the South Africans would not have had the guts to be killing Nigerians in their country. Have we not been complaining that we are being killed in Nigeria? Have we not been complaining that bandits and killers are all over the place? People are kidnapping fellow citizens; Fulani herdsmen are raping and killing our people across the country, but what has been done about that?
So, it is a case of double jeopardy for Nigerians, especially the Igbo. Nigerians are not safe in Nigeria and they are not safe outside. Buhari has never made any strong statement against Fulani herdsmen. He has made no move to declare them terrorists or to ensure that they are arrested and made to face the law. In some places where most of them were arrested, they were not even tried in the court; that is the issue. Most of these things are repercussion. What you sow, you will reap. We are reaping what we have sown and we need to go on our knees and ask God to forgive us. I have said it during the burial of former Vice President, Alex Ekwueme, that a time shall come when even those who think they are big men or who are in high political offices, blowing sirens when they move around, would be challenged by the young people out of frustration due to high unemployment rate. Nigeria is still sitting on a keg of gunpowder, in that regard.
What is the way out?
The way out is that President Buhari should realise that the best way to go is to create businesses that would engage the returnee-Nigerians from South Africa, and other teeming unemployed citizens. That is a much better move than pursuing the RUGA programme in whatever guise.