The President, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Dr. Felix Omobude, has given tips on how Nigeria can work to benefit all her citizens. In an interview with IGHOMUAYE LUCKY in Benin, he spoke extensively on the problems bedeviling the country, governance and noted that God has endowed Nigeria with abundant resources, but that Nigerians must roll up their sleeves and work hard for the country to become great.
Identifying corruption as one of the major problems of the country, Omobude said for the war against the menace to succeed, all Nigerians must change their attitude and orientation and not see the fight against corruption as a one-man show. He cautioned those who refer to the country as a ‘failed state’, saying that despite the numerous challenges, “Nigeria is not the worst country to live in in the world”. He painted a picture of the kind of president Nigerian Christians would want to succeed President Buhari in 2023.
Taking a general overview of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, what is your own assessment?
It’s easy for Nigerians to assess whether the government performed creditably well or not. When this government came into power, the naira was about 180 to a dollar. It is now almost N500 to a dollar. When this administration came into power, Nigerians bought a litre of petrol at about N87 but now, it is over N160.
Is Nigeria more secure today than it was when this government came in? In my mind, I will commend the efforts of our security forces, fighting Boko Haram. Nigeria is more unsecure than it was. Our people can no longer go to the farms, you can’t make any journey without the fear of being attacked, people no longer sleep with their two eyes closed. And this government, one of its campaigns was security. I leave all my readers, all Nigerians to assess. Nigerians know that they are less secure today. Whether in the north or in the south, east or the west, the fear of insecurity is there and it happens everyday and at times by the hour.
So, we can go on and on, do we have electricity more now than as it was in 2015? The answer is no. Do people have access to clean drinking water now than it was in 2015? The answer is no. So, rating the government and sincerely, is very easy.
What are your views about the appointments made by the President. There have been several complaints from different quarters that a section of the country is being favoured in the appointments and that the others have been marginalized. What are your views on this?
The truth is, the heads of Federal Government departments, where do they come from? Honestly, PFN wants merit to be the yardstick of appointments but also not to forget the diversities that we have. Brave soldiers, honest and incorruptible are not found only in one section of the country, they are all over as well as corruption is all over the place. So, this issue has always been there and I think government needs to demonstrate to the people that they are equitable, that Nigeria is for all Nigerians and so, people will trust government if they see that all they do are clear and are not shielded.
In Nigeria today, the rate of intolerance is so high and unprecedented. People are no longer their brother’s keeper, they no longer tolerate one another, violence here and there. What do you think is responsible for that and what is the PFN doing to reduce the spate of intolerance in our country?
The American Government, rated Nigeria as an intolerant nation recently and it was in the media and the minister of information tried to deny it. There is no religious tolerance in the country. I wished the minister was honest enough and owned up to some basic facts. Now, down here in the south, people can put their mats in front of the church and pray, we don’t fight them. Can you do that in some of the states in the country? Now, some of our people have been killed. A lady was killed just for going out for evangelism early in the morning, she was hacked to death and up till today, those who killed her, have not been brought to book. You don’t call that tolerance. Now, a state, Kano State to be precise, recently destroyed all those shops and the bottles of beer. All their investments, the government wasted them. I am the President of the pentecostal churches in Nigeria, we don’t encourage our people to drink alcohol, no, we don’t drink but, intolerance made them to move from shop to shop, destroyed them. Lai Mohammed should be able to look at some of these things and say what is real. Now, what has been done to Leah Sharibu? Now, others were released because they accepted the Islamic faith and because Leah Sharibu held unto her faith, she was held back and up till today, she is still in captivity. Government has always made promises upon promises and nothing has come out of it. The poor girl, if she is still alive, is held against her will.
So, there is no way we can progress without showing understanding and tolerance. I know churches, especially some in the northern states, that have been there for years, and the government will not give them certificate of occupancy because they are churches but, here in the south, we give our farms to all Nigerians irrespective of where they came from, we give our everything, we don’t care. So, the federal government under President Muhammadu Buhari, should accept the fact that these issues are there and that he deals with them.
I will still draw you back on the issue of nepotism. The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Dr. Matthew Kukah has been on the radar recently because he said the promotion of northern hegemony by President Buhari is far destroying this country and that if it were to be a non Muslim Nigerian that has been in power, he would have long been overthrown. And because of that, people are now calling for his head. He came out to say he never called for coup that he only spoke the truth to the government of the day. What is your response to that?
Well, I appreciate Bishop Kukah. I don’t think we have interacted one-on-one but if you follow him, you will know that he is down to earth when it has to do with telling the truth.
Bishop Kukah is an advocate of democracy so he could not have been calling for a military overthrow of the government. The issues that he raised are very glaring. Now, it is only in this country that you can’t talk against government and go free. What is the dust for? I know that the minister of information is paid for his job but he should be honest enough to face certain truth.
People call Mr. Trump all kinds of names and never has anybody been sued for insulting him but people have been sued in Nigeria for insulting the president.
So, Bishop Kukah spoke the minds of genuine Nigerians. And any attempt by anybody to impose a section of the nation upon the other, is bound to cause chaos. Bishop Kukah should be seen as a patriot and not a sacrificial lamb. He is not a hater of government but he is a lover of truth. I stand wholeheartedly with him, on his views.
Taking an overview of insecurity in the country, what do you have to say as the leader of the PFN?
The PFN, overtime, advocated a decentralization, restructuring of our security architecture, especially the Nigeria Police force. Now, if you go to a nation like the United States, there is the federal police, the FBI, then, each state has their police departments, and in fact, each city has city police departments. That makes policing the country very less cumbersome.
So, this one that everything has to come from Abuja, is not helping us. Why post someone from Sokoto to be Commissioner of Police in Edo State, he doesn’t know the terrians, he doesn’t know the people, he does not know their culture. So, what do you want him to do? So, we advocate each state should have a state police. Now, the federal government is denying it but the people are clamouring for it. Western States have started the Amotekun, which is right. Each state should have something. In Kano and other northern states, they have their own local security outfits.
Do you agree with those who say Nigeria is now heading towards a failed state if nothing is done at this stage to salvage it, it may spell doom for all?
Well, there are indices that showed that the state has failed. But that apart, we should not with our own mouths, proclaim what is wrong. I mean Nigeria is still far from being a failed state. The government has failed in several areas but there are still some laws and orders in this country. Nigeria is not the worst country to live in. I have traveled quite a bit and I can tell you that there are some things we can celebrate as a nation. We are not where we ought to be but I don’t think that all hope is lost.
The clamour about which zone will produce the next president in 2023 has started, what is your advice?
As we draw close to 2023, the political temperature will rise undoubtedly. PFN is not particular about where the next president comes from. PFN is particular about equity. PFN is particular about a candidate that is resourceful, a candidate that can bring development and the desired change to Nigerians. PFN will not stop politicians from doing their politics, PFN advocates that politics should be played in a decent and civilized manner. The politics of thuggery, the politics of sending assassins after your perceived opponents should be a thing of the past.
So, we are looking at the politics of issues that are well defined. The way we are as PFN, we believe that the greatest benefit that the Buhari’s administration should bequeath to Nigerians is a free, fair and acceptable election system where everybody will be free to participate and where election will count without vote buying and injustice.