“Nigerian Youths Ready For War” – Catholic Priest Okojie Blasts GEJ & CAN For Corruption
Feb 7, 2015 – “Nigerian Youth Planning Revolution” – Catholic Priest Okojie Blasts GEJonathan & CAN For Corruption”
Outspoken Catholic priest and former Archbishop of Lagos, Cardinal Anthony Olubunmi Okogie has expressed fears that there will be bloodshed occasioned by the general elections slated for this month. The renowned cleric, who spoke with VERA WISDOM-BASSEY in his Ikoyi, Lagos residence last week, warned that only intense prayers can avert the danger he is seeing ahead.
How has it been since you retired?
There is a slight difference between when I was in office and now, because people still come to consult me, I still run around to do a few things. I do make sure I keep myself busy, life has been very pleasant. I am no more in office, I have to have my own schedule, I am not tired yet. But in Roman Catholic, there is a law that once you are 75 years, you have to inform authorities in Rome meaning you have to retire, that is generous enough. Look at our lifespan here, some don’t even get to 60, I can still go another round if I am allowed but that is not the case in Roman Catholic. Well, I missed moving around with people, not that I don’t move around but it is curtailed, I always go around schools to make sure that things are in order, it’s quite good, that’s the beauty of Catholic church, you don’t hold on to anything, things are given to you to use for the good of others, I own nothing.
When I left, I had no place to stay, if we really want to make Nigeria one as it should be, we should see one another as brothers and sisters, that’s the correct thing to do.
What does it take to keep Nigeria one?
I think they say to keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done but we are not keeping the nation one, look at the innocent soldiers that risked their lives, where are they today? How many people remembered them? It’s painful, and look at all the people eating and drinking and spending the money the way they like. Look at Boko Haram, how many of those leaders are ready to go and sympathise with the parents of those children who were kidnapped in Chibok? I feel bad. Look at the newspapers, instead of addressing the issues, the political campaigns are nothing but abuses, unearthing the past, disgracing themselves. When you look at it realistically, those thinking they are disgracing their opponent, are indirectly campaigning for that person. I expect the issues to be on education, unemployment and how they are going to address them. How many manifestos have you seen out and we are preparing for elections.
My fear in this election is bloodshed and it’s already happening and am praying seriously, am begging God to avert it, you can see the atmosphere is tense, look at what is happening in Ekiti for example, how somebody will be doing as he likes without being checked, just because he belongs to a party.
This is not a joke, Nigeria belongs to all of us, there is no other nation we can call ours, the good Lord that brought us under one umbrella and call us Nigeria knows what He is doing. Thank God Nigeria is changing; revolution.
Are you saying there is silent revolution going on?
The youths are coming up, there is a silent revolution coming up, the youths are watching, that was the kind of thing Ojukwu wanted to do but he was too ambitious, but our heavenly Father knows what He is doing with everyone of us, He knows when to call the break, He is wisdom personified, so you can’t outdo things. When you look at the way the nation is going on, some people must be checked and if they don’t listen, they should be behind bars for peace sake, let’s be frank.
We started getting it wrong from political godfathers, and they are gradually dying out, they are fading away fast, then you will find refined godfathers because they will always be there, the refined ones will not ask for all the powers, they will just tell you this is what they want you to do, if you don’t obey, they will keep quiet and wait for you.
How do you rate the administration of President Jonathan on the fight against corruption?
The current administration the way I see them, they plan many things in the air but you will not see them on the ground, the one you find on the ground, they don’t last, waste of money and that to me doesn’t augur well. People travel, they see all these roads, are they stupid, talk of Chibok girls, these are minus, even if they are doing very well, all these things are minus, for a nation like Nigeria we expect something better, not that they are not capable but eye-service is too much, and then of course, when you begin to look at faces because they are members of your party, you are wasting your time, the people that are really serious will just look at you and smile.
If they want to cut corruption in this country, let them begin by reducing the money of all the National Assembly members, Senators, even the governors, then you will see that there will be few politicians, the ones that will be there will be sincere politicians who are not running after the national cake.
How do you see CAN in your time when you were the chairman and now?
CAN now and then; the difference is clear in terms of action. During our own era, we didn’t go beg governor for a favour, you call a spade a spade, we had only one term and we know the President, whether you are from the South East or North or South-West, if you have any problem, you bring it to the President, and if he cannot solve it, then we call the general ground. If you want to be a leader and be a good leader you must be a father in the real sense of the word, you don’t bring in religion, you don’t bring affluence, these people are hungry, how do I treat them, some people are fighting, how do I correct it, those are the duties of a father, that is what a leader should do, you don’t wait for people to say do this, do that, if you wait too much, delay is dangerous, Nigeria belongs to all of us, we don’t need to be afraid.
Are you of the opinion that the coming elections be postponed as being canvassed?
There are those who are afraid of having this election postponed because they are thinking of where to get fresh money to begin a new campaign, the money they have, they have expended it, they are looking at fire coming out and they are still saying go ahead, the way I see it, we are not ready and we should postpone it. If it is postponed, we will have a peaceful election because there will be less money to spend, money they cannot use for the poor, they are spending it on campaigns, as far as I am concerned, am one of the many that say it should be postponed.
Jonathan and Buhari, who is a better leader?
They should begin to publish their manifestoes and defend them, they should be bold to say this is what they will do when they get there.
Except they know that this candidate can deliver provided he is not a cleric, and they have every assurance but how can you have a 100 per cent assurance?
We have to pray because the atmosphere is too tense and I think only God can help us, there must be spirit of self-sacrifice, love, to be another man’s keeper, I think is lacking a lot, people don’t care, that is gone. We need a selfless leader, a leader who will see everybody as his own, and of course there must be the fear of God because the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. You cannot rule out God in our nation today and that is one of the things that is killing us. We think we know better, who is God after all, and some will even ask you show me your God. Our leader must be patriotic, he must see Nigeria as his own, that one is lacking, completely lacking in this nation, whether you say the pledge or sing the national anthem, we can see we don’t mean it. It’s clear that we don’t mean it.
[Reported By Saturday Sun]