The Former Chairman of the Financial Accountability Commission of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria and General Superintendent of the Holy Spirit Mission (aka Happy Family Centre), Bishop Charles Ighele, spoke to Adeola Ogunlade on the just concluded Presidential elections, and the way forward for Nigerians.
Before the election, a lot of prophets spoke in support of the different candidates, and one would ask, did they hear from God?
When the issue of a Muslim/Muslim ticket came up, some pastors supported the candidates of the All-Progressives Congress (APC) and some were against his candidature. So when the church saw what was going on, some pastors began to speak less of politics.
I will not speak for those prophets. I have my colleagues, the high and the up and coming ones, who did not prophesy, though they have supported their candidates. I don't want to say things that will further cause a problem. I like people to learn. I have my members across the country, but I did not tell them who to vote for. I told them that they should vote for their conscience. This time, I just sat and looked. I acted like a statesman. I wanted to look at how things would pan out. The church never prophesies about who will become Nigeria's President.
There are claims that the door to the Aso Villa was closed against the church for two years after the 2015 elections because of the stance of the church in 2015. Can we say Adeboye, Primate, and Archbishops of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Catholic Bishops were not allowed into Aso Rock?
These people had access. The most prominent figure in the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Pastor Enoch Adeboye had access not because Osinbanjo is the Vice President. Femi Adesina, the spokesperson of President Buhari glowingly praised the General Superintendent of the Deeper Life Bible Church, Pastor William Kumuyi for not criticizing President Buhari after a visit to the President.
Nigeria has elected its new President, what should be the takeaway?
There is a challenge to the establishment. In the 1979 election when former President Shagari won, the establishment won, and the class and power brokers won. Shagari was not as intelligent as Chief Awolowo, but he was not the candidate for the establishment. Shagari did not perform well, though he won a landslide victory in 1984, he did not perform well, the economy was bad, and the country was largely polarized. The first exodus of Nigerians abroad started about that time. A coup took place that made Buhari the Head of State. The next establishment emerged in 1999 when Former President Obasanjo took over from the Head of State, Abdusalam, and the same establishment-backed Yaradua. Former President Jonathan became President after the Law of Necessity was raised when Yar'adua was ill. The establishment backed Buhari. This is the first time that the establishment has been challenged in Nigeria's history. Obi got into the prominence he is today because Nigeria had suffered, and they were asking themselves who would deliver them from those milking them dry and taking their paternity. Obi emerged without an organised structure. Who will have thought Labour would clear Delta State? It lacks structure. It surprises me. There is an establishment right now and whoever becomes President should be humble in victory and work for the interest of the common man.
Does the Obedient Movement look more like a rudderless movement that may not stand the test of time considering their performance in the Presidential election?
When you look at the history of revolutions all over the world, they hardly start with a leader, but a people becoming discontent with the system. God sent Moses to deliver the children of Israel after many years of groaning in Egypt. When people are groaning, only a few are organised. In the process, someone will show up, just like in the French revolution. It is not about the man that heads it, but as much as the groaning continues, the movement will continue. The seeming victory of the Labour Party was conceived in the womb of the ENDSAR movement
Social media influencers have continued to latch on to the ENDSARS protest to gain unnecessary popularity, it looks like a fad.
If 133 million Nigerians are multidimensionally poor, it is not social media, it is the reality on the ground. Three years down the line, the government has not done enough to address the grievance of Nigerians. ENDSAR was just a name. I was not part of it but I watched all that happened. I warned in 2020 that the government must do something quickly to address the yearnings of the poor. My memory goes back to 1831 when the monarchy and political elites were maltreating the people and things were tough for the peasant farmers and commoners. The people protested and it became a major issue in English history today. In 1831, N-Teller who led the protest was executed but the monarchs and elites began to introduce new measures to alleviate the difficulties of the poor. Government should mobilise both human and material resources for the development of the country.
What is the way forward for the President-Elect?
A big problem will come up in June, July, and August and it will test the ingenuity of the President-Elect. In this year's budget, by May petroleum subsidies will cease. Petroleum subsidy is only in the budget until June. I don't know why the present administration put an end to the subsidy until the expiration of this term. I think the subsidy should have been removed in January or December. That would have been honest. Deliberately or not, it is a big trap that can kill a big rat. I have told my people to wake up because the prices of food items will increase. Diesel was cheaper than petroleum until the subsidy on diesel was removed and the price went up to N800. The price of PMS will reach that level. If nothing is done, the price of things will skyrocket and the people will begin to cry against the new government. Though all parties agreed that subsidy on petroleum should be removed, we must start thinking now on the way forward. We must think beyond palliatives. Thinking about increasing workers' salaries is not enough to cushion the effect of subsidy removal. The poor are in the millions. Garri, a staple food for the poor, is gradually getting out of the reach of the poor, the challenge is that when the subsidy on PMS is removed, garri will completely be out of the reach of the poor. When Former President Olusegun Obasanjo became President-Elect, he went for a retreat with a different thinking team on how the government would run. The celebration should stop after the March 11 elections, assemble a team now, the problem the president-elect is inheriting is far more than the problem Buhari inherited. The problem can be solved through a higher level of thinking, and great thinkers.
What is the way forward for the church?
The church is expected to support the new government because the Bible enjoined all to do so. When the Muslim/Muslim ticket came up, the church was angry, but the church did not want to cause political tension, so the church became silent.
Was it because there was a change of guard at the national level of CAN?
No, the new President of CAN and Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria spoke loudly a few weeks after his election against the Muslim/Muslim ticket, but the Bible teaches us not to do things out of anger but wisdom. National or religious balance goes beyond Muslim votes or Christian votes. We can see that it affected APC votes. There are certain things above religion. Balance the ticket based on geography and under it is religion and not just elevating religion to the top. Though APC did that due to the exigency of the moment, the mistake should be avoided next time.
Source: The Nation