Wednesday, July 6

‘Prayers alone won’t change Nigeria – Femi-Emmanuel

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Presiding Pastor of Living Spring Chapel International Pastor Femi-Emmanuel is Director of Politics and Governance of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN). The former Oyo Deputy Speaker speaks with Adeola Ogunlade on how churches can make a difference towards 2023. Excerpts:

You have spent about six months in your present assignment as the Director of Politics and Governance of the PFN. What has been the experience so far?

It’s been great. What we have done so far is sensitising the church fathers on the need to encourage their church members to be part of the political process. It will amaze you that there are churches that have over 11 million members. And these are members that can easily be encouraged to join the political process, especially from the grassroots. The good thing about the Pentecostals is that they are aggressive and vibrant. They follow their pastors as devotees.

There are churches in this country that have branches everywhere. So for us in the DPG, we believe churches can take advantage of their number to influence the political process so as to put good people there.

There are only 8,080 wards where decisions of delegates that will select those who will vote for are made. Our position is why don’t we overwhelm these wards and put good people there so they can elect credible representatives to vie for election.

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So what has been the outcome of your sensitisation?

People are beginning to understand that apart from having their PVC they need to know who to vote for and be able to influence the process.  And efforts are being made in that direction so that we don’t keep recycling the old politicians. You can see that it is the same old people that have been there before independence and shortly after that are still in the political space.

We need to sensitise the young people so that they don’t need to protest but be part of the political process. The church can form a caucus and have a massive following. The church must not just wait for the Election Day. It must be part of those who produce those we are to vote for. That is what the Directorate of Politics and Governance is doing so far. That is the message we are spreading to all churches. Until we have credible people to vote for we will just be going in cycles. That is why I have a lot of concerns about 2023.

Would you agree that 2023 has already been decided in favour of some people?

I think the 2023 election should be handled with a lot of care. There are many things we are supposed to settle that have not been settled. But then the election is here we have to do it. If I have my way, we need to restructure first.

Our natural inclination is towards regionalism. Look at those who are coming up as presidential candidates. You will find out that wherever they emerge from, their people support them. South West, Tinubu Osinbajo, You go up north Atiku and his people, in the east you see Okorocha and his people.

The truth is that we are many nations in a nation. We have been unified forcefully. Until we resolve the national question we will just be going in circles. But then, the 2023 election will still have to be done. I just feel that there is a need for us to go back to the drawing board and address the question of our nationality.

We need to address the foundation. The constitutional reviews and elections we have been having are deception. We need to go back to 1966, have one Prime Minister and six regions and let every region develop at its own pace. The truth is that we are not one people. We are diverse.

And the Bible tells us that a people cannot work together except they agree. We are just lying to ourselves. But those who are benefiting from this present charade will want it so. A senator who earns over N30 million in a month won’t want a change. I think we need to correct this fraud.

What is your idea of an ideal president?

I think the next President should go back to the 2014 constitutional conference re-durst it and implement the recommendations. We are operating a constitution that has no provision for a referendum. That is worrisome. And these are some of the traps that have just been set. Except we address it, we won’t be going anywhere. Our problem is foundational.

How can the church help the nation make 2023 work?

One of the ways is this sensitization we are doing. There is serious voter apathy in Nigeria. It is worse in the church. This is because there is a problem of trust deficit. People are saying they have trusted so much nothing positive is happening. So they are just fed up with the system. Prof. Charles Soludo won the election in Anambra with about 200,000 votes out of over 1,000,000 registered voters.

Nigerians don’t vote. DPG is waking the church and saying don’t abandon this thing. Prayer alone will not change Nigeria. By the grace of God, we are succeeding. We are making them go to the grassroots and be part of the system because that is where the action is.

What the political godfathers have is the grassroots. Except we are there in the grassroots, we can’t change anything. There is a lot of monetisation going on in the political space. But we are telling the church to go to the grassroots. If the church wakes up today, it can change the status quo.

All the big churches are listening to us now and we pray they will listen to us all through.

Some people believe Nigeria is not working. Some are in fact moving out in droves. Is there light at the end of the tunnel?

There is light if we do the needful. There are people who can fix this nation but they are not getting the opportunity of being there. What goes on in the grassroots is pathetic. They fight over money and do all sorts of things. If good people go to the grassroots deliberately they will make a difference. Except we have credible people in power there is no hope.

All these young people leaving the country are making a mistake.  I will advise them to stay back in the country and let us salvage it. Instead of running out of the country they should run to the ward level and put good people there. It is when we put credible people there we can have a change. Democracy presupposes that the masses send their representatives up. But it does not work like that in Nigeria. Parties are owned and funded by vested interests.

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