Bishop Stephen Ogedengbe is the founder and head of Evangelical Ministries (Wisdom Chapel), Lagos. He speaks with ISIOMA MADIKE on sundry issues. Excerpts…
How would you evaluate the Muhammadu Buhari administration?
Let me answer this with a simple analogy. A man in a construction site was standing on top of a 14-storey building. Right there, he tried to call one of the smart workers downstairs. But because the man is busy, the one at the top of the building decided to throw money to attract his attention. Unfortunately, the smart worker saw the money as an opportunity to grab all he could. The man threw the bundle a number of times without getting his attention and then, he decided to throw a stone to hit head of the man. That was the time the man shouted and was forced to look up before the owner of the building waved at him and said he had been trying to get his attention. That is the way God handles us. Most times when we are over pampered with everything working for us, we don’t look up to God, we don’t pray. This is the situation with Nigeria. The previous administrations were so carried away that they were putting everything in their pockets. And today people shout that things are hard, that President Buhari is wicked. Let me tell you, Buhari represent that stone that was thrown on the heads of Nigerians.
Are you saying this despite the complaints about hardship in the land?
Buhari is not an accident, many see him as having the heart of a stone. He was chosen by God to call everyone to order. Now, let me shock you again, if we fail to learn our lessons, God may continue to throw that stone which Buhari is to us. The only thing that can stop Buhari is God Himself. Why, because before he came, people were playing God. Let me put it on record; nobody can stop Buhari except when God is satisfied with the assignment given to him. And we need it because we have seen the kind of waste from the previous administrations. How can we have the number of people flying private jets, including religious people without having constant electricity supply, good roads and even water to drink in the country? It’s an anomaly, to say the least. Let everyone know that President Buhari was ordained by God to put a stop to our wastefulness.
Do you think the government is doing enough to secure the release of Leah Sharibu?
Capital NO. The government has failed to realise what that little girl represent for the Christendom. Leah Sharibu, the little Christian girl among those still in captivity for refusing to denounce her faith, represents the embodiment of Christiandon. The President should be talking about how to bring her back to her parents; she should have been a major highlight of his democracy speech. That omission is a big blunder.
How do you see to the continued clash of the rampaging killer herdsmen and farmers across the country?
Well, let me make something very pronounced, people have been talking about it but nobody has been able to nail it properly. There is nothing like herdsmen and farmers clash. The farmer is not there to fight. So, people should stop saying there is a clash between farmers and herdsmen. We all know the herdsmen are armed but the farmers are harmless. If I want to fight you, am I not supposed to have something to fight with? I’ll be sleeping in my house with my children and somebody will bungle my house and blow it through dynamite and when we try to run away, others with AK 47 riffles will be outside waiting to blow our heads off, those who manage to escape, will escape to other places and become IDPs. In so doing, we are raising a generation of IDPs in our society. We just have to understand that this is calamity for the nation. So, how can the country be raising IDPs when we are not in a war? Nigeria now has the highest number of IDPs. Fulani herdsmen have been invading because of cattle and rams, wasting lives of men, women and children, and taking our communities. Although, you might find one or two of them from other places, but we all know that cattle-rearing is the major occupation of the Fulanis. There is no argument about that except when we want to deceive ourselves, because deceit has somewhat become a potent currency in the country.
But the president said they are foreigners trained in Libya. Don’t you agree?
That is a fallacy, we are not a border country with Libya and if they are from other countries, what then is the job of our Customs, Immigration, Police and even the military? Are they not supposed to checkmate such things or the influx of unwanted elements into the country? What are they trained for? Are they not supposed to protect the country from external aggression? The nations that are bordered by Libya are not in the kind of peril that we now find ourselves. And if they must come into the country, shouldn’t they naturally come through the North? Curiously they are going to the Middle Belt.
What do you think is the problem?
I strongly believe that there is an ethnic agenda in this whole mess. It looks to me like ethnic cleansing and total dislodgement of Christian minority from their towns and villages and being taking over by these so-called Fulani herdsmen. Mr. President, in my own opinion, is over protecting the Fulani on this; he is bias about it all. It is expected that Mr. President should be for all. But, regrettably, I’ve not seen that from my President. Even foreigners are supposed to be protected provided they are in the country legally. That is how we can guaranty investment into Nigeria.
What in your opinion would have given rise to this herdsmen menace?
major cause is desertification; we may not want to agree but the truth is that half of the North is dried up, apart from the city capitals, the villages where the majority of their cattle are, are in the desert. The Chad basin is drying up; this is the revelation from the UN and other international agencies that should know. There is serious encroachment and desertification that is going on.
Do you agree that the cattle do not belong to the ordinary people?
Important personalities in the society are the major stakeholders in the cattle business, they only recruit these people to work for them. It is likened to what you see in the exchange market (black market) business. The real owners are masked somewhere. It is the same thing with the herdsmen, the people we see on the streets don’t own the cows, and they cannot even afford the AK 47 riffles. The business belongs to the ruling power and those who have the privilege to rule us.
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