IGHELE: Insecurity Fanned By Social Injustice, Religious Illiteracy



Meritocracy Will Revamp Economy

Bishop Charles Ighele is the General Superintendent of Holy Spirit Mission Church, Akowonjo, Lagos. In this interview with ODITA SUNDAY, he urged President Buhari not to politicise the fight against corruption.

How can insurgency and militancy in the Niger Delta be nipped in the bud?

Insecurity does not rear its head overnight. It is as a result of social injustice. When citizens of the nation don’t look at this fundamental issue, the society will keep giving birth to people who would cause problems. Sorry to say this, but I don’t think any of the past governments or the present government is equipped with what it takes to solve the issue. The elite of a nation determines its future. The military and political elite, civil service and clergy are materialistic and selfish. A nation made up of people like this cannot solve the problem of insecurity. The system will keep producing more dangerous people.

I appeal to the President to sheathe the sword in the Niger Delta. No real General opens up too many battlefronts at the same time because it would be impossible to win the war. Handle the militants with care, so that our economy will not crumble.

Are you impressed with the activities of the EFCC lately?

Every sane country should have a body like the EFCC because it is a necessary institution. The question is: for what purpose is it established? Is it to fight political opponents? When our leaders do righteous things without favouritism, partiality, nepotism and tribalism, God honours the people. Any government can take power but if they don’t do the right things, whether they come from the church or mosque, it is not good.

The EFCC should operate on the right foundation. If it does that, it will command the respect it deserves. For example, if you want to probe security votes, then all security votes should be probed including that of past governors and present ones. If the EFCC comes out of the grip of any government in power and becomes a strong institution, people would respect it.

The naira is in distress. How can its integrity be restored?

Professionally, I am a preacher and a builder. So, I like to look at the foundation of whatsoever I am doing. I will refer to the foundation, which does not favour the people. The foundation of the economy does not favour the brilliant. If Bill Gates or Steve Jobs had been Nigerians, they would have been poor because the system does not encourage intelligent people to succeed. It is all about ‘who you know’ in government. That is the system we operate in this country. If a system or government operates on the basis of ‘who you know’, such a nation would always remain underdeveloped.

The four factors of production are very important. A nation gets wealthier based on how it harnesses these factors: land, capital, labour and entrepreneurial force. Some nations have been able to make their best brains entrepreneurs. But here in Nigeria, no matter what you know, it does not change anything. The best brains beg. The highly educated are struggling, while those who did not go to school at all get the best. It is like a professor becoming the chairman of a local government council. What is a professor doing as a council chairman?

If the Nigerian economy has to turn around, we must encourage meritocracy. People who are credible should have access to the nation’s wealth in order to use it for public good without necessarily knowing anyone in government. We have intelligent people in Nigeria. We must encourage entrepreneurs and brilliant people to succeed. Until we encourage our entrepreneurs to produce goods locally and export them, our economy will continue to shake. The naira will bounce back if we become more of a producing rather than an importing nation. Nigeria has intelligent people. All over the world, Nigerians are respected for their smartness and they can drive this nation to success.

How do you view the probe of former Service Chiefs?

If there is going to be any probe, it has to be general. If it is not a general probe, then I will call it social injustice. For example, in Rivers State where former governor, Rotimi Amaechi, is being probed, the PDP is rejoicing. At the federal level where security votes are being probed, the APC is rejoicing. To me, this is not right. But if the EFCC rises above board and probes members of both the opposition and the ruling party, then I will respect the probe.

How can government restore peace permanently in the northeast?

A lot of what happened in the northeast can be traced to social injustice and religious illiteracy. When people do not understand what Islam stands for, you see others exploiting them and arming them because they are are poor. If the government has to solve the problem permanently, it must address social injustice in the region. The government should take care of the weak.

If you want to know how a nation cares for the weak, go to its prisons. If the prison system is poor, then the nation is wicked and the leaders are wicked because the prison is supposed to reform a people. These are the issues that must be addressed in the northeast and other parts of Nigeria. It would take years to achieve this but we can start now, so that the situation will not escalate. There is also need to organise religious literacy campaigns.

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