Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria, (CAN), Southwest Zone, Archbishop Magnus Atilade has implored Buhari to take urgent action concerning the delivery of dividends of democracy to millions of Nigerians who he noted are presently going through hard times.
Atilade who is also the President, Gospel Baptist Conference of Nigeria and Overseas, also spoke on other national issues including war against corruption.
There has been a lot of controversies and debates following a declaration by spokesman of former President Goodluck Jonathan when he was in office, Dr Reuben Abati that some demonic forces occupies Aso Rock and that they were responsible for some unpopular decisions, anti-masses’ policies and even strange behavior by our leaders whenever they were in Aso Rock, what is your view on that?
I will say that we should not just dismiss Abati’s assertions with a mere wave of the hands as some people want Nigerians to do. Abati is not a kid, if he had not seen anything, he would not have talked .For one, we all know that principalities and powerful forces exist and they can occupy anywhere. It is only power of prayers that can subdue them. If principalities and power have not occupied Aso Rock, how would you explain the actions of some of our leaders that have at one time or the other been the landlords at Aso Rock, even including the present landlord there?
Some of our leaders before getting to Aso Rock would make a lot of promises to Nigerians but on getting to Aso Rock, they become changed persons, they become inaccessible, and Nigerians now become baffled as to what has gotten over them. Of course, it is those principalities, and demons that are responsible. We need to carry out spiritual cleansing of Aso Rock. However, in doing that, I will advise President Buhari to organize inter-faith prayers that will bring about Christian and Islamic leaders to pray and purge Aso Rock of any demonic influence, and this should be done very fast.
How would you assess the journey so far under President Muhammadu Buhari?
So far so good, we thank God that we are still on track. We thank God that Nigeria is still one nation.
However, while Buhari’s government has been at work recording some progress in the past one year, one must not fail to point out that we are yet to have the desired change. For the common man and people at the grassroots who readily constitute the largest percentage of the population, many of them are still groaning and yearning for dividends of democracy.
If the truth must be told, even though government is trying especially in the War Against Corruption, but Buhari and his advisers should also shift their attention to other areas requiring urgent attention.
The president should look into the problem of hunger and poverty. Millions of Nigerians are complaining of hard times, these are people that voted him into office, so the president can’t afford to ignore them.
Buhari and his advisers should look at how to formulate policies that will ensure that we have food in abundance, and that will also ensure that jobs are created for millions of unemployed youths.
A hungry man is an angry man as the saying goes. As clerics, we are very close to the grassroots, these common people come to us everyday complaining and looking up to the religious leaders for succour. I however believe that Buhari should not let Nigerians have a feeling that he has disappointed them. Buhari came on the platform of effecting change, so he owes Nigerians that obligation to bring about changes that will put smiles on the faces of Nigerians.
The First Lady, Aisha Buhari at a time spoke against her husband? What would be your reaction to that?
God bless the First Lady, Aisha Buhari. It is God that spoke through her the minds of millions of Nigeria. She deserves kudos. She is a woman that doesn’t want her husband to fail, and that was why she was able to display that rare courage in speaking out.
If I were Buhari, I will not trivialize what Aisha said. I will not gloss over issues she raised in that interview. Rather, I will take steps to be sober and reflective. Aisha obviously knew what she was saying. She is the president’s wife and ver Nobody is perfect. Buhari is human. Therefore he should not feel bad that Aisha granted interview, what Buhari should address are the issues the woman raised.
Buhari should know that as an elected leader, he is under social contract to fulfill his electoral promises to Nigerians.
Just like I said earlier, almost one and half years into his administration, has Buhari been able to tackle problems of hunger, poverty and unemployment? He should do something very urgent on these three areas.
Secondly, the issue of a cabal holding him ransom or hostage in Aso Rock. This is an issue we should not dismiss with a wave of the hand. We know that in Nigeria, for any government in power, you will always have these cabals. These are few men and powerful women who surround themselves around the president – some call them kitchen cabinet – they wield enormous influence around the corridors of power. Any president that is not vigilant, these cabals can hijack such president, preventing him from what is good for the collective interests of Nigerians. They are very selfish and often are responsible for the downfall of some leaders.
Buhari should be reflective and after a thorough self-examination and examination of those closely surrounding him, he should carry out a purge. He should purge the so-called cabal and dismantle them. He should only recruit and get the best hands to work with him to make him succeed. What Buhari should remember is that the buck stops at his table.
What about the war being waged against corruption …
I know that the war against corruption is good, but that should not occupy 90 percent of Buhari’s time. There are other areas and sections yearning for his attention. I was one of those clerics that formed a group called “Pastors For Change” in the build-up to 2015 general elections. Our group openly canvassed for Buhari’s emergence even though he was a Muslim candidate contesting against a sitting Christian President.
When we clerics in that group were supporting Buhari’s emergence, our support for him was borne out of patriotism and not out of any other sentiment. We believe that he has the credentials to deliver the goods. Up till now, we still believe in him, and that’s why we are advising him on how to succeed.
Now, we are facing economic recession, and things are generally tough for Nigerians. It is not that millions of Nigerians don’t know that Buhari is fighting corruption, they know and they support him, but then they are also hungry and that’s why they are lamenting that this is not the change they were expecting from Buhari. But I’m very sure that if many Nigerians have food on their table, are gainfully employed and can meet the obligations required by their basic needs, they will be very happy and there won’t be some of these complaints.
What is your take on calls for restructuring?
It is sad and very unfortunate the way some people including respectable elders have been interpreting the calls for restructuring. For these set of people, calls for restructuring is an indirect call for break-up of Nigeria. But this is nothing but peddling of falsehood.
Today, Nigeria is in a dire economic problem. Effects of recession is biting hard on everybody. Twenty seven state governments can’t pay salaries, and the future looks gloomy. Must we continue like this? Absolutely no. We must look for urgent solutions. One of the solutions is through restructuring, we must embark on fiscal restructuring. This is a situation whereby component units that make up the Federal Republic of Nigeria will be encouraged to explore and exploit resources in their various domains for revenue purpose – they will now pay tax to the federal government.
As a Christian leader, what is your reaction to the federal government’s response to killings of some Christians in some northern parts of the country, some claimed government’s reaction should have been more decisive?
My appeal to President Buhari is that he should be careful on issues relating to religion. There are some Nigerians who already viewed him as a religious bigot. Buhari should not play into the hands of those who have such views. He should realize that as the nation’s leader, he should not show bias for any religion or give preference to one over another.
Nigeria is a secular nation, and that secularity should be respected. Even under the constitution, anybody that commits murder deserves to be punished. Anybody that takes others lives should not be spared. Culprits or suspects should be arrested and put on trial. Every Nigerian irrespective of ethnic origin, and religious background should be treated equally. There should be no first class or second class citizens. Every Nigerian should be treated equally.