- Kaduna killings: FG must come clean –Okafor
Bishop Goddy Okafor is the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Southeast Chapter. In this interview with EMMANUEL IFEANYI, he speaks on insecurity in Nigeria using the incessant killings in Southern Kaduna as an example and the inability of the Federal Government to end it. He also touched on the bad working conditions of Nigerian doctors practising in the country and a host of other troubles bedevilling Nigeria as a nation…
What do you have to say about the incessant killings in Southern Kaduna?
The killings going on in Southern Kaduna are very disturbing. We’re one people and we believe we’re one nation, but for the persistent killings going on in Southern Kaduna to keep occurring without the Federal Government doing something drastic to stop it is very disturbing. So, we’re beginning to ask questions; is it that the Federal Government does not know what to do to bring peace to Southern Kaduna and stop the killings or they do not have the political will to stop it? These are pressing questions.
Are you saying there’s no enough action by FG to stop the killings?
These people that are being massacred day after day in Kaduna are Nigerians like us all. The Federal Government owes it to them as a duty to protect them. The protection of lives and property is the responsibility of the government.
Every time there are killings, we blame it on some bandits. So, we keep asking, these bandits are they really human beings or spirits? If they’re human beings as we all have been made to know, why can’t our law enforcement agents go after them and stop them?
Nigeria is a great country, but if we keep allowing things like this to persist, it will throw everyone into confusion and one will be wondering and asking do I really belong here?
There’s really no way to explain why all these killings are going on in Southern Kaduna. Could it be that someone is interested in possessing the land belonging to Southern Kaduna people so they want to wipe them out and take over their land? So many questions need answers.
Are the killings raising doubts among Nigerians on FG’s commitment in protecting them?
Let them prove to Nigerians that there is no government connivance in these killings. Let them prove that FG is not in any way in support of what’s happening in Southern Kaduna. Every day bandits with AK-47s will go into Southern Kaduna killing people and burning houses.
They’ll finish and go freely and nothing will happen. When the Southern Kaduna people who are being killed say let’s try and defend our land and few of their men pick-up sticks, cutlasses or even Dane guns to scare away their invaders, they’re the people the government will go after.
This is very disturbing and Southeast CAN have become uncomfortable with the killings and we’re calling on FG to do their best and stop this.
What’s the solution to the situation in Southern Kaduna?
FG should do something as a matter of urgency. Action is the solution. When government is keeping quiet on things like this, they’re simply telling the citizens you’re on your own.
See, what they’re telling every citizen defend yourselves against bandits, but if you’re found with a stick or cutlass you’ll go in for it. Meanwhile, someone who is moving about with an AK-47 is free and nobody will go after him. The solution is drastic action on the part of the FG.
The governor of Kaduna State once said that he had meeting with those evil blood suckers destroying lives in Kaduna and even settled them at a time. So, if they know them, if they can hold meeting with them, why can’t they arrest them?
Why can’t they do something drastic to stop these killings? Nigerians should no longer be massacred on the altar of religion or tribal differences. I have a farm and I was called by my caretaker to come and see what’s happening there. I was optimistic that I’m going to see some get something good out from my farm.
But when I got there, I saw how herdsmen brought their cows and damaged everything there. Even as we were tried to fence the place, they broke it down and forcefully moved in their cows. One is helpless here. Who do we call on and who do we run to? You want us to grow food, but you can’t help us secure what we put on our farms. This is really disturbing.
Can the call by NAAS for the President to sack the Service Chiefs be part of the solutions to the killings?
The recent call by the National Assembly for the President to sack the Service Chiefs is not the first time such calls have been made. If you watch our President’s body language, you’ll see that he’s not thinking along that line and that’s very disturbing. You ask yourself, is he waiting for everyone to die?
Perhaps the people who are dead as far as he’s concerned are not Nigerians. If the President cannot listen to the National Assembly, at least he should listen to Nigerians and sack these Service Chiefs.
We still have intelligent people in this country that can turn things around if given the opportunity serve.
Why should the Service Chiefs remain there while things have gone totally wrong? Nigerians had so much confidence in this President when he was about to be elected. That was why they gave him massive support.
We’re still waiting for General Muhammadu Buhari to show us that he’s still the same man Nigerians voted for.
Do you foresee changes in Nigeria health sector post this COVID-19?
My worry is the rate at which our good and qualified doctors are leaving Nigeria for greener pastures in other countries. The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has cried out to the FG on several occasions that our best hands are leaving this country for better opportunities. Should FG keep quiet and allow them to continue leaving what’s the future of this country? So, I look at the rate our doctors are leaving this country, I get worried.
We all are here seeing what happening during this coronavirus era. Government that could not build one standard hospital, because of COVID-19, every state suddenly woke up and we’re now in a hurry to have Isolation Centres everywhere. My question is, after COVID-19 what next?
Personally I can’t blame the doctors for leaving Nigeria. But if we lose all our good hands when we’re sick, who’ll take care of us?
Government should listen to NMA and keep the best doctors we have with us here. If they’re saying that the condition of service here isn’t favourable, then government should listen to them and improve on that. If you know that when you stay in Nigeria, you’ll be asked to cut down an Iroko tree with razor blade, but when you get into Cotonou or Ghana, serious provisions are made for such, there’s no way you’ll remain in Nigeria to suffer.
Nobody will ignore where things are easy to remain in a place that’s totally unpredictable. Nigerians are suffering and it’s paining me. There seems to be high increase in crimes among youths, where are we getting it wrong?
When I look at our youths, something keeps telling me that the FG has no interest in giving our children good direction and hope.
We’ve existed as an independent country for over 50 years. I’m a Pastor and I’ve visited many countries of the world and whenever I come back to this country, I look at my children and look at the children of my members and I know that living in Nigeria is not easy. I visit our universities and preach there. If you’re a leader and you can’t give people good direction, they’ll try to take another angle.
Everyone is left to himself. Go to our communities and see how our youths are going deeper and deeper into cultism and drugs and you begin to ask, what’s happening?
Our youths graduate from different universities without jobs they’re loitering our streets with no vision and nothing to assure them that their future is assured. This has increased the level of criminal activities our youths are getting into.
The other time one of our youths was arrested in Dubai and people were saying all kinds of things about him. Blame him till tomorrow, there are still such young men growing up on daily basis.
What’s the future of this country? What’s the assurance these youths have that tomorrow will be better from what’s happening today?
It’s obvious that most Nigerian youths now see crime as the only option of escaping hardship, any message for them?
You see, crime is not and can never be an option. Nobody should consider it as solution for any bad situation. My message to our youths is simple; you don’t have to be a criminal or go into internet fraud or yahoo to succeed in life. Our youths should be careful. A good name is better than all the riches in the world. They should remember their future and their family names when thinking of engaging in fraud. Yes, condition of living in Nigeria may not be fantastic, but they should know that every human being is gifted by God.
They have to realize their own areas of gift and concentrate on such areas without going into crime and God will bless them. They shouldn’t go into evil simply because government has failed us.
Notwithstanding, we still need government to establish good level playing ground for people. I’ll also like to tell our parents to be careful to know the company their children keep and the lifestyle they’ve adopted. The Bible says train up a child in the way he should go so that when he grows, he’ll not depart from it.
Crime is not the way out of any bad situation.
Police brutality, intimidation and extortion are getting higher in Southeast, what’s CAN saying about it?
You see, we should have gone past facial guess works, profiling or over generalization of peoples’ behaviour just because of their appearance as means of detecting who is a criminal. We should be talking about more of intelligence now not torturing, intimidating on mere facial expressions, body shape or just guessing.
The manner in which police officers are grabbing our youths, throwing them into vehicles and labelling every good looking young man as a ‘Yahoo boy’ need to be looked into.
As a Christian leader, I don’t support any form of criminal activity, but I’m calling for more intelligence than the current things we’re witnessing now. Some persons look good and do good jobs. Rather than over
generalizing and intimidating our youths for looking good, why can’t police do more of intelligence gathering and know who is who instead of this dehumanization going on in our streets.
That someone looks fresh doesn’t make him a criminal. It doesn’t make him or her a fraudster. You’re chasing youths here and there, you want to know who is a ‘Yahoo boy’ and all that, but what have you as government put in place to ensure that such things are eliminated from the minds of our youths?
So, I want the Federal Government to do something. As a church leader, I look into the church and the society and I know what we can and cannot do. Please let government do their job properly.
Have you been noticing the growing outcry on the dilapidated conditions of roads especially Federal Highways in the South East?
Go through major cities in the South East, there are no roads. I travelled to Delta State the other day on getting to Mgbidi in Imo State, that’s along the Onitsha-Owerri Federal Highway, there’s no road. The whole road was blocked because of a pothole at the middle of the road. And I asked myself, when this thing was showing the sign, why didn’t government do something.
We were directed from one village to the other before we were able to get out to the highway again. I asked myself, why are we suffering like this? We have FERMA, What’s their job?
If you have a meeting in Calabar now, tell me, how do you go to Calabar? Look at Akwa- Ibom and Abia, they’re very close, but to go to Uyo now is a huge problem. Do we really have any right in this country?
I want our leaders to know that we’re looking up to them. If they want criminal activities to stop, they should show those they’re leading that they care about their existence. Every time you hear and read EFCC recovered this and that, but we’ve not seen anything to show for it.
Every day you parade people on television, you’ve recovered this building, that money here and there all good, but show us what you’ve done with the loot recovered so far.
What’s your take on the $400 million commercial loan agreement between Nigeria and China with a clause that indirectly ceded part of Nigeria’s sovereignty to China failure to pay?
Chinese government has seen that some African leaders are very corrupt and that most of them are short sighted. They don’t see tomorrow what they see is today. Some of these African leaders go after things that’ll satisfy them and their immediate families today.
They’re not thinking about tomorrow. China has taken advantage of it to come into Africa. Nigeria is not the first country they’ve given such condition. They’re doing their best to take over Africa may be because of their population.
It could be that they’re seeing what we’re not seeing. How can the Honourable Minister of Transport tell Nigerians that particular clause in that their commercial agreement with China that will see Nigeria lose part of her sovereignty doesn’t matter at all that nothing is wrong with it?
How is he going to pay? How is Nigeria going to pay?
Must they accept every condition attached to a loan? Must they even borrow from China simply because they want to see money for whatever reason? This present administration should not mortgage Nigeria.