Church must remain voice of reason, faith, calmness –Bishop Olumakaiye

The Anglican Bishop of Lagos, Dr. Humphrey Olumakaiye, takes a look at the deplorable state of security in the nation. He equates it to the state of Israel, which the book of Judges 17:6 depicts as ‘… in those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did what is right in his own eyes.’ In this interview with TAI ANYANWU, the Bishop appeals to the church in Nigeria to continue to be that voice of reason, faith and calmness in these trying times


How do you see the security in the country?


Thank you for this privilege to contribute meaningfully to the ongoing national conversion at this crucial juncture in our history as a nation. It is clear to us all that insecurity in this country is at an all-time high; we have never had it like this before.


The deplorable state of security in this nation has every symptom of a state at war. Our insecurity situation mirrors what we have in Judges 17:6 where it was stated that in those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did what is right in his own eyes. If we don’t collectively arrest and address the situation now, there is every chance that this nation may implode before 2023.


There have been arguments about the capacity of President Buhari to handle governance at this stage…?


It is quite surprising that the President who is a retired Army General cannot handle the matter of insecurity. Let us not forget that one of the cardinal promises of this administration in 2015 and 2019 is to effectively handle the issue of security.

Now in 2021, the security situation has worsened than what it was in 2014/2015. I personally believe that the President’s inability to handle this matter is due to personal problems the President may be facing that are unknown to Nigerians.


There are rumours that the President is not fully in charge and the cabal whosoever they may be is the ones ruling the nation. Sincerely, the state of security and the general body language from the Presidency is seemingly confirming these rumours. The truth is that a sound, fit and coherent President Buhari can handle the matter of security.


He would have not allowed the issue to deteriorate to this level. To prove all doubters wrong, he must take charge now. At the same time, we should not write our President off, he is trying his best. Look at the daily carnage, kidnapping and closure of schools. Personally, I believe that there is economic and political undertone to all this kidnapping, banditry and daily carnage.


It is apparent that some high and rich people in this nation are financing and profiting from all these illicit activities. Take for instance, the case of Ini Umoren, the job seeking lady that was kidnapped and gruesomely murdered in Uyo, two weeks ago. There are emerging facts that some high and mighty people are linked to the case.


This case, though, one of many, mirrored the case of unnamed concubine in the Book of Judges 19. Just as it is now in our country, the ancient Israel society was enmeshed in a firebox of insecurity that led to civil war. This half-measure of closure of schools here and there cannot solve the situation.


There are cases of people being kidnapped in the marketplace, religious centers and even parks. So, are we going to lock everything down to solve this problem? You will recall that recently, a trailer load of ammunition was found in Onitsha.


The Onitsha incident further confirmed my earlier claim that some people are sponsoring chaos and anarchy in the land. How do you explain unverified trailer load of ammunition?


We all know that there are illegal possessions of firearms all over the nation before now. With the incident at Onitsha, it is scary that the situation regarding illegal possession of firearms is now at all-time high in this nation. This further strengthens the argument for strong, decisive leadership from the centre. It is when the centre cannot hold; that mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.


What is the solution?


The way out is simple. We must have a national conference now.


In the book of Judges 19, when the matter of insecurity came to a head like we have it now, the whole nation had to meet together and dialogue the way forward. The problem we have now has transcended issues of ethnicity, religion, and class. It is a problem facing all regardless of their ethnicities, religious affiliation and class. When things are like this, it is time to convene a sovereign national conference and dialogue.


Do you believe there is external threat?


No. I do not believe that there is any external threat or conspiracy against us as a nation. The problem of Nigeria is caused by Nigerians and must be solved by Nigerians. We must solve our problem ourselves and we must not even depend on foreign aid to do it.


Is our National Assembly doing enough?


It is not that we have a spineless National Assembly but we have a National Assembly enmeshed in meaningless politicking. From my perspective, it appears our lawmakers value party loyalty and agenda above the nation’s interest.


They are more ready to support and protect their party interest and even individual selfish ambition than their works as lawmakers. But the problem here is upon all that is why they all must awake to their responsibilities. Now I am aware that some have called for President Buhari’s resignation or impeachment.


No, what we are facing is a phase’ it will soon pass away. Nigeria is very difficult country to rule. At the same time, I will advise Mr. President to act now in the interest of all Nigeria.


Those calling for his resignation or impeachment are doing so because we are all tired. It is not that they hate the President; we are in a life-death situation here.


Do you support the call for restructuring of Nigeria?

Absolutely yes! For me as everyone else there are two paths before us as a nation: restructuring and secession. For now, the far better option is restructuring. Each region must be allowed to be self-reliant, self-secured, and self-governed.


We are one nation yet with different cultural and ethnic orientation. The orientation of a northern person is different from the southerner. We cannot continue to think that we can be ruled from the centre. Nigeria is far too big to be handled like that. We must restructure.


Resources available to the government are falling, in the face of corruption. How do you see this?


It is sad that this is so. This administration promised to fight corruption and came to power on the mantra of change. But, emerging fact is showing that corruption in this administration is getting to an alarming proportion.


The fact is that the leaders around the president are complicit. The general laxity and negligence of the presidency is allowing every man to do what is right in their own eyes. That is why we are having it like this.

Many youths are resorting to yahoo and prostitution. What is the way out?


This is fundamentally a cultural and societal problem. In sociology, we talk of values: material and immaterial value. Our society values amassing material value more than cherished immaterial value of character, hard work, honesty and truth.


By this, we provide the context for our youth to resort to yahoo and prostitution as ways of getting rich quickly. The way out is that we must reinstitute immaterial value in the consciousness of our children and youth. This is everyone’s job: mosque, church, home, school, and street. Glorification of persons because of their wealth must stop; we must value honour, honesty, truth, hard-work as a people.


What’s your impression about insecurity in the South-East considering that some people are of the opinion that agents of the Federal Government have a grand plan to distabilise the region while deliberately putting it on IPOB and ESN?


My impression about insecurity in the South-East is this same as I have for all regions in the nation. The claim that agents of the Federal Government have a grand plan to destabilize the region is far from the truth. The growing security threat of IPOB might have led to militarising of the region.


Nonetheless, it is advisable that everyone should desist from violence. The continuous attack of security outposts in the East will further deteriorate the security situation of that region. It will continue to verify the false claim that there is grand plan to destabilise the region. Now, it is the time for the Igbo leaders and elders to be united and speak to their people to be calm. Fury and violence will lead to war.


How can the church assist the state in ensuring stability and good governance?


The church is doing her bit in preaching and praying for good governance and peace co-existence. The church must assist the state to be the voice of reason, faith and calmness this trying time.


We, as the church, must assume our prophetic role and serve as moral compass and conscious of the nation. And our pastoral ministry must not be neglected.


What does this insecurity portend for 2023 elections?


In a nutshell, it portends doom. I want to reiterate what I said earlier if we do not collectively arise as one to arrest and address this issue now, we may not even get to 2023 as a nation.


If, by God’s intervention, we manage to get to 2023 we must address the issue of restructuring, good governance, and fight against corruption. Emerging leaders must be ready to fully address these things. It is very crucial.




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