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FAITH | The Sunday Conversation with Pastor Luke Okoro: 2023: The Church and options before it

PASTOR LUKE OKORO

READING: Proverbs 14:34.

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, and thou shalt be no  priest to me : seeing thou hast  forgotten the law  of thy God, I will also forget thy children. Hosea 4:6. 

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he..
Proverbs 29:18.

We have elected to converse on political developments in our country today ahead of the presidential election on February 25, 2023, because believers must not be averse to who rules them. Being apolitical is not an option since doing so is an acceptance of  any kind of character dictating your own life without your permission. Indeed, the ambition to be a leader in any environment or circumstance is not evil or ungodly. The only thing is that such an ambition must be driven in righteousness. And to the glory of God. Some say, you may have to be called? Administration or  leadership appears as a GIFT by God in the New Testament.

This is why the  recent confession by a Christian leader that some of them of the Northern extraction of the Nigerian Christian Community were financially induced by the Ahmed Bola Tinubu – Kashim Shettima Presidential Campaign Team is worth our attention. The action of these Christian leaders leaves a sour  taste in the mouth of any reasonable believer.  It stands condemned,  unacceptable . And those involved amongst the brotherhood, must not just confess such satanic greedy lucre, but  also restitute it for their sins to be fully atoned and forgiven them. They must  seek divine renewal of their callings, if indeed  they were, in the first instance,  called into the Bishopric by God.

Their behaviour is typical of what Gehazi, the servant of Elisha and Judas Iscariot, did in their various circumstances to gain the temporal at the expense of the spiritual– the hope of eternity in God. Gehazi was placed under a  generational curse ,  while  Judas Iscariot committed suicide and became an eternal curse to his descendants. What a horrible pedigree, all for lucre.  Truly, where there is no vision, leaders mislead their followers, sometimes, to destruction and death. Those who lead must strive to guide their people and followers with the best of  knowledge, revelation, wisdom and discretion.

You can’t  claim to be called of God, and not know what the mind of God is for His people, per time.  If not then be a follower and be obedient to leadership. If God punishes unbelieving leaders for their errors, then He will be harsher to those who know the law but do otherwise. Church leaders must be duly guided before posterity happens upon then, even suddenly. The Bible standard for leaders is to shun greed and covetousness. . They must not be lovers of mammon, the god of this world,  now employed by the Children of Disobedience to ensnare the sons and daughters of the kingdom.

The  behaviour of these  so-called leaders becomes worrying when it is recalled that the same politicians and their gang were behind the involvement  of  thirty FAKE bishops who  attended  the unveiling of Alhaji Shettima as the Vice Presidential Candidate of Bola  Tinubu of the All  Progressives Congress, APC,  for  the 2023 presidential election. That these supposed spiritual leaders succumbed to this financial bait is  an indication that they  lack understanding of the times wherein the  Church has found itself  in project Nigeria.

By the way, Alhaji Tinubu had, in justifying his choice of Shettima , as his running mate,  said  he did not see a Christian Northerner who is as competent as Shettima to partner him in the presidential poll. According to him, the choice of Shettima was  based on merit and  competence  And that it was arrived at after  wide  consultations with stakeholders.
Notwithstanding,  the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN,  North, did not confirm that they were consulted. Indeed, they could not have  consulted Northern CAN or even the central CAN, because the APC and its  foot  soldiers had perfected their disingenuous ways to break the ranks of the Church ahead of the 2023 presidential election. They tell a lot of lies to deceive. But that is for another day.

Rather than deal with CAN and Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, the two umbrella bodies that govern the Church in Nigeria, they decided to approach a  non-existent group – Conference of Northern Pentecostal  Fellowships or whatever it is called. They love  fakery in their dealings with the Church. And some say religion doesn’t matter!

It’s only when it comes to the church and christians that religion  becomes a fringe consideration. The Muslim Ummahs in the North insisted that their support for Tinubu would be based on a Northern Vice Presidential Candidate .  The fact that Tinubu is Muslim from the South,- where christians are in majority, should have  sufficed to earn their  support. That would have enabled Tinubu  to choose a Northern Christian as his running mate. But  they objected. And he is talking of wide consultations. With whom? Now they want to both eat their cake and still have it. They  know what game plan they have.

Yes,  the use of the fake bishops and the recent sharing of MONEY to some selected christian leaders in the North are all part of the   game  plan to capture the church .  But it  will take foolishness as the Bible says for a man who stands in between the porch and the altar to support a Muslim -Muslim presidential ticket of  the APC. The dangers  in doing so are  many, as  President Muhammadu Buhari has neatly taught  otherwise ignorant or simple- minded   non- Muslims how not to govern a people  in the  near- eight years  of his ruinous and fading  presidency.

Every appointment in all  key federal institutions,  including the Nigerian military, the  Police and the Directorate of  State Services, DSS, the Military Intelligence, the Economic and Financial Crimes  Commission, EFCC, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA , the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, the Nigeria Customs  Service, NCS, and  many others, are all headed by Northerners of the Muslim faith. Almost all the Commissions and Directorates in the Federal Ministry of Education and the NNPC are headed by Muslim northerners.  At  a point, the heads of the  entire Nigerian Security Architecture were  almost all Northern Muslims  and without a single person from the South East geo- political zone, the FIRST time such an aberration and wickedness could be visited to any  section of the Nigerian state.

Perhaps, if these  Muslim APC  and Fulani Hegemonic Collectives had given  the nation a reason to cheer,  that would have been worth it. We would have believed their false claim of competence and merit in  this  unfair and lopsided appointments.  But they are not! They promised change, but they are spreading  misery. They promised to  fight corruption, but they are  corruption themselves. See what is happening with crude output and the rot associated with  its  stealing in a country with Police and the Military. Dangerous men in power.  What a shame! The school system has since collapsed with their shameless resort to arm-twisting of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, over the just ended  eight – month strike.  The fifth in seven years of Buhari presidency. The health sector  is in a shambles, hence they and their families go abroad for medicals with the scarce foreign exchange Nigeria  hardly earns, currently.

The naira has completely crumbled and  lowly  rated in the civilized world. The  exchange rate of the naira to the dollar remains the lowest. –  when compared with other national currencies within  The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, basket.

Today, the little forex Nigeria earns  from crude export is spent on fraudulent fuel imports  and subsidy. They promised to rebuild the refineries. Seven years and more  in power, they are still spending billions of dollars on non functional refineries manned by indolent NNPC with bogus staff and outrageous  salaries.

Take a look at these statistics, and you would wonder if we still have a government.   The exchange rate of the naira in the parallel market is $1 to  over 700 naira.  £1 is over 800 naira. Inflation rate is  20.52 as at August,  while unemployment rate is 34 .9 per cent.  Unemployed Nigerian youths  within  ages 15-35 years amounts  to over 100 million, just as over 100 million Nigerians are now food insecure and  living  below poverty line. Nigeria has overtaken India, a country of over 1.4 billion as the poverty capital of the world; and where you have over 20 million children of school age, who are out of school.

Many of our  youths  are roaming the streets. And only  recently, scores  of these young people in the South West  were sent to jail for cyber crimes. While not justifying a lifestyle of crime and criminality, yet it  must be noted  that  these are  children who  should be in school. But they are not, hence the devil has given some of them  other things to do.  They can’t be  gainfully employed to earn a decent living because government is not creating jobs nor the environment for job creation by other economic agents. They promised three million jobs annually. They failed.  Rather supervising job losses and collapse of companies.
Nobody is even talking about the brain drain and human capital flight that has almost crippled critical sectors of the banking  and health sectors of the economy. Our borrowing to finance the unproductive budget this government runs has risen to over 42. 84 trillion naira, as at June,  while servicing of local and foreign debts takes over 60 per cent of the entire annual budget. Now we borrow to service debts. Local debt stands at 41.60 trillion naira and would likely rise by another 1.24 trillion naira in the next three months, according to the Debt Management Office, DMO. Just recently, Africa Development Bank raised a caution that Nigeria needed help to come out of its debt trap, more so,  with her foreign reserves crisis. The country is no longer earning enough forex to save.

But will they hear? They are still negotiating fresh borrowings before they go in May next year. If you call it the locust years you can’t be wrong because the current inflation rate is the highest since the last 17 years, according to the National  Bureau of Statistics, NBS. Meanwhile, the growth rate of the economy remains a little above  two per cent with fertility rate of over  five per cent. Meaning that people are born into poverty from day one. Our Gross Domestic Product, GDP, is $510  billion, ranked as among the lowest among comparative  Developing and Emerging Markets.

When you run a government of Daura enclave with a mixture of selfish and unpatriotic  fans, that’s what you get–  poverty, stagnation, unemployment, hyper inflation and unbridled graft. Indeed a collapsed economy.

But there is hope because Nigerians have resolved to do in 2023 that which was hitherto considered unthinkable.

Sadly, that is what the Tinubu- Shettima ticket promises to consolidate. This explains why no  reasonable Nigerian is  following this gang.  Yes,  in  reality those who are trumpeting this ticket are   mechantile  – who do not wish this country well. They are “kill and go”  politicians, fair weather fans, who act like agbero. Their destinations are different with those inside the vehicle. That is why the  youth, sincere elite and  patriotic Nigerians must RETRIEVE their country from these BUCCANEERS and riotous sons of infamy and disobedience.

It should be expected that those who are into STATE CAPTURE will be bothered by the rising profile  of Mr Peter Obi, the Presidential Candidate of the Labor Party, LP, with his running mate, Dr Yusuf Datti  Baba- Ahmed. They want to pull him down , but the flight may have taken off while they slumbered or while they were tucked away in a hospital bed abroad.

Consider all those who were recently mobilized  to go into the social media to checkmate  the Obi-Datti rising profile. All of them are on hefty salaries and generous allowances . Only recently some  market women that were assembled in a particular state to march for the APC ticket, were seen demanding for their pay. Has it bothered you that in Obi-Datti ticket, people volunteer to march because they need a better society of justness, selfless leadership and productive labor within a  functional socio- economic system and safe environment.

That little Chioma and the bus  driver who performed wondrously during the Obi-Datti rallies in Lagos were not tutored on what to do. They were not paid nor  compelled  to march as the market women in Lagos were forced to do recently. Government should take judicial notice  of this travesty on people’s fundamental rights. O, sorry , I forgot that I was talking to  uncaring and insensitive  government.

Meanwhile, Shettima has said to  the hearing of all who should listen that he would be in charge of security if elected, because that is his specialty, while Alhaji  Tinubu would be responsible for the general administration of the state. Hmmm! Na wah ooo.  But am not aware he served in the military. Anyway, the opportunity won’t even arise.

This was a man who ignored official advice which culminated in the kidnapping of the  over 200 Chibok girls when he was governor of Borno  state in 2014, because he wanted to hurt the  reelection  of President Goodluck Jonathan. They wanted power so badly to return to the North based on power rotation. The school in Chibok town was the target because the students are mainly Christians.  Against all security alerts and advice,  Shettima   allowed the students to write their examinations within an endangered  school  rather than relocating  them to a safer environment.   This is the VP that  will manage the security of the country.

Under him, Boko Haram declared Southern Borno as a  Sultanate because all the minority ethnic nationalities  around that  corridor, are christians ,and must necessarily be conquered. Why didn’t Boko Haram  declare Northern and Central Borno, the seat of the Shehu of Borno as a  Sultanate? Or is the Sultanate/Caliphate and the Borno kingdom no longer at dagger’s drawn over superiority status?  I need to be educated!

Don’t forget that it was Shettima who also allegedly  shielded one of the Boko Haram commanders inside  Borno Government Lodge in Abuja. Today, he wants to rule Nigeria to have larger latitude to spread wickedness and his anti- christian virus and verses. He wants  the votes of a people he so passionately hates . Under his watch, the Deputy Governorship post usually allocated to  christians in  Borno was disregarded with another Muslim appointed to be Deputy Governor, in the same way that Tinubu has disregarded the Northern Christians in his political calculation. Yet they want the votes of Christians. Only fools would be  so deceived. This is why those leaders who  took Tinubu’s gift showed  serious indiscretion and thoughtlessness.

They failed their people in Southern Borno, Southern Kaduna and the Middle Belt who are daily butchered by Fulani herdsmen, bandits and Boko Haram and religious extremists without the government raising a whimper to  rescue  them or to arrest  the perpetrators. These  undiscerning leaders are saying  that this government should continue , this time , through Bola Tinubu. That’s the height of lack of vision  for the Greater Good.  They also betrayed the likes of Hon Babachir David Lawal , former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, and Hon Yakubu Dogara, former Speaker of House of Representatives  and the leadership of CAN  and even some fair-minded Muslims, who had stuck out their necks  to oppose this imbalance and lack of inclusion. Strangely too,  Witches in  Nigeria,  distanced themselves  that they  endorsed the Tinubu- Shettima ticket. Do you hear that? What a doomed reality!

The church must stand up against this unfairness, injustice, insensitivity and lack of inclusion.  If the Mu-Mu ticket sails through, the remnants of Minority christian ethnic nationalities currently battling for dear lives under an uncaring PMB, who had left them to their fate in the  hands of murderous Fulani herders, would be completely wiped out. A Tinubu- Shettima Presidency would not help them or  come to their defence.  Anybody who watched the recent  massacre of some indigenes in  a Benue community  would appreciate what is at stake. Evil people wanting  power to dominate and destroy and despoil a people from their homelands.

According to the Chief Medical Director of Benue State University Teaching Hospital Makurdi, Prof Terrumum Z. Swende,  the   level of human injuries , killings  and  destructions visited on the people by their attackers   can only be seen in war time. Yet we  are not at war. But perpetrators finished their  savagery and walked away freely.  If you go to the Police, they will simply  note your complaints if the Divisional Police Officer, DPO, isn’t a Fulani.  But if  he is, then the  matter is dead on arrival. Nobody will take your complaints. You will be advised to go and settle with your killers as PMB had routinely advised christian   communities in the Middle Belt and Southern Kaduna when Fulani herders kill and maim them in  their homes and farmlands. And yet, tribe and religion should not be a consideration in 2023.  Really?

This is also why Alhaji Atiku Abubakar,  Presidential Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP should be ignored. His ambition is vain glorious, perverse and lacking in political social justice and common sense.  When Jonathan announced his intention to run for the presidency in 2011, Atiku  left the PDP to join the Action Congress to challenge him. He had claimed that it was the turn of the North to be President. He failed as Jonathan won. He returned to the PDP  to challenge Buhari in 2019 because it was still the turn of the North to be President. He had promised then to stay in power for one term if elected so that power will shift to the South.
Today, he’s  parroting competence and capacity and experience as bases for the presidency.  And who says the South does not have such a person in His Excellency, Peter Obi, former governor of Anambra state?

We need a country of equity, justice ,  fairness and equal oppotunities for persons and groups. Nobody should behave as if others are slaves to serve them, as Atiku is doing.  It will amount to grave injustice to vote in another  Muslim Fulani man as President,  in a nation of over 300 ethnic nationalities , when  some other  ethnic nationalities or regions  have not had the privilege to produce a VP, more so,  the President. That is the way of social justice and inclusion and  harmonious co-existence for a United Entity called Nigeria.

But come to also think of it, neither Atiku nor Tinubu has the level of competence, integrity, leadership and sagacity associated with Obi. His leadership in Anambra state remains an epitome of good governance, prudent management of human and material resources as well as purpose,  development and dispassionate involvement in the corporate good. He is an HONEST and SINCERE man. He has no cunning in him. Both AOC and PDP   opponents  are light in character. They can’t walk their talks.

The Nigerian youth have found in Obi, a  leader that  can be trusted, who is also healthy  and would not be involved  in unnecessary medical  tourism or live in Dubai to GOVERN the country. The Nigerian Youth are rooting for such a  leader, who doesn’t have much baggage when it comes to family integrity in  government business; and whose sources  of wealth are open to them. No personal enrichment and aggrandizement arising from government business and rent collections. They want a man who is empathetic. They have seen enough of those who had been part of the corrupt game since 1999, and who were bankrupt before then , only to be landlords all over the place following their involvement in government.

Such men have suddenly  become GENEROUS with public wealth which they had expropriated. These kind of people , who empower dangerous characters with deals’ resources and money , rather than educating them , are anarchists and enemies of a united Nigeria.  They go out fanning the embers of hatred and  disunity among a people who  live together as brethren.  These kind of leaders whose pedigree, soundness of mind and level of mammonism lack figuring out  must be rejected by lovers of peace and harmony in a united Nigeria.

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