By Gilbert Ekezie
The General Superintendent of Holy Spirit Mission (aka Happy Family Centre), Bishop Charles Ighele, has cried out that the country has gone too backward that it needs those who have knowledge of nation building to take over government in 2023, saying it should no longer be those who use their power to crush the weak. He also appealed for the enthronement of the golden rule as a new civilization campaign in the country. In this interview, he also spoke on Nigeria at 61 and the development made so far. Excerpts:
Nigeria has just celebrated her 61 years of independence, could you access the country in terms of development, compared to other nations of her age?
First of all, I am proud to be a Nigerian. Secondly; are we developing? In our political science class at the then University of Ife in 1977 /78, our lecturer asked us the above question and the whole class discussed it. He asked; are we developing politically? For example, looking at 1960 to 1977, and we analysed the problem. We looked at – what development is and what we are doing to develop the country. Obviously, we were ahead of Singapore. One of the best books I keep reading is that of the father of Singapore. Look at the one written by Emir of Dubai. In fact , we need nation builders not just people who erect one university here and two hospitals there. That is another matter entirely; we need nation-builders, that is my cry for Nigeria.
What is your assessment on the present leadership of Nigeria in the area of nation building?
Well, I would say that the president, governors, clergies and other leaders should think of nation building more than what they can get from the nation.We do not need those who want to possess the nation as leaders, but those who will key to nation building and have the mentality of ‘this is our home,’ like the state.
Talking about 2023 election, the political class seems to be divided on where the next president should come from. Could you comment on that?
We need to analyze what the problem is, see how we can fix it and how we can stop quarrelling. Let us have the golden rule as our guide. The golden rule says you should do unto others as you will have them do unto you. Let us publicise it and start the campaign all over, from primary to secondary school; university, the market, among others. This is the height of human civilization and anything outside that, is evil, uncivilised and not acceptable.
Considering several of the indices used in measuring development, would you say Nigeria is living up to expectations?
Malthusian theory of those days talked about population growth as arithmetic progression. So, economically we are not developing, in fact, educationally it is a pity. I asked someone that which generation speaks better English between mine and his and he answered that it is mine. Is it not so? It is so, look at the state of our universities. In fact, educationally we are not developing. We have built some bridges like Third Mainland, built Abuja as the Federal Capital Territory and other infrastructure. But we failed to know that infrastructure without human development and proper management means nothing at all. It is just a waste of time. This is why places like Ajaokuta plant, Delta steel, refineries and other infrastructure could not work. You see that the necessary human capital and discipline needed are not there, because human beings are not being taken care of. You see infrastructural decay because human beings are decayed. I would say that in all areas, we are not developing as expected. When you go to sports, an American wondered some time ago where Nigerians were, we were known among the top sprinters in the world. Like the Kenyans, Jamaicans and the United States are naturally long race people. It is expected that by now, we should be winning a lot of gold medal in that direction. I used to go to stadium in those days to watch league matches of Shooting Stars, Enugu Rangers , Bendel Insurance etc, Then, the stadium was full. But right now, there is nothing like that.
What is responsible for such development?
It is due to lack of encouragement. In Kenya, they pay their players well. At least I know about one earning about $5,000 to $6,000 in a month. But in Nigeria, they are trying to make it a law to pay players the sum of N120,000. How many dollars is that? It is nothing to write home about.
What about religiosity?
In terms of religion, you see what is going on; things are worst. I can say there have been no development, except that we built some bridges, roads and planted flowers. We have built hospitals and schools which the political class and the rich cannot patronise. If it is real development , then the rich and the political class will be patronising them because they ought to be of quality like the ones abroad.
With all that you have said, do we have reasons to celebrate as Nigerians, and where do we go from here if truly Nigeria is to be the giant of Africa?
When you say celebration , we do not really have any reason to be happy. If you have six children and they are supposed to be in the university, but are still in JSS1 when all their mates have all finished from the university, when it comes to their birthdays , how much will you celebrate? The celebration will only be that they are alive. Talking about Nigeria at 61, we will only thank God that we are still one nation, if not, there is nothing to celebrate at all. Look at countries like Singapore, South Korea and other nations that Nigeria was ahead of in those days, they are far ahead of us. If you were a leader, you ask yourself what kind of prison will you want to be jailed? This will make you put things in place that will make the people there not to be treated as animals. You also ask yourself in case I am part of the minority, how will I want to be treated? So, for me Nigeria is still far behind and a lot needs to be done to make Nigeria greater. However, this will help us use power in a civilised way, with love, care and not arrogantly, both at state and federal levels.
What do you think is the way out of the mess?
I think we need to start a new civilisation campaign , applying the golden rule. Let there be radio jingles, let flyers and posters be printed, and you will be surprised at what Nigeria will become. I recall the campaign that was out in place during Buhari’s military rule where people were leaving the country. The campaign changed the mindset of people to have them stay back in the country.
What kind of president do you hope to see in Nigeria come 2023?
Without mincing words. I would want to see a situation where a more refined president that is strong and extremely kind to any section of the country is elected. We want a Nigeria where everyone is carried along. The most civilised person on earth is one that will not use his power to crush the weak as being witnessed presently.
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