The Anglican Bishop of diocese of Amichi, Anambra State, Anglican Communion, Church of Nigeria, Right Reverend Ephraim Okechukwu Ikeakor spoke on some national issues during an interview with select journalists including our Editor South-East Odogwu Emeka Odogwu on his forthcoming synod holding from 14th to 18th October, 2020 at St Ebenezer’s Anglican Church Unubi, Nnewi South, Anambra state.
What can you say about the growing level of corruption and insecurity in the country? Are you worried about that at all; particularly the incessant killings being reported almost on a daily basis?
I am worried. The sacredness of human life is no more recognized in our society. One of the most heinous crimes anybody can commit is to take human life but the greatness of bloodshed in our country is so high. Both our leaders and the led seem not to be worried. Any nation that sheds blood so much, their survival is only by the mercy of God. So, we’re worried. That’s why we are talking about this. In the world, one of the signs of the standard of the world is too much killing, maiming of brothers. These are the ways of the world. But for Christians, we are known for love, forgiveness, forbearance and tolerance. So, what we want to achieve is to remind Christians that we should go out there, not only to preach against all these things, but to live a life that will tell others that all of us are not murderers, all of us are not perverse, all of us are not corrupt, all of us are not morally bankrupt and once we can have a few Christians who can stand up and say this is the right way to do things in office, marriage, appearance, in relating with others, I think we will make the necessary impact God wants us to make. He said, go into the world, subdue the world, have dominion. He was not talking about colonizing the world. He was talking about influencing the world by our lifestyle as the light of the world. And that’s what we want to remind Christians; that we should not copy the world or do shortcut. In employment, you are talking about ‘who do you know?’ not who is qualified. So, these are the things we need to address as they are the standard of the world. If the world celebrates darkness, the church says no. We should celebrate light. The world celebrates vengeance and retaliation. We talk about forgiveness and forbearance.
There have been series of calls for restructuring. There are those who said that they prefer the disintegration of this country so that everybody will go their separate ways. What is the way out of the bad situation we have found ourselves in this country?
When you are solving a problem, if you want to avert the extreme part of that problem, you nip the problem in the bud.
I am sure that if things are done well, no right thinking person will talk about secession. Secession is the last option for the marginalized and the oppressed in a country. That is what we are having now. It is time we say the truth in this country. I am answering the questions gradually. It is time to look at our leaders in this country and tell them the bitter truth. The Hausa/Fulani oligarchy in our country have proved to everybody beyond reasonable doubts that there are sound, wonderful citizens of this country, first class and there are second class citizens. So, if you are telling me that we are one country and you treat me like rag and treat the other person like a queen or king, if I try my best to negotiate with you and it is not working, I will say allow me to go. That’s the problem now. Let me point one or two things for you. Let me take the last common entrance into unity schools. How do you tell me in a country, children from primary school, Primary 6, are taking entrance exam into federal government colleges; and you now tell me, ‘well, this is how we are going to give admission to these schools.’ Are you aware that every child in Anambra State must score up to 139? I think in the South East, Anambra is the highest.
Enugu State is about 134/135, Abia State 130, Imo State 130. Then, Lagos State of all places, they gave Lagos State 134. Anambra State 139. Now, that’s not the issue. In Zamfara State, I think they categorized girls and boys; that if girls score 14, they will be taken and if boys score 9, they will be taken. Now, I am using the current thing now.
Let’s not go too far. Common entrance; and tomorrow this one that scored 9 will become the Chief Justice of Nigeria over somebody that scored 139. Then you tell me this is one country I should feel comfortable in. Check all the security architecture of Nigeria now, from the Chief of Staff, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff to heads of other security outfits; customs, immigration and others are headed by Hausa/Fulani Muslims. And when somebody has taken the whole security apparatus, what are you doing in that country? If you have a problem, you take it to them. The Chief Justice of this country is a Moslem. You know how the acting Chief Justice was taken away because we are trying to have election. The president was afraid that he may not stand at the Supreme Court to defend him. They manoeuvred him and threw him away and brought their man. You can see what the judiciary is like now. You go for employment. This did not start today. In 1985, I took JAMB. I scored 196 and my first choice was University of Jos. That time, we don’t have phone or internet as we are having now. You must go there physically to collect your admission letter. I travelled from here to Jos. I was sitting in the admission hall; the man that was giving the admission letters was calling his people and issuing them admission letters. I scored 196, they were issuing admission letters to Muslims that scored 43, 54, 57, 80, and at the end of the day, I was not given admission with 196 but those that scored 41 to 60 were given admission and we are in one country. I was sitting there. They were not hiding it. So, what I am talking about in summary is that restructuring is the safest and most morally upright approach to solving Nigeria’s problems. But if these men are not ready for restructuring, I want to tell you, secession becomes a viable option. Nobody chooses to be a slave in his own land. But that is what we are now. I was in Abuja two weeks ago. In Central Area district of Abuja, cows were moving freely. In Abuja city! Which part of the world do people carry cows around now? Let me delve into an area. About two or three years ago, they said that IPOB is a terrorist organization.
My question is for doing what? Young men felt that they have been neglected; they came to the street. They were matching and singing. They didn’t kill anybody. They didn’t attack anybody and because they were fighting for recognition and self determination, they tagged them terrorist group. Why has our president kept quiet over the murderous Fulani herdsmen who carry all kinds of weapons; kill, maim and destroy? They are not a terrorist group. My brother, my answer is, if you want to do things in a decent way, let’s sit down and do proper restructuring of this country. Everybody will have equal right, equal opportunity, and equal recognition. There will be no problem. But when they fail to do that, I repeat, secession becomes a viable option and that is where we are now. Thank you.
But do you think that Igbo presidency will resolve the imbalance in the system? Also, what can you say about the deplorable state of Nnewi-Amichi-Unubi-Uga federal road?
In 2011/2012, I decided to take up this Nnewi-Unubi-Uga federal highway to know why it was neglected. I am standing here to address the whole thing. I spoke with the then senator and member of the House of Representatives. He came to my house. I complained bitterly. We were angry. He promised me that he was going back to Abuja to do something. They went. After about two months they invited me again and I myself had to move to where they referred me to in Abuja. I want to tell you to your shock that when we entered into the Ministry of Works and Housing in Abuja, the Alhaji said ‘yes, they said that you are a Reverend.’ I said yes. ‘And you are looking for the road in your area?’ He said come. We enter that office. The man said ‘I shouldn’t do this because I am not answerable to you but for you to help talk to your people.’ He brought a file of this road (Nnewi-Amichi-Unubi-Uga federal road) and showed me; that this road was awarded to our people and our people came here, after about eight months came back, brought a certificate of completion and submitted for payment.
The road was certified as perfectly done, certified completed and they were paid and they collected the money. He said that they were Igbo people and he gave me their names. He said no Hausa man collected the money. He said no Yoruba man collected the money. It is your people, your brothers. So, that takes me to the question of Igbo presidency. By structural roadmap, it may look like it is correcting the imbalance, but by performance, usefulness, and profitability, I don’t subscribe to Igbo presidency. Our people will go there to serve their masters in the north. Let me tell you.
The senate president is the number 3 citizen of this country. Can you recap how many Igbo Senate Presidents we had?
Evans Enwerem, Chuba Okadigbo, Pius Anyim, Nnamani, Nwagbara. We had about 5 or 6 Senate Presidents who had monumental, legitimate power to influence things that come to the South East. Show me what they did; and you want me to say when somebody becomes Igbo president magic will happen. It is all about the heart. It is not about the position.
It’s the heart. Pius Anyim, after being Senate President, became the secretary to the federal government of this country. Go to Ebonyi State, if not the current governor now; Ebonyi State was the worst state before.
What did Pius do?
I was a priest in Ebonyi State that time. What did Pius bring home?
Serious bloody war with the then governor, Sam Egwu and they were killing their people as nothing. This one is governor, the other one is Senate President. Instead of teaming these powers together to move your people forward, they were fighting for supremacy and Pius could not bring anything home. What did Nwagbara bring? What did Okadigbo bring? What did Ken Nnamani bring? What did Evans Enwerem bring? So, to me, I don’t think Igbo presidency will make any difference unless the heart of people changes. If you give them N1 billon, they will forget you. So, inasmuch as Igbo presidency looks very wonderful, I don’t think that’s our problem. Our problem is the heart of a typical Igbo man. When can we exalt the welfare of our fellow Igbo people above our interest? Once we resolve that, Igbo presidency can make meaning. But if not, we can now say but if not… Look at our senator. Andy Ubah was a senator for a long time. This is his road. Why I call their names is because I don’t associate with politicians because they are not human beings. I don’t go near them easily.
This man was the closest person to Obasanjo. Just a snap of the fingers, Obasanjo will do this road. When he is coming, he comes home with helicopter. Uga has one of the worst roads in Aguata Local Government Area. That’s why I told him when he was about to come for the governorship, I told him if he wants to count his enemies, he should count me as number one. I told him face to face. So, I don’t like discussing politicians. I am angry with those men. They are our disaster. They are our trouble. So, Igbo presidency good luck but that will not solve our problem until Igbo people value the welfare of their own people above personal interest. That is my take.