Q: Sir you led the advocacy for Christians involvement in the last elections, give us a background to your discoveries during the process?
Ans: You all know the problems that we were in ahead of the elections both at the national and here in the state. But we’re particular about the state because this is where we all belong. If it is not well with our state, no matter what Nigeria is doing, it can’t be well with us, because the centre is far from here. And then if you happen to play the opposition, according to them, then you are farther driven away.
So, the issue is not just about the Nigerian nation, it’s about us. I don’t know if you could recall that there was a time in the days of President Obasanjo and Lagos State when he denied them money for about two years or so. But you know that Lagos was still running without the federal influence or their money, why because Lagos is one entity that can exist without Nigeria sending them money. We want to see that kind of a state. We can’t depend only on what federal government gives to us. And I believe that the 2019 election was a major warfare that was a determinant factor whether we were going to continue to be a state that can stand tall in the face of Nigerian situation.
Q: How will you rate the nation’s economy under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari?
Ans: You’ll recall that immediately the current President came into power, our money collapsed. Everything collapsed. International investors left Nigeria. They pulled their money out. I believe wrong ways of using words within Nigeria and at the international community concerning the corruption that Nigeria is known to be according to our own leader was a major cause. That alone made the international community to withdraw their presence and their investments; and our economy collapsed. Till today, I don’t think we’ve been able to come out of it as it were. People may have a reason to keep blaming Jonathan and his administration after four years, but for me, it’s a game of blame. They must rise to take responsibility.
I read online recently of someone trying to say how much money Akwa Ibom State has gotten from the Federation, how much money has been gotten from the local government, how much money has been gotten from Internally Generated Revenue, and counted all kinds of things. But when you look at Akwa Ibom State and put together other states of the federation, you’ll discover that Akwa Ibom is one state that has never begged to be redeemed or has failed to pay their staff at the end of the month. Even when the federal government did not give money, Akwa Ibom will pay their staff.
Today we have the industries that I believe some of you have done your own fact-finding, because it is easy for people to say all these things that are being said only exist in computers, just like they said the Akwa Ibom airport existed only in the computer. But then people were still flying in and out. Like the Syringe industry, there are people who still say it does not exist, Fertilizer Plant and the rest of them.
But you the Fourth Estate of the Realm, you’re the best, because there’s nothing anybody can say that you can’t find the truth because you are the mouthpiece of the common man. That is why you can never be ignored. Anybody or government that wants to ignore you is digging his own grave, because you know how to make the truth come out. That is why the church agreed that he must return for a second term.
Ans: In 2017, we began what we call THE FATHERS OF FAITH MEETING. And in the month of November, he was invited to Five Star Hotel and we told Governor Udom Emmanuel look, we want you to be our candidate. We have prayed, we have watched you, we have looked at the different scenarios and you are the best and has to continue.
When we stood from there, the Fathers of Faith decided, look, some of us are older, we can’t run the way others can run. Can you put a team together that will be our foot soldiers? That is how Akwa Ibom Christian Assembly was given birth to. Akwa Ibom Christian Assembly came up, and from that time, till the election was over, we never backed down. We were confrontational, we were forthcoming in every area, and as at today, we have over 300, 000 (three hundred thousand) people who are our own people on ground. That alone is enough for us to decide where election goes. It is important that people should understand that the church should never be taken for granted.
Ans: People made their choices because even after God had created man, he didn’t make man to be a robot, he made him to be a free moral agent. It tells you the truth, it says if you serve this way, you’ll live long, if you go this way, you’ll die before time.
But we discovered that a greater part of the Fathers of Faith were intact apart from one or two persons for one reason or the other which was their own choice still, decided to go the other way.
But you know that the Fathers of Faith stayed with Governor Udom Emmanuel. And I thank God for Divine Mandate because the issue again is that Governor Udom Emmanuel could not have succeeded alone. That’s why we’ll always want to appreciate somebody like Idongesit Nkanga, the DG of the Divine Mandate. A man who had played a part, not only that he was there at the advent of this present governor and his first term, but that he stood by him to ensure that he succeeded in his second term aspiration. It’s very rare to find one man who can be a DG twice, because one thing or the other would have happened. But this is a man who believed that this man we brought in, we should stand by him whether people say left or right. He’s a consistent person, that’s why I believe that Divine Mandate as they came up with their own slogan, “Only God” brought about the result.
So, you cannot undermine the capacity for which Idongesit Nkanga had put together to ensure that Udom came back the second time, and others who also played their role.
For us in the church, we are very mindful of which part we needed to play.
And I want to refute that all that was written and I want to say that our Fathers of Faith should never be insulted.I want to let people know that in our own time, we will resist any form of insult raised against any of our elders at any given point in time because there is no future without the fathers. If they were not there, we wouldn’t have been here. We must not insult them; if you disagree with them, look for a better way of talking about your disagreement than for you to begin to call names and to insult such a principality. And by touching him in this country, you touch all of us. I will never allow that to happen.
Q: Sir, what is really the role and interest of ACA and how do they relate with the other clergymen?
Ans: We are here to talk about everything that has to do with the wellbeing of Akwa Ibom State in the eyes of God and also according to what we believe; kingdom principles for which we can stand up for.
Many people don’t know that Governor Udom Emmanuel has time to meet with the Fathers of Faith. They think that whatever the governor says or does, the Fathers of Faith will begin to run with it. No. When we have time of interaction with him, there are issues that we address. There are concerns that we address. And because Governor Udom Emmanuel is a listening governor, he listens to the Fathers of Faith.
We can say to you that as we are today, we will always stand for what we believe in, what is right for Akwa Ibom State and the common man. And as you’ve all agreed, the peace we have enjoyed is because a man of peace is on the throne. He’s a prayerful man; I don’t know how many of you really know the governor; he has his own private time of prayer. No matter what happens, when those days come, he will not answer any phone call, he’s in retreat every month seeking God’s face. That’s why the slogan “Only God” was the most powerful thing that God gave to him.
Akwa Ibom Christian Assembly (ACA) are the foot soldiers of the Fathers of Faith.
Sir, the Fathers of Faith coming together is more or less like the church coming together to chart a direction for Akwa Ibom people, don’t you think it’s somehow odd to be partisan?
Ans: Is God odd when it comes to political positions? Do you know that God is interested in the affairs of man? Where God stands is where the church stands. It’s not out of place. Look at the bible from time. How did the first king in Israel emerge? The issue here is that the people cried out for a king; as at that time, there were priests who were ruling the people and judges. That’s why we have the book of Judges. After they came out of Egypt, they settled and now had Judges. Among those judges were those that were mostly priests at that time. And they said that the priest does not go to war, we need a man that can go to war for us and see him as one that can represent us, while the priest is doing the priestly work to support that very man that will be emerging. That’s why God said to Samuel, they have cried for a king, go and tell them that I’ll give them a king.
Look at the first king of Israel that was Samuel, God told him this man is the man; and he told the children of Israel that is the man.
But there were two processes that we would not ever have imagined. After Samuel had met with Saul, prayed for him, anointed him, and told him you are the king of Israel, which the man himself did not even believe, he called for election. He called all the tribes for them to come and choose their king. And in the place of choosing the king, the thing fell on the tribe of Benjamin. He now said all the people of Benjamin tribe come here. “Where’s the king going to come from?” By the time they went back again, it came out of the family Saul came from. Is that not what we’re doing?
Q: But Nsima Ekere is also a Christian…?
Ans: Yes, Nsima Ekere is a Christian and there is no doubt about that. But the throne is only for one person per time; and God will choose the person. When God chooses the person, I think others should learn to say if that is God’s choice, let me not put everything that I have to fight and cause confusion. If God has chosen, (which can happen if we all listen to God) go to the field. Let everybody who thinks that he is going to contest this election go to the field and we’ll see whom God has given the mandate. They can go to court, but the fact is that the answer came and we all saw it. God can never be mocked. God can never lie. What He says comes to pass. And that is exactly what has happened.
Q: Sir, I’m just worried about the political angle of ACA; apart from the political objective of the association, do you intend to expand the frontiers into preaching the gospel given that Akwa Ibom is governed by a god-like leader? And What’s the relationship between CAN and ACA?
Ans: Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) is a general body for which Nigeria has. CAN is national. But in ACA, we are very specific – Akwa Ibom. We didn’t say National Akwa Ibom Christian Assembly. We say Akwa Ibom because we are particular about our own state. ACA is not just about the political aspect. Our major objective is soul winning, evangelization. That’s what we have done in our different wards. We have held meetings, crusades and deliverance meetings, all night meetings and many people have given their lives to Christ. Many have also received deliverance. That is who we are and you cannot take that away from us.
The other aspect is educating the church to fully engage positively when it comes to the issues of governance. We should be able to understand the difference between politics which is a process and governance. The process by which people are brought into ruling the people. We are more interested in the rulership. Who’s ruling us? That is governance. Democracy produces the vehicle through political parties that will now produce a leader. That’s what we are interested in. Our major concern is who is there that will make laws or that will come out with issues that will affect us as Christians. You’ll also understand that Jesus said occupy till I come. When you look at the issue of occupation properly, it has military terms. Occupation is not something that is just political. It is military and that is the aspect of the church in terms of realm. It’s warfare in which we engage in – prayers.
So, to occupy connotes quite a number of things. That’s why He has given different gifts. If it were only about heaven, why did He give us the gift of administration? The gift of administration is there in the Bible. He said you are kings and you are priests. Look at your Bible. I think that when the white man came and taught us the Bible, they did not teach us holistically that the Bible they are bringing is holistic in itself. Only the Muslims do it. But for us, we question why a Christian should be involved in politics. Is it the devil that should be involved? I think that we must grow past this level of why the church is partisan. We must be involved because every policy that is being made whether at the executive level or the laws that are being promulgated in the House of Assembly, it’ll affect our children in the school sector, health sector, in everything. So, the church should not only be looked for when something spoils. We want to begin early so that we will not go and be spending too much time in night prayers. Most of the night prayer is because of poverty. Wrong ways of administering governance is the reason people keep going for night prayer everyday. Have you noticed that if you go to all these night prayer meetings, who are the new people they are delivering? It is the same set of people that were delivered during the last tarry night. So, the issue is lack of knowledge.
ACA believes in training people. We are also coming out with other ways of empowering our people and getting them to be skillful, to understand things and engage themselves positively in the community and not to become touts and running after politicians.
So ACA has a wonderful blueprint that when we come out to teach, you’ll know that it is not just about politics, because we are bigger than that.
Q: As Chairman if Akwa Ibom State Pilgrim Board, what is the impact of this pilgrimage to the state?
Ans: I think that is one of the reasons some people are asking why the government should sponsor people to the Holy Land? But I can tell you that the testimonies on this journey to the Holy Land abound. I mean testimonies of people being healed; barrenness that has been cured, the testimonies are there. So many people don’t understand why such money will be spent for people to go to Jerusalem. But it is a command that all nations that will come to Jerusalem and pray that God will bless them. That is why many nations today, including China now go to Israel. So is it us that should not go? What wrong have we done that government cannot sponsor us to go there? When we go there, we have sessions for farming. They teach people how to do farming. You know they are the best when it comes to farming. And we engage them in other things too. So it’s not only about going to see the site, it is also learning one or two things from the Israelis. So it is very useful. And here in the state, it is creating quite a lot of impact because we are getting people to join together and make things happen.