Pastor Ituah Ighodalo is the senior pastor of The Trinity House Church. In this interview he speaks on the state of the nation. INIOBONG IWOK brings excerpts:
What is your take on Matthew Kukah’s Easter message on the state of nation?
Matthew Kukah is a great friend of mine who has done so much in terms of contribution to national discourse. I want to thank him for what he is doing. We know the gatekeepers in Nigeria and we know those holding the country in the jugular. They are not more than 1,000 both federal and state. We need to go to them to ask them to leave the people and let my people go. So, we need to go to Aso Rock to tell Buhari to let my people go, if we need to go to OsiNbajo, we do it. If we need to tell the Chief of Staff, all the people working in various agencies that this is the right thing to do in Nigeria, why not do it? We need to go to people in Kano, Niger, Katsina, Enugu, Benue and say; let my people go.
The ones in Anambra, Enugu, Bayelsa we all know are gatekeepers holding up the resources of the country and not doing the things that need to be done.
Why do we have a law in Nigeria in 2021 which does not allow us to develop our natural resources, saying that it belongs to the federal government and the federal refused to develop it? Why are we wasting each other’s time?
There is gold and bitumen in the ground and the federal government would not develop it and they would not change the law. We don’t need to import food. Why are we importing food?
People are just making money left and right even with the Anchor Borrowers Scheme. What kind of thing is this? We know we need to go tell them and stop talking generally in the air; if we keep talking generally in the air no one would take responsibility. We need to take up Tinubu and ask why do you want to be president? What is your plan for Nigeria?
I went to Ajegunle and Bariga the other day. People are living in slums. Why don’t we develop Lagos so that people can live in comfortable houses, and live well? Why are we running to the federal looking for power and resources in Aso Rock?
I told my Igbo brothers the other day, why they bother themselves about Nigeria. You people have enough money, you are rich, why not take your money to Anambra and Imo States to develop them and make them the Dubai of Nigeria. Why don’t you develop the resources on the ground? Why not go and dig up your gold? Why are you wasting time?
The people must move; we must talk to the gatekeepers; enough is enough, why hold these people of God? How long are you going to even live? How much life is left? How much energy do you have? How much cloth are you going to wear? The people are dying. My President left the country and went to London to take medical treatment when some of the best doctors are Nigerians. Nigeria has exported all its competent hands; there are about eight Nigerians in the Biden cabinet. These people are doing all sorts of things for him, writing his speeches and if they come here they would be frustrated and without a job; it is enough; we must tell them it is enough.
We need to tell them and name them and stop them. What are you looking for power for? People are roaming the streets with no food. Areas boys everywhere; nowhere to sleep; they are on drugs.
And we are still fighting for power. And one of the things is that we are not telling ourselves the truth because tomorrow you may go to Aso Rock for a contract. How long are we going to continue like this? We should call these people what is your plan for Nigeria? What are you doing with the blessing God has given you? We should call them what have you done with the money, the roads you said you built at N1billion is it worth the money? Tell the people the truth.
They said the other day we should come and see one politician’s house in Dubai that is very beautiful; what is he building the house in Dubai for? Why not build here? And you have all three, four houses there wasting away and providing employment for white people and you cannot bring them here and develop Nigeria?
And you go back to the same British people, Americans begging for aid; these are the people who enslaved us and put laws that Africa doesn’t work and you go back to them.
You think these people would come and tell you how to make this country work? It is not in their interest that Nigeria should work.
These are people who steal your natural resources, cocoa, bitumen; and you think it is in their interest that Nigeria would work?
It is not in their interest that your cocoa would survive. I like the President of Ghana who says; he would not export cocoa to Switzerland anymore; if you want to eat cocoa come here.
Why is Switzerland the chocolate capital of the world? What nonsense is that? How can we take crude oil here and refine it abroad? Who does that?
How can we be sitting and watching people sabotage our refineries, we are watching them. We should speak up. The problem in Nigeria is that people are not talking.
Specifically, everybody is saying Nigeria is bad. We know them; we need to bring them out and say; this is what you did when as Minister of telecom. This is what you did as Minister of Agriculture and we warn them or at least bar them from holding public office. We should not hide them.
We need new people with new thinking for the generality of Nigerians and we have to look for them. There are some people by God’s grace they would never come near to leadership in Nigeria again, I would pray and fast and fight them; they have had their turn and did not use them well.
People are suffering, you need to go to the street; I go all the time and feed people I know them. The boy that is hawking orange on the streets cannot link his position to his Minister of Information; to his president, and when that man is passing he greets him; he does not know that it is because of that man he cannot go to school; because of that man he is hawking.
How can 12 million children be out of school in Nigeria in this era of technology where what you need is a tab to go to school and we are priding ourselves on how people would bring cows from Sokoto to Lagos and we say that is the issue we should be discussing.
A guy that should be the next Bill Gates in the future is carrying Ak-47 and moving cattle around Nigeria. Why should we be discussing that? They say culture and tradition. What kind of culture is that? You are punishing the cow and the boy; why are we discussing it in this era?
We should say these guys should go to school; what kind of politics is that? What we are seeing everybody is afraid to talk about because we don’t want to be labelled. We need to go to these people one by one and talk to them; enough is enough?
Amid the agitations for power shift to the South; what do you think should be the action plan for the electorate?
The first thing is to make sure that INEC opens its portal so that everybody can register to vote.
The next thing is that everybody of voting age should go and register to vote. Everyone must insist that they register us. People who have voice and capacity must go round informing the poor people.
Some of us are sitting in our house in Ikoyi, VI comfortably and not talking and the masses in Ajegunle have no idea what is going on in Nigeria. We need to go out and inform them that they should go out and vote. Tell them what is right and wrong.
I don’t care who you vote for but be sure you vote for the right person. When the children of Israel wanted to choose a king they said this is the criteria for kingship.
The person must be educated, the person must show leadership capacity, fear God not just walking up and down with a siren. The person must have a vision for Nigeria. How can you vote for someone who does not have a plan, a vision for your country, a plan for your state, he has not given you his manifesto you just vote for him meaning that you can’t hold him accountable because he threw money at you. People need to be informed. There is a deliberate policy in Nigeria to keep people ignorant and illiterate. You are not just going to show up and say you make money and want to run for office. Anybody who wants to run for office in Nigeria should show us their CV, what have you done before, who are you? Who is your father, mother? What have you achieved before?
What did you do with the local government that you managed? What did you do with the law firm you ran? What did you do with the ministerial position you occupied before?
Why do you want to run for public office? What is your character? If you don’t fit into these boxes no way; we would not allow you; we would not vote for you against that is going to be my personal campaign.
We would not just allow you to tell us that you make money from the government and want to use that money for election. We would not allow you. You can’t do that. We need people who are ready to work; who love Nigeria.
While we cannot stop you from saying you want to run, we would stop people from voting for you. You can’t wake up and say you want to run for office without antecedent; that is what they do in Singapore and China. In China, before you run for office you must have worked in the province, local government.
When you say you want to be president; what is your track record? We must make sure the people who offer themselves are the people who are good; if we have anything against them let’s talk.
We must encourage good people, they are all afraid. They said we don’t have money; they are hiding. They said politics is dirty. We must encourage them because they are afraid. The people there are just and they succeed, you too come and try. All the intelligent and competent hands are in Dubai, China, US, UK working for other countries, they can’t work in Nigeria because the system is not favourable. Corruption and the bad system drive them away.
We must tell people to stop being wicked, you civil servants stop being wicked. Politicians stop being wicked.
You can’t come here and keep telling people the same thing. Anybody who comes here and has amassed wealth in places they can’t explain; if you have misused previous opportunities, you should not even try because we would expose you and tell the people. We want people who have some kind of vision, values, background.
We were asking a leader the other day what is your vision for Nigeria and he said he does not know but he knows he wants to rule Nigeria and people still voted for him. So, people cannot connect.
So, we must connect for them that the reason why you can’t go to school, you can’t live a decent life is because somebody took the money and bought a house in Dubai and built a house in Victoria Island.
There must be information going down from people at the top to bottle. People must not just sit down and look.
Go to your village square; go back home to your village in Ajegunle, go back home to your village in Katsina and talk to people and let them know they have to vote.