Ituah Ighodalo, founder and senior pastor of Trinity House Church, Lagos, speaks on pressing issues affecting Nigeria.
Do you think the amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914 by the British was wrong?
The British set up a structure that would continue to favor them and unfortunately, that structure was truncated and it benefited them to a large extent because their companies are doing well. But the problem is a lot of us did not wake up to smell the coffee. We did not wake up to the reality of our situation and circumstances. We did not wake to chart a course for Nigeria and Nigerians as against the course of various nations of Nigeria.
The British left behind the situation where there was no Nigeria as usual, it was only on paper and a lot of people have said it is only an expression and the fundamentals that make a nation are not there. And the problem is that we Nigerians did not wake up and develop fundamentals that make a nation because we did not have the right leadership and the seed of deceit that had been sowed among us. So, it is like you are leading the house and you are dividing and ruling. So, they divided us.
A lot of us have woken up and feel we are cheated; several nationalities have demanded for a renegotiation of Nigeria. Is that the right process and how soon?
We are all adults now. We sat down at this table, in 1953-1954 and talked, that is why we had regions and we said let the region develop at their pace.
Let’s share a few things in common, the same bathroom, a few windows, but let each person have their own rooms, but you can come to the room and we share some at the centre.
Then the military came and threw out that agreement, only God knows who instigated them to do that because the military style is; divide and rule. And we are still having that military hegemony today. This is the pain that some Nigerians still have that they still feel today we must sit-down and discuss.
The national confab in 2014 was held and the reports were extensive. Should we go back to it?
First of all, you need to go back to that confab and review it, it’s been a few years old now. You have to be sure it is still fresh and relevant and if it is still relevant let’s discuss and agree. The problem is that the eldest brother, the second who they put in charge of the family resources, is reluctant to let go. It does happen, to get them to sit down now and talk is a problem.
The 2023 election is around the corner, should the youth bring someone of their own or support an older experienced candidate?
What you said is a good thing because in the midst of this, there are laws. Within the family the law says whatever the majority want; if you have 30 million votes you win. But because, the brother in the house would not want to restructure because it does not favour them. How can I be in charge of the house resources you said I should restructure?It would take a lot of grace and a lot of sacrifices.
Some would say Bola Tinubu or Yemi Osibanjo should contest the presidency in 2023 because they are experienced, others would say let’s have a fresh individual. What is your take?
Asiwaju is my friend, I love him very much. We have done things together so also the VP. But it should be who would serve the interest of Nigerians? He must call all of us together and we sit and discuss. We must ask what we want to do, which group of people must best serve Nigeria. That is the conversation we should be having. Tinubu trained Fashola, Ambode, and the rest, call all your boys together and ask them this Nigeria problem, what is the solution?
With the current situation Yemi Osibanjo is in this administration, would you advise him to resign?
Yemi Osinbajo is a good friend; in fact, we campaigned together in 2015, and he is really in a difficult situation here between two principals and things like that.
One of the things that Yemi has said is that; he is more effective where he is and the fact that there are few things he can do. But I wish he would express himself more and let me know what he is thinking. He must feel that at this time maybe he should be stable and be a calming figure for the nation and the people.
As to what he should do; it is his personal decision, I would not discuss that in a public space. If I have the opportunity, we can plan a strategy and what is the best interest of Nigeria.
One thing I know about Yemi is that he thinks a lot about what is in the best interest for Nigeria. And therefore, he must have a good idea what he is thinking about.
What is your take on increased agitations for zoning the presidency in 2023?
Zoning is not appropriate; zoning talks about sharing and not about serving. You are talking about zoning because you think it is your turn to take the natural resources of this country.So, the Igbos are agitating because they think it is their turn so that they go there and bring a lot of the resources of the country to their side.
It is my personal decision and I think zoning is wrong. Let say the green eagle, you choose the best, you don’t zone because you want to win the cup. So, if you want Nigeria to win you choose the best. What I am saying is that Nigeria has not enthroned the process to choose the best.
Instead of zoning we should choose the best leader for Nigeria. If I am the best leader of Nigeria, I would be upright, and would be ok. It does not matter who is the president, the most important thing is that we want the best person who thinks for Nigeria.
And to be president in American it is not like that. This whole zoning arrangement was created by the British to cause confusion. They pushed the best and did not allow the best to prosper. They put the best in jail. Because they knew if the best man led the country they would be shut out and they would not have more influence.
If you want me to talk about the Igbo people, I am one of the people who keep telling them to rise up and fight and change the system and take your place. The only problem with the Igbos is that in 1966 they wanted to leave very soon and they are paying the price.
What is your take on agitations for restructuring of the country?
We need a better arrangement; the military introduced this arrangement. Coming to beg for money in the centre; imagine you are still living in your father’s house at 60 years and still coming to beg for money for how long?
So, every day you wake up and ask where my pocket money is. He can’t ask; what are the things I can do to give daddy money instead of continuing to take. We need to go back to that system that enables the children to work and bring forth rather than sharing. We all have resources and we can’t tap them.
2023 is around the corner with the present political arrangement. Do you think the country needs a third force or could be salvaged in the present political set up?
We need a third force the way the parties are structured now, the people that would come out as presidential aspirants are known, probably a few of them, may be, four or five of them. The way the parties are constituted now, I am not sure they would give us the best.
If we are fortunate, they would give us the best, for Nigerians they would give us what suits the party.
I call them the gatekeepers. Some set of people who are thinking for Nigeria to emerge.
The young people would have done it but they are scared now, brutalised at that tollgate, it was very scary and you wonder if these young people would emerge again to say we are ready.
Because what was done to them in that toll gate was traumatising, I am hoping that one or two of them can arise. And even if they emerge their parents can say don’t go. Everybody is waiting for somebody to bell the cat. Who would bell the cat?
What is the way forward considering the unfavourable electoral climate in the country?
But it is expensive to create a new party, I may not run for office, but we must start something to support people, everybody must go and get PVC.
Secondly, they can decide who they rather see in the race, and we should talk to them and go and encourage them. These people either two or more and support them.