By Henry Umahi
Senior Pastor, Royal Choice Ministries (RCM), Lagos, Dr Success Ibeakanma, has urged Nigerians to be patient with the Muhammaduu Buhari administration. According to him, “the country’s problems did not come overnight and, in the same vein, they cannot disappear overnight.”
He spoke on other issues.
How would you react to the quit notice to Igbo by Arewa youths?
Nobody has the right to issue quit notice to other Nigerians because we are equal stakeholders in the Nigerian project. It is regrettable that ethno-religious issues have been elevated to the front burner in the country. So, we should be careful about what we say because the way things are now, every word is bound to be interpreted and interrogated. Those making hate speeches are not patriotic in every material particular. What the country needs at this point is an atmosphere of peace and development. The country needs infrastructural renewal and rebirth, not threats.
What’s your take on the performance of the Buhari government?
From the promises they made before they came in, I knew that it was not going to be that easy because it is a new government taking over from the former government. They need to have some time like two to three years to clear some things. But from the promises they made, it was as if they were going to start performing wonders the next day. Personally, I was expecting the mess to be cleared within two or three years before we see the needed change in the third or fourth year or even in the second tenure. But from the promises they made to Nigerians, they were able to convince us that something will start to happen immediately. Some people believed that if they take over, the next day they will start work and that was why when they had not appointed ministers, everybody was eager. From the promises they made, I would have given them like 90% but now, I can give them like 55%.
Considering that when former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was sick, Buhari advised him to resign. Now, would you advise Buhari to resign because of his state of heath?
Buhari advised Yar’ Adua to resign. It was very clear and we read it in the newspapers. He said Yar’Adua should resign because he was sick and could not take care of the nation again. But that was Buhari and today, Buhari is sick. I am not Buhari; I am Ibeakanma. People are clamouring for that, they are not wrong because the constitution allows it. Some people will stand on what he said before while some will stand on what they feel. But I believe that nobody makes himself sick. Anybody can fall sick and I believe that if Buhari is 73 years old or thereabout as he told us, he is not a spring chicken. As a pastor, I believe that God can heal anybody. Anybody can fall sick. Pastors can fall sick and government officials can fall sick. I am advising Nigerians to pray for the president to recover and be strong because we will not just judge the president until after four years. Some people may start to judge even in the first five months or one year but I will not judge anybody until after four years. It is after four years that I will sit down and analyze the performance vis-à-vis the promises that they made. So, my advice to Christians and also Muslims is to pray for the president to be strong so that we can judge him after four years. If he resigns now, we will not have enough evidence to say this did not happen or this is what happened. Let him complete the four years so that Nigerians can judge him accordingly. If I am not praying for him it means I am saying, president go and die. God forbid. I am praying for his speedy recovery to complete his assignment.
There is the insinuation that the anti corruption war is no longer on track because there was so much hope when they started but what we see now is motion no movement. Do you think that the war is still on course?
I know that when Buhari came into power, he gave everything in him to fight corruption. He was serious about it and he wanted to fight it to the end. But he has some challenges because some people in his own government have question mark on their integrity. It’s like holding somebody on the neck. You are fighting corrupt people outside and they are pointing to you that they know what they did with the people working with you. Buhari has to fight inside and outside. It is some of the people working with him that will advise him to take it easy. Some of those with him are sabotaging his effort because they are also involved. Buhari cannot be everywhere. He has people representing him in every department and what they give to him is what he will work with. So, if something truly happens and they water it down before going to him, he will work with what they gave to him because he cannot be everywhere. He cannot be in Abia State, Sokoto State or Abuja at the same time. He is only one man; he is not a spirit.
Gun wielding herdsmen have taken over many states and no one seems to care. Don’t you think that the country is playing with fire?
It is the responsibility of government to protect lives and property. Unfortunately, people are being killed across the country daily. Blood has been flowing in Southern Kaduna just as kidnappers and armed robbers are on rampage. But remember that Buhari has been unwell for sometime, so he has to delegate the work to some people. But the importance of security cannot be over emphasized. Those making life miserable for others should be brought to book irrespective of where they come from. Ethnicity and religion should not be a consideration in this matter. I see the Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi as a true Nigerian because he tells you the truth irrespective of the situation. If we see ourselves as one, this country will be better. If anybody kills or terrorizes others, he should be dealt with according to the law irrespective of the faith he professes or place of origin. If government demonstrates seriousness in handling the herdsmen killing people everywhere, it will stop. Government should face the herdsmen they way it faced Boko Haram lately. The herdsmen believe that they are untouchable and that is why they have the guts to attack people everywhere. They believe that they have the power. But Buhari is the president of Nigeria. He is not the president of Fulani or any section alone. The herdsmen are attacking Churches, farms and everybody even without provocation. It ought not to be so. So, government should come up with measures to deal with the menace.
What is your reaction to the clamour for restructuring?
A multi-ethnic, multi-religious and volatile polity like ours needs adjustment here and there. As it is, no group seems to be happy with the present arrangement and that is the reason for the religious and ethnic tensions in the country. The country is grossly underdeveloped while the structure is skewed in favour of a section of the country. Indeed, the incursion of the military into political governance eroded the essence of democracy, so there is the correct the jackboot tendencies in the constitution and the way we do things generally. We need to rejig the system because of the rot.
What do you think is responsible for the country’s underdevelopment?
Nigeria needs deliverance. Some people will tell you that our problem is bad governance. The administration in office now accused the previous one of bad governance, promising to correct the errors of the past. But the difference between them is not much. They really came in to bring change; the truth is that they didn’t come to deceive Nigerians. The country we are in needs deliverance. We need prayers. The people in authority need our prayers. Without God’s backing, it will be a problem.