New Telegraph

Nigerian System Killing Nigerians –Bishop Umunna

Bible Life Church General Overseer and a humanitarian, Bishop Leonard Umunna in this interview with CHINYERE ABIAZIEM, speaks on how Nigeria has fared in the last one year, the current administration’s policies and impacts on the church, even as he insists that tackling corruption is non-negotiable for the country’s wellbeing

Our country has been going through a lot of challenges, with the new administration both at the central and at the state levels marking the first anniversary on May 29. Nigerians are asking what they have gained that might be worth celebrating. As a stakeholder, how would you describe Nigeria in the last one year?

I have thought about this question, I think the answer to it will depend on the person answering it and the location. If the fellow answering is based in or outside Aso Rock, the response will also differ from the fellow answering it who is a non-Nigerian and based outside Nigeria. I am going to look at it from different perspectives and give one answer.

If those at the seat of power in Aso Rock are asked this question, they will tell you they are over working and tirelessly doing their best or are you not experiencing the blessings? If you ask an independent minded person that is outside Aso Rock, the fellow will say the president said we should heed the call, that he cannot do it all alone. But something is not is not only holding us down but actually poisoning the system and we are dying slowly. To the fellow outside Nigeria, he or she will likely say some aspects of our nation are coming up and other aspects still down. I think the president himself is trying, nobody can do beyond his abilities given the resources. I also think that if he had deviated from the way of Buhari in appointment, things would have been far better by now.

Every area in Nigeria has the best person for any job in Nigeria if we put sentiments and politics apart, that is; forget about tribalism, drop the mind set of ‘it is my turn, it is our turn’ and put the right person in the right position and give the fellow free hand to operate within the constitution, we would have a better place for all Nigerians. It is not that our leaders are not seeing what is happening outside Nigeria. It is not that they are not able to recreate or do better but our mind set based on what we have passed through like the civil war, but some are still ruling based on the result of that war.

They are telling us everything is alive and well, but we are saying eschew nepotism and political jingoism but we are going deeper into it. If they can look into these and avoid these things Nigeria will fare well. We have what it takes to lead Africa, feed Africa and take care of Africa. That is to say the Nigerian system is killing the Nigerian people. Nigeria is a good country based on the resources God Has placed in our hands, the human resources, natural resources even the spiritual resources are at our disposal.

As a man of many parts, what level of burden has the current situation placed on your shoulders especially in running the church, school, hospital and your other arms of the church? Who will listen to my story and not say I am doing well?

But if I should tell you that not one kobo has come in from the school and the church is not paying me; my other enterprises the taxes are skyrocketing and the staff demands are way too high. In the church, workers who are in secular employment are lamenting, they are not finding it easy to pay their tithes because what they have is not enough to take care of their family and other responsibilities, not to talk of paying tithes. Those who brace up by faith decide to pay their tithes are overwhelmed by members who have less financial power. You will discover that the church is not what it used to be, no matter how you try, the fund is not enough because you are still expected to give assistance.

If you are in a rented apartment, you keep paying for rents; if you use light you must pay for the supply, if you have staff you must pay them and if for any reason there are other expenses you must pay. If you have businesses running you must pay taxes. All things are heavy on the church, yet the income is dwindling, members will not come to tell you they are not going to pay tithes but you will see it. You plan to pay the rent and electricity bill from what is realised but at the end of the month you do not find any money to pay, you have to fast and pray in seeking God, as you even have to seek man sometimes in meeting up with the bills which you would have easily met up with it, if it were before. Also, the situation has made attendance, which is the number of people coming to church, to dwindle greatly.

When members do not have money for transport fare and offering, they will not come to church. What you find is that vacant seats will be more and that is not encouraging to attendees as they will also not want to attend other services. When you check on them or ask someone to tell them to come to church they think you are doing that because of tithes, they will begin to frown before you greet them.

So, you do not go further but to bless them and go your way. If Satan wants to add more trouble, he will put on your mind to remind them of their obligations in the church, they will be highly aggrieved, and those who do not throw tantrums will begin to do that to church leaders. This is the way it is in these last days, but you still find some churches still opening branches and you ask yourself how they come about this. The truth is that those ones have things to fall back on, some of them may over the years have saved a lot of money and some of them may have well to do leaders placed in strategic positions who for example can access things from a governor and distribute to members. That is how some of them (churches) are managing to stay afloat. I think the most affected is the prayer arm of churches, as some of the members of this group do two or more jobs to be able to meet up with family responsibilities. You know doing extra jobs is time which affects their presence in the house of God. AwSo, their absence discourages others and in turn affects the church.

That is why you will; go to some churches and you will not hear any sound and during their vigils you see that nothing is happening because poverty brings trouble. It brings powers of darkness into operation because people are no longer serious with their God and won’t go to church to pray and hear God’s words. But those that are wise know their God, vibrant and are doing exploits. The insecurity in our country even makes it difficult for some people to go to a far place to worship God aside the transport fare. With the fuel subsidy matter we have become more impoverished as people are full of lamentations.

There is the problem of food shortage and inflation of food prices as many farmers have been reported to have deserted their farmlands due to insecurity and it appears to be a scotch despite government’s efforts in proffering a solution. How well do you think this can be handled?

My mind is going to why our government at the centre is going here and there looking for sponsors or investors. We have what it takes to be a super power, once you are not tackling corruption, whatever thing you are trying to take care of, corruption will destroy it. Let them invest in electricity, corruption will make some people vandalise the equipment, let them invest in health corruption will make the doctors and nurses to ‘japa’ or carry the drugs to their private pharmacies to sell. Unless the government is able to make the first things first and take care of them, we are going nowhere. People who are in charge of recruitments and high ranking officers have failed in a way because they have failed to unite Nigerians.

How can there be renewed hope and one Nigeria when Nigerians are deprived and their hopes being shattered? Those handling the policies decide what becomes of the administration. If there is a company producing quality products, go and check you will find that the personnel manning the company are responsible for the quality products. If you have corrupt personnel at the top it will trickle down to those at the grassroots. I think the preceding administration handed over more troubles to the current administration and the current administration took off with hard policies and since then all the palliative measures went down the drain. If they ever had the mind set of fighting corruption, God presented the opportunity with some newly employed top officers who acted as if they were not Nigerians.

How can somebody divert millions of government’s money into a private account? This is why Nigeria is the way it is because it is what they see leadership do that they follow. The main answer to Nigeria’s problem is getting it right from the top, fighting corruption and every other thing will fall in place. If this is not done there will be continuous fight against fire instead of laying hold of the one with the match stick that is igniting the fire.

Read Previous

Automation Of Customs Processes Raised Revenues From N1trn To N3trn – MD Webb Fontaine

Read Next

Moniepoint ranked Africa’s fastest growing financial institution by FT