APOSTLE Zilly Aggrey is the Chairman, Rivers state chapter of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria. In this interview with Jimitota Onoyume of Sweet crude on the occasion of his forty eight birthday anniversary he speaks extensively on the brutal killings of Christians in the north. Describing it as very painful and urges government to take steps to protect the lives of Christians in that part of the country.
On call for the division of the country along religious lines by Libyan Leader, Col Muammar Gaddafi, Apostle Zilly said the statement was the most unfortunate thing that could come from the president of a country on another country.
Happy birthday. How are you celebrating it?
Had wanted to celebrate my birthday in a lavished form but events between January to date in the country have not been palatable. Imagine burying four hundred people in a mass grave. Seeing the pictures on television has made me not to think of an elaborate celebration.
I want to thank God for being alive but I am mourning with the people of Plateau state. We have never seen this level of man in humanity to man when babies were hacked to death. By my position in the PFN to celebrate will look like I don’t have feelings.
When churches are destroyed in the north they make promises to rebuild or compensate but nothing is ever done.
Libyan Leader, Col Muamma Gaddafi called for splitting of the country along religious lines. What do you say?
It is one of the most unfortunate statements we have heard from the president of another country on another country. Nigerian is a country that should not be divided. Nobody should think of coming to divide the country, that was a careless statement from Gadaffi.
We fought to keep this country one. I have never been an advocate of a divided Nigeria. What we need now is a strong and positive leadership that can come from any part of the country. A leader that will address challenge of power, remove the country from the list of highest generator importers in the world.
I jokingly tell my friends that for instance, if there is a Niger delta republic, the struggles for the president of the republic will another major problem. We see the problem generated in communities sometimes when they have to share proceeds from multinationals then we can imagine what it will be like to produce a president for a republic like that. We want a leadership that can invest in mass oriented programmes. The waste in our society today is because we have not had sound leadership. America, Britain, France, Australia etc. they have Muslims and Christians yet we don’t hear of crisis there.Â I think our problem is that of leadership
Meanwhile, Gadaffi’s statement is not accepted by the Christians community both in the north and south.
How can we guarantee security in Jos?
Government should talk to influential religious leaders. They should deal with religious leaders that come up with incisive messages. Such leaders should sign undertaken; this will help when they know that if you incite the people against the state or lives you will answer for it. Muslims and Christians live in South Africa, Cameroun etc. My prayer on a daily basis is that some one some where should be wise enough to know that the Christian community is not afraid to defend itself.
Christians should not be provoked to that level because if Christians preach imagine, tell their followers to take up arms, it will not be easy. Up till now what we have been telling our people is pray and defend yourself but that fight. No religious leader should wake up to tell people that another man’s live is not important. We have situations where good relationships exist between Christians and Muslims.
There are Christians and Muslims with the best of relationship. The government should look out for the fundamentalists pushing these people. Some of those arrested confessed that they were sponsored. All we want is that those caught should face the law.
The nation would soon be fifty. Do you think that there is hope for the country with all we are seeing in a nation that is fifty years?
There is hope. But as at today, we have disappointment. A lot of Nigerians hardly have role models. These are some of our problems. Against some riverine states don’t have good water to drink. Fifty years of independence, people still travel to seek medicare outside, no world class hospitals, and no good roads. This is why we appreciate the governor of Rivers state, Amaechi on road construction. See the educational system in the country; it is nothing to write home about.
The educational environment should be the most beautiful areas in any country. But it is not so. Walk into some universities in this country you wonder if you are in a university environment. All I think we can celebrate is that fifty years, we have managed to remain one which is a great feat. So many countries could not remain one within this period, they disintegrated.
Sadly everything seems in a mess in the country.Â We sell crude but with out been able to refine. See our prisons that were supposed to be reformation centers’, noting is happening there.Â Our former president was in prison for three and a half years yet when he came out nothing was done there.
What in your view should be the contemporary challenge of the church in Nigeria?
It should teach on national transformation. This is what wee need more in the country now. The people should be taught from religions houses their duties to the nation as well. We should be involved in community development. When the missionaries came with the message, they also came to develop the total man that was why they came with schools, hospitals etc. It was not all about salvation.
When reformation theology is taught in schools, market places etc it will translate into national development as well. Churches should teach the sacredness of the votes. Members should know that their votes represent their political powers. When society begins to hold political leadership responsible everybody will sit up. The level of management of society through the church teachings at the moment is low.
The church is mainly concentrating on binding the devils. Deliverance, prosperity, miracles etc are God’s perfect will for its people.
You were not born a pastor. Tell us a little of your dark side before you became a Christian?