MOST Rev. Nicholas Okoh is the current Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion). He was in Lagos recently and spoke with our OLAYINKA LATONA on several national issues including late Miss Cynthia Osokogu who was killed by friends she met on Facebook and the floods that have ravaged most parts of the country. The retired lieutenant colonel in the Nigerian Army also state of insecuity in the nayion. Excerpts…..
How do you respond to the series of killings in the country, esp-ecially those of students at Mubi and Aluu in River State?
There is a spirit of wickedness that is reigning in our country at present. If we have descended so low to the extent of cutting a human being’s neck like that of an animal, then there is something lacking in our human instinct. We have be-come totally depraved.
That of Port Harcourt—we are hearing another case now that they actually went there to asked for their money—but assuming they stole cell phones; is that why the people become so angry that they set fire on the boys after beating them? And they were enjoying seeing them burning till they died?
There is an evil spirit that is haunting our country. The anger we express towards an issue does not commiserate with what happens. If you want to test it, just go out and make a slight mistake while driving somebody will tell you; “your mother, your father.”
They will not even allow you to say sorry. There is a demonic affliction that is affecting us. That we go to church on Sundays or mosque on Fridays does not reflect in our moral lives. It is a very big failure. For me, it is not about leadership but wickedness of the people and we have to repent.
You recently advocated the inclusion of youths in Anglican Church administration. What is the reason for this?
There is subtle resistance between the elders and the youths in the Anglican church with most church council; consisting of elders who believe that they are matured enough to handle all issues and describing the young people as inexperienced.
But they forget that they are passing away and will not be there tomorrow and if these youths are not properly trained within the system they will abandon it and the whole system will collapse. It is better to face the reality of life now that when you have served your generation you give way for others to take over and play their role.
Life is a stage; where you play your part you allow others to do theirs. Sometimes some clergymen are worried about enthusiasm of the youths and refuse to allow them participate because they will make mistakes, but it is better for us to allow them today to make such mis-takes and correct them rather than exclude them.
It is believed that the social media is contri-buting to the ills in the society. What is the role of the Church in this direction?
Discouraging youths from the use of social media is not only a responsibility of the church. Parents, mission schools and the Church in general have to be rightly involved in train-ing, enlightening and monitoring these child-ren when it comes to the use of social media.
The lady who met her un-timely death recently through the use of social media hailed from my village. It is a very great pain to us that such promising young wom-an was cut down in her prime. When the use of social media came, we all hailed it and were happy because it makes life easier for everyone and information flows very easily.
But it does have its side-effects. Parents should monitor what their children and wards are doing and do a lot of home teaching on the use of internet. Otherwise there is little one can do, most of these children have access to computer systems and other devices.
The responsibility goes to miss-ion schools that they should educate the children on Godly principles. Government did a lot of harm when they took over schools from missionaries and since then the missions have not been able to regain balance because the schools taken over were ruined.
Sir, your advice to flood victims
I am pleading and advocating that those who are still around these affected areas should kindly evacuate these areas. There are some people who are living by the water and they don’t want to leave. They should not remain adamant but listen to government because the water might still come back. Those that need to be resettled should be resettled. Although it is true that Nigeria have not experienced this for the past 50 years but no-body knows tomorrow.
What is the Church doing to reduce fees paid in her schools?
Teachers, NUT are all asking for a certain amount of salary and you cannot find the money elsewhere to pay these bills because we need to pay for pension, allowances, housing, transport amongst others for the teachers and all the staff to ensure that they are comfortable, otherwise they will not stay there.
The point you raised has been a moral angle on the neck of the church; how will you collect money from the people to start a school and at the end these people’s children cannot go there. It is a very big question. What I have been dis-cussing in some quarters is that more scholar-ships will be given to those who are doing well and progressively the fees should be reduced downward because it is not a bank or business. The church ought to contribute to social upliftment of the people. That is on the part of Anglican Church, I don’t know about all other denominations.