By SAM EYOBOKA
Emmanuel Nuhu Kure is the National Secretary of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, but based in Kafanchan, Kaduna State where he is the pastor of Throneroom Ministry, Recently, he was in Lagos for a programme at the National Stadium, and took time off to speak with Sunday Vanguard. Excerpts of interview…..
Why have you chosen to remain in the North despite the security challenges and threat to life?
Two reasons: one, I am a northerner. Two, I have to encourage my people that the Lord has not abandoned us. As long as I am there, they have faith that one day God will intervene. The day I leave, hope leaves. They believe if God will not protect me, God cannot protect them.
They’ve always looked up to us. We show them the way of the Lord and we cannot abandon them now. If we die, that’s fine. It must be God’s portion for our lives. We are not afraid of death. The same way the other side is not afraid of death, we are not. You see so much of death sometimes that death has lost its meaning. We just pray that these issues are resolved eventually and I believe they will be resolved.
What can you say about the origin of all these crises in the North?
The truth is that crisis is embedded in the culture of the North. The culture and history of the North have always been that of crisis. When they talk about poverty being the reason, they are just giving reason that is not real. Poverty has always been in the North from time immemorial.
In fact, poverty is part of the culture of the North. I don’t think it has its roots in religion; from the beginning, the poor have always depended on the rich to be fed. They were never encouraged to be rich. So, poverty is part of the culture; it’s what makes the North go round.
Forgive my choice of language. We may be using it now as a weapon of war, but that is not speaking the whole truth. Go there every Friday, you’ll find the poor lining up along mosque areas waiting for people to come and give them money. It’s the culture of the land.
It will not change maybe for another century except the North decides to change that culture. And, of course, culture is established by men. It’s men who set the pattern; it’s men who can change it. I don’t care how many Almajiri schools the government builds, poverty will remain in the North except the northerners change the culture. I grew up to meet it; I grew up to hear about it. I’m getting older now, it’s still there. We are just using it at this hour to bring down a government that did not start it.
The crisis did not begin with Boko Haram. We’ve had Maitatsine; we’ve had all sorts of crises all over the place. It is this one that has particularly got out of hand and is threatening the whole nation. Before, the crisis was restricted to locales and they were contained.
They were just sects fighting against sects; they were not necessarily sects fighting Nigeria. This time around, some political miscalculations boomeranged. The founder of Boko Haram, the late Mohammed Yusuf, was involved with politicians at the beginning. But the marriage went sour.
One thing led to the other and he got killed and his people decided to go for vengeance. From vengeance, a religious component was introduced and, to make it have impact, Christians were dragged into it. They began to hunt and kill Christians because that was the shortest route to get recognition.
If they wanted their cause accepted by the world, they needed to burn a lot of churches. Christians are actually easier to kill than Muslims. So it was a matter of easy target until the Christians in some areas began to fight back and people were beginning to say that Christians were fighting Muslims.
The world never took into cognizance that the Christians have been killed all these while. I think Christians have a right to self-defense where government is not protecting them enough. Christians should not just sit down and die like rabbits on the streets.
And there is something people don’t notice. When (elder statesman) Alli Mungono was kidnapped, something came out of it that the world didn’t notice. The people who kidnapped the old man had great respect for him and they treated him with respect. But did you note what they said?
They said they were not interested in his person; all they wanted was his contribution to the war effort. Did that not go far enough to let us know that there are very respectable people contributing to their war efforts? The elite in the North that we do not know of and we pray one day God will reveal them.
But most of these people making noise and pressurizing President Goodluck Jonathan government, the truth is that they are the sponsors of this thing. They pay their tithes behind and come to make noise in the open. That is the only way they can keep themselves alive: by speaking openly against the government like they are doing while paying their tithes behind. How many of them have not contributed to the Boko Haram war effort?
So it’s all hypocrisy. They just heat up the polity in an attempt to destroy this nation. I think we should begin to read between the lines in those matters.
The president once said his administration had been infiltrated by agents of Boko Haram, but strangely he has not been able to do anything about it. What will you identify as the constraints of the president?
I sympathize with this president.
This is not the best of times to be the president of Nigeria. Even the will of the strongest man will be tested in these times. Not even a Muslim president going through this kind of pressure will remain sane. So, it’s not about Islam or Christianity. I want to say that the people are just taking advantage of the weakness of the president. The president, by nature, is a very nice person.
He’s a kind hearted person sometimes to a fault for that kind of office. If the president slaps you, he watches how you will react. If you look too pained and you are over disturbed, he sends you a soothing balm. That’s the kind of person that is leading us now and you can’t blame God for creating him like that. That is him by nature.
I’ll give you an example, this declaration of state of emergency, I’m sorry I was not happy with it because it did not go far enough. When you declare a state of emergency in any state, you remove the governor. These are governors that have been accused of complicity. Gov. Murtala Nyako has been creating problems for his own state there.
We don’t know whether he is part of the problem there. You declare a state of emergency and you leave Nyako in power. The other man in Borno has been there and he has not been able to solve the problem. You want to wipe out the disease and you leave those who have created an atmosphere for the disease or who have allowed an atmosphere that incubated it to exist.
That is the president’s way of meeting the North half way; the same North that would not allow him breath; the same North that will not give him credit for what he has done right when he does it right. Everybody interprets his actions in terms of politics because they are from the same party.
The president needs somebody from the North to tell him when he has done right that he has done right for God’s sake. Everybody in the North is playing opposition even when they are not opposition. Everybody is just being abusive, they are not being positive about it. But then it’s not their fault, it’s the weakness of the president himself.
There are some things that are drastic, they have to do with human lives. If you are going to take actions, they should be drastic enough to solve the problem. Human blood is involved on both sides; Muslim blood, Christian blood, and those bloods are crying out to the God of heaven to intervene.
So why can’t the president also take the drastic steps that answer the prayers of those bloods that are crying out? You declare a state of emergency and then to try to compromise with the North, you left their governors. And you know it has had its own effect. It is like the Law of Karma.
The same governors added their votes to beat the PDP’s candidate at the NGF election. There are some things that would have fallen in line without them. So he has held down the hands of God from completely doing what He would have done, the effect it’d have had if he had put up administrators. Why would they do it in Plateau State and they won’t do it in other states?
If it came to us, those of us in the Middle Belt, they will flog us as if we have no parents, but when it goes to the far North, everybody softens. They reduce the hand with which they measure justice. Why must it always be like that in this nation? When it came to Gov. Joshua Dariye, they did not only humiliate him, removed him, put an administrator for six months, people lobbied for them to add more to those months.
Why must they do that for one part of the country and they won’t do that for another part? That is why I will not be surprised the way things are now; the efforts of the military that is enforcing the law in those three states are undermined. I think that they (North) are just taking advantage of the president, taking advantage of his weakness.
The politicians are holding him captive for his weakness on all sides, from the opposition, to the ruling party. As a Church, we pray everyday to break that hold on him because if Nigeria must move forward, the president must act drastically.
I must be fast to make this comment; this year, have you noticed that he has broken away from the norm? It was worse last year. This year, the president is beginning to take real independent steps, not being manipulated by anybody. His most drastic step since he came to government took place this year.
This year has been a dividing of times and seasons for the president. We rejoice that he is beginning to break loose from the spell. We’ve always thought that the president was under a spell; that he needed to begin to bite. He needed to begin to move in the direction that God ordained for him and we think we are beginning to see that and we rejoice.
Do you think that this state of emergency will bring an end to Boko Haram?
It will go far. I think negotiations eventually will finish the rest. It’s already done much. Go to some parts of the North and you will see some semblance of sanity. People are moving around, they are confident. I think the crisis we should be addressing more now is the Fulani uprising.
The Fulani are gradually taking the place of the Boko Haram right now and I think we should be concerned. The Fulani thing is not just in the North; it’s all over Nigeria. In the Yoruba land now, we’ve had so many of that, whole villages ransacked and wiped out, and the governors of those states are not saying anything.
They are suppressing the thing. I don’t know when the government will find a solution to the Fulani restiveness. I think that might be the new frontier. We are moving from Boko Haram to the Fulani now. Actually the Fulani are almost taking over the Boko Haram fight, making it their own.
With the picture you are painting about the esperation of the North to remain relvant vis-à-vis the Fulani uprising an the desire of government to always neotiate; do you think there will ever bea time when there’ll be peace in this country?
Yes, when the patriotic ones are born. There are northerners who are patriotic except that religion has a way of affecting them eventually. They start being patriotic, and just when we are developing great hopes, they dash our hopes by tilting towards religion and spoiling the whole thing. Let me tell you one of those northern patriotic people. The late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was a very sincere man.
The other one that was a complex man but was still patriotic is Gen. Sani Abacha. Deep inside him, he was a real patriotic Nigerian. You won’t believe it but that’s the truth. They say that every man has his own extreme; every man has his own weakness. He was a complex man who was in love with power, but let me tell you, Abacha would bite a Muslim as much as he would bite a Christian in trying to do what was right.
You were close to him…
Don’t say I was close to him. I had access to his government. You can’t be close to any of these people. I’m sorry to say that. As a priest, you cannot, not even as a prophet.
Those who knew him will agree with me but, unfortunately, it is not always what you want the world to know that they get to know about you. There are some final aspects of you that the world might never discover. Thank God that there is a book in heaven that records us, maybe when we get there, we’ll get to know more about each other. Somebody like Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) for example; I admire him, despite the criticisms by some Christians.
At a time, I really thought that Buhari would be one of the saviours of this nation; one of the finest individuals that the North has ever produced but I’m beginning to do a rethink. It takes provocations and incidents to bring out a man. When Buhari made that broadcast on radio in Kaduna where he was lambasting the Federal Government about the Boko Haram thing and comparing it with the late Yar’Adua’s efforts, everything about him disappeared in me; every respect I had went out.
I began to thank God that he never became president; we would have been in trouble. And I pray he never becomes president. Any party that chooses him, that party will never win elections. Even the North will not vote him. That is not the kind of leader we want in Nigeria. It’s very unfortunate that you allow such provocations. It’s a sign that it’s time for him to retire from politics before he messes up the rest of glory that he has left.
If APC really wants to give Jonathan a good fight, they should bring out a man that is truly patriotic. They should not commit the same sin they are accusing PDP of. Whether it is PDP, APC, ACN, ARN, all of them are the same. It’s the same autocracy that is taking place in ACN.
You were one of the four Christian clerics who went to pray for the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. What was your experience there?
You are taking us back to the Old Testament.
It is part of the Bible. Besides, you promised to tell the world what transpired….
Well I don’t think I want to open that can yet. The day will come, maybe, after this government, we can talk about that further. This government is an offshoot of that government. Let’s allow that for now. But the truth is that I admire Yar’Adua for principles. He was one Muslim with a difference. He had his own pressure, Islamic pressure. Of course when a Christian is a president, Christians will pressurize that president and vice versa; but the president should be able to draw the line and know that he is a president for everybody.
Yar’Adua tried to do that. Some of us who were priests were frustrated. For example, they didn’t allow us access to him. If it were not Yar’Adua himself calling our names and saying we should come, nobody have allowed us see him. There were Muslim extremists within the government that did everything to stop us at the gate even when the president said we should come.
After you got there?
Even before I got there. And I’m not the only one with that experience. Some of the fathers will tell you the same thing. They will go there on official appointment and they will be stopped at the gate. For the first time in the history of this nation, we were being stopped at the gate when we had official appointment with the president himself, under Yar’Adua. I’m not the only one with that experience.
Others are being nice about it, they won’t talk about it. In Yar’Adua’s time, sometimes we were stopped at the gate. So we took it in good strides, it was their turn. But I think we should be nicer about that. Aso Villa should be open to all, whether they be Muslims or Christians, and that’s why I’m happy that the president, during Christmas, Muslims will gather to go and pay him homage and he will open his doors for them. During Yar’Adua’s era, they made it difficult. They’ll choose only their politicians. Politicians are not Christian clergy.
When you people visited, was President Yar’Adua still alive?
Of course he was alive! Do you sincerely believe that I, David Oyedepo, John Onaiyekan and Prof. Yusuf Obaje will come out and tell you a lie that he was alive when he was dead? Would you think we would do that and lose our salvation?
From the power outage at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja to the virtual military take over of Abuja when he returned, the impression Nigerians had was that it was his dead body that was brought from Saudi Arabia….
Well I don’t know whether it was a dead body I shook. I shook a hand and the hand lifted itself. If it was dead, then I needed to have cast out some demons. I never saw a dead body that day. He was helpless but he was not dead.
Did he recognize you?
He didn’t have enough time to start recognizing us individually. If you’d been to the Presidency, sometimes, the protocol will just keep rushing you. The most important thing was to pray for him. But he was alive. He tried to recognize us, he made efforts to speak.
They tried to calm him down; it was like they didn’t want him to talk. But he made efforts to speak, especially when it came to Onaiyekan, there was some recognition. Onaiyekan was the CAN president and he had had more rapport with the president than the rest of us. But the essence of our meeting with him was to pray for perfect healing, to bring deliverance onto him.
That means your meeting with him was very brief, like 5-10 minutes?
I can’t remember now but it was not as brief like that. It was naturally done but it was sharp and straight to the point.
What were the criteria for the selection of the four of you?
I don’t know, you’ll ask them. I was called. For me, I got to understand later because, at that time, I didn’t have any position, I was not in the politics of CAN or any of the organizations including PFN. I was just one God arrested from the side and put him at the center.
The reason the Yar’Aduas gave later was that I had given prophetic insight into the late president’s situation for many years. I prophesied his coming into power, he came into power. Even against Abubakar Atiku, I prophesied and he came to power.
I had prophesied also how he would end if he didn’t do some things. I told him what his destiny was; his destiny was to handle the Niger Delta crisis that time—another kind of Boko Haram. The killings had begun in the Plateau and other places. I had told him that part of his destiny was to bring peace to the North. He was to be like a bringer of peace to the North. And that if he refused to lay that standard and allowed Muslims wipe out Christians deliberately, the Lord will take his life from him.
I also told him the time line when that would take place. Whether it was a coincidence or it was a reality, I spoke what I saw and it came to pass; I also told the vice president his time-line, meaning that if it worked like that, the vice president will also become president.
They remembered that role so they thought this man knew the programme. When I went there, they pulled me aside and said ‘ the reason you are here sir, go beyond that, can God show mercy? Can God change these timeline?’ It’s like deep inside of them, they felt he might not survive. And they had the right to ask God for mercy. That was why they called in the Muslims and Christian leaders.
So I knew my own mission but when I got there, I sensed that it’d not happen like that and I told them what would make him escape. I told them that privately. That was me and them, it had nothing to do with the four. My reason for being called was slightly different from the other three.
I think Oyedepo was called because of the miracles in the Living Faith Church. We were called in because they believed we had access to God and that we could pray some effective prayers that would help the matter. And the Lord spoke to them after that. I think that is just about the details I can give you for now.
What did you tell them?
Yes I told them something, that is why I said at the right time. I had to leave a meeting at the Sports Complex to go for the Yar’Adua prayer session and came back to it to conclude it and I had made a comment in that meeting that the Lord had said that within three weeks they should take him out of the Villa to somewhere he’d be withdrawn from the pressure and troubles.
That was the time when the polity was heated. I told them to take him away from the Villa because while he was there within those three weeks, even if as much as one mosquito bite him once, he would die. I told them I saw only three weeks.
So, if they had taken him out within those three weeks, maybe God would have shown mercy and given him some rest and added some time to his life. I don’t know how much time, I’m not God. I’m just an oracle who spoke for that season. And the understanding I got later, I was told they couldn’t take him out because it was not politically convenient.
They were afraid that Jonathan would take over if they took him out. They kept him there to ensure Jonathan did not take over even when it was to the detriment of his health. Maybe it was a tactical move; the wife had no say in those matters.
Contrary to general opinion that she was the one calling the shots?
Nigerian politicians are very complicated and sophisticated people; when they know their interest will be at stake, they will use you to remain relevant; they will keep you there until they get what they want. I think she was also under captivity. This is my opinion. Of course she would have wanted her husband to live; she would have wanted to remain the first lady naturally.
Let’s not pretend about these things. Constitutionally it was not her call; it was the politicians’ call which was what the people in the National Assembly and Nigerians were calling, that, ‘let the constitution have its way’. It was a constitutional call, it was not her call.
We understand she was the coordinator…
I don’t know about that.
Christians have been at the receiving end of all these crises. What is your advice to them and how did you emerge as the PFN national secretary?
I think that sincere Christians should step up their acts by getting more involved with government. They should not shy away from government. We should aggressively pursue government and governance with a mind to changing things and setting examples of how things should be. Unfortunately, those people who are sincere, whether Christians or Muslims, are, often times, not too aggressive, and, because they are not aggressive, they are kept away from power.
It is the rascals and very aggressive ones that seem to always hijack power. I chose those words deliberately. They are the ones who raise the thugs that eventually become the problem to this nation and they seem to be turning Nigeria every time and confusing Nigeria.
I believe God that a revolution would soon take place that will displace those people and install the right people in power. But Christians must no longer play the second fiddle; the world is no longer innocent. Let’s step inside and save the world. We must do what our saviour did; we must get involved in politics. For my emergence as PFN secretary; I didn’t politic for it.
I belonged to the National Advisory Council, NAC, which, by constitutional provision, handle elections; and later brought before the National Executive Council, NEC, for ratification. I just went through a process. The truth is that I didn’t expect to be elected, I didn’t go as a candidate.
I never imagined myself to be a candidate. Actually I went for that election to become the balance. My intention was if I found anything carnal in it, I was going to scuttle it. I ended up being captured. I think that is just how I got there. I want to believe that it was divine.