With Sam Eyoboka
Doctor Abel Damina, national president of the youth wing, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, was among those that campaigned for a free, fair, credible and peaceful polls. He mobilized Christian youths across the country to register and took steps to warn them against being used as thugs during the just concluded elections. In this interview, Damina, who is also the General Overseer of Power City International, Uyo, spoke with journalists on the outcome of the election but expressed sadness that Nigerian youths, especially corps members were killed by fundamentalists in North. He believes that those behind the ugly incident should be made to account for the killings. He also spoke on how government can make political offices less attractive to reduce corruption in the country.
You initiated a campaign for a free and fair election sometime last year. The elections are over now. What is your assessment especially because there were pockets of violence here and there?
I was very touched when I read of the killings. It has been a trend in this coun-try and in the last two years, we have been shouting about this same thing publicly. It is sad and annoying that whenever there is a situation, the people at the receiving end will always be the Christians; whether it is political or religious and I think enough is enough. The Federal Government must rise up and do something decisive. All of these temporary measures are not enough. Look at what they did to the youth corpers. Can you imagine a father who raised up a child, paid his fees and the child graduates and was posted to serve the nation and now they are bringing the dead body of the child to the father. It is not something to imagine and we are not talking about one or two families. It is really touching and sad. That is why I believe that Gen. Muha-mmadu Buhari should be sanctioned by the Federal Government. I agree with the National President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, that Buhari must be arrested. If the people who are behind this unrest are not brought to book, the crises will continue. If you observe, the people that were arrested, and that is how they have always done, were young boys. Where are their sponsors? Why can’t they be arrested? Young people will not just jump into the streets without somebody sending them. In Akwa Ibom State when a similar thing took place, the police went after those at the helm of affairs in that political party. I am in full support of the call for Buhari’s arrest by Papa Ayo. During the mayhem, those that were involved in the violence were chanting things like, ‘changi, sai Buhari.’ This means they were actually doing all that because of Buhari. Prof. Wole Soyinka said something that really inter-ested me. He said the crisis was pre-planned and carried out and that is the more reason why the Federal Government should arrest and question Buhari over the killings. Until the Federal Government calls to order, people like Buhari, this country will still have a long way to go.
There is nobody else to speak for the Christian Community other than the CAN president and like I said, it is the Christians that are always at the receiving end whenever there is crisis in the North. Pastor Oritsejafor just did what he ought to have done and all Buhari could do was to insult him. What he failed to realize is that he was insulting all the Christians in the country and I insist that he must apologise to the Christians in the country. Before Buhari became anything in Nigeria, Pastor Oritsejafor had become a global voice for over 40 years. What would he, at this age, be looking for? If it is money, he has been bless-ed and everybody knows that. If it is fame, he has it already. If it is influence, he has it. So, for him to rise up and insult a man with that kind of repute, who is respected in the comity of nations, that is why we are asking him to apologise. Papa Ayo cannot be an agent of Aso Rock. He has long been recognized as a global voice a long time before he came into the public scene. This is a man that would visit nations and presidents of those nations would be waiting to receive him.
Bauchi State governor, Issa Yuguda said it was the corpers’ destiny to die the way they died….
These are the kind of statements we hear from our so-called leaders and you begin to wonder, where are these leaders taking us to? Parents released their children to go and serve Nigeria and they were slaughtered by people who failed election and in the ensuing riot that led to the death of these youths and the only thing that would come out of a chief security officer of a state is that they were destined to die that way. It is very appalling. That is not the kind of statement that should be coming out of the mouth of leaders in Nigeria in times of crisis like this.
Corps members from the South have left the North for fear of being killed. Do you still believe in one Nigeria?
Yes! I believe in the unity of Nigeria. The fundamen-talists who are burning churches in the North forgot that they also have brothers in the South, who have built mosques and nobody is killing them. If Christians are not peace loving and preaching pe-ace, we would also be retaliating and there would be no peace in this count-ry. But to prove to them that we believe in the unity of Nigeria and we preach and practice it, that is why we do not retaliate. We can only plead with the Federal Government to do something because Christians are being push-ed to the wall and I am only afraid that they won’t have to fight back.
How do you see our evolving democracy after the elections?
The truth is that we can no longer say that Nigeria is a one-party state. Now, we have representations from all the major parties at different levels and I think we have made a lot of progress. If you look at how it was four years ago and what has happened this time, I think we have made a lot of progress. Given the way things are now, in the next four years, I am sure we would have made much more progress and I must give kudos to President Goodluck Jonathan and the INEC chair-man, Prof. Attahiru Jega for their forthrightness and transparency. The president did very well by not interfering in the activities of INEC and he was always saying, ‘do not kill for me, if I fail, I will go home.’ Unlike others, he had endeared himself, not only to Nigerians but to the international community. You remember that last year, we were advocating for the sack of Prof. Maur-ice Iwu. Today, Jega has done us proud by the way he conducted the entire exercise. The whole thing went well because the head was intact. He got sound people in the acade-mia to run the processes. I am very excited. I went out to cast my vote and you can’t imagine that old men and women were there in the rain and under the sun to cast their votes.
How will you set an agenda for Jonathan?
The first thing is for him to fish out all those who are sponsoring and promoting violence in the country. I am watching to see what the president will do. No-body, including Buhari, is above the law. Everybody is subject to the laws of Nigeria. Buhari has dared him. We are watching to see what the president will do about Buhari. The government has to come out with something very serious to secure the youth corpers, otherwise I think they should allow the corpers to serve in their own states, or at best in their region. And when that begins to happen, it will affect our national un-ity, but human life is more important. What Buhari is doing and saying is a threat to national unity. Churches have been burnt, people have died. Instead of talking about how the country can come together, how his kinsmen should stop killing innocent youths who are on national assignment, instead of comforting the bereaved families, he is busy talking about mandate that he do-es not have. Maybe he will have it in the next generation, not now because he does not present himself as a true leader. Maybe somebody should place him where he belongs. He should be subjected to some questioning for what has been happening.