Bishop Tunde Adeleye is the Bishop of Calabar, Anglican Communion. He has been a vocal voice on national issues, in this interview with Johnbosco Agbakwuru, he speaks on the recent proposal for introduction of Islamic banking, the menace of Boko Haram and other issues. Excerpt
The proposal for the introduction of Islamic banking or non interest banking has topped the front burner in the country, as a minister of God, what is your comment on this?
My comment is very simple. The present Governor or the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, is somebody I admire a lot. I admire him for his intelligence and I think in my opinion he is a very intelligent man. For some of the things he is doing with banks of recent, I think he is a very considerate man too.
I think he is a well exposed man, that is my opinion and I also believe that he has some residual of banking knowledge which I believe can be beneficial to Nigerians. But the Islamic banking which he has just brought up is very offensive to Nigerians. It is an insult, it is basically an insult and I think it is also the consequence of the constipation arising from over feeding.
I don’t think he thought of it very well because in this country once something has a religious connotation no matter the content, it is against the constitution. I will give you an example, we have a school in Awka (Anambra State), a University, we applied to the Nigerian University Commission to call the school Saint Paul’s University and the Nigerian University Commission rejected our application because of the name saint.
They told us to go and change the name, remove saint, so today the University was approved as Paul’s University. So if they did that for us, why put Islamic banking whether it is non interest or free interest or the bank to go and collect money to do nothing.
As far as I am concern, it is insulting, it is offensive and inciting.
But if the Christians do not like the Islamic Bank, why not float their own non interest bank to help the masses?
For how long will that go, any time one religion does a thing, another religion will go and do a parallel thing is that how to run a country, for how long are we talking about? So if tomorrow they now set up Islamic tailoring international outfit, where you can sew your dresses free of charge or half cost of how much it is sold in Ariaria market in Aba then Christian will go and set up Christian tailoring outfit a little less than that so is that how to run a country? That is creating a greater dichotomy and then to do that for the economy of the country, it is heating the nucleus power of the country, it is unfair.
The reason they are doing that is because Christians are quiet. Naturally, Christians do not quarrel, they do not fight, Christians don’t burn houses, Christians don’t run after anybody, Christians just watch and pray, that is why they do all these.
After the April general elections in the country, there is this insurgence of a religious sect known as Boko Haram which has been killing people and burning houses and property, now some people are calling on the Federal Government to dialogue with the sect, what is your comment on this.
To dialogue with Boko Haram is an insult. Does that mean that if I want government to talk to me , I should cause trouble, I can call it Adeleye mobilization power and then I will gather youths they just start causing trouble every where, then government will just call me for dialogue, it is another insult, so the dialogue is I have been thinking I do not know, may be I need somebody to educate me the dialogue is to achieve what, if somebody is waging a war with a country, is it one of the strategies of ceasing the war to dialogue with the people, I don’t know.
But the Federal Government dialogued with the Militants in the Niger Delta region
The people fighting there were reacting to what they saw as operation on them. They owned the land naturally but they cannot farm, they cannot drink the water, if you hit a stick on the ground three times fuel will come out, so the people said you have taken money from us and you have not given us anything back, they started rebelling so dialogue with them and to train their children which could not be done on the ground there, to my opinion it was a kind of appealing to them so that things can go on fine.
But this Boko Haram people, what did we take from them, did we carry their kolanut, what did you take from them, nothing. They are opposing western education; western education is not by force. If you don’t like western education, then don’t go to school, let those who want, go. So what are we dialoguing with them for, what did we take from them, what were they cheated for, that is where I have problem and I need somebody to educate me in case I am not well informed in this matter, what did we take from them and then the issue of the kidnappers in the South East if any body followed it very well, they dialogued with the people that were captured. Kidnapping is not a trade, it is not a profession, it is not a job, it is a criminal offence and bombing is a criminal offence.
President Goodluck Jonathan’s proposed one term six_year bill for political office holders, especially for the president and governors has continued to generate controversies. What would be your comment on this?
First, I will want to give a general reaction to it from there we can go to specifics. Nigeria is such a funny place that no matter what system you bring, once it lands on the soil of this country, it is going to get destroyed, and this is a very unfortunate situation with us. For example, the straight six_year term has its pros and cons, but those are not even my fears. My fear is that Nigerians, being Nigeria again, the pros will turn to cons and the cons will turn to cons.
However, the intention of President Jonathan, as he said, was to allow someone run for one term. If it is true that it is not going to include the President, then I will advocate that we should listen to him. We should examine what he is saying. We should try to listen to what he (President Jonathan) is saying as probably being a way out of the numerous national problems and political engineering in this country. People are very suspicious that he wants to include himself.
I have interacted with some members of the National Assembly and politicians, who are my friends, and they are very suspicious that President Jonathan if the National Assembly should accept and pass that proposal it will be backdated. So, nobody is actually considering the contents and advantages of having that bill, all the focus is that if this man wants to do it, we suspect that he wants to include himself_ that is where the problem is. But if you ask me, I will suggest that the nation should use this time to focus on national issues and problems and leave this tenure issue, for now. This is because there are more grievous problems on ground. As we speak, the organised Labour is not telling us that they have arrived. Labour is threatening, the governors are telling us that they cannot pay the N18, 000 per month; some have agreed to pay while others are still arguing.
The whole place is in shambles and then to add the issue of tenure readjustment at this time, in my opinion, it will confuse the political arena, which is already very well confused. We appreciate President Jonathan’s effort in trying to do the thing better, but this one may make it more complex. It can come later because it is an issue, but for now, let us clear the desk.