By Sam Eyoboka and Olayinka Latona
Bogged by the increasing rate of terrorist attacks in parts of the country,General Overseer of Bible Life Church, Ajegunle in Lagos, Bishop Leonard Umunna had called on President Goodluck Jonathan to tighten security in avery part of the nation by giving more teeth to security operatives.
Addressing newsmen in his church office on the state of the nation, the bishop said with the latest development, “the nation’s security must be strengthened, but security problem is not as tough as unemployment level, lack of welfare, poverty and others being suffered by Nigerians.”
The bishop, however, acknowledged that insecurity is a global problem, arguing that there’s nowhere in the world you have the best security that cannot be punctured or deflated.
“When you heard of the September 11, 2001, did anybody believe that with the much talk about American security, such a thing could ever happen? Since that episode, there is no safe place in the world.
“Our major problem here in the country is poverty which is a reflection of the comma-tose economy, and of course corruption. President Jonathan should tighten security by giving more teeth to security operatives.
“With the latest development, the security must be strengthened, but security problem is not as tough as unemployment level, lack of welfare, poverty and others being suffered by Nigerians. In fact, they lead to insecurity in the country,” he argued.
Speaking on the Government’s economic team and the implications for the nation, the man of God expressed hope that with the combination of the head of the team, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and her counterpart at the Ministry of Trade and Investment, Dr. Olusegun Aganga, the nation’s economy may look up in the next four years.
“I see an emerging strong economy with the calibre of brains being assembled by the president. With the person of Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala in control of the economic team, Dr. Aganga and Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, I have no doubt in my mind that the country is in for a quick recovery,” he said, adding “the decision for Okonjo-Iweala to head the team is a wise one. She is now the ‘Mrs. Fix-it.’”
According to him, with the three great personalities, the war against bad economy will not only be well-prosecuted but cleanly won. This will surely impact positively on the overall development of the country.
“If he (President Jonathan) misses it now, he has himself to blame. We voted for him, not on the basis of his party but on his own personality and the confidence and belief we had in him that he will do well. Now is the time for him to do that which God has put in his mind, using the good hands he has assembled who are in his economic team.
“They should focus on electricity; without it whatever again they are talking about economy will not work. Constant electricity will drive the economy,” the bishop emphasised.
On the controversial Islamic banking, Umunna has this to offer: “There are two fronts to that issue—one is physical and the other, spiritual. On the physical, there is nothing wrong with Islamic Banking because even in UK and elsewhere some Christians are heading such organisations, although they call it non-interest banking.
“There is nothing wrong with non-interest banking. I think where the problem lies is the name, Islamic banking. And you know what religion means in this country. It is practiced in many countries, nobody is forced to embrace it, it is totally voluntary just like any other bank. The difference here is that interests are not charged.
“Those who believe in the non-interest theory can take whatever business advantage the bank can offer. I don’t see why it should generate unnecessary controversy,” he stated.
Drawing inspiration from the Bible, the bishop said: “Many people will be free to approach such banks to grow their businesses. I think that’s the side the bank is fulfilling. What is wrong if they are fulfilling God’s injunction that you should help your brother or sister by granting him or her loan without usury?”
What is the role of religious leaders in checking bad governance? He hesitated to make any pronouncement, pointing out “God says touch not my anointed and do my prophet no harm. It is not that men of God are totally infallible or beyond mistakes, but God allows it to be so for a purpose. There are times God will tell them to do something that is humanly questionable, but after that incident, you see the result.
Blacklist some from public office
“For instance, there was Hurricane Irene in America, there is tornado in some places, there is famine and drought in Sudan, there is Boko Haram in Nigeria and people are asking why? Wait, may be, after 10 years when things must have stabilised and things begin to flourish, then you will realise God wants to bless His people. What you were calling trouble is actually blessing in disguise,” he argued.
According to him, men of God may have said or done something you may not understand, stressing “what I frown at is when men of God go out of their way to do things that are com-pletely wrong that even the heathen begin to blaspheme God on that account. Aside those things, some of their actions are difficult to pry into, the future will confirm whether it is God that sent them or Satan.
“Normally, men of God are supposed to advise the leadership in the light of God’s word. They are supposed to pray for the leadership and intercede for the country; but, when some of them begin to go too close to politicians with the aim of receiving some largesse, that’s the area that surprises me”, he added.
His recommendation for moving the nation forward, he averred that Nigeria cannot move forward if the indices of forward movement are not in place.
“A dead fish must always swim along the direction of the current, a living fish will always swim contrary to it,” he surmised, arguing that such is the problem with Nigeria.
“Corruption by leaders is hindering our quest to move forward. We have bad leadership and unless the problem of bad leadership is addressed, there is no way the country can move forward. We must begin to blacklist some people from holding public offices as it is done in some countries,” Umunna maintained, stating that the issue of continuity must be addressed. Government is a continuum.