President of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Cross River State and General Overseer of Christian Central Chapel International –CCCI, Ikot-Eneobong, Calabar, Bishop Emmah Gospel Isong is an avid follower and analyst of contemporary and political developments in Nigeria and the world. In this interaction, he speaks on why the Boko Haram insurgency is defying solutions and why the political parties must ensure internal democracy.
By Tom Moses
On why Boko Haram insurgents appear invincible
Boko Haram has three dimensions to me which we have to look at. The first dimension is the international dimension that is global terrorism. There is a global terrorism taking place across the world, Nigeria inclusive, America, everywhere. There is a link with El Queda, there is a link with Yemen, there is a link with Saudi Arabia and some extremists who feel that to intimidate and shed blood is the right way to go.
There is a second dimension of Boko Haram and I call it, the religious dimension. Anybody who knows history, knows that the extreme moslems have always wished for Jihad. They started wishing for Sharia law and many of us did not know the meaning of Sharia. It means total islamisation of a territory by allowing the rule of Islamic principles, Islamic tenets in which case, some moslems could be killed because you need to be as Islamic as they think.
So, it is not only a Christianity problem because many moslems do not even know or support Jihad. A true Moslem who knows the meaning of Jihad does not support Jihad because he knows he could die any time. By having a link with Israel, democracy, America, being westernized both in education and culture, you are anti-Jihadist and could be killed.
The other dimension is political. There is an equation between the APC and the PDP. Is it the APC and the PDP quarrel that is fuelling the terrorist programmes in Nassarawa, Yobe, Borno and Adamawa or is it the cause? This is a very big question that I am putting across to you now.
You see, there is a trading of blames. PDP would say, APC is the cause of Boko Haram. APC would say, if we take-over power, we will stop Boko Haram.
So, we should ask the PDP to explain who in APC is causing the Boko Haram insurgency since they know the answer and we should also ask the APC how come that your electoral promise is that when you take over power you will stop Boko Haram. Where is the panacea, where did you get the secret?
So, something is lacking between these two political parties and I am not afraid to say that the answer to Boko Haram is the unsolved mystery between the PDP and the APC and if anybody can work on this theory, I think we can get something out of it.
On comments that the Presidency is not doing enough to tackle the Boko Haram insurgency
The Boko Haram is a double-edged sword for the President. I want to speak now as a political expert and not as a Bishop. Boko Haram is a double-edged sword for President Goodluck Jonathan. One, it helps him to promise you that he needs to be around to deal with those behind Boko Haram, which creates electoral value for him. By continuous bombing and attacking us, they are helping President Jonathan have more votes because we now say to ourselves, so, if this man is in power and it is like this, it means if this man were to leave power, they will kill all of us. So, Boko Haram is invariably giving Jonathan electoral value.
The other edge of the sword is that it makes the international community to sympathize with the president and say, what can we do to help you?
So, they are making him to have international sympathy and of course, you know what international sympathy does in an election time; everybody is on your side everybody is sympathizing with you.
On whether the Boko Haram insurgency has some spiritual implications
I am thinking that It is an ill-wind against humanity and one day, the wind that came with it will blow it away but we don’t know when.
On 2015 and how to deepen democracy in the country ahead
By now, we should be talking of opinion polls, manifesto nights, conferences and such things with candidates coming out to say I am the best and what they intend to come and do for the people. But we have not seen such things, what we’ve seen is money exchanging hands.
Another thing that should be looked at is the issue of indigenization. The constitution says if you stay in a place for up to 10 years, you are eligible to seek political office in that place. I don’t think that is applicable in this country apart from Lagos State. They will fight you and call you non-indigene whereas you’ve stayed there for 30, 50 years. So, this non-indigene thing should be abolished. We should take a cue from America. We should open up the system and let all of us be Nigerians. And finally, we should strengthen our internal democracy if we must sustain democracy.