*Says corruption still reigns in govts and even in churches
*Laments state of Niger Delta under Buhari, blames South South Governors
By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South
BISHOP Simeon Okah, an end-time oracle of the Most High God and principal patriarch of the Flock of Christ Mission, Enerhen-Effurun, Delta State, whispered dead, but alive and kicking, after he misguidedly slipped into a six-foot gutter, near a swimming pool, at a Lagos hotel, during a Ministers’ Conference, in November, has described President Muhammadu Buhari, as the most unfavourable Nigerian President to the people of Niger Delta region.
Speaking in an interview with Saturday Vanguard, last week, at the flourishing sanctuary of God, where he is the presiding Bishop, the Vice President, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (South-South) and in style television preacher, still convalescing from the horrifying accident, said it was ridiculous to hear that Buhari was preparing to take another shot at the presidency in 2019, urging him to abandon the ambition because he was too old and had nothing to offer the country.
You are one of the anti-corruption apostles on the altar today. Are you satisfied with President Muhammadu Buhari’s corruption battle and the modus operandi so far? Saturday Vanguard asked the no-nonsense clergyman, known for his anti-corruption messages since the seventies.
He said: “I will say that as far as I am concerned, President Muhammadu Buhari’s battle against corruption is not straightforward. I also feel too that he is not qualified to be there for some of us who know the details about his operation when he was Head of State, particularly when he was in-charge of the Ministry of Petroleum. We knew that most of the things went to the north than here in the south, which owns the oil. So, what qualifies him to say he wants to fight corruption?
“Then I will say that things are being made a little bit more public now, you know that Jesus Christ was telling us that sometimes we are impatient, that there is nothing that is secret, every secret will someday be announced on top of the roof. The so-called chairman of EFCC, in the recent weeks, had allegations of corruption against him. So, how is the man who is fighting corruption allegedly corrupt himself? So everything about this government fighting corruption to me is full of deception.”
Does he, frankly speaking, have issue(s) with the style of the EFCC in fighting corruption?
He sermonized: “If we are going to fight corruption, it should be somebody who would not bring politics into it because it has eaten so deep in this country, almost every system of government in this country is corrupt, the public sector is corrupt, even the church, I will not remove the church, and some church leaders are terribly corrupt. So anybody who wants to fight corruption in this country must have clean hands, a clear conscience and be sincere to handle it.”
“And I believe that within three to five years, corruption can be reduced. I say so because I know that anywhere there are human beings, there is always a little level of corruption, even in the western countries,” he added.
Asked if he was not being hasty on his position on EFCC chairman, as the president had ordered a probe, Bishop Okah responded: “I feel that at my age and level in ministry work I have also my information and I should be able to have some sense of judgment.”
“I remember you were one man of God that declared it open before Buhari won the 2015 Presidential election that he was too old to be president, but today he is the President. Do you have any cause now to change that opinion? “I am happy that you remembered. The man is an old man, old man is old, I am quite younger than he is. I am 64 years old, do you know that without the younger ones around me, there are some things about this generation that I cannot on my own understand because their way of thinking is very different from my way of thinking, not to talk of a man like Buhari?”.
The clergy man fired on: “First, he (Buhari) is too old, secondly, he is not educated enough. It pains my heart that just because former President Goodluck Jonathan is from South-South, there was a general hatred against him by the north and maybe the west. We, who travel, they were telling us that we were blessed to have a man who has PhD as a president, what does Buhari have apart from him being a general?”
Contrary to your opinion, your colleague in the ministry, Rev Ejike Mbaka, practically sees Buhari as a liberator of Nigerians, do you share his opinion? The reporter asked, thinking that he had boxed him to a corner, but Bishop Okah retorted: “Well, facts speak for themselves. What has he liberated, is it the economy, what? So when you say he is a liberator, what has he liberated?
“Rather, he has worsened the state of everything in this country; he took over government when naira was between 170 and 190 to a dollar but today how much is it? When he was campaigning, he said he would make one naira to one dollar, but what is the position today, the man has destroyed almost everything he met, everything Jonathan labored for. Everything is nose-diving in the country.
“Look at the stock exchange. He inherited a stock exchange of over N13 trillion. Today, it is about N8 to N9 trillion. What happened to N4 trillion? It is people’s money, so to me, this government, particularly, in my own sense of judgment, there are too many lies and lies go with depression and depression goes with oppression.”
Reminded that President Buhari recently assured that things would get better in 2017, the Bishop thundered back: “Where are the facts, those are just political statements. Where are the facts? Are you not aware that even the international communities are asking where are the blueprints for his economic programme? No nation can build itself without outsiders, I agree that nationals build nations, but nations build nations. Nigeria is contributing to the building of other nations, other nations also contribute to building of Nigeria. So it is with my own family too, the family of Simeon Okah has to contribute to the growth of other families, other families have also to contribute to the growth of my family, that is how a nation is.”
He asserted: “People who are supposed to invest are asking questions, where are the blueprints for his economic programme.? Almost two years are gone, nothing. This is the very first time in our history that it took a president, who won an election over six months to appoint ministers. And the people he appointed are the same corrupt people, who had to cross- carpet from PDP to APC; we thought he was going to bring angels from the moon the way he initially spoke about people that would make his cabinet, but finally, they were the same people that we knew in this country.”
His words: “And they crossed to APC, so it seems now that the redemption line is in crossing to APC, if you cross to APC, then the past is forgotten. You also agree with me that the budget was passed so late and now he is bringing a new budget. Has he explained to Nigerians how he handled the old budget? So, to me he is not getting it right.”
“What is the ratio of unemployment when he took over? What is the position now? What of the standard of education? Are you even aware that in the north right now, people who voted for him are regretting.
“Where will you say he is getting it wrong? Saturday Vanguard inquired, he said: “I will say in everything and why I am saying that? Today, this nation is divided than ever before. Biafra wants to go, even me from South-South, if they ask me, I will say let us go because we, South-South, we have never been as oppressed as it is right now. When they killed Ken Saro-Wiwa from Rivers state, we thought it was nothing, but it is worse now, look at the local refineries, which they brand illegal refineries that they are destroying, we are told that about 2000 of them have been destroyed.”
“You and I, from the South-South, know that there was market for the products of these refineries. If this government is a government that wants to build this country, why not bring these young ones together with experts to perfect the technology so that we have enough refined products.
“This nation made the same mistake when the Nigerian civil war ended; they lost the science behind the so-called Ogbunigwe of Biafra.
Even then, Biafra was refining its own petrol. If we have recruited those people, put them somewhere, bring experts to train them more, today, we could have been refining our own crude oil.”
Bishop Okah noted: “But under Buhari, where are we? When he took over, what was the price of petrol, what is the price today? So to me, almost everything is being turned upside down. As far as I am concerned, he has failed and I am being told that he is preparing for 2019 (laughs), I think he should go home and rest and let some younger persons, who are educated and can think along with the youths, interact properly with the outside world, not the man, who would say that his wife belonged to the kitchen even if he was cracking a joke.
The way you speak about Niger-Delta, are you saying there is no hope for the region under Buhari or that you have not seen his handiwork?
“ First, I will blame the governors of Niger Delta, why is it that our governors from South-South cannot unite, why is that they have no feelings for their own people, maybe I will ask a question, look at Delta today, are you happy the way the state is.”
“Look at Warri for example, is Warri still a township? As far as I am concerned, Warri has been reduced to a big village, no good roads, the governor is in Asaba, but I was in Asaba the other day, there was no light in the whole town and there are more Keke NAPEPs in Asaba than any other place in this country.
“When you come to Port Harcourt and you are coming into Delta, you just have the feeling that you are going into a hole, or is it Lagos and Abuja, where the oil money is being used as if it is their money. We see the oil but we do not see the money. So, this government has not done us well, and we too, the elite, particularly those in politics, have not done well and present elders are not only cohorts, the level of corruption is so bad that they are eating up even their children and their inheritance.”
badly oppressed by the Federal Government, not only by Buhari, although it became worse in his time.”
He asserted: “As a man from South-South, I feel very bad the way we have been treated. Look at the oil blocks too, how many belong to people from the South-South? in the first place, why should the Nigerian government consider giving oil blocks to individuals instead of state government?. Why should such huge amount of money go into hands of very few individuals? If we want to build a nation, these are questions that we need to ask.”
On the role of Christian leaders in resolving the Niger Delta problems, he lamented: “Well, Christian leaders, the APC has been able to divide the Christian body today because of some Christian leaders, who are also selfish. I say some, not all, some when they want to prophesy because they saw dollar will not speak the mind of God and will not say something that will benefit the people.”
“But thank God they are some few men of God who fell that this nation can change if we are willing to change our way of living.
I keep on quoting this scripture from the Book of Proverbs since the 70s and 80s, which say that sin is a reproach and righteousness exalts a nation. If we decide to live the life of accountability in Aso Villa, also in Government Houses across the states, local government council, National Assembly and our families; If every Nigerian makes up their minds to live the life of accountability, things will change especially if politicians are accountable to the people and the people are also accountable to the politicians… I actually think it is time the Church rose and faced the truth and by so doing, I think the nation will move forward again.”.