• Says some churches tolerate sin
By Ephraim Oseji
Bishop Charles Ighele, the General Superintendent of the Holy Spirit Mission, shares his views on the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, herdsmen killings, cattle colonies, the economy and the Church.
Killings arising from farmers/herdsmen clashes
The killings are not limited to herdsmen. If you look at the East, the West and the North, you will see that there are killings everywhere because we know that many Nigerians have also been killed by kidnappers and armed robbers. We are in a state of insecurity with blood flowing everywhere. There are two things responsible for this. The first is lack of social justice which has been on for years for those that government protects. The second is social justice on the part of the impoverished people who the devil has recruited to unleash mayhem on the nation. And it is going to get worse. About 8-10 years ago, I said Nigeria was like a factory that will keep producing criminals.
When you arrest the ten most dangerous criminals today, 100 or more will come up in some months to come because the system promotes injustice. The system does not make it possible for the best of human beings to be actualised. In a country where there is rule of law or where there is social justice, you will never see such things happening. These supposed herdsmen are backed by powerful forces. It still boils down to social justice and rule of law. If this thing is not arrested, it will consume everybody including the herdsmen themselves and government. The issue of herdsmen has been on from previous governments. About 12 years ago when I went to my place in Delta to see how my people were doing, they kept complaining of hunger as they could not go to their farms because of herdsmen. But the communities had been settling the matter and allowing them to graze their cattle. Now, it is done with impunity and because of the impunity, some places came up to violently react. Growing up as a young child, these herdsmen were armed with bows and arrows to protect the cattle from wild animals. The question inevitably arises, who is arming these herdsmen with sophisticated weapons that costs a fortune and what do they hope to gain?
Proposed cattle colonies
It took me years to understand that ‘cowboys’ referred to Texans who were cow owners. Texas produces a lot of cows in the US. These cows are owned by individuals. I believe this issue has been over flogged. Cattle-rearing is a private business. In Delta State, their main crops are ground nut, cassava and yam; will they allow Deltans to put up groundnut colonies in different parts of the country? Let the President not put us in trouble. We do not have such colonies in America. In as much as I want Nigerians to have good beef for consumption, herdsmen should provide an enabling environment for their cows instead of taking them round the country. They should put their ranches wherever they are.
On the issue of Nigerians treated as slaves in Libya
It is true that Nigerians sold Nigerians. It is unfortunate that the Nigerian government rose up to say it was Nigerians selling themselves. When the nation needed international sympathy, we were busy telling the world it was our own people who were responsible. Even if they were responsible, you do not now amplify what your people are doing. That we did it showed we lacked diplomatic tact. When people are hungry to leave the country, what is the message that our leaders should have? Our leaders do not have the shame to admit system collapse; it shows that people do not want to stay here again which should be a source of concern and shame. There was a time Ghanaians did not want to stay in their country and were rushing to Nigeria. They were forced to go back but things were tough in Ghana. Subsequent Ghanaian Presidents did what should be done by putting things right. Let a leader stand up and do what is right. By the time we cease to look at development from the perspective of the number of roads constructed, number of classrooms built, secretariats built, we will not get it right. People will keep killing themselves and running away. Development is about the quality of life.
A family of six children and two parents who have an average means of income should be able to see their children well trained and put to work. That is how leaders should see their citizens. Right now, many Nigerians don’t even know what to do to put food on their table. Look at the numbers of people lost their jobs since January 2016. And that is in the organised sector. When things like this happens, you see a leader who has a combination of pragmatism and intellectualism and they put the nation back on its feet. Look at Rwanda, their President has been able to put the people back to work; Rwanda, a war zone, has become a holiday resort in a few years. We just need a leader who knows what to do.
Former President Obasanjo’s letter to President Buhari
What the former President did was to re-echo the cries of the people and presented it to the President which I think he should work on. I believe that Obasanjo might have spoken to him prior to this one on one. Even former Speaker of the House of Representatives Ghali N’abba had a similar issue. People need to speak out. What is happening in Nigeria now reminds me of what happened with Hitler where he cared only about himself. Our President cares only about those who are supporting him. Mr President needs to change. Both Christians and Muslims are being impoverished with the economic hardship. Mr. President needs to review some of his policies because they are bringing untold hardship on the people. The problem of human beings is the inability to judge ourselves.
Some churches are said to be more interested in money than in the gospel. Where did we get it wrong?
The Church operates within a corrupt and bad society. In a system like this, you see some segment of the bad society putting up churches because there is no line or demarcation. You will also see the bad society affecting the church. Jesus said if the light in you is darkness, how great is that darkness. And this is what has happened to some Christians. But Jesus Christ said you are the light of the world, you are the salt of the earth and this is what we are supposed to be. There is a segment of the Church which has become sin tolerant and, when a segment of the Church tolerates this thing, then problems arise. You will see the power of sin penetrating some people who are not able to build their spiritual lives on the rock. It is not the number of churches that builds a nation but the spiritual quality; unfortunately some of these churches lack this spiritual quality. What some of these churches do is tell people to come for miracles and leave and nothing happens after that. But when people get these miracles, they should be drawn into a deeper experience with Jesus Christ. With this, the Church should be able to affect the society.
What is your stand on the issue of tithe?
When you look at Luke 21:4, Jesus used the word ‘offering of God’. So if you agree that you will bring 10% or 20% of your monthly income into the ‘offering of God’, there is nothing wrong with it. I do not know of any church where people are forced to do it. You would notice that Jesus did not condemn tithe and neither did Paul in the New Testament. I see tithe as ‘offering of God’. Personally, I give more than 10% of any money that enters my hands.