By Ishola Balogun
Rev. Chris Okotie, founder of the House of God International Ministry who recently renewed his ambition to run for the President of this country in an exclusive interview with Vanguard has said that political gladiators must be willing to sacrifice themselves for Nigeria, adding that only nationalistic sentiments with option of peace as articulated in his letter to the two political parties recently would take the country to the next level. Excerpts.
What’s your reaction to the on-going political skirmishes?
I adamantly hold out an olive branch towards the two dominant parties. I believe that the Chris Okotie option will establish a no victor no vanquished scenario. It will ameliorate and pacify partisan tension which has been amplified by the current political recalibration. The option of peace is the only option as articulated by Okotie letters. We must focus on nationalistic sentiments and expand our vision beyond the perimeter of political affiliations.
How do you hope to govern Nigeria in view of the divergent philosophies of the APC and PDP on whose joint platform you want to run for the Presidency?
Politics is essentially the negotiation of instrumentality for a place and for a time. Every political agenda is predicated on an ideological philosophy that finds expression in its manifesto. The manifesto is an aggregation of philosophical abstractions that are seeking practical materialisation. I believe that the two dominant parties understand the seriousness of what confronts Nigeria and we would resort to a certain political pragmatism that would enable Nigeria overcome these existential adversaries as I mentioned in my letter.
There are many patriots within these parties who understand that we have an aboriginal connectivity as a nation or as a people that cannot be vitiated by any political philosophy or alliance. We have come to that point in our political evolution where we must be willing to be messianic, that is, sacrificial in our disposition towards Nigeria. Even if it is just based on the terms of examining the Constitution and re-ordering it, and all of the ramifications that derive therefrom. I am sure that we can find a certain level of philosophical syncretism that will enable us take Nigeria to the next level.
Against the backdrop of the current defections, how can you wrest power from the elites you said have hijacked our democracy?
The present political scenario in Nigeria is not unusual and is characteristic of a free democracy like ours which empowers you to establish a position and to pursue it, looking for a platform on which you can articulate and crystallize that political posture. This phenomenon, in my view, represents birth pangs and it portends good things; that there is light at the end of the tunnel and the renaissance of our great nation.
These things will play out in their natural sequence and eventually, we will come to a place where we will all recognise the need for a certain mutuality that must be available to each political party and all political actors involved; for the sake of the unity, holistic existence of our nation and posterity.
I am not seeking to wrest power from the elites. What I am trying to do is to establish a new concept of government that I have christened aboriginal democracy, that will re-establish the parameters for political participation and will enlighten the polity as to their responsibilities within the democratic setting.
The word, democracy derives from the Greek word, demokratia which is a compound word. It speaks of demos, that is, people and kratia which speaks of power; and that word is taken from the Greek word, kratos. When you put those two words together, they translate into people and power. But, the thing about our system is that the nomenclature has not really exemplified the true meaning of that terminology because kratos is power that is made visible.
However, the Nigerian experience doesn’t depict the power of the people but the power of the government. All we need to do is to change the concept and make it more practicable for the participation of the people and that will be done progressively. It is something that has to go through a process where the people learn to appreciate the responsibilities that they have in the governing process.
Apart from restructuring, which you and others are advocating, what plans do you have to resolve the economic and security problems of the country?
I think it is too early in the day to get into those compartmentalisations because of the sensitivity of this subject and it will be good counsel to arrive at a place where there is a consensus before we can begin to pontificate on such matters.
This process must come to its logical conclusion. The bottom line for development of any kind of economic or security structure is usually predicated on the political will. We have men and women who understand these concepts but have not been able to practically change the situation in our country as they relate to either the economy or security issue because of political will and that itself is predicated on a lot of factors that are ramified into intricate administrative red-tapism. That is why I am saying that it is too early in the day to begin to discuss these issues. But when the time comes, one will be able to table these issues within the confines of normative civility where everybody understands the seriousness of what is at stake and can participate in the process of re-engineering our nation.