By Sam Eyoboka
AHEAD of the all important 2019 general elections, Trinity House which announced its entry into the Nigerian spiritual firmament on Sunday, July 18, 2010 is re-enacting its vision for a better Nigeria for future generations, is packaging a debate to create a path-way for the nation.
Trinity House, a church with a mission to transform the society and the future generations, a place where children of God from all denominations can gather in fellowship for the propagation and advancement of God’s kingdom here on earth has made giant strides in its short eight years of existence through its yearly Honour Nigeria Service.
Founder/Senior Pastor of Trinity House, Pastor Ituah Ighodalo told our correspondent in an interview that, beyond its annual Honour Nigeria programme designed to recognise persons who had distinguished them-selves in the service of the country, the church is adding a debate on how to assist the electorate find worthy political leaders next year and beyond.
Asked to speak on the progress of his eight-year old church, Pastor Ituah said there is every reason to thank God, saying the church now has eight parishes all over the world including one in South Africa, a small fellowship in Los Angeles, United States, a parish in London and five parishes in Lagos.
Giving reason for the bent this year, he maintained its an extension of the Honour Nigeria Service where “we honour Nigerians who have contributed their quota; who have very good character worthy of emulation as role models for others to look at; the prong is firstly to reward them, to thank them and to appreciate them.
“A lot of them have not been recogni-zed appropriately and therefore to encourage them that even if other parts of the nation do not see them, we see them. The second thing is to celebrate Nigeria and find an opport-unity to pray for Nigeria and ask for God’s intervention in Nigeria.
“The third reason is to show the peo-ple up as role models worthy of emulat-ion to our congregants and also to Ni-geria in a nutshell. We are not saying they are all saints or perfect people, at least within the context of human ability and character, they did very well,” he noted.
On Saturday, October 6, 2018, Trinity House Zion Centre in Victoria Island will play host to a cross section of season-ed Nigerians including erstwhile Anambra State governor, Peter Obi, Nigerian activist and Managing Director, Nigeria Ports Authority, Bala Usman Hadiza, actress Kate Henshaw, public speaker, Leke Alder, founder/chairman of FATE Foundation, Fola Adeola, Tunji Odewunmi, social entrepreneur and human development expert, Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji and managing partner, SIAO Chartered Accountants and Auditors, Pastor Ituah Ighodalo to a debate on: “2019: The yearnings of a nation”.
The programme which begins at 9.00 a.m. is expected find answers to the myriad of questions: “what are Niger-ians yearning for; what are they looking for, almost 60 years after independ-ence, where are we and what have we achieved?
According to the upwardly mobile pastor: “We are having leadership issues. Who should lead us as a nation, what should be the character of the person, the ability of the person, the skill of the person. Every time people show themselves up that they want to be president, on what basis do you want to be president, how do we evaluate you?
“Do we have a proper candidate? And if we don’t have the right candidate, what do we do as a nation? We don’t just accept anybody as though we have no choice. And then if we get in our leaders, which direction do we want them to take us? Which direction do we want to go as a nation?
“From where I stand, Nigeria should be one of the leading industrialized nations in the world but we are not there. Our poverty index is the highest in the world, our corruption index is one of the highest in the world, our infrastructure index is one of the poorest in the world, our literacy index is one of the lowest in the world, and that is not what it’s supposed to be,” Pastor Ighodalo popularly called Pastor Ituah posited.
According to him, “we need to focus, first of all, on education. Every single Nigerian must be literate and skillful so that they can be employable and also employ themselves. Number two, agriculture, sustainable agriculture. There’s no reason why we should be importing any kind of food into Nigeria. We should grow, develop and add value to our agricultural produce. Number three is power, as a funda-mental basis for industrialization. There should be 24/7 power and Nig-eria has the potential to export power and use it to generate foreign exchange even in this country to neighboring West African countries. Power is very important.
“Then we look at infrastructure, rail roads, inter-connected roads so we can easily get to our areas of economic potential. Number five for me, will be developing every area of economic pot-ential and stop playing politics with resource allocation. Every single re-source that are of economic viability must be developed one way or the other, so if we have to address resour-ce control and let people with their resources take their resources, others can develop their own.
“Right now, we are totally dependent on oil and others are not able to develop their own because they are playing politics with this issue of oil and resource control. These are the things that I will address,” he stated.
Pastor Ituah also lent his voice to the clamour for restruturing of the nation. “That question also now speaks to the issue of the structure of the nation and restructuring the nation. What people are really saying is let each region control its resources and determine its own economic direction and political direction. I’m in total agreement with that.
“Just leave some essential things to the federal government; like Armed Forces, a bit of policing, maybe Immi-gration and so on and so forth. The Federal Government should not be in charge of resources and in charge of economic things,” he argued, stressing that the regions should be in charge of their resources and they donate to the federal purse.
That’s what a federation is all about, he opined. “You don’t tie full develop-ment of one area waiting for another area. New York never waits for Califor-nia, California doesn’t wait for Wash-ington, Washington is moving ahead of Nebraska. Each state is doing its own thing and there’s uniformity in terms of national infrastructure,” he stated.
Continuing, Pastor Ituah, a renowned accountant and a social reformer, be-lieves that Nigerians are cheating themselves, wasting time, and stiffing the nation’s development by this kind of “federal structure that we have that there must be representation every-where which encourages inefficiency and nepotism here and there.
“So when we deal with development of our resources then we look at the health of the people which can run pari-pasu. By this time, all these things will take care of employment, economy, well-being, area boys menace and so on and so forth. This is the direction Nigeria should go: then we can start looking at foreign policy which is not an issue now. Our issue is to develop our nation,” he stressed.
Is Nigeria worth celebrating, he was asked, and his response was: “There are things to thank God for, but it is not yet eldorado. Why are we thanking God? Number one, things would have been much worse, to be honest. Two, we fought a civil war and we didn’t disintegrate. Three, there’s potential, opportunity, a thriving population, vast resources. Four, in some places there’s relative peace. We are still dealing with militant herdsmen, Boko Haram and a huge number of IDPs all over the place. But in some areas there’s relative peace and some form of freedom of expression. These things we need to thank God for, but what God has done is that God has done His best.
He has given us the fundamentals, the raw materials to make something out-standing out of it. So, we have not yet gotten there, we are far behind.
Sir, you once said that Nigeria needs a president who is prepared to sacrifice his life for this nation. Do we have such a person now?
Not yet, and that’s part of the pro-blem. Anybody who wants to rule Nig-eria must be ready to serve and that service might cost that person his or her life. I said Nigeria is worth dying for because of the potential and from my own spiritual perspective, the love of God for this nation. But if you are still not ready to go the whole hug…yes in politics there will be compromises here and there…at the end of the day, some-body has to put down his foot, and so there must be equity, fairness, rule of law and consequences for inappropria-te behaviour. If you don’t have that boldness, courage and determination to be fair even against your own self, then you will not be able to rule Nigeria effectively.
How will you appraise the current administration after three years?
I would say that they have not done as we thought they would. They have definitely not met the expectations of the masses. There have been areas where they have dropped the ball significantly and they could have done much better. So the economy is hurt-ing, the direction which the country is going is not very clear and I know there’s a lot of tension amongst them even in leadership and therefore it’s cascading down to the rest of us. But on the plus side, there was a peaceful transition of one party to another.
I think our president is a sincere man to some extent. He’s not too flamboy-ant and not a terribly corrupt person. He’s a simple, nice, genial and sincere man but we need a bit more than that to drive Nigeria. We need more passion, purpose, direction in the way things are going. And we need a bit more firmness in dealing with some issues, and that’s what’s bothering the people. They shouldn’t lose the potential and opp-ortunity they have. There are quite a few good people in government with ability to drive this government for-ward. They should put it in and let’s get some more energy from the gover-nment, and then we can take it from there.
Has this government met your expectation on corruption?
Not as well as they could have. There have been some attempts at bringing some people to book but I think they would have done quite more than that. There are lots of people out there who-se source of income is very question-able, and I think some of these things they have sacrificed at the altar of polit-ics which usually happen. So there are one or two people they won’t touch be-cause they are beneficial to them and that puts a dent in the anti-corruption fight.
Secondly, they are not addressing systemic issues: why are people cor-rupt? What are the penalties of being corrupt? How do you evaluate corrupt-ion? How do you ensure that people are not corrupt in the future? So there are systemic things that we need to look at and have a real debate and discourse on. People are poorly paid. When you are paying people poorly, it is unlikely that they will be saints. Two, the structure of the civil service itself allows for all these kind of shenanigans.
There’s poor performance evaluation even among civil service. The govern-ment is also not providing enough in-frastructure and support for a society. When you are paying a man, he can’t build a house, he can’t pay his rent, he can’t send his children to school, he has to provide his own borehole, he has to do his own sewage and you think he’s not going to look for other means of survival?
We should do a systemic evaluation of the government, looking at people who are truly corrupt, analyzing how they’ve attained their resources. We should find a way of taking the resour-ce from them, giving them the appro-priate penalty, discouraging others from doing it, and let it be nationwide. Let people be rewarded for the works of their hands and then we know we are fighting corruption.