By Ishola Balogun
The Pastor of the Household of God Church and presidential candidate of the Fresh Democratic Party, Pastor Chris Okotie, in this interview, says his bid for the number one office in the country is predicated on his decision to rescue Nigeria from looming implosion and restoring it to the path of progress.
But his idea about how Nigeria can progress is based on putting in place an interim government! He says if he becomes the President, he will jettison the present political system with the Constitution and institute a new paradigm shift in governance.
You recently wrote the two major political parties, the PDP and APC, on the 2019 polls. Have you received a reply?
Not at all! The important thing is that the information has been conveyed to them. They have been engrossed with their intra party activities and this is not unexpected. The clear thing now is that there is still a parochial tendency towards political activities.
There is still that competition and rivalry in trying to produce another government. But there is going to be that development that will eventually bring us to a point where we will recognise that there is no way forward, and the Chris Okotie option will become a reality. If you look at the big picture in the polity, it is very obvious.
The ringing of the victory bell that we are hearing now, pervading the political hemisphere, will soon metabolise into a song of the bird crisis in the nation. And within the context of normative civility, with due respect to all these people, there is no partisan political equilibrium that can salvage Nigeria. It is not possible.
We will just be going round in a circle and the wilderness of retrogression. There is no way forward for Nigeria under this present system. We need a diversion from the current trend and it must be a new paradigm, a generational shift in its approach to political activities, laced with a lateral thinking that is different from the status quo.
What made you think a caretaker government can do so much since you said a substantive government cannot?
An extant or substantive government cannot carry out the responsibility of reconciliation and restructuring of Nigeria because of its partisan affiliation. You need a government that is neutral, one that is not encumbered with the sentiment of political affiliation that we have now. That is why I said that in the next elections, people should vote for me, so that when I become the President, I will set up this government.
In concrete terms, what are the fresh ideas you want to bring on board under this interim govt?
From the letters that I wrote, I made it clear that mine is a rescue mission. I explained that Nigeria must embrace a paradigm shift. I also talked about restructuring and reconciliation. I enumerated some of those areas adopted by our Constitution like structural federalism among others. These are things to be addressed. Our federalism is simply terminological in exactitude. It is a realistic piece of fakery. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is obsolete, retrogressive and subversive to the Nigerian cause. It can no longer subsist as the legal protocol that guarantees the peaceful co-existence of autonomous ethnicity.
No extant or substantive government can right these aberrations, for obvious reasons of parochial party considerations and entrenched partisan rivalries within the polity. I am not advocating a new concept of governance outside what we already know. What I am saying is that if Nigeria does not address these issues, we will have ourselves to blame.
What do you mean by aboriginal democracy? How can the common man on the street, whose vote you are seeking, understand your concept of aboriginal democracy?
Aboriginal is that which is original, intrinsic to an individual or a nation. One that is peculiar to us as opposed to the imperialist idea. This democracy we are running is imperialistic and westernized. It is something we imported from the West and inconsistent with our contextual reality. That is why it has not worked. We must look back at the historicity, the cultural kind of government that we had before the advent of colonialism, which created stability in the different ethnic groups.
We have to look at that, as well as the peculiarity of our cultural existence, and choose the kind of government that suits us and modernise it. So, it is moving from cultural historicity to evolutional modernity, contextualized with the present realities in terms of our contemporary society and then juxtaposing it with the global realities or what I call global relativity.
So, it is by looking inwards and defining those things that are peculiar to us, and not the things that are imported and have formed our cultural sensibilities, after all, culture is the totality of the people’s way of life.
The interim government you proposed to head requires a referendum to make it legitimate. How do you accomplish this since the 1999 Constitution has no provision for referendum to legitimise such an arrangement?
The Constitution was made by man and man is lord over that Constitution. By consensus, we can suspend the present Constitution which is already moribund and inconsistent with the present realities of our federalism. That document can be put in abeyance while we re-organise and restructure the nation. We don’t need a referendum.
An interim government is an ad hoc mechanism that addresses a situation that requires immediate attention. We need to suspend the present Constitution and, from there, start a process of evolving a new Constitution. The important thing is that Nigeria is on the verge of disintegration and fragmentation. I will stop the proclivity that we have now in our electoral process.
This proposition may sound strange to many and considered as unfashionable by others. If you contest and become President, will that not be sufficient to change all you desire to change in the system?
Democracy is what the people need. If we recognise that the present system does not augur well, the natural thing to do is to suspend whatever you are doing that is not producing result. We don’t want to get to a situation where there will be civil war or where the federating units will secede. I believe the reason there is always conflict or bellicosity and belligerence that arise from draconian leadership is because people are not ready to change.
There has to be another paradigm. When we obstruct new information or knowledge, or inquiry that is progressive, you are guilty of what is called obscurantism because that is what leads to the breakdown of law and order. We must come to realise, as intelligent people, that the concept of democracy, as we have it right now, is inconsistent with the reality of the Nigerian society and is not going to work. This is because experience has demonstrated that there is retrogression.
What we need to do, whether we call it interim government or whatever, because there cannot be chaos, we have to put in place a government that recognises the deficiencies of the present system and seeks to correct them. We have had so many conferences that have not produced results. These are times that require very drastic decisions to be made by our people if we are going to live together as one.
That is why I am saying that whatever is going to take to set aside this cycle of elections, it must be done for the sake of our people, not for the sake of defining what democracy is or going into the technicalities of how this is going to be accomplished. If there had been changes in those days, the civil war would not have happened.
This is what I am saying that these symptoms that were a preamble to the civil war have emerged in very definite configuration and become a circadian rhythm that must be addressed immediately. So, we don’t have to wait until there is a breakdown of law and order, or there is hostility, or until people cry for secession before we come together to do something.
This cycle we are going through now is not what we need; we need another paradigm which can only be translated concretely into a government that addresses these aberrations. No substantive government, no extant government can do it. Because of the inherent partisan problems within the polity, any true Nigerian, who understands the seriousness of where we are today, irrespective of party affiliation, will understand that all we need is a new paradigm.
Do you think mere literary overtures such as this would persuade the political class to accede to your request and support your proposition?
The reality of the future will make it incumbent on the political class and the oligarchy to understand this proposition and that this is the only way forward. What happens is that where there is an impasse in a political process, men are desirous of a dialogue. I believe that God will step into our nation to create the circumstances that will make it imperative for us to sit together as a people and find a way forward. That is what I already started, that is what I have proposed. Before the problem occurs, the solution has already been provided. I believe that there are patriots outside of the political parties and that when we come to that junction, it will become inevitable.
I have just made that proposition; it will come to a point where we cannot proceed and there will be a logjam. That time, men who love this country will begin to look for a way out and Chris Okotie option will become the best option because its engenders a no victor, no vanquished reality. If you talk about restructuring, the moribund Constitution, no government can change it while in power and there is no government in power that can address the aberrations in our federalism, no government can change it. And that is why the Chris Okotie option is the only viable option that can guarantee the longevity of this union that we have.
Without the support of the political class, how do you intend to realise your presidential ambition?
This is not about a presidential ambition. I am seeking to establish an interim government, a government of national reconciliation and reconstruction that is predicated on bringing lasting solution to our problems.
That was why I talked about Boko Haram insurgency and the ubiquitous Fulani herdsmen phenomenon which have further exacerbated social insecurity and cast nebulous clouds over the viability of our union.
Also, the concentric arrangements of the WAZOBIA alliances have been a disaster; engendering the marginalization of the smaller ethnic units. The dream of a great Nigeria which flourished at independence, the yearnings and aspirations of the people and the Nigerian brotherhood which dominated the political horizon at independence have all been consigned to oblivion.
And I juxtaposed that with the current realities and I am saying that until we address these realities, our nation may implode or disintegrate.