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November 2, 2019

Why I’m contesting for American Senate, Nigerian -born Vincent Paul

Why I’m contesting for American Senate, Nigerian -born Vincent Paul

Vincent Paul

Being an immigrant will not work against my ambition
My service in the US army will be a plus

By Chioma Gabriel, Editor Special Features

 Paul

Vincent Paul

 

Bishop (Major ) Paul N. Vincent, originally from Okwe, Oboro in Ikwuano LGA of Abia State, but a U.S. Citizen based in
Texas and a Major in the U.S. Army Reserve is running for the U.S. Senate to represent the State of Texas in the November
3, 2020 elections. The multi-gifted, motivational Preacher, Teacher, Military Chaplain of Vincent Paul Ministries Int’l. is a major in the U.S. Army Reserve and a graduate of the U.S. Army Chaplain Center & School, Fort Jackson, South Carolina; where he completed the Chaplain Basic Officer Leader Course & the Chaplain Captain Career Course (C4). He’s had Active Duty services at Fort Drum, New York; and at Fort Bliss, Texas and in addition, received training in Hospital Chaplaincy after completing four Units of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE); 2 Units each from New York University Medical Center, New York & Institute for Clinical Pastoral Training, Orlando Florida. Last year, he ministered at the end of the year fellowship programme in Vanguard Media , Lagos.
In this encounter, he talks about his senatorial ambition and why he is convinced he will make it to the senate. Excerpts:

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You are a soldier and a Pastor, now you are going into politics in America. What qualifies you for this aspiration?

In the body of Christ, I am a Bishop; but in the Civilian Military World, I am a Major. I have been in the ministry for over 25 years now. I am originally from Abia State but I moved to the United States about 14 years ago and I have been in the military for 11, going to 12 years. So, by virtue of being in the military, I have been in the government, so to speak.

Military service is like public service and it’s like you’ve signed your death warrant because most time, you’re deployed and you don’t come back. When you’re going, you sign all the necessary documents including insurance in case you don’t come back. So, at the end of the day, military service in the U.S. is one thing that qualifies you for public service. Military service should be more than you being able to serve the people. You shouldn’t be going into service for reasons like making wealth.

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As a Nigerian in the United States, how far do you think you can go?

First of all, I am running as an American, not a Nigerian because I am an American citizen. By virtue of being a military officer, they don’t allow you to have dual citizenship. So, once you become an officer, you give up whatever citizenship you had ab initio. Technically, when I want to come to Nigeria, I apply for Visa. I think being a Nigerian is an added advantage because there are a lot of Nigerians living in Texas than in any other place. And then someone said, if all the Nigerians in Texas were to vote for you, you know you’d win.

 

But racism is still an issue?

Yes, it is still an issue but there are people who have won the election despite their race. Former President Obama is Kenyan by blood and his election victory shows that despite race, one can still win an election. Such things don’t matter anymore when it comes to elections. One of the senators from Alaska, when it was time for her to be re-elected, the Republican Party structure in Alaska did not want her to continue because her father was a governor. So, they were bent on not having her continue. They even gave the ticket to someone else and then she chose to run as a write-in candidate because it was already late at that time and write-in candidate is a process whereby people vote by writing your name but in this case, the person’s name does not appear there. You would have to open a box, write the name and press “vote” and it is not easy. But despite this, she still won. So my point is, nothing is impossible. And I believe that being in the military service is a plus for me. Military service is like the ultimate service because you are going in knowing well that you may not come out alive.

So, people who aren’t original citizens of the U.S. should be a form of encouragement to other immigrants to show that if you work hard, and with God’s blessings, all things are possible. I have had people coming to me to tell me that my running for this position is an inspiration and truly, when I win, I believe it will be an inspiration to other people coming behind me if they work hard. Therefore, things like race and racism should not be challenges but opportunities. Opportunities are like stones that are thrown at you or something you consider as what hurt you which you turned to a stepping stone.

 

What difference do you think you will make when you win?

One thing with the government and public offices, like the legislature especially, is that if we say we don’t want to be involved in the process, then all the wrong ones get into the office. They make laws and policies that affect every one of us and dump them on us. Now, we have to go find our way and go through persecution.

Being a man of God and going for the senate, the first thing is that I will be representing God. I am not going to support any legislation or any bill that will will go against the constitution. I have also noticed that leaders who do not have the fear of God in them have been in charge, hence the type of laws that have been passed over the years. I believe that being in a position where I can influence the law and policies, there can be a biblical view against things that are unconstitutional or things that are not in the interest of the people I represent.

So, that will have to be something I will factor in. The interest of the people will be the first or one of the first things I will put into consideration.  I believe that my being there is going to bring conservative values that will make the country the greatest and one of the greatest countries in the world. There will be challenges but we learn from our challenges.

There are policies that countries put in place that take them down, for example, in Venezuela you see the citizens protesting and they can’t even feed. And this is a country with so much wealth. So, this shows that it is not only about the resources. It is how you manage them and the type of policies that determine where the country is and where it will be in the next few years. A country could be doing very well and with the wrong policies in place, they’ll go down the drain and vice versa. Talking of Nigeria, there are some countries that were on the same level with Nigeria many years ago, but now Nigeria cannot be placed on the same level as those countries. It all has to do with policies. Nigeria has not had leaders who are able to put the right policies in place. So, the type of leadership you have in any of the arms of government goes a long way to determine what type of country it becomes now and in the future.

If you look at my flyer which gives a snap shot of what issues I stand for and will be pushing for, one of them is supporting and upholding the constitution. That may sound simple but the fact is that there are people who seem not to believe in the U.S. constitution. Even the judges who are the judicial arm of government and who are to just interpret what the constitution says are trying to change the law and this is not supposed to be so. The U.S constitution is a primary focus of those who are conservatives because at the end of the day, shredding the constitution that the founding fathers took time to put together and that makes the difference between the U.S. and other countries will not be acceptable.

Another thing is religious liberty. It is important not only because I am a minister but in the U.S. and around the world, in recent times, you will see that religious persecution is becoming an issue. Even here in Nigeria, religion is an issue. The founding fathers in the U.S. made religious freedom a huge business. One of the key things that made people flee this nation was the religious persecution taking place.

In recent times, in the U.S, there are some people in power who have tried to shred the concept of religious freedom and then you see Christians being persecuted. So this is something I have to stand up against because it is a big deal.

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How will you get homosexuals and lesbians to vote for you?

I believe in traditional marriage between a man and a woman. Anyone coming to support me already knows what I stand for and if you visit our website, you’ll see some of those issues. So, concerning marriage, I have never been a proponent of gay marriage. They can do whatever they want but I personally believe that marriage ought to be between a man and a woman because God made it that way. But some of these beliefs like mine are now things we have to fight for. This stand however doesn’t make me worried about who will vote or will not vote for me. While I respect their person and their dignity, at the same time, I don’t support their way of life or that type of marriage. Even the courts trying to enforce gay marriage is wrong because the courts shouldn’t be the ones changing it but the legislature instead. The courts should not be saying who to marry and who not to marry. There is a reason the congress, like the House of Reps, is more spread out. It has more grass root representation because they represent the people and speak for the people. You are accountable to the people as an elected officer and so, when it is time for a re-election, you can be kicked out if you have not been doing well. For me,judges are selected and shouldn’t be changing the laws the way they want because in recent years, what has happened is that some who have lost powers on the legislative side try to go around the corner and use activist judges to get what they want which they would not have gotten through the means of legislation.

 

How strong is your campaign team?

Winning an election is not about the noise being made for you. Do you know some people make all the noise and then during the election, they just sit at home and don’t vote and it doesn’t make any difference. The only person who wins the vote is the person who has more people come out to vote for you. So, the goal for any person running for office is to mobilize enough people that will come out and vote. That is the bottom line of it. So, the noise made in the media or on the streets does not often translate to votes because at the end of the day, most of the people that make noise don’t get to vote. So, if I’m able to mobilize different people from different communities to vote for me, that is what counts. It is not really the noise. This is all about making the people believe that you will do better than the people in the other camp and I believe I will do better and if you watch my video promo, you’ll see that I was talking about bringing a fresh approach to doing business in Washington DC.

One of the problems that Washington DC has which maybe no other place has is what is called professional politicians, who have been there for ages and they become part of the problem instead of the solution and if I get in, another thing I will be pushing for is term limit. I don’t see why someone should be in congress for 30 or 40 years. A good leader grooms others and transitions. These type of politicians are part of the bureaucracy and part of the problem. So I think it will be better if people get in, serve two or three terms at most.

 

I believe there should be some form of limit so someone doesn’t stay there for donkey years and turn into a problem and instead of them to bring a solution to the country, laws or policies that will help better the place, they just become obstructionists and bureaucrats who become a clog in the wheel of progress. If you watch my video promo, one of the points I made is that it is time to bring a fresh and bold approach to Washington DC. Though I don’t discriminate against anybody in terms of age but at the same time, I still believe there should be a limit. I mean, there is a saying that a good actor leaves the stage when the ovation is the loudest. People should learn to accept that they have served the country already. Even in the military, there is something we call, MRD, which is the Mandatory Removal Date. The moment you come in, from the moment you take your oath of office, you already know that when you clock 60 or whatever your MRD is, they’ll let you go and rest. If the military can have a MRD, I see no reason why the congress cannot have such because when people serve for so long, they are causing more problems than bringing solutions and if you cannot bring a solution as a leader, you are finished and there is no point playing games.

So, my being an immigrant is a big plus because it seems like some of us outside the U.S. appreciate the U.S. more. It’s like when you are moved from a place where you have no freedom to a place where you do, you appreciate it more. If you have had it all the while, you’ll often take it for granted. So, people who aren’t original citizens of the U.S. should be a form of encouragement to other immigrants to show that if you work hard, and with God’s blessings, all things are possible. I have had people coming to me to tell me that my running for this position is an inspiration and truly, when I win, I believe it will be an inspiration to other people coming behind me if they work hard. Therefore, things like race and racism and people who want to use the fact that you’re not originally from Nigeria against you should not be seen as challenges but opportunities. Opportunities are like stones that are thrown at you or something you consider as what hurt you which you made a stepping stone. So, I believe my background as an immigrant will serve as a stepping stone.

 

Since you don’t have dual citizenship, that means you don’t associate with Nigerians formally. How will you get them to vote for you?

Of course, I still relate with my people. The Nigerian blood still flows in my body. I speak the Igbo language. My wife who is from the same town as I am also does. Part o my strategy is reaching the immigrant community and there about 190 immigrant community groups such as the Abia State Association. So, that is part of my strategy. And in that context, I am still in touch with my roots. And finally, I know with God all things are possible.

Photo: Bishop, 31-10-19

 

 

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