By Charles Kumolu, Deputy Editor
Warri-based fiery cleric, Reverend Dr. Stephen Gbejoro, is the founder of the popular Christ the Lord Church of God, Warri. In this interview, he speaks on key national issues, especially the Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress ,APC, and the position of Christian Association of Nigeria , CAN, among others.
There has been an uproar by CAN over the Muslim/Muslim presidential ticket of APC. Do you support CAN’s position?
I am not in support of CAN on this. The Bible said in Psalm 25:14 that the secret of God is with them that fear him. I do not succumb to their position because according to the Holy Bible, you look at the goodness of man and not this religious background. At the initial stage, I was not also happy about this Muslim/Muslim ticket, but when I heard testimonies about how ex-Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shetima re-built Churches that were destroyed by enemies of Christianity, Boko Haram, in Maiduguri and environs, I had a change of mind. This is the reason CAN members from the North are in support of Shettima. When you look at Luke 10:30-37, the story of the Good Samaritan is there for all of us to see. All the men of God in that story did not help the wounded man in that story. At the end of the day, it was a Samaritan, who does not belong to any religion, that took care of the wounded man. Another example is the story of Rahab in the Bible, who was a harlot. If you read Joshua 5:1-30, Rahab saved the life of the two spies that were sent to Jericho by the Israelites. Her good gesture saved her and her family when Jericho was destroyed. So why should a Muslim man who showed compassion and mercy by building all the churches that were burnt down by Boko Haram in Borno State be denied the vice presidential slot, just because he is a Muslim?
What we need today is not religion because there are Christians and Muslims in the country today who are more wicked than native doctors. So, there is nothing wrong with the Muslim/Muslim ticket. Today, Nigeria needs men who have compassion and mercy. If we have men of mercy and compassion, they will not tolerate this situation where our naira is losing value every day. Those that we have in the corridors of power presently don’t care. So we need men like Shettima who have compassion for the people, in the corridors of power.
Do you think CAN is right by asking Christians not to vote for Muslim/Muslim ticket of APC?
They can’t do that. What is their business in politics? For example, if a political party decided on a Muslim/Muslim ticket, they should leave the party alone. A politician wants to win an election. That is the sole aim of a political party. It’s not negotiable and this cannot be compromised by any political party. The man would look around himself and take someone, who he thinks can make him win an election, and I, Reverend Gbejoro, respect his decision. If the man has done this, the best thing to do is that you would not vote for him on the day of the election, if you, as an individual, is not happy with his choice and decision. Other people will vote for him and you cannot tell those who are happy with that choice not to vote for him. We want good people to rule Nigeria. We don’t want weak people to rule Nigeria. We are suffering in Nigeria today because of the weakness of our leaders. Do you not know how many months it took us to have ministers? By their fruits, you shall know them. Look at Nigeria today. Nobody is safe and if you think you are safe, you are deceiving yourself. They have even threatened to kidnap our President. This is because the President left them for too long to continue doing what they are doing. The Bible said that because the sentence against the evil doers is not judiciously executed, the heart of men continues to do evil. Why do they continue to do evil? It’s because nobody is touching them. Soldiers are supposed to be in the forest fighting the Boko Haram insurgents and not walking on the streets in their uniforms. If they go into the bush, there would be no bandits or terrorists in Nigeria today. Is Sambisa forest in heaven? Why don’t they go there?
Specifically, what is your advice to Christians on the Muslim/Muslim ticket?
If I am voting for APC for example, I am voting because of Kashim Shettima, a man who rebuilt churches that were burnt by BoKo Haram. I do not see any Christian that would not vote for that man , Shettima, as far as I am concerned. This is a man of mercy. I have not met him any day, nobody gave me money to come and say what I am saying here today, but the testimonies I heard about Kashim Shetimma are sweet. All Christians should vote for the man. Any Christian who does not vote for him has no conscience, to the best of my knowledge. He is a man with the fear of God. Read what 1st Corinthians 13:1-8 says. It says wealth without charity is nothing. Apostle Paul said whether you speak in tongues from now till tomorrow and you don’t engage in charity works, favour, kindness, compassion, mercy, you are nothing. These are the kind of people that Jesus loves. This is why when they pray, God does not answer them. Hatred for each other is the reason we are where we are today. If a Muslim does well, put him in position and if a Christian does well, let us put him in position.
Are you saying that religion should not play a role in governance?
The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Those that fear God will not go about embezzling money. They know that one house is enough for them. The Bible said we brought nothing into this world and we will go with nothing. So whether you are a Christian or a Muslim, it does not matter. This is why the Bible said love, not the world. Politics is of the world but the Church is spiritual. Because we are in the world we are going to participate in politics. Our partaking in politics should be judged according to people who fear God. I have quoted all the scriptures for you. I have told you about Joshua 5: 1-30 and Luke 10:30-37. The stories are there for you to read. If you read these stories you will agree with me. Every Christian who will read what I am saying today would change his mind on his previous stand on Muslim/Muslim ticket. The Bible says that we should speak with one voice as Christians. Again, 1st Corinthians 13:1-8 says, “To enter into the kingdom of God is goodness and charity,’’ and ex-Governor Shettima is a good man. He is a neighbour to the Christendom because everything they destroyed that belonged to the Christians, he built them back. If I am wrong, I pray God should forgive me but Shettima is a good man and he is worthy to be the Vice President.
Do you believe the Muslim/Muslim ticket of APC, if voted into power can tackle the security challenges in the country?
Shetimma, who is an integral part of that ticket, has tasted the war in the North East. He knows what to do. The APC Presidential candidate is an intelligent man and two of them, I am convinced have the solutions to these hydra-headed problems. The only thing Tinubu said that provoked me is that he does not bother about the exchange rate because he is not going to pay Nigerians in dollars. That is an absurdity and it’s unacceptable. How can you say you don’t care about the exchange rate of your currency to the dollar? Can the US allow their dollar to be destroyed? Can the UK allow its pound to be destroyed? But I pray that Tinubu should withdraw that statement. You must care for your naira. Look at a tuber of yam being sold for three thousand naira? Is that not terrible? What is the cause?
Are you saying the Muslim/Muslim ticket can ameliorate the suffering of Nigerians?
What I am saying is that the involvement of Shettima in that ticket is what will make Tinubu win the next election. If not look at his people in the West, according to Micah 7:6, a man’s enemies are members of his household. These are positions that rarely come your way in a lifetime. But it has come to the Yoruba. This is what they did to Awolowo when he wanted to become President. Now, it has come to you again, instead of lifting him, you are fighting him.
The North is wiser than the West. Instead of us in the South being united and bringing our people up, we are always criticising them. Charity, they say, begins at home. The Yoruba must not play with this. They should all lift Tinubu first, then others will join you.
Do you believe that it’s the turn of the South to produce the President of the country?
The North should not have anything to do with the presidency in 2023 because when I listened to Bode George’s interview on Channels TV, I understood that this was a gentleman’s agreement for peace to reign. The North has been in the presidency for eight years, they should allow it to come to the South. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo said farming for him was not an accident, but becoming President of this country was an accident. They knew that President Muhammadu Buhari is going to complete his eight years by May 2023, so it has to come to the South.
Look at what is happening about security in this country today. You cannot take away tribalism . No one wants to kill his people. Almost all the commanders of the armed forces are from the North today. But when the presidency shifts to the South, southerners would occupy those positions and they will handle the security challenges of this nation better.
Do you support the move by PDP senators for the impeachment of President Muhammadu Buhari?
The President has less than 10 months to go. What the National Assembly is doing is political rascality. It’s too late to begin to talk about the impeachment of the President. We have been facing insecurity since he assumed office and what we should be telling the President is to rise to the occasion. He should send soldiers to the bush and deal with the bandits and criminals terrorizing the country. He should wipe them off the surface of this earth. If the wicked do not die, the righteous can know no peace. I could remember some time ago when the President said they should shoot anybody they see carrying an AK47. Have you seen anybody killed since the President made this pronouncement? The Bible says in Matthew 12:24-25, that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. President Buhari came from a tribe that is troubling the country, so he cannot fight them.
Do you see the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC , conducting a free and fair election?
For now, I will say INEC is trying but what I am bitter about is that many of their machines are not working. Disenfranchised people are too many. The ballot papers are too small because of the number of parties that we have in the country. The space for the thumb printing is too small. What are we doing with all these political parties that we have today? Any party that didn’t win any seat in the past elections should be removed. They should also provide an alternative for people whose fingerprints are not recognized during the election so that they can vote.