Exclusive: New PFN President, Bishop Wale Oke to Buhari: Stop pampering Bandits, kidnappers

exclusive new pfn president bishop wale oke to buhari stop pampering bandits kidnappers

When you talk of what we will do differently, the answer is both no and yes because governance is a continuum, and you want to set examples for Nigerian leaders. When you take over from a government, you will continue. You don’t abandon a project and waste money. You don’t abandon ideas because of differences.

Again, this is a church, and the church is the oldest traditional institution in the world. The church is there to defend the faith that has once been delivered to the saints. So, in terms of the faith, doctrines, teachings, we are not going to do anything differently. We are going to continue the tradition of our founding fathers, who laid the foundation of righteousness and go on with the work. We may repackage. Yes. But it is the same goal and the same agenda, and the Lord will help us.

In terms of tradition, doctrines, the main agenda of the church – evangelism and disciples of the nations, in terms of what the church should do, we are going to do that. We will depend on the word of God, prayers and fasting. We are not going to do anything different. We are going to do the same thing. When you talk in terms of packaging, making the message of the church relevant to the current generation and making the message of the church relevant to the current situation of Nigeria. Yes. We are going to improve on what our founding fathers had done.

First and foremost, we are going to mobilise and galvanise all Pentecostals throughout Nigeria – East to the West and North to the South, young and old, males and females, and everyone from the top to the grassroots. We will mobilise them for kingdom expansion and for nation building. There are tens of millions of Pentecostals in Nigeria, and they are found in every sphere of life, and every stratum of the society, right from a sit- ting Vice President, who is a Pentecostal to the core, to a farmer, the peasant to students who are found in every sphere of life.

The nation should be better with such massive number of tens of millions of Pentecostals. Most of them are very enlightened. So, we will mobilise them for nation building positively. It is one of the first things we want to do, as an improvement on what our founding fathers had done.

Then, we are going to focus on the youth, from mobilisation to empowerment spiritually, empowerment economically, empowerment politically because the future of this nation belongs to the youth. The youth are currently marginalised. They feel side-lined and ignored. They are not being listened to, and their needs are not being addressed. So, we will take time to listen to them. We are going to teach them the word of God in the tradition of Pentecostals. We are going to do everything to empower them spiritually and we are going to do what we can to empower them politically, not along partisan line. No. It is to develop them to become mature and responsible citizens of this nation in their own right and their thinking. And then, to take their civic responsibility seriously to register and to vote. Then, when it comes to the time of the election, they should show their capability and really vote. So, we are focusing on mobilising all the Pentecostals. We are focusing on mobilising the youth for national development. These are two of our agenda. We have a seven-point agenda. I think I should emphasise these two to grow His kingdom and national development through the Pentecostals. We want to contribute our own quota.

The third item on the seven-point agenda is the North-South partnership. This will promote partnership between southern and northern Nigeria for national strength and unity. We will explore the strength we have as a people of the same nation as against exploiting the fault lines. We will start in the church. The church in the south will partner with the church in the north. We will do this through spiritual education and enlightenment. The partnership will be built through sincerity of purpose, working in love and with prayers. The difference in religion will not be a barrier because everyone will naturally respond to love once it is given sincerely.

How would you appraise the herders’ crisis in Nigeria, fear of dominance of the country by the Fulani, and perceived pampering of the Fulani by the Federal Government?

The matter has come to the fore in the front burner of national issues and discourse now, and we cannot play the ostrich and bury our heads in the sand because it is real. People are being kidnapped, killed, raped, lands are being grabbed, and farmers are being killed. It was happening in one section of the country before. Now, it has spread all over.

The government should rise up to the occasion and do better. The government should not give a picture that the government of the day is behind a particular tribe. We should remind our president when he was inaugurated, he made a speech that he belongs to no one and he be- longs to everybody. This is the time to prove it. We know he is a Fulani by tribe. We know he is a herder by culture and tradition. He should call his people together and tell them: ‘You see, I am a Fulani person. I am a herder like you. But our tribe is not a criminal tribe. Our tribe, we are upright and principled. We believe in fairness and justice. And our tribe, we do not condone criminality. If I found anyone of you with issues of raping, killing, maiming and doing all those things, no matter what it is, you will face the full wrath of the law.’

Then, let him follow it through. By the time many are sent to jail, some are killed, everybody will swing. They will know that the president is not for a particular tribe. The president is for justice, righteousness, and uprightness, and any- body that has criminal tendency has reasons to be afraid what the government can do because the government will bring the weight of justice to bear on that person. Many that are doing well should not be afraid of the government. They should defend the government. This is irrespective of tribe or tongue, or whatever. So, that is the essence of governance. Governance is not to pamper criminals.

This leads me to the point of negotiating with bandits; negotiating with kidnappers, paying ransom to kidnappers. It has become the order of the day and in governance, it is wrong. The Bible makes it clear that the government is there to reward those that are doing well, and to punish those that are doing evil. The Bible is very clear about that. You are not to sit down and be negotiating with those that are doing evil. The people that are raping, and you want to negotiate with them. They are killing and you want to negotiate with them. They are carrying AK-47 rifles without licence, which is contrary to the laws of the nation, and you want to negotiate. No, that is pampering evil. It is not right.

The government should stop all the negotiation. The government should go out after every criminal and deal with them severely. It doesn’t matter if he is a Yoruba man, let him face the mu- sic. If he is an Igbo man, let him face the music. If he is Hausa, or a Fulani man, or a Tiv, let him face the music. If you are a criminal, criminality has no tribal colouration. If you are a criminal, whatever part of the country you are from, we will deal with you.

Let the government demonstrate that and security will return. The people that are doing this evil and wickedness are humans, and I have discovered that they are cowards. When they see people to stand up to them, they would withdraw from their criminality. But they feel, through the body language and the silence of the presidency and the connivance that the government favours them, they are emboldened in evil. Then, it means the people are to rise up in self-defence, against whatever is happening, and that would lead to anarchy and breakdown of law and order.

So, the government should stop all this negotiation with criminals. They should do justice and bring criminals to book. That is the essence of government. Negotiating with criminals is a sign of weakness. It means governance has failed. Let’s not bring Nigeria into a failed state. If we continue to approach it like the way it has been done, we are sliding into a situation where every group of people will want to defend themselves, and that will be anarchy and breakdown of law and order.

So, the government should rise up and deal with criminals fairly, justly, and firmly, irrespective of tribe and irrespective on tongue. I don’t believe that the Fulani are criminals as a tribe. It is just like saying Yoruba are liars as a tribe, or the Igbo are cheats as a tribe. I don’t believe in that kind of blackwashing everybody. There are criminal elements in every tribe. The job of the government is to fish out these criminal elements, and deal with them severely.

Let the Federal Government not appear to be supporting criminal elements, not appear to be negotiating with criminal elements. But to show governance, deal with them and let them know that criminality is not allowed. I appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to please rise up to the occasion. God will help him. We are praying for him.

The hijab crisis in Christian Schools in Kwara State has attracted public attention recently. What intervention can PFN make?

In the first instance, the hijab crisis is an unnecessary crisis, like most of the Nigerian problems. It is a selfinflicted crisis. These schools were not owned by government. The schools were owned by churches. And the schools there are called by the names of the churches there, and they have their belief systems. You don’t come and now say you want to ride on their back to enforce something that they considered contrary to their core values and their belief system. Leave them, let them run their schools the way they like within the ambit of the law.

Of course, I am talking of righteous law. A law that says that children in Christian schools must wear hijab is an unrighteous law. It is an unjust law, and it will not stand. It is like asking children in Muslim schools to be wearing clerical collars or whatever. No. In Muslim schools, let the Muslim founders run the schools the way they want and enforce the culture, according to their belief system. But let them not try to extend it to Christian schools.

What the government of Kwara State is do- ing is that the governor of Kwara State is standing behind one religion to impose the culture of that religion on other religion. That is unconstitutional, unjust and unfair. And the matter is in court. Why are you rushing? Let the court make pronouncement. If the court makes pronouncement and the losers feel aggrieved, they can go to Appeal Court. And if that one is not satisfactory, they can go to the Supreme Court. But don’t use governance to appear that you are backing one religion.

So, I appeal to the governor of Kwara State, to please give peace a chance. It is an unnecessary crisis that does not need to be. Hijab wear- ing is not the culture of Christian schools. These schools were founded by the churches and they should be allowed to run them according to their culture, provided that the rights of others are not infringed on.

Some people have been saying the church is increasingly taking on a political garb. How true is this?

No and yes. The answer is no because the primary task of the church is evangelisation, to disciple the whole nation for Christ, to disciple the whole world for Christ. Jesus Christ, the head of the church says go into all the world and preach the gospel. This still remains the primary task of the church, so that people would get saved, be- come born again and they will make it to heaven. It does not matter your position, your money, and your wealth, if you are not saved, not born again, you did not accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and saviour, you will die. You will not carry your money to heaven, and you won’t carry house to heaven, and you will burn in hell forever. But Jesus Christ says, except a man is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God. That is the primary task of the church we are facing.

But we are dealing with human beings. We that are saved and born again, leaders of the church, we are human beings. The people at the church are human beings. Man is a political animal. You cannot remove politics from him. The church has to be involved in politics, but not in a partisan manner, to educate his members and make them to become politically aware. If you don’t get involved, and wrong people are chosen to rule over you, you will suffer the consequences.

So, we are to be involved in it. Then, we are not saying we will float a Christian party or tell- ing people to vote for party A or vote for party B, we won’t do that. We just want you to be aware. You have got to be conscious of the enormous power that is your hand with your voter’s card. And that you have the power to choose your leader, and choose righteously because you will face the consequences. So, we have to do that.

Then, if any of us is willing to go for elective office, fine. We will train them, prepare them and let them act righteously. Then, we have to encourage our people to even belong to political parties of their choice. When you don’t belong, you cannot participate fully. You will be side- lined. If you don’t belong, you cannot be chosen to be a party flag bearer. We won’t tell you which party, no. We are the fathers of all. But go and take part in the political system, let your voice be heard and let you vote count. That is the duty of every believer. So, it is our responsibility to make them to be aware of that.

So, in the sense, we are involved in politics, not partisan politics, but to create awareness, and to let our people take their civic responsibility seriously because as we make our bed, so we will lie on it. The year 2023 is coming and every Pentecostal and believer should be aware. Join the political party they want based on your conscience and persuasion. Everybody should register. When it is time to vote, go out and vote, and vote your conscience. Do not let anybody buy your vote. We want to bring good governance back to the nation, and it begins with correct choice of the right people. We are tired of educated crooks and criminals who are loot- ing our treasury, who are making unrighteous decrees, who are oppressing Nigerians. We are tired of them. We want the church to arise and deliver this nation.

What do you expect to see in Nigeria before during and after the 2023 general elections? What is God showing you about 2023?

I am not going to speak on what God is revealing to me about 2023. I will declare that to my primary constituency, the church. But what I see as a leader concerning 2023 is that it is going to get a little tough and rough because politicians will be desperate for power. But God will prevail and give us victory by all means. He will give us peace. So, let no one be afraid, scared, just don’t get involved in hooliganism, particularly our youth. Don’t allow politicians to break coconuts on your head because if they break coconuts on your head, you may not live to partake of the exact coconut. Do not get into hooliganism. Let the church rise up. Let church leaders educate their people on their civic responsibilities. Register to vote and if every member of the church registers to vote, let us vote according to our core biblical values, then I can see Godly leaders emerging at the centre, states and local governments.

After 2023, if the Lord helps us, we are pray- ing, and Godly leaders emerge, if Nigeria is not restructured before 2023, Nigeria has to be restructured from 2023 upward. Anybody that loves Nigeria and wants Nigeria to be great in the future will know that we cannot continue with the arrangement on ground. They have to restructure. So, we are praying that God will help us to do the right thing, and that people that will engineer it fairly, justly, boldly and courageously, God will raise them. So, I see a challenging nation in 2023. But I see God giving us peace by all means. I want the church to arise, educate its members so that they can exercise their civic du- ties, and to see that the right people emerge at all the tiers of governance. With that in place, I see a Nigeria that is restructured, peaceful, progressive, and great.

What are the practical ways for Nigeria to solve the socio-economic and political challenges besetting its progress?

One, prayers and everybody should pray sincerely to God and God will help us and show us the way out. God answers prayers. So, I want to call on all Pentecostals in Nigeria, all Christians and everybody, let us pray and that is very important. Two, let every Nigerian become po- litically conscious that we get the kind of leaders that we deserve. If we don’t want corrupt leaders, it is in your hands. If we want upright leaders, it is in our hands. So, every Nigerian should register to vote, and should not vote based on tribal sentiment and all of that. But vote for people with character into office.

So, practical ways, one prayer and if possible, fast. Two, everybody should rise up, be politically aware, register and vote. Vote character, uprightness, people that are good. Three, let the leaders embrace the fact that Nigeria has to be restructured to our fairness and balance. As it is now, it is not so or it appears not to be so, and we don’t want a Nigeria that is run by people, guessing and speculating. People don’t trust the government. The trust is very low. So, that being the case, until we restructure, it will still be the same apparent nepotism, mis-governance, insecurity which appear to be backed by the government of the day. So, it is not good for the nation, let’s restructure to reflect fairness and justice.

Can you recall some of your major fulfilments in life?

The day I got married, I was fulfilled. The day my first child arrived, I was excited. The day our university – Precious Cornerstone University, was licensed by the Federal Government, I was fulfilled. Then, above all that, the day I gave my life to Christ, and I got saved in 1975, and I was guaranteed the hope of eternal life, I was most fulfilled.

Do you have any major regret in life?

I thank God; He has been good to me. If you asked about major challenges, and I told you the major challenges are men, the way of men, people you love and trust, who turn to stab you at the back. People that used to be friends, who are now sworn enemies. They are like that; even Jesus Christ says, beware of men. So, that has been my big challenge. And about regrets, God has been good to me. I give God all the glory.

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