The Senior Pastor, Rhema Deliverance Mission International, Lagos, Dr. Anene Nwachukwu, has dismissed conspiracy theories on the COVID-19 vaccines by some clerics. He advised Nigerians to take the jab if they had the opportunity.
In an interview with MOSES AKAIGWE, Prophet Nwachukwu also declared that President Buhari has not been fair to the South East in his appointments, insisting that an Igbo man must be Nigeria’s president in 2023. He also spoke on the significance of Easter, even as he called for amnesty for Boko Haram members and bandits terrorizing the country.
As a cleric, do the insecurity challenges in the country like Boko Haram attacks, kidnapping and the menace of herdsmen, worry you?
Every Nigerian – whether a man of God or an ordinary citizen – should be worried about the recent developments in the country, especially the problem of insecurity. Firing the service chiefs might not be the solution. The solution should be that government should make adequate arrangements for the protection of lives and property of the citizenry, because it is the responsibility of the Federal Government. If you look at events unfolding in the country, you will see that nowhere is secure. Recall that people were making reckless statements and threatening the peace of the country some years ago before the 2015 election. Today, we are living witnesses to the coming to fruition of those threats. Don’t forget that before the 2015 elections, there was palpable tension in the country and you cannot rule out the possibility of people amassing weapons then, waiting for any eventuality.
Not too long ago, the country was relatively at peace, but with time, those weapons started coming out in different parts of the country, leading to insecurity everywhere. We have to note that Nigeria today is not secure under this administration, and we must do everything possible to be praying for the President and those in authority so that God will give them the wisdom to direct the affairs of this nation properly. Every time, you hear that children or students have been kidnapped, and ransom paid, the government will come out to say ‘no ransom was paid.’ We are sick and tired of hearing all these things. I will advise President Muhammadu Buhari and the Inspector General of Police that the time has come for the government to embrace community policing which will help a lot in solving the insecurity problem. In our society, everybody knows his neighbour; everyone knows everyone. And, if I can keep an eye on my neighbour and my neighbour keeps an eye on me, and an intruder comes in, we will easily know who is who.
Secondly, the President should balance his appointments to give all parts of the country a sense of belonging. Some people are angry over the recent appointments. I don’t see why the security architecture of the country is in the hands of only the northerners. Southerners and the easterners in particular, are nowhere; not among the service chiefs named recently. So, no Igbo man in the military is worthy to be a service chief?
The Chief of Army Staff is from the north, Chief of Naval Staff is from the north, the IGP is from the north, and the heads of the Customs, Immigration, Prisons, Civil Defence, as well as the National Security Adviser, are all from the north. Where else in the world can this dominance be condoned? And yet, the South-East people are taking it calmly. Nobody has been trying to cause commotion in the nation.
Since independence, the only President of Igbo extraction has been Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, whose position was even ceremonial, because there was a Prime Minister. Till today, the South-East people have not produced the President of Nigeria, and that is very unfair. In the spirit of national reconciliation, equity, fair play and justice, it is time for the south-easterners to produce the President of Nigeria. Let us feel a sense of belonging. And the President should be advised that we have credible men in the South-East who can be part of his cabinet. The President is Hausa; the Vice President is Yoruba; Senate President is Hausa; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yoruba, and so on! Ndi Igbo are here watching Hausa and Yoruba having a field day. That is not good. People should be able to give a sense of justice, fair play and equity in governance.
Looking at the present political scenario, do you think that the next president can emerge from the South-East?
When the Nigeria-Biafra war ended, the Federal Government in its wisdom adopted the slogan of ‘No Victor, No Vanquished.’ But, if you look at the events unfolding since then, you will agree with me that there have been victors and there have been the vanquished, and we need to do something about it. There is no country in the world like Nigeria, and we need to stay here and salvage it together. But in the spirit of equity and justice, things must be made to move in the right direction.
If you meet President Buhari today, what advice will you give him regarding these national issues?
I will advise the President to grant national amnesty to all the bandits, killer herdsmen, kidnappers and all those causing trouble in parts of the country, including members of Boko Haram. The government should give them one or two months to surrender their arms to the various state police headquarters across the country. There should be specific places where all of them should surrender their arms. As part of the programme, the authorities should take special record of all those who surrendered their arms and allow them to walk away. If this is done, the President would be seen to have done his best. After this, the armed forces and the security agencies should then launch total onslaught against the remaining insurgents and criminals who refused to take advantage of the gesture. I can tell you that some of them are willing to surrender, but there is no safe avenue for them to come out of the bush to do so. As part of the deal, the security agents should not kill any of them coming out from the bush within the two months of grace, and while coming out with their arms, they should raise both hands so that it is clear that they actually want to surrender. I believe that 70 percent of the bandits will like to grab the opportunity to surrender and will never go back to the life of violence. The government should also rehabilitate them. Concerned state governments should disburse some money to them, like N200, 000 each, to enable them start life again.
Tomorrow is Easter Sunday. What is the significance of the Easter celebration?
Easter is the best celebration every believer must identify with. Christmas is good, but Easter shows that somebody paid a supreme price to redeem us from death. Before Christ was born, many people had been in existence, but nobody was able to sacrifice himself to die for our sins. The world we are living in was in a very serious bondage until he came and decided to offer himself to die for humanity. Philippians 3 vs 5, says, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” Even though he is God, he thought it not to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation and became obedient even to die on the cross.
And because of that, God has highly exalted him and given him a name above every other name and at the mention of his name, every knee shall bow. He died to restore the dignity of humanity. He died so that the devil that has been having a field day in our lives will stop doing so. He died so that sicknesses and diseases tormenting us would no longer torment us because by his stripes, we are healed. He died to make a name for us. He is trying to tell us that at the mention of Jesus, every knee will bow. In fact, Jesus died so that we can reign. As many that receive him, he gave them power to become the sons of God. We are now the sons of God through his death. His death brought reconciliation from humanity to divinity. So, that is the significance of Easter. Somebody paid a price to reconcile us back to God for us to reign and become who God has ordained us to be.
What advice do you have for Nigerians on Easter celebration?
Easter talks about sacrifice. Somebody sacrificed his life for us. I want to advise the government and those in authority to live a life of sacrifice. From the President, to the Local Council Chairman, they must learn how to sacrifice their greed in order not to harm humanity. You elect a politician into an office; somebody that you are aware is struggling to pay for a flat, but under three months, he has bought a duplex, he is driving exotic cars, raising his shoulders in pride, and moving about with mobile policemen. He is no longer who he used to be, but now uses his position to intimidate those who voted him into power. That was not what Jesus did. He came here and laid down his life. Our leaders must lay down their comfort, so that the people they are leading will be comforted. Easter teaches those who are amassing wealth for their own selfish interest to learn that Jesus came here, and even though he is God, he sacrificed his throne, comfort and came here to die. Our leaders must learn how to sacrifice so that Nigeria will be a better place to be in.
Some pastors have been speaking against taking the COVID-19 vaccine, saying it’s an Anti-Christ agenda. What do you think?
There is nothing wrong with the vaccines, since the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control and the World Health Organisation have certified the vaccines safe, I don’t see why people should be afraid to take them. Since the vaccines are very helpful in protecting people against the virus, I will advise everyone to ensure that they get vaccinated. It will help to reduce the spread of coronavirus. There is no conspiracy. Anybody talking about conspiracy is ignorant of the matters of the day. The pandemic has killed some men of God too, and if we are not safety-conscious, we will be taken unawares. We, the men of God, should advise our members to take the vaccines. As we observe the protocols, let us be free and believe in God that it is well with us.