#News: Jonathan Does Not Deserve A Second Term – Okogie


Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie, former Archbishop of Lagos and first president of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), in this interview with MICHAEL UCHEBUAKU speaks about the politicisation of CAN, involvement of Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor in the $9.3 million cash-for-arm deal, among other issues. Read  the excerpts of the interview after the cut.....

 How is life in retirement and what is a typical day like for you now that you are retired?

Well, it is still the same life, except that we do not engage ourselves in too much pastoral work as we used to do when on active duty. On a typical day, I wake up in the morning like any other person. I say my prayers, go for my Mass, then do some exercises and go for a walk because of my leg. Then I take my breakfast and after that I sit down and people start coming to see me, And I will be there sitting in my office until 2 or 3pm listening and answering people’s questions. That is what a typical day looks like.

What are your most memorable moments as Archbishop of Lagos?

Doing my duties gave me the greatest joy. Anytime I am with people, each time I am officiating I know I’m doing what God wants me to do, I derive the greatest joy. But now, it’s not that I’m not doing what God wants me to do, but the concentration is more now on my spiritual life. That time was different from now.

That time, even sometimes when I would be saying my prayers, I would feel so tired, then I would say, God I know you understand, I would be trying to justify being tired while saying my prayers. I don’t know how I can justify such a thing before God.

But now, I can fully concentrate on my spiritual life without distractions. I became an Archbishop on the 17th of June 1973. I spent 39 years as Archbishop of Lagos. Looking back, I never even imagined that I would become a bishop, not to talk of an archbishop. My entire mind when I was in the seminary was to become a priest. Pure and simple! But when that work comes, what can you do? Since it was the will of God that I become a bishop, no way, I can’t run away. So that’s how it is.

What were your saddest moments as Archbishop of Lagos?

Well, there are a few things that really demoralised me. For example, when you talk to people and you advise them, they don’t take your advice. Then in later years they regret and say, ah, ‘this man said it and I should have done it.’ But it pains me. It pains me in the sense that they think you are a liar. I tried to make them understand this is the way I feel.

I haven’t got the monopoly of wisdom, no, I am only telling you I try to address issues the way I see it, the way the good Lord wants me to say it. And I believe that when I open my mouth to talk, it is God that gives me the inspiration. For example, look at what is happening in the country today. When the Head of State (Goodluck Jonathan) was still the deputy, I have said it several times.

Before he became the Head of State I had an audience with him. We were four in the room. I don’t want to give you the names of the other two people who were there besides me and Jonathan. So after the audience, Jonathan said to me, “Bishop, can you pray for me?” And I said, “Sorry, Your Excellency, what do you want, what do you want me to pray for?” He was shocked and said to me, “What? You’re the first pastor that has asked me this kind of question. All the other pastors, when I ask them for prayer they tell me to bow my head and bow my head and they pray.

How can you ask me what do I want from God?” So I said, “Sorry o, your Excellency, don’t be annoyed, but this is the right way to pray. I want to be able to concentrate on what you are asking for; to let God open his hand and give this man this particular thing that he is asking for. I can say any kind of prayer for you, but to me, that is not enough.”

So he said, “That is okay. Don’t you know I will be going in for the election?” And I said to him, “You have won, that is no problem, but you will not rule.” He said, “What? What do you mean that I will not rule?” And I said, “Yes sir, others will rule. Those around you will rule. They are the ones that will rule in your place.” What is happening now? This is the kind of thing that pains me.

If you consider the example I have given you now, that is how my life is. I don’t want to tell anybody lies. I don’t want to fool anybody. Shakespeare said “flattery is the food of fools”. That is what is going on now with many of our religious leaders. They flatter people because they want money. They want to be in the Head of State’s good book. That is what is happening today. One with God is always a majority even if they are going to kill me tomorrow.

When I was in the war front, I didn’t die, not a scratch on my body. It’s a pity Benjamin Adekunle is dead now. God bless his soul. He was my boss. The other one was Godwin Ali. We were all under him. They were real soldiers. I wasn’t a combatant officer, I was only a chaplain, and I did the little that God wanted me to do and came out without problem.

As a former and founding president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), you fought against several perceived attempts to Islamise Nigeria, especially through membership of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC); how do you view Boko Haram and the threat it poses to the country?

 We sensed these things coming, especially during the OIC period. Those of us on the Christian side, that was one of the reasons we opposed it. Even though Babangida and all the others, and even some Catholics on the panel saw nothing wrong with it. I still remember telling (Jubril) Aminu and others to be careful, that this will not augur well for the nation.

They said to me, “What do you mean?” Now, look at what we are having. It is not just a question of the Islamisation of Nigeria we are talking of? We are talking of the future of Nigeria. With these things we are bringing up, what will it lead us to in future? Politicians and so-called intellectuals get up and make statements that can destroy the nation. And what does the government do? Nothing.

The government do nothing to them. They allow them to go scot-free. In a civilised nation, they will be called to answer for it. Once you make any careless statement, you must pay for it. You will be called to question. What must a Head of State, the father of the nation be afraid of? If he cannot die for the nation, why is he a Head of State?

 For example, if I cannot die for my faith, why am I an Archbishop? Why am I a Cardinal? These soldiers calling themselves Boko Haram are doing what they are doing because they believe in it. But it is there in the Quran and in the Bible that you shouldn’t shed blood.

 Read the remaining part of the interview here

No comments