INTERVIEW: Why Christians should involve in partisan politics- Pastor Amos Dada

Pastor Amos Dada

Pastor Amos Dada is the President of “Say No To Corruption Movement of Nigeria.” He is an author and a notable conference speaker and the District Superintendent of Christ Apostolic Church, Bethel Toronto Canada. He is also the Convener of International Gathering of Eagles (IGOE) Conferences and President of the Canadian Institute of Leadership and Development. In this interview, Pastor Dada speaks on the current issues in Nigeria especially the last 2019 presidential elections. 

How would you describe the recently concluded presidential election in the country?

Since I was not practically in Nigeria, I depend largely on what I read and watched online and reports of international and local observers. The fact that there is relative peace in the country shows that Nigerians are developing their democratic processes. The outcome of the result to my knowledge is the overall will of majority of Nigerians. The overall result shows among other things that, one, Nigerians prefer integrity to corruption. Secondly, the apology of PDP of wasting the collective wealth of Nigerian for sixteen years is not acceptable. Sorry, is not a solution for mismanagement of the resources of the nation, Nigerians rejected PDP because they cannot trust the wealth of the nation into PDP hands anymore. In the words of Americans ‘they blew it.’ PDP did not use their 16 years opportunity well. Thirdly, former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, who for many years told Nigerian (even wrote it in a book) that his former Vice was corrupt and could not be trusted, suddenly became the Campaigner General for the Presidential candidate of PDP, his former Vice and said because he has apologized to him and in return he has forgiven him his sins, Nigerian by the voting are saying apology to Obasanjo is not a reason for the change of character of his vice. The duos renewed clandestine reunion is not a reason for Nigerians to give the key of Central Bank of Nigeria vault again to PDP. Four, the boasting of PDP presidential candidates that “even if they kill me I will sell NNPC to my friends and pardon looters” is a sign that the man has not learnt anything. Nigerians are tired of giving the presidency to the highest bidder who will not remember that the wealth of the nation is not for the privileged few. Nobody is against privatization, but privatization just to help your friends is what the people rejected. Five, in the words of Charly Boy Nigerian masses are saying no, they are no more “Mumu again” The Nigerian said through that presidential election ‘fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.’
Also, Nigerians have not developed to a level where rigging will be totally ruled out in the election process. And to the best of my knowledge both parties engaged themselves in all forms of rigging either through vote buying or giving out stomach infrastructure items and cash. Acknowledgement of deaths and killing by the President/President-elect shows a new dimension of the President, which I hope he will maintain. For people to die in the nation and for the government not to acknowledge or commiserate with the families is not the best way to govern. Life matters and every life of every Nigerian should matter. I will expect that a list of those who lost their lives during the elections will be complied and their families compensated. It is also a serious lesson for the youth, to always shun thuggery and election malpractices that could lead to wastage of lives and blood shed. Efforts should also be made to prevent further loss of lives in the future elections. They should be free and fair.

The US have alleged that INEC sabotaged the election results to favour the APC, how independent is this body in the discharge of its duties?

Joseph Stalin said "It's not the people who vote that count, it's the people who count the votes.” As mentioned above I don’t believe we have developed a totally free and fair election system. But the judiciary is always available to look at such matters. INEC is evolving. The system is more open than what it used to be. Nigerians make up INEC, if there is evidence of corruption it should be addressed. To me INEC should be an impartial umpire otherwise the whole exercise is done in futility. People’s vote should count, and those who count the vote should exercise a reasonable level of integrity. However, I don't think overall that the result was awarded to favour any party. The stronghold of each party was maintained. In any case the tribunal will have the last say. The EU observers have a different report from that of USA, commending INEC for a job well done. How about that?

The PDP has rejected the presidential election results by INEC, just as it has vowed to legally challenge same. What is your take on this?
I think that is the best they can do. It is their right and they should exercise their right in that direction. I do not support those who said they should not challenge the result in the court. The process of challenging results helps us to develop our democratic institutions. My concern is that our judicial system is allegedly corrupt. My family in Ekiti was recently battered by one of the corrupt judges who took bribe to give away our ancestry family land to another family! To be honest one primary thing Nigerian should outgrow is corruption. It is not helping our nation. The CJN is currently suspended whether rightly or wrongly it is a disgrace to the judiciary and the nation at large. If the judiciary cannot be relied upon what is the hope of the common man? I will not like to see the case decided by the highest bidder as it was alleged during the case of Governor Wike of River State after the election of 2015.

Some men of God predicted the postponement of the Feb.,16th elections, while some predicted the death and defeat of President Buhari in which the reverse has played out. Do you see those in the category of the latter predictions as untrue men of God?
Prior the election I wrote an article on titled "Why is OBJ desperate?" In the article I mentioned that many of the predictions of the so-called men of God are social media induced! Honestly most of those predictions are unnecessary. The job of the church is not to be predicting who should win election or not or whether election will be postponed or not. It is like some prophets prophesying and giving phone numbers of members! Give me a break! The job of the church at best is to educate the church about the manifestos of political parties, encourage members to exercise their civic/voting rights, pray for God to give us the best candidate out of the bunch. And pray for peaceful, free, and fair elections.  The job of the church is to educate the people against being used as thugs for rigging purposes. I tried to educate the pastors that they should not be partisan. You don’t expect all members of your church to vote for a political party, members of your church are not your stooges they have their own mind! The church is not a political party even though its members are political animals. 

However, failure in predictions does not make one a child of God or not. The best of prophets can get it wrong. Samuel was a foremost Seer in his days, and he chose a wrong man to succeed Saul until God intervened. That is not to say there are no fake prophets also who want 'to feed on the season' to swell their membership or for other purposes, I hope they have learnt their lessons. Also, I noticed some pastors were very vocal in cursing the President and praying for his death, which is shameful. Biblically speaking no one comes to power without God's knowledge. If any political officer is not doing well, we pray for them to have wisdom to govern well and for God to change them and we vote them out. Remember the people you are praying against ‘to die’ are someone’s father/husband and mother/wife and you or your relation could occupy that position tomorrow! It is not easy to govern. Besides,we have organizations like CAN and PFN that could make the cases of the Christians known to the authorities. If we are crying against bloodshed in the land how can we pray for more bloodshed of the leaders?  That is not to say we should dodge issues or sweep it under the carpet; some of the Pastors saying those prayers are doing so because of the issue of Islamization propaganda in the land. My solution to the church is to strategize to “Jesuslize” or “Christianse” Nigeria. The church has not been trained by the bible to complain, those who complained in the wilderness perished in the wilderness, the likes of Joshua said we are well able to take possession of the land. Christian leaders should not lead the church with fear but with faith. Faith to take Nigeria for Jesus. Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail’. I wrote a book last year called “The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail”. Some of our leaders need to read it. I believe strongly that the gates of hell shall not prevail against Nigeria. Nigeria cannot be Islamized! I also co- author a book titled:  Canada Return To Your Maker (strategies for taking a nation for God) I think the principles we enumerated will help some of our Nigerian pastors and Christians generally on how to handle the complex situation on ground. By and large, the prayer of the church has been the chord that holds the nation and we must continue to pray for the peace, progress and prosperity of the nation. I strongly believe that God will give us a better Nigeria it is a function of time!

Do you subscribe to the involvement of men of God in politics?
Absolutely. When good people keep quiet evil men thrive. Nehemiah, Joseph, Daniel in the bible to mention a few were politicians and they made positive impact for their generation. My daughter has contested twice in Canada for the post of Member of Parliament, even though she has not won, she hopes to win one day, and we are praying for her. Prior to the last election one of the documents that was being circulated was a write up showing most positions of the present government occupied by the Northerners. And the writers were abusing the Vice President – Prof Osinbajo for staying in the government advising him to quit the government! Why is he supporting and staying in Buhari administration, they queried? I just laughed at human perception. You are crying you don't have Southerners in government, the only visible one there representing the Christian community and southerners you want him out? That is either lack of understanding or sheer hypocrisy.

To answer your question, Christians should go to politics. Those who are there should be encouraged.  While in politics they should show they are Christians by administering with goodly, godly biblical principles. If you are a Christian and you are in politics and you are corrupt of what use are you? Why we want Christians in politics is to make positive impact. It is to show- case Christians values. They are to say no to corruption. They are to practice holiness and integrity in the market place. They are to use their anointing to make positive impact. Before retiring from Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company a subsidiary of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, I was heading a section of the Procurement Department, a position they expected me to take bribe in awarding contracts. I simply made a sticker “Say No To Corruption” and put one on my secretary’s door and one on mine. Like Daniel I purposed in my heart not to take bribe. That is what Christians should do. Be different in any position you occupy. Don’t be part of corrupt practices. They are to be led by Holy Spirit. Politics is not dirty it is the practitioners that are dirty! When I travel to nations like Zambia, Philippines that are mainly Christian nations and they are known for corruption it is a shame.

Has Nigeria been making headway in her democracy since inception?
Sure. For us to be changing government every four years successfully is evidence of democratic progress. For our military not to take over power through coup d'etat despite the anomalies of the legislature and other arms of government is progress.

For the growth in our economy though slower than expected it is a democratic plus.We however hope there will be more gains in Buhari’s “Next Level" We want to see corrupt officers jailed to serve as deterrent to others. We want to see more poverty alleviation programmes. We want electricity. We want to see more investors in Nigeria. We need unemployment rate drastically reduced. This is possible if we can diversify the economy, open up the construction industry especially the roads, invest in agriculture, get the refineries working, open up the mineral industry and other areas that have been abandoned. We want to see a better secured nation. We want the menace of the herdsmen and Boko Haram checked. All the kidnapped children returned to their parents. The government must treat all Nigerians as equal. Cows should not be preferred to human beings under any guise. Any one running foul of the government, engaging in kidnapping, senseless killings, fraudulent practices, money laundering must be prosecuted. EFCC and other anti-corruption agencies should not be partisan. The energy sector, power generation, these are the areas that the government must focus on. The state government should do more. It is a shame and waste of human resources for a governor to spend his tenure collecting money at the centre and just paying salaries! Our states should be more engaging, resourceful, creative and innovative. Overall the ‘Next Level’ three point agenda, security of the nation, growth of the economy and fighting corruption must be on the front burner of the government and carried out to its fullest!

The recently concluded presidential election in the country showed that Nigeria is deeply divided along regional and religious line; this was said by a gubernatorial candidate in the North. What is your take?
It is not the election that revealed that or any gubernatorial candidate that is what we are! All those mantra during the election are political hypes. We are a nation of two main religions Christianity and Islam. We are a nation of over 400 tribes, tongues, ethnic groups and dialects. We are a nation of two major geographical divide North and South. Within that some political parties also framed us into six geopolitical zones. It is not election that polarised us we are geographically, ideologically, ethnically, academically, socially, linguistically and religiously polarised. Michelle Obama said ‘presidency does not determine who you are it only reveals it.’

The bible says if the foundation be destroyed what can the righteous do. That is the formation since 1914 when the south and north were amalgamated to form one Nigeria. What we can do is to learn to live together despite our differences. To see other ethnic or religious groups as our brothers and sisters. The government should adhere to federal character policy in political appointments. The President or Federal Government should reverse the lopsided appointment particularly in the area of security. The Muslims in the North particularly in Southern Kaduna should stop killing the Christians and burning churches. When did Muslims see Christians in the South burn their mosques and kill them? The herdsmen should stop killing innocent citizens. We must tolerate one another. We must be our brother’s keeper. The spirit of Cain should be eliminated in Nigeria. Life is in the blood, we must stop shedding of blood. NYSC members should be free to serve anywhere in the nation. Nigerians should be free to do business in any part of the nation. When we held our conference, International Gathering of Eagles Conference in Rwanda, we noticed that, the National ID card of their nationality does not include their tribes anymore. They realized that the emphasis on whether you are Hutus or Tutsi was their undoing and they removed it and the nation is growing harmoniously and economically. All the agitation of some geo-political groups to leave Nigeria is predicated on the frustration that the country has not developed; can the three main people’s group/tribe in Singapore be agitating for balkanization of their tiny and extremely prosperous and highly developed nation? Develop Nigeria and the song(s) of division will be silenced forever!

What is your assessment of Buhari's administration in fighting corruption?
For identifying corruption as a major problem and daring to fight corruption in the first place, he has done well. Unlike his predecessor who went about saying "stealing is not corruption”. Even if people were not corrupt that is an invitation and inducement for people to be corrupt. The policies of TSA, single treasury bill, the policy of whistleblower and other loot recovery means are welcome. Two areas that I have my frustration is the fact that many of the high-profile cases have not witnessed convictions for Nigerians to see and learn. Nigerians want to see the corrupters and looters in jail so that people in government will not just continue to loot the nation unchecked. The second area of my discomfort is for people that have been charged to court by EFCC, who now join the ruling party and for EFCC to withdraw their cases or be silent about it. That is wrong. Anyone that has been identified as being involved in any corruption case should face the music irrespective of their party affiliations. They should not be shielded from prosecution. That is why the opposition is saying Mr. President is not fighting corruption but fighting opposition party.  But as the President of ‘Say No To Corruption Movement of Nigeria’ our organization is willing to offer our assistance to help the government to fight corruption. Although it is important for the government to take corrupt persons to court and prosecute them with the hope of recovering some stolen funds and jail the culprits, we find that as necessary and imperative as it is, it is a crisis management approach. People who have stolen billions of naira have enough money to fight the system. Though it is along time approach, the best approach is to be proactive, to prevent the people from stealing or practicing corruption in the first place. The way to do that is to educate the masses against corrupt practices, materialism, bribery, get rich quick syndrome and similar vices. That is what our organization is doing. I have written a book titled - To The Rescue (Say No To Corruption). 

Our strategy is to educate the youth against this cankerworm. The government can introduce such fictional books through National University Commission (NUC) to be used for General Knowledge Studies (GNS) and teach moral education in all the universities’ .In addition, our organization is forming chapters in the tertiary institution where we are educating the students and the youth not to be involved in this evil called corruption. Most of the elite and the current political calls are dry fish which can no more be bent. Meaning you can rarely change them from being corrupt. We must strategically raise a new generation of leaders that will lead this nation well. Who knows who will be the next president, governor, judge, legislator, vice chancellor in this nation in 20 years’ time? Nobody lives forever, whether we like it or not this crop of leaders will die, but it will be a shame if the new generation of leaders are corrupt again! And if we don’t do anything to fight corruption nothing will change it! We have also suggested to the government, to form a special court to try corrupt cases. The judiciary and the relevant existing laws are saturated with so many loopholes that does not allow the anti- corruption agencies to secure convictions. We are aware of the ways in which corruption is fighting back.
It is obvious that fighting corruption under democratic structure, rule of law is more difficult than under military regime. Nevertheless, Nigerians want to see the Federal Government genuinely fight corruption. They want transparency in governance. They want accountability. Fighting corruption is not an abstract phenomenon. They want to know how the recovered loot is being used. Fighting corruption is a means to development of the nation. Fighting corruption is to get the money from the pockets of individuals to the government purse and for the government to use such money to build infrastructure. Generate power for industrial and domestic use. Build hospitals, good roads, improve on quality of education, prevent brain drain, create jobs for the populace. When that is done, corruption has been killed. I enjoin the government to genuinely fight corruption, and also enjoin ALL Nigerians to fight corruption because it is an illusion if we think government, anti-corruption agencies, corporations can fight corruption without you and I Saying No To Corruption.
Thank you for this opportunity.
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