Archbishop Innocent Ochei is the founding president of New Dimension Seminaries International, Lagos-Nigeria. He spoke with EMMANUEL UDOM on the recent sack of security chiefs by President Muhammadu Buhari, what the new service chiefs should do to tame the embarrassing insecurity in the country, the role of religious leaders in ensuring that Nigeria remains one indivisible country beyond 2023 and the issues of Igbo presidency after Buhari. Excerpts:
Few days ago, President Muhammed Buhari appointed new service chiefs; what is your take on this?
Well, the sacking of the service chiefs is long overdue. But, we thank God, it came at last. Buhari balanced the appointment of new service chiefs and it is highly commendable.
But, do you think the new service chiefs will deliver, considering the alarming rate of insecurity in the country?
I am optimistic that the new service chiefs will add values to the whole security architecture and deliver or make imparts, even as the president has told them that our country is presently in a state of emergency-security wise. But, as we all know, in conventional warfare, terrorists, for instance, use fear to intimidate and harass the people.
But, my candid advice is that our entire security architecture should be re-jiged every two years, so that fresh brains and ideas are brought to the fore. Tackling insecurity at all levels is not easy.
Away from security, some prophets do make prophesies at the beginning of every year. Some of their prophesies do come to pass, while others seem to be fake. What do you have to say here?
All prophesies, regardless of whether they come to pass or not are from God. Remember prophesies are warnings from God, handed down to humanity, through religious leaders. But, regardless of the nature of prophesies, prayer is the potent key that could avert seeming false prophesies, if indeed there are false prophesies.
Should pastors and other religious leaders participate in politics and governance?
Yes, the Bible says the people will rejoice when the righteous rule. Honestly, I am one of the strong advocates of pastors going into politics. Let me tell you something, in Nigeria, there are no shortage of ideas, solicited and unsolicited. But, we lack honesty of purpose, courage and conviction, or the will to speak and do what is right.
But, I read either in the Bible or somewhere that politics is dirty and born-again Christians should not participate in it?
Truth is that our entire world is dirty and we need God fearing men and women of honesty, integrity, strong will power and conviction to clean up the mess. Our religious leaders could deliver, if encouraged, empowered. Do your fact checks and you will discover that faith-based organizations are contributing the economic and other growth of our country?
Some churches own private universities, where students are trained, academic and non-academic staff hired, thereby reducing the tally on unemployment. Also, media outfits are making money through adverts from faith-based organizations, while pastors who are motivational speakers, counselors, etc, are assisting government at various levels to solve societal challenges and contributing to the growth of our economy.
So, if you were appointed minister of petroleum, a seemingly lucrative beat, will you accept it?
No, I will not. I will rather go for national orientation. We all need to re-orientate ourselves, not along religious or ethnic lines, but based on nationalistic values of honesty, adding values to our country, and attitudinal change.
What will you score President Muhammed Buhari on his performances so far and why?
I will score his regime 41percent. Though the president was sick and flown abroad for medical care, which is normal and natural, I expected Buhari to deliver more on his promises, even though he took six months, after his election on first term to appoint his ministers.
What is your take on Igbo presidency come 2023?
Honesty of purpose should be the watch and any Igbo presidential aspirant should not campaign as an Igboman, but network and reach-out to other regions, while the entire Igbo region should unite and support the person. Unity of purpose is the only way out here for an Igbo presidential aspirant.