Why FG should de-centralise Nigeria’s security system —Oluwarohunbi

Right Reverend Michael Oluwarohunbi is the former General Secretary of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, and the Bishop of the Yewa Anglican Diocese. In this interview with SEYI SOKOYA, he speaks on the way out of the current challenges of the nation and the role of the church in this trying time.

THE country has continued to face security challenges. How do you think the nation can overcome this threat?

We express our very deep appreciation to God for the grace to witness the New Year and how He has ushered us into 2024 with great hope that we will be able to overcome the challenges of the year, especially the issue of insecurity, banditry, kidnapping, ritual killings, and all the likes. The security challenge of the country has been a serious issue all over the country. In this area, at a point, the Fulanis were invading our communities, murdering our people. The situation was very terrible and alarming generally across the Southwest geo-political zone of the country. They invaded our communities, destroyed farmlands, burnt people’s homes, and even maimed and killed many people. We commend our security agencies, the combined efforts of the armed forces, the Nigeria Police, vigilantes, Amotekun, the hunters, and other interventions. Shortly after the elections, we thought it was all over as their threats doused down, but to our utter amazement, it appears that they have resumed their wicked activities. It is now assuming an unprecedented alarming rate and this is already giving us serious concern. The situation is the same in almost all other parts of the country, nowhere is isolated. This is the trend across all the zones in the nation.

As a result of this, we are appealing to the Federal and state governments, including the local governments, to rise to the challenge and put in place appropriate measures to incapacitate all these enemies of the nation.

Killings, kidnaping and security challenges at large were the major challenges of the last government, but the present government promised to tackle them, yet security threats increased. Is there anything the government is doing wrong?

It is a fact that President Bola Tinubu inherited many problems from our former leader, President Mohammadu Buhari, especially the security challenges. But we have a new government already and they can make a drastic change and difference through the help of God. The main reason why the disgruntled elements have the upper hand over the citizens is that they are well armed and the people are defenceless. I think as one of the proactive measures, the President Tinubu-led government needs to, as a matter of urgency, de-centralise the security system of the country. This will, no doubt, empower the stakeholders, our traditional rulers, and even the people at the local levels to help fish out the criminal elements from their hideouts. These criminals need to be dealt with accordingly. I think the administration of President Tinubu should establish state policing and put in more funds to overhaul the security system. This is important as it would strengthen the security networks, ensure safety, and bring back peace in our land. It is no longer news that the kidnappers and bandits are more sophisticated than Nigeria’s security agents. This gives them an edge over our security forces. The government needs to do more, act fast, look into this, and overhaul Nigeria’s security infrastructure. Another challenging thing is that the road networks in the country are very bad. The bandits are taking advantage of this to perpetrate their evil acts. The government needs to address this. Though they have promised, nothing tangible has been done in this area since they came into power. We have not seen them back their words with actions, and this is the time for them to act as the situation of the country is not pleasant.

Another major challenge Nigerians are facing at the moment is hunger and a consistent hike in the prices of all things. Is the church feeling the heat, too?

The church is a part of the larger society. Just as everyone is feeling the heat, the church is also feeling it. Our members and even the clerics are feeling it. The economy of the country is bad. People are crying from hunger and barely managing to obtain a daily ration of food. The hope of the masses is being dashed because of hunger and suffering. It is affecting everyone and every part of the country, and the church is not exempted because it is a part of society.

The government needs to diversify and concentrate more on agriculture. Necessary steps must be taken to boost food production and other activities in the agricultural sector. The government must also provide farmlands and improved seeds and seedlings. Farmers and unemployed youths must be encouraged to come back to the land and make the right impact in this direction. The government must also expose the people to modern farming techniques and put in place mechanisms that will create outlets for farm produce during the harvest season. If this is done, food will be available beyond the subsistence level.

This will eliminate hunger in the country. However, the security challenge is also affecting food production as bandits threaten farmers. This is why the government needs to be more proactive if it wants Nigeria to work and be stable. They should take pragmatic steps to address the security challenges and mobilise people to boost the agricultural system of the country. They should provide land and all requirements for people as well as put in place necessary supervision. I believe if all these are put in place, we will sing a new song as a nation. The well-to-do in society should also rise to assist. I would like to advise the politicians and the political office holders that the current issue facing the country is beyond palliatives, Trader Moni, etc. Nigerians need direct empowerment, and this is the only way the government can alleviate poverty in Nigeria.

How has the church encouraged people, especially the youth, at a time like this?

The church is not a state actor, and it does not get any allocation from the government. The church only makes use of the offerings and gestures from people. Mind you, people don’t have much to give as offerings in the church as a result of the happenings in the country. The cash flow of the church has been affected drastically, but we keep trying our best to support people. We do more mobilisation through various means; we organise programmes and training for youths and many of them get encouraged. For instance, our diocese is in partnership with the Peter Akinola Foundation at Abeokuta, and our youths are benefiting maximally from this through participation in skill acquisition and empowerment programs. Scores of young Anglicans who have benefited from the programme are now gradually becoming self-employed and independent. The women of the diocese are also collaborating with the Ogun State governor, Dapo Abiodun Oko Owo Empowerment Scheme.

In addition, the women folk of the diocese who appear to be in the majority are being mobilised and encouraged to build their families and grow both spiritually and economically, and to contribute to the growth and upkeep of their homes and the larger society. The church is working hard to keep hopes alive physically and spiritually as our main assignment as a religious organisation. But it is only the government and the private sector that can positively drive the economy of the nation and change the narrative.

You have clocked 10 years as Bishop. What is the experience like?

The Bible quote in Psalm 124: 1, “If it had not been the Lord who was on our side”, now may Israel say….” is very apt in this regard. Today, my heart is full of thanksgiving to God, for thus far He has led us in the assignment He committed to our hands. It has been the grace of God since we were consecrated on February 18, 2014, and enthroned on March 6, 2014, and it is His grace that is keeping us on the journey. At the take-off, we hit the ground running and since then, God has been our only support. Though the take-off was a bit rough because of the many challenges we faced, God eventually proved Himself to be a dependable and reliable God. To the glory of God, we have been able to go through the storm unhurt, and to a very large extent, the church has been moving forward and has witnessed tremendous growth in membership and encouraging development in the areas of evangelism, church planting, and discipleship. Great efforts have also been made at both the diocesan and parish levels to put our youths through such spiritual and vocational programs to spur them into taking up challenges and leadership responsibilities in various aspects of the operations of the diocese and the larger society.  I have every reason to give thanks to God. A special thanksgiving is being arranged to give thanks to God as an expression of our appreciation to mark the 10th anniversary anytime soon.

What has been your major achievement as the Bishop of Yewa Anglican Diocese?

They are numerous, and we have tried to build on what we inherited from our predecessors. We have tried to foster unity and love among our members, which is so germane. We have been able to plant several churches and also moved outside the shores of Nigeria to the Republic of Benin. We now have four churches in that country. We have also been able to mobilise our youths and give them a voice in the diocese, and this has been yielding positive effects. The women are progressing in a very big way. As a Diocese, we are deeply grateful to the wife of the Bishop, Mama Yewa, my dear wife who has been passionate about mobilizing women and youths across the Diocese. The men as well are being mobilized, and they are already emerging as formidable vessels for moving the work of God forward in the diocese. We have a good pastoral relationship with the Kabiyesis in Yewaland as we also enjoy their cooperation. Our traditional rulers are all God-fearing leaders. They serve their citizens as watchmen, guarding the interests of their people and mobilizing them to support Government programmes.

How has life been to you as a servant of God?

Life is challenging generally, but we are pushing forward. It is not as if things are rosy, but we thank God for everything because He has always been our refuge and our ever-present help in times of need. As I said earlier, the Lord has been leading us and we have no reason to complain because He is always in charge. I can’t even imagine how we got this far. Indeed, God has brought me on this journey, He brought me to the level of a Bishop. I was just doing my thing. I mean work, to the best of my knowledge and ability, and God smiled on me and extended this grace to me. I was not the most qualified by all standards; I didn’t lobby for it, and I never thought it would come, but God just opened His eyes of favour on me and put me in this exalted position. I shall be eternally grateful for the great things He has done and the greater things He will still do. Praise Ye the Lord!


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