The ruling class is desperate to destroy Nigeria –Rev. Gwana
Rev. Dogara Raphael Gwana, President of the Baptist Conference, approved and established by the Nigerian Baptist Convention in June 2015, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) which covers the whole of the FCT, parts of Nasarawa and Niger States, s’ talks with CHINYERE ABIAZIEM on issues affecting the polityRev
How do you view the recent incident of alleged bogus bishops attending the unveiling of the CPA vice-presidential candidate?
It is very unfortunate that Nigeria has to struggle with such distracting issues. A nation plagued by a declining economy, devastating poverty, deadly terrorism, poor leadership at all levels, endemic corruption and general insecurity is now discussing a scenario where some people are portrayed as religious just to get a political support.
When I watched the video clip of the unveiling and saw Senator Shettima actually acknowledge “the presence of 30 bishops,” I felt much more distressed. The ruling class in Nigeria (note that I did not limit it to the ruling party) is desperate to finish the job of destroying Nigeria. They have destroyed Nigeria’s economy by stealing on an alarming scale. They have destroyed the psyche of Nigerians to the point that we are poor but we are fighting for them.
They have destroyed the Nigerian education sector and sent their children and wards overseas and have the audacity to post photos of their graduation for us to see. They have destroyed the electricity sector and run lucrative generator import businesses. Now the only thing left is religion and they are out to destroy its true essence. They preyed on people’s poverty and gave them gifts to do just about anything, including desecrate the very institution that should be held sacred.
One wonders why there were no Islamic clerics in the event. Why the desperation to get the Christian endorsement of the ticket since the Christian population doesn’t matter? It is obvious that the tolerant and gracious nature of the Christian faith has attracted disrespect, contempt and contempt of the highest form. But I’m not worried because in Africa they say that “if the gods want to kill a man, they first make him mad”. I believe that in the next few days we will see many more of these avoidable errors. Nigerians prayed and “the gods are at work”.
A video was released a few days ago where the victims of the train kidnapping were seen being whipped and the terrorists saying they will come for the President and El-Rufai. What is your point of view ?
I cried when I saw my compatriots being dehumanized. I cried when I saw men and women who, through no fault of their own, were subjected to such an inhuman experience. It could be any of us. On the same weekend that Ese Brume and Tobi Amusan were the pride of Nigeria in faraway Oregon, USA, terrorists were dehumanizing and threatening Nigerians right on their soil. Wondering which one to watch. It’s a bittersweet situation.
What this says is that unless drastic action is taken, we may be witnessing the beginning of the end of Nigeria. As for the threat to kidnap Governor Nasir El-Rufai and President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigerians should ask the duo. They certainly have something to say to Nigerians. We are going through desperate and uncertain times and whatever truth may be that will save Nigeria and Nigerians should be told. If the C in C is threatened, then we are in trouble.
I call on our President to keep his promise to Nigerians and apply everything in his power to deal with this threat. Terrorists can claim to have superior combat weapons. But Nigeria has superior fighters. Nigeria has legitimacy in the war. Nigeria has God on her side. What I think Nigeria needs right now is political will and patriotism. We must put aside all forms of selfish and selfish interests and face this battle, and with God on our side, Nigeria will rise and stand.
Public universities have been on strike for a few months and there seem to be difficulties in finding a permanent solution, which has prompted the Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC) to go on strike. How do you feel about this?
Well, I may not know much about the efforts the government has made on this. What we see is that our public universities have been closed for about five months. I call on all concerned to expedite the resolution of the problems and to reopen our universities. There must be a compromise on both sides to end this affair. The Nigeria Labor Congress organized a protest to put more pressure on the government on this issue. I salute the efforts of the NLC insofar as it is peaceful. We already have enough violence in our system and we cannot afford to take another trip in that direction.
For me, what is driving this challenge is public policy. Our policies regarding the functioning of public institutions need desperate attention. It is said that desperate times call for desperate measures. A situation where our public schools are closed and those who hold public office have their children in private and foreign universities is unacceptable.
A situation where our public power supply remains epileptic and the offices and homes of senior officials are powered privately is unacceptable. A situation where our public hospitals are moribund and our top leaders fly overseas and spend public money on medical care is completely unacceptable.
So, what we need in Nigeria is a total policy reversal that imposes sacrificial conditions for elective and nominal public office. Once this is done, and the president or governor knows that when he or a member of his family needs medical attention, he is under an obligation to go to a public hospital, private hospitals do not will flourish more in Nigeria and medical tourism will not continue. The same is true for other public institutions.
The Supreme Court ruled in favor of wearing the hijab in public schools, which many Christian leaders disapproved of. What do you think is the implication of this development on Nigerian society?
I clarified my position on this issue the very week the judgment was rendered. It’s not right to do that. We open the door to anarchy. Since the Supreme Court based its judgment on the exercise of human rights, we saw what happened the following week when a lawyer appeared in court dressed in traditional clothes. The various mission agencies that established these schools had a clear purpose and direction in mind and these purposes do not run counter to the interests of society. The government is wrong to introduce a dress code or anything that completely contradicts the purpose of the original owners.
In a multi-religious society like ours, we shouldn’t choose a particular religious dress code and say if followers of that religion want to dress that way, they should be allowed. In this country, I know Nigerians who practice Judaism and they have their synagogues and their dress codes. The same with Hindus and Buddhists and traditional religions. The Supreme Court has opened a door that may be difficult to control or close.
The Nigerian church has always been portrayed as lacking unity which rubs off on the nation. Does that bother you?
I agree with this statement to some extent. Yes, there are cases of disunity due to the freedom we have in the expression of faith. Christianity is different from other religions. Other religions are highly regulated and in a straitjacket. But Christianity sticks to a concept of freedom; for the Spirit of God is the Spirit of freedom. Unfortunately, when this concept is outdated, abuse becomes inevitable. Another misconception is that denominations are unnecessary. While I admit that the various doctrines of the denominations have created disunity in the church, this does not invalidate the different expressions of faith that the denominations promote.
Therefore, we must note that denominations are primarily contextual expressions of faith. Some denominations, especially in Nigeria, are found primarily in certain regions and appeal to the particular issues of those environments. There is nothing wrong with that. We should also note that disunity is a strength of the hordes of hell. The enemy of the church knows that once the church is united there is nothing impossible with it. We should therefore apply the weapon of prayer against the great enemy of the church and abstain from one another.