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‘Securing Nigeria has more to do with will power than spending money’
Every January, Wordbase Assembly holds an annual festival of power and prayer crusade, where the church opens its auditorium to members of the public, especially those within its host community in Okota, Lagos, to seek God and pray their way into the New Year. Bishop Humphrey Erumaka, General Overseer of Wordbase Assembly, held a press conference last week on the forthcoming crusade in Lagos. Seyi John Salau was there. Excerpts:
The celebration of Christmas on December 25 is still contentious, with some arguing that Jesus Christ was not born on that date. What is your take?
The bible says, ‘Let no man judge you by any day or date, season or time’. It is in Nigeria that we celebrate Christmas on December 25; China celebrates Christmas on a different date. Here in Nigeria, we worship God on Sundays; in Dubai it’s Fridays. So no day is fixed. One thing we know is that Jesus was born and we are celebrating His birth. In His days there were no calendars per se; calendar is a later development. So I believe it is an assumed date.
The church is planning its power conference in January. Could you tell us more about the forthcoming conference?
In the past seven years we have been doing a crusade called Festival of Power and Prayer Crusade. It is a time we open the church up for the entire community to come pray and start the year with God. This year’s crusade is titled ‘Stepping into your next level of glory’, and we are trusting God for a very wonderful time. We have various guest speakers coming, like Archbishop Cletus Bassey, Pastor Grace Johnson, my wife and myself, and other anointed preachers. We also have gospel artistes that will be performing alongside our choir, with Ngozi Zak Orji. This year, I am trusting the Lord to give us as a church and all that will attend an increased capacity in everything we do. We trust the Lord to deepen our understanding of Him, deepen our expectations, and everything we do; to have an increased dimension to the glory of God; to be able to touch people, and as many that will come with an open heart to pray, that God will answer.
Previously we used to have prayer list and oftentimes it will amaze you that people come to give testimonies. Sometimes God naturally left some things over, no matter what we do. But evidently, He has been beneficial to us and waiting on God is the highest economy of time; you do not just start anything without waiting on God, and I trust God that this year would be better than the rest.
On the choice of January for the conference – January is a natural time people would want to jumpstart the year with God, it is a prayer conference. We are starting January 2nd till the 21st, a two-week programme. We all fast and pray individually at home, then 6:30pm we gather at the church. It is usually a great event for us; it is a flagship event for the year.
Away from the conference now. What do you think about the fuel scarcity witnessed during this Christmas and the effort of the government to curtail it?
I consider it both external and internal sabotage. Even those who went on strike at this time should have a better time for going on strike than during Christmas. The government should come strong, and I feel some of these strikes at Christmas are a form of arm-twisting so that whatever they ask because of the pressure of the season must be given to them, and most governments will not like to be arm-twisted. I think that prior to this time they should have brought out whatever issue it is and have it settled before Christmas. And, even if it was not settled before Christmas, they would have said, ‘Let this Christmas season pass and then we revisit the issue’. Whatever anybody is struggling for, they should have due respect for God, that is the way I look at it. They did not call for strike during the Islamic festivals, why must it be during Christmas?
Generally speaking, how would you assess the performance of the current government?
We expected more from the present dispensation since the government projects so much of a face for sincerity, but we need more of it in visibility. Talk is cheap, we need to see substance. There seems to be so much happening within this same period. Even the last budget, I did not expect the State House should still be spending N75 million on cutleries, I expected something better than that. So, we need to see more of their sincerity.
The EFCC seems to focus its arrest on members of the opposition political party, which the current PDP chairman has classified as an attempt to weaken the opposition to actualise Mr. President second term bid. What is your view?
Well, I see that to be all part of the process of governance and I am not really interested in who is arrested or not arrested. Of all the arrests that have been made, there has not been any conviction so far. So for me, any form of arrest is a mere grandstanding, that is why I say we should see more. How many have been arrested, but have there been any conviction? No. So once it is arrest, the whole world knows this person has been arrested, but who has been convicted? None. And, the biggest way to end such matters these days is that soon we will hear that the people arrested have joined the APC, and that ends the news. So, arrest does not excite anybody now.
Many have alleged that the government is partial and selective in its fight against corruption. Do you think this is so?
Fighting corruption must be holistic. I do not perceive the government as fighting corruption because too many arrests have been made without conviction. Even the way the government appointments are made – if you concentrate government appointments and give all the juicy offices to people from a certain part of the country against others, isn’t that corruption in itself? So, once there is no equity, fair play and justice, every other thing you do is corruption. That is what it is; let there be some equity and balancing by the government.
Talking about equity, fair play and justice, how do you see the government’s decision to withdraw $1 billion from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) to fight Boko Haram?
I support the view that such huge amount to fight a situation that has been declared defeated is an aberration. That is my take too, and Boko Haram is not only happening in the Northeast. If nothing is done to arrest the situation of the Fulani herdsmen rampaging across the country, who have killed more people in the Southeast/Southwest than Boko Haram in the Northeast, then we are in grave danger. Security generally should be addressed, not just one part of the country. We are looking at N360 billion. I mean, the longest bridge in China was constructed with just a little over $1 billion, the best cancer hospital in Chicago cost about $140 million – these are sums an individual from Nigeria puts in his pocket and goes to a party in Las Vegas. So when you talk about $1 billion, it can change this country to a large extent. The state of the issue of security in Nigeria has more to do with will power than spending money. It is easier to spend money than to win a war.
As we look forward to 2018, what is your expectation for Nigeria?
The revelation of God is progressive. I would not stay here and tell you all that God has in store for Nigeria in 2018, but in the general view of God’s end-time agenda, the news is that the economy of the world would generally get worse than what it is but each country will perform better based on the type of leadership they have. When the righteous lead, people will rejoice. By that I mean that when the righteous – in the sense of right-conscious man – is on the throne, people will rejoice. So over all, Nigerians should expect more. 2018 is a year for political preparations, the most important year for us would be 2019 when we install a new government. However, in the year 2018 Nigerians should make up their mind to put the right government that will be right conscious. People that are right conscious are the people we need to lead Nigeria. It does not necessarily matter whether they are Christian or Muslim.
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