Rev Oladapo Emmanuel Daramola, a priest of the Methodist Church Nigeria and Communication Strategist to the Prelate of the Church spoke with SANDRA NJOKUOMA on the 2015 general elections and other national issues.
What are the church’s contributions towards ensuring peace in the coming general elections?
The contributions come in two major areas, one is advocacy, and of course the Bible says that prayer without work is dead. Primarily, we all need that faith to pray for the peace of the nation, the individuals and citizens of the country.
At the same time, we also have a role to advocate, to push a lot of campaign by sensitize our members, the membership not of the Methodist Church of Nigeria but as many people we come across of different faith that we can use our influence and position as priest and people of this country.
Recently, the Prelate released a statement enjoining Nigerians to ensure that they go out and register. We also interface with institutions and government; we have a directorate that is involved in outreach, discipleship, and evangelism that tries to bridge the gap between the church and the states, so basically we have not left governance only in the hands of the government.
We create an enabling environment for Nigerians to live in harmony, for Nigerians to be peaceful, more importantly, for Nigerians to ensure good governance, and that is ensuring that we are part of the electoral processes.
Do you also think that INEC can do a good job at the next election?
Well, it doesn’t matter because there’s no perfect institution, I think right now INEC must do everything possible to inspire confidence, basically on the content of the candidate and character, people are now election victors and election losers, people are making their choices e.g. in Ekiti State is just what the people wanted, but still the institution is fraudulent. Recently, INEC withdrew over 40,000 new polling units that were created.
What is your take on the current insurgency in the North East?
Well, it is multi-dimensional; we have expressed that over and over again. It all began in a kind of allowing some religious funda-mentalists to gain ground in the country, while denying other person who is not of the same faith to find a place in a particular community, that’s a problem.
And when someone do that, he actually takes the law into his own hands there’s no respect for the people of other faith, especially in the Northern part of the country, we have seen many examples where we had a man called Gideon was beheaded many years ago, oh yes, people condemned it when it happened after, people went to sleep, and there is no unity within the Christian faith to promote the unity we need to challenge this kind of impunity. When you allowed those things to spread, there’s no way we can achieve peace.
What we are saying is that we should have addressed the problems a long time ago. It should be addressed holistically and these have now metamorphosed into a monster that is now subjecting everybody to fear.
I also know that if the government is also decisive, in taking the necessary action that should have these problems checked. what kind of briefing are we getting to suggest that Nigerian Army and Commander- in- Chief of Armed Forces are on ground to ensure that victory is a certain because in these realm what we hear every day is that Nigerian Army are ill equipped, but if they are, how can they combat these insurgencies in a very decisive and engaging manner?
We had the bomb blast recently where over 70 children were killed, so these are all the issues.Most areas that are affected are where Christians are, while I don’t want to sectionalize.
Christian or Muslim, but you cannot takeaway the fact that most of the people affected areas are Christians, for instance, In Borno State, the Chibok area is predominantly Christians, majority of the girls we are looking for today are from Christian homes, some have been converted forcefully. In fact, we have heard stories of rape.
Even though millions of dollars have been voted to fight insurgency not much has been achieved. State of emergency had achieved much over the years. But the questions we ask ourselves is what has been the result, so if we do not take this matter seriously, when I say seriously, I mean seriously not something that we pay lip service to, not something that we politicize, not something that we use for campaign but it should be something that we see as a matter of taking the life of Nigerians seriously, and until we do that I think we must be joking.
Do you think that the president has done enough to solve this problem?
I don’t think so because like I said, it has not been decisive, we are getting conflicting news report every day, emanating from the presidency where the spokesperson is saying something else and the service chiefs are saying something else. Okay, let me give you an example.
We have heard too many mutinies in this dispensation why because many of the young military officers believe that they have just become unnecessary sacrifice.When you go into battle, your enemies either kill you or you kill them but everything must be done based on purpose, in a very coordinated and strategic manner.
If you are going to war against your enemy and you are not prepared, what will be the outcome, it will be a disaster. We have to be very ready, very prepared to get result.
What is your message to Nigerians as the year is ending?
Actually, it has been a year of mixed situation for many people, years to some people their expectations were met, and for some their expectations are yet to be fulfilled. By and large, we give God the glory because we live to testify and also have reasons to smile or not, precisely it is the election year and a lot of things are actually coming down at the end of the year.
The parents should hold on to their children because the electioneering campaign is about to start so am enjoining parents to keep their children away from thugs, there are forces out there who are willing to do anything to get into power, we should also participate.
We should pray, you know we heard from the American government that if we are not careful in 2015 Nigerians will split, with what is happening in the Northern Region from what the Lord said: “If my people will humble themselves, what is important here is to pray and be hopeful, if you are an individual who’s expectations are not made this year expect that the year 2015 will be better, aspire for something better, greater, trusting God that your expectations will meet your dreams.