Warns Against Shutting Out Southeast from Presidency in 2023.
The founder and Bishop of The City of Refuge Ministries International, Oscar Okwudili Ossai has warned of dire consequences if in 2023, Nigeria did not accommodate the aspiration of the Igbo nation for the presidency. Ossai also stated that it would have been surprising if somebody from the southern part of the country had been appointed as acting Inspector General of Police, IGP because appointing a northerner had been a pattern. Expressing concern over the deteriorating security situation in the country, the cleric noted that the situation is getting out of hand because the government is not managing it well.
Bishop Ossai, who spoke in an interview with TELL, posited that “If we make the mistake of not allowing the Southeasterners to have a say in terms of this presidency of 2023, I don’t think there will be anything remaining, in my view. It’s my personal opinion because you cannot tell me not to stay and refuse that I should go. You either choose that I stay, or choose that you push me away. You can’t eat your cake and have it”.
Commenting on the appointment of another northerner as the acting IGP, Ossai averred that “The issue is there is nothing new. There are no two ways of looking at it. It is a pattern; everybody has been talking about it. So the pattern just continues. There’s nothing new there. In fact, if they had just found somebody from maybe the Niger Delta or Southeast, and made him IG, it would have been a surprise. It would have shown that the government is, as it were, trying to bend to accommodate sentiments. But obviously, all of these are not important. The way they are thinking is different. But we are watching”.
According to him, “The mistake the political elites make is that they don’t realise that Nigeria is not like Ghana or Liberia, or all these small monolithic nations so to say. Nigeria is made up of more than 200 million people, with almost 300 ethnic groups – very challenging to manage – and requires a whole lot of tact. It’s impossible to subsume Nigeria and put everybody inside your pocket; it is not possible. It’s not achievable, except people are not thinking”.
Speaking on the recent spate of security breaches in some Southeast states, the Enugu State-born clergy and marketing communication expert stated that the development was disconcerting “because me that you’re talking to, I was somebody that was completely against IPOB (Indigenous People of Biafra). I didn’t like IPOB one bit; I felt the language of their leader was too raw. I felt it was bothering on insulting people which means he could say what he wanted to say without insulting people. But as the days go by, if you check all that is happening in totality, you find that more people are becoming sympathetic to IPOB every day.
“Why is it so? Government is just not managing things well. Now, I’m not saying that I am sure that IPOB is behind all that is happening in the Southeast; I am not sure. But the issue is is there not a better way that we can treat these things so that there will be peace in the land and then people can focus on economic development. I believe that there are better ways of managing things. This is today. What will happen next year, the year after?
“So, the state of insecurity is going out of hand. I don’t know what government is doing to curtail these things. Life is becoming meaningless; a lot of people are just disenchanted. Is this how we’re going to continue? Well, this music they are putting, when it starts playing, all of us would dance; everybody. Even if you are not in the country, you’ll be dancing wherever you are.
I am talking to you from the heart; this one is not playing to the gallery or just sound bite. We don’t need all these crises. How can we be facing crisis in the economy; 90 percent of our income is now used to service debts; 90 percent! How can we be facing political upheavals in virtually every section of the polity? How can we be facing religious crisis everywhere? Northern Nigeria seems to be messed up; the thing is headed to Southeast. If we think that it’s not coming to Southwest, we’re just day-dreaming. There is no time you pick up any newspaper or any public enlightenment media; all you see is bad news everywhere.
“What can you do? The government of the day doesn’t seem to need anybody. They don’t seem to need any advice. They don’t seem to be looking for people who can help because the matter in the Southeast, at a point in time, I was willing to champion a project whereby we can douse tension there”.
Bishop Ossai however believed that prayer could change things, confident that “God of suddenly” would arise on behalf of Nigeria. “So, we need to continue to pray for leadership, continue to pray for the nation, and we need to tell our Ibo people to be careful. Let them calm down because I will never like a situation where Ibo people will join the arms race. It would be difficult.
“We know that Nigeria will go through this and come out better. We are looking forward to a better nation, a nation where there is equity and fairness; a nation where there is recognition, competence and capacity to perform. We are looking forward to God to turn around the story of Nigeria and it will happen suddenly. So, we encourage Nigerians not to lose hope, not to despair because one of the things I preach always is that despondency is something anybody should fight either individually, family level, society or the nation.
“God is a God of suddenly. He will just show up suddenly and stabilise everything. You remember in the days of Abacha, it was looking terrible. But suddenly, God liberated the nation. I don’t think God will just keep quiet and watch 200 million people just get messed up. He will not. Our God is a merciful God; God of love and comfort. Imagine what will happen to West Africa if Nigeria destabilises. Can you imagine if four million people leave Nigeria headed to Cameroun, Ghana? They would just destabilise these nations. So, God will not allow it; I know that for sure. We will come out of this”
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