By Sam Eyoboka.
A PREVIOUS President of Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, CBCN, Ignatius Ayau Kaigama was Archbishop of Jos till just recently when Pope Francis called him Archbishop Coadjutor of Abuja. Born in Kona, Taraba, the Catholic Prelate studied for the priesthood at St. Augustine’s Academy in Jos with more research studies in faith in Rome. He was ordained on June 6,1981 He participated in the Pontifical Gregorian University, making a doctorate in faith in1991 Kaigama was President of NBCN from 2012 to 2018 and President of the Episcopal Conference of West African Catholic Bishops. He is likewise the Chairman of the Plateau State-convened ‘Interreligious Committee for Peace’. Together with the late Emir of Wase, Alhaji Haruna Abdullahi, he has actually been associated with promoting good understanding in between Christians and Muslims. With a challenging resume, particularly on inter-religious concerns, there’s no better-qualified individual to speak on the subject of ‘Sharia versus Democracy’ and, in this interview, the Catholic Prelate did not dissatisfy. Excerpts:.
What’s your viewpoint on the insecurity in the country today?
The insecurity is an excellent thing of issue to every Nigerian now. Left, right, centre, backwards and forward, you experience circumstances of insecurity. It is multi-dimensional. So we are really worried and we are individuals of the grassroots. In grassroots, individuals reside in towns, in neighborhoods, in farms, and they understand they can not be totally free on their farms once again. We understand that tourists are unsure of arriving their locations well due to the fact that there might be criminal attacks on the roadway, there might be abductors. So it’s rather troubling even in the house where you believe you are comfy with your household, someone can simply come at a really odd hour or in the day time and get you out and begin requesting ransom if you are fortunate. If you are not fortunate, they eliminate you. When you take the problem of security, Boko Haram in the North-East, they exist and you hear reports of attacks in a way that is rather unexpected due to the fact that often we are informed they can be rather devastating even on soldiers. You need to have become aware of the consistent kidnappings and killings going on in various parts of the nation. It is an infection that is spreading out, and I do not believe that we have actually gotten the ideal remedy or treatment to reduce the infection which is rather troubling. Even as a spiritual leader, we are mindful that our individuals are anticipated, often, to collect for spiritual functions, often in the day time, often in the night time, and if there is no surefire security, they are constantly really distressed, afraid and worried that anything might take place. This is going to likewise eliminate from the quality of praise and spiritual services: when individuals are collected and they are unsure whether they will leave the church or mosque and return house in security. The situation is rather troubling!
I likewise get so ashamed when I take a trip abroad and they are the ones informing me about how insecure Nigeria is; they go on to offer a list of cases of insecurity.
A Catholic priest was abducted and eliminated and the news spread throughout the entire world. The Catholic Church has a population of over 1.3 billion individuals on the planet and we have numerous sympathizers likewise. So when there is an abduct of a priest, it goes a long method in damaging our image and depicting us as an unserious nation; a nation that is incapable of hosting visitors who will either come for tourist, service or even if they like our nation. Apart from reverend dads, numerous likewise have actually been abducted and eliminated. It’s uneasy and we hope that the authorities will do their finest to bring back the self-respect of this nation and to ensure Nigerians and non-Nigerians, visitors and citizens that we are safe.
Will you state that the present federal government is dealing with the circumstance?
Well, they inform us they are. It’s not what the federal government states, it’s what we see, it’s what we feel, it’s what we experience. This is the crucial element due to the fact that a main report can state all is well, it depends upon what viewpoint they are stating that. Are they stating it from the viewpoint of simple reports they have gotten from individuals in the field? Are they stating it from the convenience of the environment they are surrounding? Or are they stating it due to the fact that they have seen on their own, particularly the bad and marginalized individuals in the backwoods? Are they stating it due to the fact that they have had an encounter with them and for that reason they draw their conclusions? It depends upon who is talking. I’m talking with you as a priest who is with individuals at the grassroots. I can inform you from experience and from what I have actually seen by myself that there is an issue however then you get a main report, whether it is authorities or security report that states that all is well.
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I have actually seen a circumstance where in a crisis or dispute and perhaps 5 individuals were eliminated and they will inform you “no it’s simply someone that was eliminated”. This is not appropriate due to the fact that they simply depend upon report that might be prejudiced or prejudiced. I’m unsure whether we are having the genuine photo. I constantly recommend that they ought to exceed the conventional structure to get reputable and genuine details due to the fact that, often, you will have stakeholders who will offer genuine details about circumstances however when you simply restrict yourself to the structure of federal government, every federal government authorities will like to inform the President what they desire him to understand, and after that main choices are taken based upon that. I’m not stating the reports of such workers are not beneficial however they ought to have the ability to exceed that to guarantee that they are getting report that is unbiased and objective.
A great deal of individuals are so upset in this nation to the degree that some young Nigerians are currently discussing transformation. Is that the method to go?
It depends upon their meaning of transformation. I have actually constantly discussed a psychological transformation, a transformation of mindset, an ethical transformation. It does not need to be a violent political transformation that will toss us into confusion. The best transformation starts with the private, that I state to myself that I am going to be various; I’m going to do things in a different way. I state to myself, ‘God, please provide me the spirit to be an altered and changed individual, provide me the spirit to be a patriotic Nigerian, sincere and industrious Nigerian’. That transformation is higher than any other transformation. When I speak about transformation, it’s not practically modification of federal government, we will like federal government to do much better, we will like federal government to enhance on the financial life of individuals and likewise in regards to security, we will like federal government to support the pledges they made throughout their main swearing-in. It is a responsibility they owe us. However worrying the variety in this nation, spiritual, ethnic, cultural, we need to beware when we speak about transformation: it remains in a way that is going to effect favorably and not to wreak havoc or anarchy however I keep stating a transformation should begin with the person. And after that if there’s a modification of mindset, modification of mindset, we end up being less greedy, we see federal government cash and you do not abuse it, you do not practice nepotism or favoritism, you work for the typical good of Nigerians anywhere they might be or originate from, whatever faith or people they come from, we make that transformation definitely. I believe that is the very first kind of transformation we ought to operate at.
Do you likewise think that there is a strategy to Islamize this country?
That is constantly like antiphon. I keep in mind even when the President was marketing, among his addresses to us agents of the Catholic Bishops Conference, that was on his very first effort at presidency, we asked him this concern and he informed us that was not real. We asked him that individuals keep stating that you are desiring be President due to the fact that you have the aspiration of Islamizing the country and working things in favor of Islam when you end up being President and he informed us it’s never real and our companied believe him. I believe it’s left for him to see that there is balance. This nation is divided practically in between Christians and Muslims. Whatever is being done there must be a perceptiveness, there must be a major awareness on how to stabilize some things; is it a circulation of political workplaces? Is it the militaries or security firms and so on? There need to be an extensive inclusiveness so that everyone ought to belong of this nation and maybe that patriotism will start to establish. However when a southerner ends up being a President and simply to look after southerners, we are not one nation yet. Likewise, when a northerner ends up being President and his concern is simply to look after northerners … We should be one country, one individuals, one nation. It is an useless task to Islamize or Christianize the entire of Nigeria, we are over 200 million. God is not risky to permit variety. I hope that we can analyze our psychological, ethical transformation.
It’s rather irritating when I take a trip out and we see monetary discipline, openness and after that you come here and it’s much like a lifestyle. You award an agreement which agreement is much like a contribution to someone. Throughout elections, we were informed that individuals were dispersing cash freely and no one might do anything about that. It’s thought about a culture now, it’s accepted. Something is incorrect. The little ones in main and secondary schools are imbibing this culture. When you provide a kid N1, 000 to purchase something, he has ideas of methods to squeeze something for himself. I do not understand how we are going to do it, perhaps we require some blood transfusion to get rid of that bad blood and change it with something much better.
For us in the spiritual circle, we are promoting orderliness, sincerity, effort and yet the society has more cash even by really uneven ways. The more you draw from federal government, the more you are provided chieftaincy titles and appreciated in church due to the fact that you provide plenty cash. They do not ask where this cash originates from. So we have a substantial issue. There’s a requirement for an extreme modification of mindset for Nigeria to presume her rightful position amongst the sophisticated nations of the world.
Such has actually generated National Christian Elders Online forum which thinks that it is as an outcome of competing ideologies. They believe that Sharia and democracy are constantly weird bed-fellows. Do you sign up for this?
Sharia is not a Nigerian law. It is an unique legal matter handling the mosques, which is a personal matter and it impacts just Muslims. We Christians have our laws and, for example, the Catholic Church has the Canon laws and we can not enforce that on any other individual aside from Catholics. So this is how it needs to be. Democracy has to do with everyone assembled. However anything that relates to just an area of the population ought to be dealt with as such. Democracy has to do with promoting great governance, everyone will sign up with hands to make certain it works. When individuals are chosen into positions of authority, they ought to not be considering promoting narrow, parochial spiritual views or beliefs rather of thinking in doing their work. Whether as a Muslim or Christian, if you remain in the position of authority, it’s a call to serve Nigeria. When we get our thinking right and our mindset is appropriate, I inform you this country will amaze the remainder of the world. What is holding us back is this parochial, self-centred, egocentric, deceitful mindset and the desire to get unlawfully and illegitimately and not serving the commoner. We think about ourselves as much better than others.
In English, we utilize ‘you and I’, however in Nigerian mindset and expression it is ‘I and you.’ That’s the issue with us, I initially, then you come later on. We require a modification of mindset; we require an overhaul of psychological, spiritual, ethical orientation.
Are you discussing reorganizing the country now?
Well, if that’s indicated to take place, then why not? Individuals have various methods of understanding restructure. If restructure implies there’s a type of loose federation, then it implies that the areas have some sort of autonomy on what to do with themselves. Under the one federal, even if the resources are offered, we utilize it in a way that it’s not practically themselves once again however there’s some portion that occurs to be a Federal Federal government and to bless others who might not be as blessed as they are. We are discussing security concerns now. I have actually heard a great deal of grievances from some guvs who declare that they are formally the security chiefs of their states however in truth they are not because when there is a crisis or there’s requirement for the authorities or the army to do something, they will inform you, no, they are waiting on orders. You discover that they do not even have control over the authorities or the army who remain in their jurisdiction.
Those are the important things we need to take a look at and see how they can be carried out in a way that produces that department of labor. We are not as numerous as the Americans, so why can’t we do something that will work. Let us take a seat and thoroughly, without beliefs, exercise what we truly desire our restructuring to be in a manner that it does not impoverish one side and improve the other. When you state take it all due to the fact that it comes from us, that is where there is an issue, it’s even an ethical issue.
Agitations for restructuring are growing louder day by day due to the fact that we seem more divided now. What is the method forward?
It’s unfortunate that what our dads defended, the self-reliance of Nigeria, with the hope that after the presumption of power by our individuals, by now we ought to have gone far. It’s simply a matter of one advance and 3 actions in reverse. It has actually constantly resembled that. I believe the vision of our predecessors was, take power from the colonial masters and after that we develop on it utilizing our native structures, cultural worths and improving democracy in a manner that we can compare positively with others however regrettably greed, dishonesty, self-centeredness entered play and, prior to you understood, there was power tussle and they are all set to eliminate, weaken one another and this is why we are where we are.
The structure was hollow and we have actually been constructing increasingly more on this structure which is why we do not experience any severe development. When you become aware of structure collapse, it is due to the fact that of malfunctioning structure. This is how we are collapsing. When you become aware of crisis here, killings and attacks here, it’s even if there’s something incorrect with our structure and we are not all set to renovate it, not all set to get the appropriate individuals. Let’s return and look for methods how can we remedy it? Everyone steps forward and states “it is my time now, my bros and sis will slice, my area will slice” which is all we invest our time doing. We are tricking ourselves. We require real Nigerians who can lead us without this narrow ethnic, spiritual and political distinction.
Do we still have such individuals in this nation today?
We have them however they are not enabled to arrive. Take the very best minds in our universities and individuals, who have pledges, they can not get anywhere. Even if they handle to get in, they get damaged by the system and prior to you understand it, they are even worse than those who existed. The nation needs overall revamping and an improvement. We have reputable Nigerians in the U.S and other nations. Nigerians are all over with excellent minds however when they get back, they fulfill awful things like going to the healthcare facilities where devices are old-fashioned: the drugs indicated for the bad individuals have actually been diverted. Something is certainly incorrect, no requirement for finger-pointing and blame video games. Let all of us jointly concur we have actually done incorrect and let’s solve to do much better and conjure up God and ask Him to reveal us the method forward so that we can live as patriotic residents and bros and sis.