On May 29, 1999, Nigeria transited from the military rule to civilian administration. The transition however, brought about the celebration of Democracy Day until last year, when the Buhari-led administration announced a shift from May 29 to June 12 in honour of the late politician, MKO Abiola. In this interview, Resident pastor, Dominion City, Enugwu-Agidi,Njikoka LGA, Anambra Statem, Pastor Charles Olisaemeka bared his mind on the shift and other burning issues. He spoke to UCHE KALU.
RESIDENT pastor, Dominion City, Enugwu-Agidi, Pastor Charles Olisaemeka, ,said that 20years of democratic rule is far better than the era of the military regime. “To an extent, there is physical government presence in different sectors. This is because the resources by reason of election go down from the central to the states, so the effect of the government in the centre is being noticed in different states.
“Democratic rule has given the National Assembly members opportunity to handle the constituency projects which was not obtainable in the military era. Through the constituency projects, a reflection of the government at the centre is felt at our local communities. Though the nation has not really gotten to maturity of democracy, but it has been a good time for Nigeria, we are on a journey to maturity.
“Democracy is government of the people by the people and for the people. The passage of Freedom of Information Bill gave a boost to our democracy. Such was not seen in the military. Though there is limit to freedom and any government that is open to criticism is an opportunity to do better. It enables the government to make necessary adjustments to be better”.
The cleric, however, noted that shifting of Democracy Day from May 29 to June 12 is immaterial. “The important thing is that in the end, Nigeria still observes a day as Democracy Day, signifying our return to democracy after many years of military rule. May 29 was declared by former President Olusegun Obasanjo to mark the day he was inaugurated.
To that effect, we have observed it for many years but there was this agitation from people of the Western region because of what transpired in 1999 during the initial attempt to transit between the two political parties- NRC and the SDP where it was alleged that late MKO Abiola was the winner of the said election. Then in the fight to reclaim that mandate, he put his life in the line.
He commended the present government for such decision, saying that even when May 29 was accepted nationally, those in the west, particularly Lagos State still observe June 12 as democracy day. So if government of the day wants to carry everybody along, it’s a welcome development. The most important thing is that the nation is celebrating democracy because it has not been easy with the military.
While speaking on the contribution of the church to development of democracy in Nigeria, he said, “the church is charged with one responsibility and is actually an agent of transformation alongside family and school. If democracy should turn out to become what it should be in Nigeria, then the church will be able to produce the necessary things needed in people to be good and effective leaders through properly equipping them with the right word of God from the pulpit.
He however, explained that when the church fails to do her job, the family and the education system will be struggling. Education system struggles because of unavailability of funds or non allocation of enough funds to make the system what it should be
“The onus lies on the church to speak the truth that will guide Christians, peradventure, if for any reason, they become leaders that will drive that democracy, so they can toe the line that will produce excellence in administering governance, justice and lawmaking. Leaders should take up elective positions with the mindset that they are the ambassadors of Christ sent to transform the society.
Pastor Olisaemeka expressed worry on the decision of the federal government to retrieve gun licenses from individuals, stressing that it’s very risky for a nation like ours to do so. He was pessimistic that bandits will take advantage of that to go hay-wire.
He condemned the proposed establishment of Islamic radio and funding the Miyeti Allah group with N100billion, warning that federal government should not use the public fund to fund the activity of a particular group to the detriment of others. “The attempt tends towards achieving the Fulanisation and Islamisation of the country,” he noted.
He urged those at the national Assembly to ensure that the proposal did not scale through, saying that if such must be done, it must be debated at the floor of the NASS and consequently, enshrined in the constitution to accommodate every group in the country.
On establishment of state and local government police, the cleric expressed fear that there will be excess and abuse of power if there is no law properly regulating them to be in alignment with the provisions of the constitution unless they will work without arms. “Nigeria is not yet mature to run state and local government police until we see some significant semblance of what is done in those developed countries where there is zero crime.”
On the passage of the law to restrict preaching of the gospel by the Kaduna State House of Assembly, the cleric explained that though the bill contained some other articles such as prohibition of people constituting public nuisance through their loud speakers. “Generally, I think the bill is for both Christians and Muslims. But if the aspect of obtaining a license to preach is meant to restrict Christian preachers from carrying out the mandate of God, the propounders of the bill shoul know that not should cage God.
“For a preacher to wait for a rigorous process to obtain a license to obey a divine injunction or to minister to a dying soul who is in dire need of salvation is outrageous. If there are Christians in that Assembly, they should reconsider their plans. But if the bill is to regulate those preachers who do not have proper identification that extort money from people who claim they are called by God and involve in all forms of evil in the name of church, it is accepted.
“Jesus gave the injunction that preaching of the gospel be made to all nations and people without restriction. Nobody can stop God. Nobody can pocket God. Nobody can put Him in a corner or regulate Him. Let them look critically on the provisions of the law, if there is any hidden agenda to stop the preaching of the gospel, I warn them to desist from that, for nobody can fight against God.”