Friday, December 31, 2010

Interview with Chris Okotie about 2011 election and other issues

In the last general elections, in which he contested for president, his party had 74,059 votes according to INEC. But Chris Okotie, religious leader and politician, doubts this figure, and says he has plans to ensure that the next election is different. He talks on this; his aspirations; and other issues.


Why God would allow the (electoral) crises to persist

Because there is a word in the scripture that is called long suffering, and he delays justice because of the poor that will suffer. If we break into hostilities, it is these rich men that will first abscond. So many times, the Lord is merciful because of we, the people; not because he wants to perpetuate those people in power, but because he is careful.

The prophecy concerning the PDP has come forth and they are going to fight each other and destroy each other because that is how evil is terminated. We can’t fight them. They are too strong for us. So they must fight each other.

His previous assertions that he would president in 2003 and 2007

That is what I’m saying, that my time will come. I already quoted Abraham Lincoln in the sense that I am so sure that it is a divine mandate. All I have to do is wait for the right time and not compromise my philosophy or compromise my faith and join a conglomerate of men and women who call themselves political parties, whereas they are just a conscription of men and women of anti-theatrical philosophies who have no ideological connectivity and their only common denominator is their desire to annex wealth.

Because I believe in a Nigeria where truth reigns; a fresh Nigeria which our party symbolises in F-Faith, R-Responsibility, E-Equality, S-Security and H-Hope. This is the philosophy upon which I have erected the citadel of my confidence because I believe only a fresh Nigerian can salvage this nation. All this cosmetic and superficial activity that are going on by the ruling party is a journey in futility. This will also drift us back to square one, which we have always been.

How soon the drift will happen

If we perpetuate a PDP government, which I think Nigeria cannot afford, we will be back to square one and that is a recipe for extinction. The party is incapacitated, ab initio. But the party has been ruling for 12 years. It was necessary for Nigerians to reach a point of self-examination and re-assessment of this slavery.

Our leaders have betrayed us on a large scale and it takes a while to come to that realisation, but global events, as seen in the angry youth protest in Abuja,means Nigerians are recognising what they have to do without anybody galvanising them. It is an evolution. Mao Tse Tung once said if people no longer fear your power, it is because another power is on its way and that is what we are seeing here. I believe with all my heart that we are seeing the last vestiges of this oppressive leadership of the PDP.

I believe our people are coming to a place where they are willing to make the necessary sacrifice to emancipate themselves, and that the money politics that the PDP has played for so many years is gradually frittering out and there is going to be an implosion within the party that will totally fragment it to the extent that it will be totally powerless.

His silence when activists were protesting for rule of law

I do not know the kind of newspapers you read, but I made my opinion known and at some point in time, I called for an interim government to be installed so that the entire malady that surrounded the executive could be cleared and we will move on.

The nation was inundated by the soap opera that transpired with incapacitation of late President Yar’Adua, and even though we had urged the PDP to declare his whereabouts and be transparent, nobody paid attention and we did not want to sound insensitive with the fact that the president is incapacitated and be more interested in politics. So, the sentiment of it all was something that PDP capitalised on. But it was not because we were not quick to articulate our views on the impact.

How he intends to tackle problems such as corruption, unemployment, and power

Let me put this in proper context; campaigns have not begun. What I just did was to articulate my desire to run for the office. We are not supposed to engage in any campaign until INEC says so. I can only give you observations that I have made concerning the things that I have seen in the country from a very constructive view-point. I believe the reason why corruption has been able to flourish is because there is an enabling environment.

If you want to incapacitate those who participate in corruption, you will have to change the environment, not just engender punitive measures. It has to be juxtaposed with moral instruction for there to be meaningful change. For instance if you take a fish out of water, it cannot function; if you take an evil man into heaven, he cannot function, so there are certain mechanisms in government that make it possible for this charlatans to operate and until we dismantle this mechanism, corruption will (only) at best be tackled on the punitive level which is where you have the EFCC and all of those things. The 10 commandments didn’t even save Israel, not to talk about EFCC saving Nigeria.

We also need to understand that there is cooperation between these charlatans and those who are in the supervisory role. This is a major characteristic of the PDP as seen in the House of Representatives, where the speaker was indicted some months ago and we are right back at it. That is why I respect the former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, because he was bold enough to address that. When I become president, we will change the environment. If you go back a few years when Yar’Adua was installed as head of state, because they had nothing to offer, they came with a nominal seven point agenda with nothing on ground to corroborate the position.

The laws of dialectical Materialism by Karl Marx, which involve having a concept called the thesis, you find a concept that works against the thesis called the anti-thesis, then both of them synthesize together to form what is called synthesis which can be translated into chaos and this what PDP does. They create chaos, then they get a group within the party to oppose the chaos and then they resolve the problems within the two groups and synthesize the third position, which is where we are headed in the first place.

So they create a problem and get a group of people to fight it, like when they created the Yar’Adua problem. They create that chaos and buy time using the diversionary tactics that makes people then think; oh this is an emergency situation whilst they have nothing to offer. Government is not transparent in this country and they have refused to give room to the fourth estate (journalism) to do what they are mentally meant to do.

God and the presidential system

The whole concept of the presidential system comes from the bible, because God is our law-giver; that is how you get the legislature; God is our judge, so you have the judiciary; God is our king, you have the executive. That is how it was patterned and it was devised as a concept of government. We need a fourth concept that will articulate the plans on the purpose of the government to the people.

That is how the press came about. The new Nigeria of our dreams that will soon transpire must be a government of integrity. It must understand that Nigeria is no longer a pariah nation, that we live in a millennium where the quest for innovation knows no frontiers and that we are no longer isolated in some dark continent. So, a Chris Okotie government will re-establish government in its true definition, where the people are a part of it and know what is going on.

His ability to build a structure that could win elections

If you take the government of this nation in tandem, maybe from the civil war, you will discover that there has always being a divine intervention at some point and recent events corroborate my saying.

Look at former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, who was out of government, incarcerated for a phantom coup, from where he became the president of Nigeria. He was not involved in any politics at that time, in terms of democratic process, but he became the head of state. The late Yar’Adua, relatively unknown with little or no quality Pedigree more or less, or his vice, Goodluck Jonathan, probably known regionally, not at on the national platform but today he is our President, because there is a divine intervention in the affairs of this country. That is why it imperative for a Chris Okotie to pontificate on the affairs of this country that identifies him as a credible aspirant for that office; so that when the opportunity presents itself, it will be easy to say this is the man.

Possibilities of merger with other political parties

Talks have already commenced and, in due time, we will unveil our strategy. The talks have always been on since as far back as the last two elections that I contested, where some political parties approached me because of my credibility. But I will not compromise my sense of purpose to give Nigerians the right leadership by jumping at people who do not share the same values as FRESH. Adherence to principles invokes respect, as all kind of overtures have come from different political parties with most of them having leaders who do not have the kind of intellectual capacity that is necessary for the kind of government they are trying to put in place. But I have stayed with my principle. I believe, just like Abraham Lincoln said, “I will study and wait.”

What happens to his church if he becomes president

It will be bigger. When God was sending Jesus to the world, he wanted to make him the political leader of the world, not the spiritual leader. But for him to be the political leader, he had to take the sins of the world through his death. He will return as the governor, as stated in the bible, that will rule with the rod, as a political leader. By this procedure, God patterned Jesus to be a secular leader like Melchizedek during the time of Abraham, so that Jesus can become both a spiritual leader and a political leader. So, somebody like me, I am already a spiritual leader and I will be a political leader because earth was given to man to rule. Only a righteous government can exalt a nation.

Ethnicity and zoning formula in Nigerian political parties

We have gone beyond that. Zoning is a PDP mechanism and anybody clamouring for these issues cannot adduce evidence to substantiate that position. The best election in this country was won by a Muslim-Muslim ticket, that everyone across the nation voted for. Such clamour is a narrow perspective of politicians who are unable by any sweat of their imagination to acquire political recognition, and so they think the only way they can is to polarize the polity along religious and ethnic divide.

The process of galvanising ethnicity in political parties is anachronistic, because the experience we have disproves that philosophy. What Nigerians are looking for today is a credible candidate, irrespective of where he/she is from, because both the northerners and southerners will tell you that their leaders have betrayed them. Zoning is the business of the PDP, a gargantuan monstrosity, and PDP is not Nigeria. I will run for the office of the president, irrespective of the fact that Mr. Jonathan is also from the south.

The experience of his divorce and second marriage

Entering the covenant of marriage is the highest possible level of spiritual responsibility anybody can assume, because it authenticates the mystery of the God head. I have found myself in a better place of understanding which gives a conscious of responsibility for this life

Monday, November 22, 2010

Power ‘ll return to the people when PDP is dismantled, sys Rev. Okotie

He has since then made a showing in the political terrain as he has contested for the highest office twice on the platform of the Justice Party in 2003 and Fresh Democratic Party, FDP, in 2007. He is currently oiling his political machines to hit the roads again for 2011. In this interview with Vanguard, he x-rayed the happenings in the political terrain, the consensus debate, corruption and the 2011 general elections. Excerpts:

Ahead 2011, Nigerians are already witnessing several anti-social problems. What is your reaction to this?

The responsibility of maintaining law and order rests squarely on the laps of government and when you find a situation like this, where safety is no longer guaranteed, it reflects the inability of the government to carry out its responsibilities. And I think that the PDP has come to its waterloo politically because of the fact that they have demonstrated, consistently, their ineptitude and the society is falling apart as a result of their gross negligence and irresponsibility. These are the symptoms of governmental irresponsibility.

The claims and counter-claims of the origin of the deadly weapons discovered at the Apapa ports continue to baffle Nigerians. Some say the consignment was intended for The Gambia, while they had their origin in Iran or whatever. Are you not scared?

Okotie: PDP has come to its waterloo politically.

No I am not! If we have that situation where the government is not in touch with reality, these things transpire on a daily basis. It is just because they revealed this that they saw these things. I am almost certain that things like this have been going on. The security mechanism that government has put in place has failed and it shows how porous that network is and how unprofessional they have become.

I think that it’s just indicative of the fact that the PDP has lost its hold in the affairs of this nation and it must do the honorable thing, by bowing out so that a new government that will guarantee the safety of Nigerians can be put in place.

Despite all the threatening situations in the political arena, you still came out recently to declare your intention to contest next year’s elections…

These are the reasons why it is imperative for people like me to step forward because you can not operate in a vacuum. If we say that PDP has become totally irrelevant in the political affairs of this nation by the inconsistent ineptitude that they have demonstrated, then we must provide a viable alternative. That is why people like me come out. The only thing they have now is the machinery of government, the incumbency—a divided house.

And like I have said often they don’t have anything to offer this nation ideologically. My position is further corroborated by their disarray and this very disjointed approach to solving the problems of this nation; not realising what is more important; whether it is the politics of the day, the social contract they have with the Nigerian people. This is a good omen for change.

Do you foresee any positive change in the current chaotic atmosphere?

They have every reason to be that way, but we must look beyond the natural in to the extra-terrestrial. There is a terrestrial atmosphere that is superimposed on the terrestrial and only those who have eyes can see. I belong to the ilk of what, is called the ponderous volume, and we understand these things that when change is imminent, the first sign is really found in the celestial realm.

When Jesus Christ was born, the astrologers were the first to see him, outside the realm of religious. They saw the sign and it was very clear to them that something unusual has happened. We are seeing things that God is showing to us that change is imminent; that PDP has expired. So, it portends good things for the nation. Like the former Head of State, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, this will be the third time you’re coming out for the highest office in the land and some Nigerians think you’re really not serious. What is your response?

I don’t know what they mean by that. If a man can risk his life, invest his money in venture that is perilous and can deplete funds so quickly that you wonder if you will ever had any; I think that, to my mind is an indication of seriousness. Maybe what they are expecting me to do is to join PDP or one of the big parties. If we do that then we shut the avenue for change.

When change comes, it must be people who have not been contaminated by the virus of PDP or some other political party that has not really demonstrated any commitment. I think that my constant re-emergence in the political scene is a political attestation to the fact that I am determined that victory is the only solution to our situation. Maybe because your platform which is Fresh Democratic Party has refused to merge with other known and big political parties because some of your admirers would have wanted you, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Mr. Femi Falana, Prof. Pat Utomi et al, to go to the Senate and develop your political wings from there…

They are entitled to their opinions. This is a free country and I can accommodate that. But this is the way I see it, each man has a calling. Some might be thinking the way to attain a certain position is to be in a certain place, I agree with that but that is not my calling and the modus operandi that I received. There was no indication that President Olusegun Obasnjo would come out of prison to become Nigeria’s president.

Same goes for Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. He did not show any sign that he had the grace to attain to where he is today. I believe there is a divine hand that is arranging things for this nation and when the time comes, He will orchestrate things in such a way that whoever He has exalted will emerge. The most important thing is that I have consistently maintained my position. Adherence to principle evokes respect. If this was not commitment or tenacity I would have joined another political party and moved on to build a political career; but mine is not a career but a calling that is targeted and to that extent I cannot change it.

There are rumours that your closeness with retired General Ibrahim Babangida might develop to a working relationship between you and him towards the 2011 election….

Where did they discover that there is a closeness between me and Babangida?

Perhaps, because the ex-military president endorsed your candidacy in 2007 and Nigerians feel that there may be a merger of some sort or a kind of affiliation…

My philosophy is malice towards none and charity for all. I have often said that people like Gen. Babangida and Gen. Obasanjo are living ancestors of our political genealogy. They are men that have been called upon at critical moments and periods in the history and evolution of our nation. I respect them a great deal. Babangida is probably the greatest political mathematician we have in the nation today; it is just unfortunate for him that he had certain misadventure in the process of articulating his political philosophy in the past and only the Nigerian people that can determine if they think him worthy or not.

I believe that they represent the older generation and for Nigeria to move forward, we must go for a generational shift. We must adopt a paradigm shift and I will be glad to have their support, because it is in combining the past with the present that we can sensitise the future of the greatest possibilities. So, it will be a welcome development if any of them consider Rev. Chris Okotie to be their president. That is the only position for me. I am only seeking to lead this nation because I believe I have the answers to the problems.

Peradventure Babangida gets the PDP ticket and wants Rev. Chris Okotie to be his running mate, will you accept the offer?

My answer will be negative; not because I do not consider him worthy enough; but because he is antithetical to my vision. If my vision was that of penultimate leadership, I will join him or any other party. I would have taken that kind of responsibility a long time ago. I have had overtures made to me at that level.

But this has nothing to do with power; it has nothing to do with a political career, rather it has to do with the salvation of the nation. It is very critical that a man like me should take a position of responsibility for Nigeria to become what it must become in the 21st Century. I will wait. Like Abraham Lincoln said, I will study and wait perhaps my time will come. That is what Lincoln said; but I will modify that to say; ‘I know my time will come.’

Lets us assume, for instance, that on account of IBB’s age, he is unable to run his full tenure which automatically will make Okotie, the next president. Won’t that be acceptable to you?

On what platform?

Any one, because as things are now, he may or may not get the PDP ticket…

That is unpredictable. It’s only the PDP that will determine that, but I am just saying that if he wanted to run under another platform he would go through all the trouble with the PDP. I think that if he ever emerge on the platform of PDP, I would not have been in that political party, not because I think my party is better, or some political xenophobia but because of the fact that the ideology and philosophy of that party is oppressive to the Nigerian cause. So, I cannot be the one, saying that my mission is to save Nigeria and align myself with the very enemy of Nigeria. Very, very unlikely! Although, when you are a servant of God all things are possible.

Will you work with Mallam Nuhu Ribadu?

I will work with anybody if it will set Nigeria free in the spirit of a pan-Nigerian philosophy. The only fear the people have is that he is being traumatised by what happened to him when he became a victim of the law. And when that happens except you re-examine yourself, there is the tendency to come out with a certain level of vengeance but I don’t think Nigerians need that now. What we need is reconciliation and amelioration.

The elections are around the corner and there are attempts to amend the electoral act and part of the proposed amendment states that any political party that does not win, at least, one seat at the local government level would loose its licence. How do you react to that?

It never ceases to amaze me the level of parochialism that people will degenerate to in an attempt to secure political longevity. It is amazing that, we call this a democratic setting and yet we are even tolerating and accommodating laws that are totally antithetical to that philosophy. What right has a body like INEC to decide for the Nigerian people which political party they will belong to. How can you judge a political party by its success at the polls.

It takes years to develop a political philosophy and ideology; particularly in a nation where free and fair election are alien to the political culture. It is this irredentist philosophy of PDP wanting to make Nigeria a one-party state that is causing this kind of medieval approach to democracy. If INEC or whoever that is making such a law, is sincere they would have said they were not willing to financially support any political party that has not shown or demonstrated a certain level of support.

But for you to say that you would deregister a political party just because it has not acquired enough votes at a given period, to my mind, defies any logical reasoning; because most of these parties are young parties. I think that it is biased; because it makes no sense at all. How much has INEC given to us?

In a period of one year, INEC gave probably about N12 million maximum. It cannot be argued that political parties are established because of the money they get from INEC. That cannot be true; because INEC requires that each political party should have an office in Abuja; and the rent alone takes half of that; then think of the staff and all others you have to do. It cannot be motivated by pecuniary motive. I think that is a very presumptuous thinking and it would be challenged in the court. It is an infringement on our fundamental human rights. We will wait and see. Do you have confidence in Prof. Attahiru Jega’s INEC to conduct a free, fair and credible election next year?

I think he is capable, given the right circumstance and that if he is not pressured by government. The confusion that we have seen so far, no matter what they say, has come from the PDP. And they definitely will blame the chairman for it, because that is the way they operate—the signs are there already. President Goodluck Jonathan has shown the same commitment to his party than to the nation. It is government of the PDP, by the PDP and for the PDP and not the Nigerian people.

His prevarication when it came to signing the law in the first place…how long it took him and he was just delaying; the usual filibuster when they are not really decided at to which way to go. It is characteristic of PDP and it surprises nobody. The Nigerian people have woken up and we are going to see something new in the coming year, God willing.

How do you see the current hoopla over consensus candidate ahead of the PDP convention?

I think it is a very healthy development because PDP is too strong as a political party to be dismantled by the Nigerian people. It is hydra headed; it is an octopus. It must implode from within, because it is only a divided house that cannot stand. So, when you begin to see these cleavages then we can breathe a sigh of relief that finally this political monolith is being dismantled.

That is what is necessary at this time. If Nigeria will become a great nation in the 21st Century and make an impact—and all the conjecture that I see on how we can become a great nation before 2020—-the beginning of that journey must be the dismantling of the PDP.

Because as long as they are in government, it will be a retrograde journey and Nigeria will be perambulating in the wilderness of retrogression. We cannot take a step forward. I believe it is a good development that there is internal wrangling within it. It is a very good sign for Nigeria and I pray that it will be carried to its logical conclusion, so that they can be fragmented and pluralised become free.

Talk about freedom for Nigerians, won’t you see recent legal decisions that upturned PDP electoral victories in some states as the needed tonic the nation is clamouring for?

No! That is the judiciary. The Nigerians spoke from the beginning that these are the men they voted for, but the PDP, as a political party, ignored them, hijacked and disfranchised the Nigerian people. And it is only because of the judiciary that we are seeing a ray of hope that democracy is intact.

But I am saying that terminologically, democracy by itself deals with the people and I believe that power will go back to the people when PDP is dismantled. It is not a question of personality; it has to be done from within and the entire structure of the party must be pulverized. They are the ones who have held this nation in the place of political transition and they do it with impunity. I believe that judgment has come and it will begin in the house of PDP.

Is it healthy that we have over 60 political parties in the country?

It can be million! What it means is that the democratic space is open to all and sundry. A political party is a gathering of men and women who have a certain ideological posture and when such posture is codified and formally registered by the enabling authorities, it is christened a political party. When people say we have so many political parties, I say why is it a problem?

In a country of 150 million people and the political parties are just 60 why is it a problem? In a proper democracy you can have three political parties ruling in a state like Lagos—when you have one party controlling the south, another central and yet another controlling the north, depending on what is it that appeals to the electorate. But because the current situation is a threat to the octopus that desires to consolidate power in the hand of a few, who have hijacked the entire democratic process. It doesn’t make any sense. If we don’t have money to support them let the parties support themselves. So. It is not an issue.

What is the FDP’s blueprint to tackle the nation’s economic problem?

Each time people ask me that question, I tell them that my father was a polygamist. At the time that I was in the primary school he was earning something about 740 pounds a year and he had several children. We never lacked one day.

He managed to cope even though he was not an accountant. We all went to school and there was food on the table. The problem of our nation is not an economic issue, because there are various concepts and theories in all our universities. It is dependent on our leaders to decide on the one that will soothe the nation. But the greatest motivation for the well being whether it is economic or political is empathy, concern, compassion for the people. Once you are concerned about the people, then you will evolve a concept for the economy that concerns the people.

I have often said that our philosophy is Messiahnicism, meaning sacrifice.

It is a concept of political government that sacrifices for the people. In other words, we will never engage in concepts like austerity measures because then you are asking the people to make further sacrifice; but once you prioritise the people above everything else then your economic policy must target them in their pursuit of affluence.

When I attended a town hall meeting in 2007, I listened to then minister of finance and I was impressed by the presentation but they didn’t have the political will to pursue it. When CBN governor, Charles Soludo indicated that the naira was going to be deregulated, President Yar’Adua took offence, even though it was handed down to him by his predecessor. We are not interested in academic concepts of how to tackle the economy.

To my mind they avail nothing. We are going to show in practical terms that we care for the people; and organise the forces of demand and supply to enhance the living standards of the Nigerian people. That is what we are going to do. The reason why past economic blueprints have failed is because the Nigerian people have not been given proper priority.

If you ask the initiators of such economic concepts, they will quote some academic dissertations which will explain what they are trying to do. The bottom line is that they are not concerned about the people. If they were they would do otherwise. We are different. We have said from the beginning that human capital development is our priority because that targets the people.

You have to elevate the development and motivation of the people to a level of strategy. It must be cardinal to us and if that is so, you will deal with the things that concern them like education, healthcare, social security as a safety net, revamping the pension scheme, transportation and housing. These are the things that affect the people directly. The Fresh Democratic Party had had difficulty in aligning itself or getting into any kind of coalition because we feel that there is an ideological discrepancy between us and most of the political parties. When I become president, the difference will be clear.

The PDP has led us and has taken the nation to the precipice, the doldrums. They have failed the nation consistently and so we cannot afford to follow PDP and expect anything different from what we have today. Isn’t that a classical definition of insanity?—doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result? The time has come and change is inevitable and I believe that the God who took Obasanjo from the prison to the Aso Rock, who made it possible even for Dr. Jonathan to be where he is today, that same God will orchestrate things so that Okotie can deliver Nigeria permanently. We will certainly declare a state of emergency in the education and health sectors. How will you approach the power sector?

That has been a perennial problem. You can’t even take one step without finding out what is wrong in the area. The important thing is that we don’t really know what is going on there. Nobody can tell you exactly what is going on in the sector because the statistics that they give are all fictitious. So, we have to look in there and find out what is going on and tell Nigerians the truth.

In the first six months, I think we will be able to identify the problem because if you don’t investigate a problem you can’t solve it. Towards the end of Obasanjo tenure he awarded contracts and Yar’Adua did not care about these things and till today we don’t know what is happening there. That is why I say it has become so mysterious; why is it so impossible to generate enough power for a nation like this? It is a conundrum. We have to find out why, because it cannot be money. We have enough money and only a thorough investigation can reveal to us the demons that are involved in the power sector.

When we find out, we will cast them out. As a reverend gentleman I thought your priority would have been how to deal with corruption or you don’t see it as the monster that has militated against meaningful progress of this country? Definitely, but corruption is not something you can deal with even in the first three years. You cannot eradicate corruption by punition alone. Punitive measures are the last resort.

For you to eradicate corruption, you have to change the entire environment. To take a wicked man or a sinner to heaven; he can’t operate there. You take a fish out of the water, he cannot operate. There is an element that is conducive to this aberration and until you deal with it, ordinary punitive measures would not solve it. For you to see the death of corruption, it must start from the beginning or the bottom and not from the top. First you have to create an enabling environment for Nigerians to pursue their dreams and aspirations and a level playing field for them and there is a mechanism of the law where everybody is equal.

Because when you have double standards you can’t deal with corruption. When a minister can steal and gets away with it but the truck pusher steals and you take him to prison you cannot solve the problem. So, it has to begin at that level where the standard of living has to be enhanced in such a way that it is above subsistent level.

When people are now entitled to a house, food on the table, provided with basic amenities by the government, then they can build on these things themselves and then you started working towards the eradication of corruption. Punitive measures will be the final aspect of the battle.

It is something we have to do gradually, changing the psyche of the Nigerian people. This re-branding thing they are talking about is totally misplaced. You cannot re-brand something that is already corrupted. To re-brand is not an outward thing, it is an external thing. It begins with the abstract, because as the man thinketh so he is.

Telling Nigerians they are so, so and so, when their reality is contrary to what you’re saying makes the whole thing absolute jocularity. We are going to address corruption from a more practical perspective so that we can actually transform the Nigerian from within and connect him back to his government, so he can trust his leadership. When the connection is there, the resourcefulness of the Nigerian will begin to manifest, because the Nigerian is very resourceful. They just have not been inspired.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

I have little faith in electoral reforms, Rev. Okotie

REVEREND Chris Okotie has contested for the highest office in Nigeria twice on the platform of the Fresh Democratic Party, FDP, first in 2003 and then 2007 and is currently oiling his political machine to hit the road again for the 2011 election. In this interview, he x-rayed the happenings in the political terrain, the debate over President Jonathan’s ambition, corruption, the return of Nuhu Ribadu and his verdict is that Nigerians can only vote in PDP in subsequent elections at their own peril. Excerpts:

The nation celebrated 11 years of uninterrupted democracy. Will you say that Nigerians can now shout Uhuru?


No! No!! The process has been slowed down. There is a phenomenon that is called a rallen-tando which is actually a dance that has a seven piece that becomes sluggish. So, a political rallen-tando would be a slowing down process which is what our political process has been fraught with. I think that the main actors so far have not been able to properly intellectualize the concept of democracy within the Nigerian context and that is why there has been a slowing down process. But the important is that there is dynamism. But it is not yet Uhuru.

Where did we miss it and how do we connect the missing link?

There is a tripartite mechanism that has slowed down the process. Three dimensions I want to mention: they are mysticism, Satanism and elitism. Every political process, most of the time, has to deal with, what I call, the coalition of political evil because they all militate against that process. When the democratic process is still nascent, in its inchoate stages, you have to deal with the three evils. Let me explain them.

In a geographical context like in a nation when you begin a process that has to do with people which is what a democratic process is; there are certain individuals who have a mystique about them, and they create a certain mysticism around them and until they are demystified the process will not take a natural evolutionary course.

So, what happens is that these individuals become like juggernauts, behemoths and gargantuan in the picture they give to the electorate; because they are gods or demigods. They determine what goes on even if it is anti-democratic—they determine who is going to be where and when. They are the ones with whom you negotiate the instrumentality of government. And until these people are demystified, the democratic process walks with shackles.

Two, is the concept of Satanism and within this concept we are talking of violence in politics because they are adversaries and once you ignore their prescriptions they become violent. And once violence is added to a democratic process it takes on a chaotic facade which now intimidates a lot of people who now subject their mandate to those who are the operators and who perpetrate this violence.

Then, you have elitism which is a clique of people who arrogate to themselves a certain representation for the people. They believe they speak on behalf of the people but they have never been elected and therefore they do not have the mandate of the people but they have positioned themselves in such a way, either culturally, financially, socially and sometimes even within the state of metaphysics; that they are the ones who represent the people. So, they become the self-acclaimed, styled elite who now decides what is going to happen, when it is going to happen, how it is going to happen. And until you dismantle that group you cannot have a democratic process that truly represent the people. That is what we have seen in Nigeria, in a very heightened form.

The three evils appear to me so intertwined and powerful. How can the people demystify them?

It’s a coalition of evil. Because they are so intertwined and interwoven, the only antidote is a generational shift. That is why you find in the examples we have seen in scriptures—when God is faced with a situation that has these indicators, He shifts from one generation to another. That is why Israelites were intimidated when they faced Goliath because Saul and Goliath were of the same generation.

And so the parochialism that characterizes a generation and leads it to destruction envelops that entire generation and you have to get someone who is not a part of that generation to see more clearly and David was invited into the scene and he saw thing that Saul couldn’t see; because what Saul saw the formidable armour of Goliath—his height, breast place, the inevitable concomitant of a veteran of war in the boasts and the declarations that he made. But David saw differently. What guides every generation is the vision of that generation and the vision David had was antithetical to that Saul had.

And as long as Saul had that vision, all that were behind him in terms of the soldiers were powerless to do anything; but when another man came with a totally different vision that was predicated on the power of the Almighty God, His fidelity to His covenant and His ability to deliver, he won the day.

So, the problem we have in the nation today, is that we have several tiers of the same generation and what they have done is like passing the baton to the same team, with the same coach and with the same philosophy. And as long as you do that you will be going round and round in circles. What Nigeria must do, is to embrace a new generation with a new philosophy, new vision and attitude that is more globalized and is not limited to the political precincts and divisions that we have today.

Doesn’t Dr. Goodluck Jonathan fit that picture you are painting?

He belongs to the present generation because it is not the biological duration of existence that determines a generation. It’s not age. It is the psychology of that generation and the psychology of any generation is based on its mind set and its mind set produces its vision and its vision guides it and leads it to its destination. Because, he is so intertwined in the PDP philosophy of governance that is checkered and is defective ab initio, he cannot rise above it.

Not because he might desire to; but because there are natural stumbling blocks within the system which are the impediments of that generation which makes it impossible for that generation to ascend to lofty heights that will enable him to see more clearly. He will find that whatever he tries to do is sabotaged from the very beginning. That is why you find internal wrangling within the PDP because how can one political party be so antithetical to itself; to its vision; to its manifesto?

It is because you have a group of men and women who have no ideological connectivity. It is an arrangement that is programmed to fail. That is the same that happened to President Olusegun Obasanjo—as visionary as he was—his problem was not the opposition but his own political party. President Goodluck Jonathan is going to face the same problem, in fact, I believe he is already facing the problem.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Okotie for president 2011

Former presidential flagbearer and Pastor of the Household of God Church, Rev. Chris Okotie is set to declare his intention to vie for the presidency in 2011.

Rev Okotie will be making his public declaration for the 2011 presidential race at a press conference billed for the Secretariat of the Fresh Democratic Party (FDP) in Lagos next Tuesday.

According to a statement made available to The Nation, the celebrated preacher will be contesting on the platform of FDP, which he co- founded and on which ticket he ran for the 2007 presidential elections.

Okotie told The Nation that he decided to run because Nigerians need to be saved from the oppression of the current ruling class.

According to him, “I believe if we had free and fair polls in 2003, this probably will be my second term, but because we have a system that is flawed ab initio it has delayed my emergence. That is the way I see it and I think those things will eventually galvanise the people into taking a stand.”

Of his chances of emrging president despite the fact that known political heavyweights are in the race, he said: “For me, I respect them and if they desire to run, all well and good. I am not concerned about who is going to run. I am only concerned about myself and I believe that when I present myself to the Nigerian people, they will see me for who I am and they will recognise that I am the one they need at this time.”

He expressed doubt over the possibility of fair polls in 2011: “As far as INEC is constituted under the superintendent of the government, we cannot have free and fair elections because the desire of incumbency to perpetuate itself is there. To my mind, the problem of INEC has never been that of personality. I respect Prof. Maurice Iwu. To my mind, he is probably one of the most diligent chairmen that INEC has ever had. I am acquainted with some of the challenges he had to face in the last two elections. I think it is statutory provision that is making INEC not to work well.

We have to change the law and make such laws that will make the organisation to subsist on its own. So, it does not matter who you put there, but as long as that person is subservient to the government of the day, there is really nothing they can do. To my mind, I think it is illogical to imagine that I will appoint somebody, pay him salary and that person will rebel against my authority. So, I think the professor, under normal circumstances, will be able to operate. I think his hands are tied because of the way INEC is constituted.”

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Why Nigerians Must Trust Me, By Okotie, At Campaign Launch

Date: 3/11/2007
ONLY the government of Reverend Chris Okotie has the capacity to resolve all the energy and the Niger Delta crises once and for all, so declared the presidential candidate of Fresh Democratic Party, FPD, yesterday in Ajegunle, Lagos.

Speaking in pidgin English apparently to appeal to his audience made up of young people with some elderly persons during the flag-off of his presidential campaign in Ajegunle, a suburb of Lagos, Okotie said "every other name you hear today in the political horizon represents division.

"The people can trust me. A Rev. Chris Okotie's government would resolve the current energy and the Niger Delta crises once and for all, irrespective of religion and ethnicity, because they people can trust me," he said, adding that his government would immediately establish an independent power producing company to augment what the Obasanjo administration had managed to achieve in eight years.

Addressing the crowd that also included several musicians including Sunny Neji, Wadada, Blackky, Benita Okojie and many more, the erstwhile pop star promised to rejuvenate the music and movie industry in such a way that the entertainment industry will generate enough foreign reserve and give employment. He believes that there is no reason Nigerian sports men and women should go over to foreign lands when we can encourage them to maximize their potentials here in Nigeria.

Describing Nigeria's current politicians as 'Go Slow Be', the preacher turned politician promised to continue with the deregulation programme of the current government but, unlike the present administration, his government would introduce a human face to the well intentioned reform programme.

"It does make any economic sense for government to give Nigerians motorcycles (okada) if they will not get fuel to power those motor bikes for economic gains," he declared amidst shouts from the audience at the Maracana Stadium.

Nigerians have suffered for far too long amidst abundant human and material resources, he declared, pointing out: "Wen una vote for me and get to Aso Rock in May this year, I promise una here now that I go build hospitals, schools which go be free for every citizen because Nigeria get the money!"

Okotie, who is also the chairman of the party, then presented the party's flag to Lagos State gubernatorial candidate, Mrs. Uche Ibukun Ohimai, who immediately promised to ensure that formative education in the state is free.

The lady behind Chris Okotie...

The lady behind Chris Okotie...
'He's the best thing that has ever happened to Nigeria'

•Miss Sola Salako
Photo: Sun News Publishing

Miss Sola Salako is the National General Secretary of the Rev. Chris Okotie-led Fresh Democratic Party, (FDP).
In an interview with Daily Sun in Lagos, the FDP scribe debunked the impression that women in politics are always corrupt, wayward and irresponsible, saying the generalisation is unfair and unfortunate.

The lady, who says she is in politics to serve, is of the belief that the presidential candidate of her party, Rev. Chris Okotie is the best thing that has ever happened to Nigeria, enthusing that he will make the desired change.

She also spoke on other issues of national interest.


I believe everybody is a political being. And personally, I have been a politically conscious person. I have always been a political commentator. But now when the opportunity has presented itself for me to practise what I have always been complaining about, I decided to utilise the opportunity to do something about it.

The motivation is simple. There is need for change in this country. I am a columnist and I write about consumers and the way they are treated in this country. And I write about the need for change.
So, if you are a Nigerian with a vision and focus for your life, you would know there is need for change in Nigeria. And we have all along been sitting down waiting for those in government to do the right thing and they are not doing the right things. And a lot of people are suffering because they are not doing the right thing.

That motivates me to stand up and do something. I cannot just sit down to see that happen. So, whatever I think I can do in my own little way, I am ready to contribute my quota to it.

Women in politics
It is what people have made women to be in politics that they are now. Women also are naturally political animals. We are the people who do something on behalf of somebody else to make life better for them. I have seen where women are just in position of responsibility and they have proved their mettles. This is because women know how to do things and get them done.

But luckily women are already coming into politics. The more we see women in the public making things happen, the more encouraging it would be for other women to come into politics.

African culture

You see, we may not necessarily be in the forefront. I am not contesting for any position right now, I am working to support a man who is contesting for a position. And I can do that very well. Women are not looking forward to be in charge. We are just looking for a way where we can be in position of responsibility to make things happen so that other people can do their job well.

So, I don't think whether they are in position of authority or that they are in forefront matters.

Women governor
If someone can come up and if the society can give us the opportunity to have a woman president or woman governor, why not?

I am not a gender focused person. I don't think of people in terms of their gender. I think of them first in terms of their personality and in form of their character before I think of them in form of their gender.
And I have not experienced gender discrimination in politics as a person because I am working with a person who is gender blind.

Alleged irresponsibility of women politicians

You can't just generalise. Okay? It depends on the person you are dealing with and what is that person's character and what is that person's personality and what is that person's focus in life.
I don't think anybody could look at me and think I am irresponsible. I have been a responsible woman and anybody who knows me knows I am very responsible.

And if I am to ask, why should you be irresponsible as a woman in politics? This is something that needs to be done and we just have to get it done. Is it irresponsible women that go to work in banks? Or women who work in whatever places they go to work?

Elective office
If the situation presents itself, maybe I will consider it. It is not something that I am looking forward to but I am more motivated to serve. That is all.

I just want to help to make a difference in the environment in which I live because I believe that is the way God has made every woman. We are supposed to make a difference at whatever level we found ourselves.

So, if the situation comes up that the only way I can make a difference is to contest for public office, maybe I would do it. But right now I am making a difference by helping to put together this political party and helping to make this political party work so that Nigerian people would taste what is true democracy.

Monetisation of polity
I am not comfortable with monetization of the polity. For me, money has never been a motivation for me personally. I am always motivated by what is right. In this situation, that is what should motivate you whether you are paid for it or not, it is not necessary.

And I don't see why anybody can use money to convince me to do something. I can't understand why should that be! I don't believe in money politics.

I believe God has endowed me with enough intelligence, with enough ability to be able to make life better for so many other people who are not as blessed as I am. That is the only motivation. Things should be done right whereby everything is fair and just. And everybody would be able to say, okay, I have got all what I can get in this environment.

But when you oppress people because you want to feel big, it is contrary to human nature. So, that alone is enough motivation for me.

Nigerians know what is good and what is wrong. What they need is a little persuation. But Nigerian people are cynical because the people that they have trusted have failed them.
You cannot live your life on what has happened to you in the past. You just have to make up your mind to say I am moving forward, I am going to make a wiser decision now. I am going to watch properly before I leap.

Rev. Okotie's aspiration
Thank God you can see that more credible people are coming out. So, anybody who knows Rev. Chris Okotie, who goes through his life and realises that he leads an upright life as much as it affects everybody around him, would know that somebody worthy is in the race.

People would now say, okay, this man can make a difference. People that have been giving you money, you look at their lives, they would have proven to you several times that they are not people to be trusted. Nigerians are getting wiser. And that is all we need.

We just have to explain to people and convince them that they need to get wiser and they are really getting wiser. And they have to believe that God can effect a change for them because it is not something any of us can do by ourselves.

Nigeria of my dream
Nigeria of my dream is a Nigeria where every Nigerian, just by the virtue of being a Nigerian, you matter. You know how it is in America where anywhere you are in the world, if there is any crisis and you stand up and say you are an American, the whole of American government is, in fact, behind you.

That is Nigeria of my dream.
Nigeria of my dream is Nigeria which I could be proud of and say I am a Nigerian because I will know that by virtue of being a Nigerian alone, the whole nation is behind me. And I will be very ready to do anything for my nation.

And to achieve that, Nigeria must first take care of me, provide for me, must think I am very important and must treat me like an important person. I am a consumer advocate and that is what I do as a right. Every consumer has a right to be treated well. And all of us are consumers. Whatever you are consuming, be it government, human relations or whatever, we have a right to be treated well than how people treat us now.

So the Nigeria of my dream is where that green passport is what you carry with pride because you know you are being taken care of and there is provision for your child, there is provision for your future and there is structure that works.