Bishop of Zaria Diocese (Anglican Communion), Rt Rev Abiodun Ogunyemi, recently prophesied that though Governor Nasir el-Rufai was being groomed to be Nigeria’s President, he would never be president. He mentions in an interview, about the controversy over Kaduna state government’s plan to demolish a 110-year-old church and his view of the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd). He states below:
“I am a proud Anglican bishop. When a bishop is consecrated, he is told: ‘Today, we consecrate you as a priest and a prophet.’ The office of the bishop is not only priestly; it is also a prophetic office. I don’t know if some bishops know that but I know it. Over the years, since I became a bishop, God has spoken through me.
“People may not take what I say seriously but they come to pass. Let me give you one example. When I was a pastor many years ago, back in the 1990s, in Zaria at St Andrews Church, one night, God woke me up and said: ‘Go and tell the church that M.K.O. Abiola will never be the President of Nigeria.’ At the time, the Social Democratic Party just had its convention in Jos, Plateau State. But God said, ‘Tell your church that M.K.O. Abiola will never be the President of Nigeria, even for only one minute; I will stop him.’
“I told the church and some members were not happy because they were members of the SDP. But I said it was God Who told me and that I didn’t have anything to do with the prophecy. Eventually, you know what happened, how the election was annulled.
“In 2010, God told me there would be a political earthquake in Nigeria that would sweep across the whole country and that nothing would stop it, except God Himself. By the end of that year, there was Boko Haram. I was preaching at a church in Samaru and God told me that Muhammadu Buhari and el-Rufai would return to power but some people didn’t want him (el-Rufai) in the state. I told the church that Buhari and el-Rufai would come back and that no votes could stop them and it came to pass.
“I was not speaking for myself when I said there was a plan to make Governor Nasir el-Rufai the next Nigerian President but it would never happen. That’s what God told me. He (el-Rufai) should stop wasting his time. He will never be president.
“God told me; it has nothing to do with me. I just gave some examples and there are others. People always fight me on matters like this. It never bothers me. When Goodluck Jonathan was the President, God told me he was never the answer to Nigeria’s problems. He was actually a problem. God said, ‘Jonathan is King Saul who will fail.’ So, this one prophecy has nothing to do with me. It’s what God told me. El-Rufai should forget about the 2023 presidency.
“The Bishop further stated that he received threats through phone calls for chiding the Archbishop of the Kaduna Province of the Anglican Diocese, Buba Lamido, for his apology to el-Rufai recently over the planned demolition of St George Anglican Church, which is the second oldest church in the North.
“I have received some threats, through phone calls from people. Some people are very happy with my response while some are not. I have received threats, particularly from the Interfaith Dialogue, who said they were from the governor’s office. They came here twice to threaten me. They also went to my chancellor in Kaduna to issues threats. But we have taken it lightly because it is expected that when people want to do something evil and you stand against it, they will react.
“There was a meeting in Kano called by Bishop Buba Lamido. They invited me but I did not attend because God had warned me not to go. It was like a ploy to trap me – to either ambush me or kill me. That was what God told me and it was confirmed by some people. The secretary at that meeting, Bishop of Dutse, Jigawa State, told me that Bishop Lamido said I was like Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and that the way the governor dealt with El-Zakzaky, he would deal with me. I see that as a threat to my life. I took it lightly because I was not fighting the government. That was why I wrote my letter to the public. I am not fighting government. I am fighting for our property. I am fighting for our rights. I have no reason to fight the government.
“The other threat that I have received, which you must know about, is that some weeks ago, we had a programme at our national church in Abuja and the Primate (that is the head) of the church and other officers of the church told me about the outcome of a visit to the governor’s office. I was invited to be part of the visit but I refused to go. The Primate told me that the governor was going to write me a letter. I have not received any letter yet. That is to say that I am a security threat to Kaduna State. It was said that if the governor should write that letter, the church would be forced to transfer me from Zaria to another place. That’s a threat to my life and my ministry.
“When the Primate told me that, I didn’t tell anybody. I just kept it to myself and only sent messages to my friends who prayed for me. But something is telling me now that I should not keep quiet even though I have not received the letter yet. I am not a threat to anybody and I am not El-Zakzaky. I am a bishop and one of my mandates is to protect the territorial integrity of the diocese that God has placed me to oversee and fight for what belongs to us. So, would I keep quiet when a letter was written to us that they would demolish our church? No. I could not keep quiet.
“So, that’s the update. We are waiting for the governor. We don’t know what he has in mind. But I have told him (governor) that nobody can tamper with our property or land because it belongs to God. That land was bought by our forefathers in the late 1800. The first church was put there in 1808. How can he come to demolish it? Is he the first governor (here)? The first C of O was issued by Sir Kashim Ibrahim, former governor of the Northern State. That’s why I am angry.
“The governor, el-Rufai said he wanted to build a new market at Sabon Gari. If he wants to rebuild a market, he should not forget that the market land belongs to the church. I am not against him building a new market. What is done in other places is that when a government wants to build a market, they go to a virgin land and build a new market there. The people matter because that’s their only source of livelihood. You don’t just come and demolish things.
“Christians in Kaduna believe the governor is using the issue to test the waters and that once he succeeds in tampering with the church and its property, no other church in Kaduna State is safe.
“That’s why the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria took it up. CAN knows that once the governor succeeds in the demolition of a church that has been around for about 110years, other churches will be at risk. That is why the matter is creating problems. And that is why the governor should leave the church alone. The matter will cause problems if the governor goes ahead with it. Why is he focusing on the church? Why can’t he go and demolish the Central Mosque in Kaduna and see what will happen?
“Christians have a suspicion that the governor has a plan to deal with the church. That’s why he wants to tamper with our church to test the waters. He may have other plans. If the governor wants Christians to trust him, he should leave the church alone. We are not fighting him. We prayed for him. Let me tell you the truth. I have seen some road constructions in Zaria and we are happy about that. That’s part of governance. Once he concentrates on governing the state, nobody will fight him but if he wants to come and tamper with God’s property, we won’t keep quiet.
“God has told me that I must defend our property. If I keep quiet and allow someone to tamper with it, God will hold me responsible because that is my mandate. It’s like a president allowing part of their country to be taken away. That president is in trouble.
“Dr Oby Ezekwesili once said something that registered in my memory. You know what she said of the Muhammadu Buhari-led government? She said the government “is irredeemably incompetent”. That’s my summary of this government. How could you make a lawyer the Minister of Works and Housing? No sane country does that. The US that we are copying their style of government won’t do that. It won’t work. You made a medical doctor the Minister of Labour and Productivity. It will never work. Then, you took someone who you were not sure whether he had a school certificate or not and made him the president over a complex nation like Nigeria and think things would work. A miracle will not happen. I am not cursing the country.
“In a sane country, to get a leader, one of the first things they do is to test the IQ (intelligence quotient) to be sure the leader is very intelligent. I watched former President Barrack Obama when he was in power in the US. Sometimes, they sat in a Federal Executive Council meeting for over 15 hours, having a brainstorming session to move the country forward.
“For me, the greatest problem of Nigeria and Africa is not corruption but tribalism (ethnicity) because when they get to power, they surround themselves with people of their tribe. That is why for me, the most corrupt leader in Nigeria is Muhammadu Buhari. Surrounding himself with people of your tribe and religion is the highest form of corruption.
“Normally, the National Assembly should kick those bills out but I don’t trust its members. Any man serving the country and collecting up to N5m per month has a problem in his head. Its wickedness in a country that cannot adequately pay N30,000 minimum wage. Any man whose mind has been affected by money cannot think properly.
“In Nigeria, when they have their Federal Executive Council meetings in Abuja on Wednesdays, they are there for two or three hours and award contracts. That’s all they do. For me, those bills should not see the light of day. We have enough laws that cover those areas (they claim to be concerned about). They are unnecessary for the country. If they should pass those laws, Nigerians should prepare for war because they will use it to oppress Nigerians. Nigerians should fight against those bills. For members of the National Assembly, if they should pass those bills, they should forget about their offices because it shows they are not worthy of them. These bills are against democracy, rule of law and the fundamental human rights of people.
“Unfortunately, the men of God who are supposed to speak up won’t speak up. That’s the problem. Imagine all general overseers, archbishops, bishops, sheikhs, and Imams marching to the National Assembly with camp beds and saying until you reduce your salaries and allowances, we are not leaving here. By the time we stay there for three days, they will reduce them. Unfortunately, everybody is afraid. General overseers, bishops, etc. are afraid. We religious leaders are the problem of this country for keeping quiet when there is oppression. Leah Sharibu is still in captivity and the church is keeping quiet.”