‘President should serve the greater majority’



Dr. Felix Omobude, the National President of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) spoke with AYOYINKA JEGEDE on the path that the Buhari Presidency should tread to raise the bar of governance in Nigeria. Excerpts:

Areas of attention  
THE president and his administration should look closely at what he will be inheriting. Certainly there are some good things that he probably would be inheriting and he should review them. Some of them may be good ideas but implementations may be faulty. He must look at that with a way of making Nigerians the benefactors of good governance.

He should look closely at the rule of law. Most of the problem we have in this country is because laws are not being obeyed, not that there are no laws. If President Buhari can deal with the culture of impunity, he would have done well. I was pleased to read that the president told his drivers to obey traffic rules and when a leader like that sets a pattern, it is almost impossible for others not to follow. Nigerians need things like that. That also leads to the issue of corruption, which has become endemic. When we talk of corruption, people look only at government. It is beyond that.

You don’t need to go too far to know what happens as our people solicit even at airports and hotels. Visitors who come to this nation and see that kind of attitude going on look at us as a corrupt nation; we should all do what we have been paid to do effectively without asking for tips. For instance, if I have to carry refuse and that is my duty I should do it well without asking the landlord to give me some tips to do what I’m paid to do and if the government of Buhari can look into that, he would have done well.

Nigerians are not asking for too much, if they can have stable electricity, if they can have affordable health care, if our educational system works, of course they would have done well. If you can open your tap anywhere in the country and find clean drinking water, those are basic things the new government can face. The new administration should serve the majority of the people than trying to gratify a few. If President Buhari’s administration concentrates on what will benefit the greater majority than a few bourgeois, they would have done well.

Jailing corrupt officials
I wouldn’t think that imprisonment for everybody will be the solution but it is part of it. If people know that when they break the law they will pay for it then they will behave well. Again when we talk of corruption people always look at the government and the political class, it is beyond that. It affects someone who will accept gratification before he or she moves the files to the next table. It is even in the church, corruption is everywhere.

There has to be a purging, there has to be a re-orientation and you as a journalist should do your job and be glad and you get your monthly pay and be satisfied with it. Classroom teacher teaches, gets his or her pay and not try to extort money from the pupils. This thing is all over the place. There is no prison that can take everybody, there has to be a re-orientation. Our value systems have to be properly ordered so that we don’t continue to run a rat race.

Revamping the education sector
The whole of our educational system will need to be looked into and it should be aimed at making people self-reliant. Educational system that always creates or makes people applicants or job seekers is not going to help us. Right from the primary school, we must develop an educational curriculum that will be innovative, that if people finish their school whether University or Polytechnic or whatever level, they don’t have to queue up in the job market before they can do something that is important. I will encourage the new administration to invest more on education at this stage of our national lives. The level of illiteracy should have been reduced below what it is. The best way to stamp out poverty is through education and I think that any wise government will invest in that area.

16 years of stable democracy
It is a long time but it is still relatively young. I believed that looking at the fabric of our polity, it is obvious that there is still a lot to be done. We have done relatively well to maintain sixteen years of unbroken democratic rule. Like you can find many of our political parties are not based on strong ideologies, you can hardly say this is the ideology of this party or the other; most of our politicians gravitate to which party favours them in order to foster their political games. There are a lot of challenges but I believe we will surmount them.

Strengthening democratic institutions
The judiciary must be enhanced so that they are not subservient to any arm of government. The press must remain vibrant and have freedom to pursue what they are supposed to do. We should look at the rule of law, which is part of the judiciary. Then we should look at the police with enormous responsibilities because there is need for the Nigerian police force to be equipped, trained and financially empowered to do what they are doing. The institutions of anti-corruption are also another arm that needs to be looked into if our democracy is to move from where we are to a better height.

Dividends of democracy 
It may not be appreciable but there are dividends of democracy. You find that minimally there have been development, some of the states governments have done well and some have not done quite well. The beauty of democracy is that it gives the actors, the politicians time frame either four years or whatever and after that they go back to the people and that is beginning to play out well for Nigeria. People are beginning to know that they cannot continue to take Nigerians for a ride.

Sustaining democracy
We should play the game according to the rules. We must now begin to know that Nigerians are getting wiser. The days that you carry bags of salts and bags of rice and give to the community and they vote massively for you are over.

Nigerians are beginning to ask questions. Those in the political class must know that democracy provides for accountability and the day of accountability will come and so they must behave well.

Nigerians should exercise their franchise within the ambient of the law and we should all join hands to build a stable nation. Yes a new government has come and they have made promises. They cannot fulfill these promises except we all work hand in hands and cooperate with government so that we can better our lot.

The role of the PFN

The church is in partnership with any responsive government. We help in educating as well as directing the people. Of course apart from our primary focus of spiritual help that we render to the nation, we will continue to help to mobilize our people in the right way.

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