The President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Samson Ayokunle, has warned that insecurity has pushed Nigeria to the tipping point even as he said CAN would no longer take further attacks on its members. Ayokunle who spoke exclusively with Saturday Sun in Abuja, declared that despite all the suggestions that CAN had given to the government, it appeared that the government was not taking any of them.
He concluded that having been given everything to curtail the insecurity in the country, excuses were no longer permissible within the prevailing circumstances, saying that enough is enough.
Asked what he will tell President Buhari and security chiefs over the development, Ayokunle said: “I will tell them that they should sit up and drive away all the insurgents, bandits, kidnappers, Boko Haram and all those that are troubling the nation. They have been given everything to do it. They have the military, all our common wealth, our resources; they are with them, to use to give us peace in this nation. No excuse any longer for failure.”
Amongst other issues, Ayokunle opened up on the 2023 presidency, disclosing the candidate that CAN will throw its weight behind. He spoke with AIDOGHIE PAULINUS.
In what ways can CAN team up with the Federal Government to fight the spate of insecurity across the county?
Well, we do not have the military with which CAN can team up. But CAN, number one, can be praying for the nation for God to guide the military chiefs and the commander-in-chief himself to take right decisions on how to overcome the insurgency.
Number two, CAN can give advice due to what we hear from people and the people affected by the insurgency, what they say. But the government must be ready to listen. We can work together if the government does not see objective criticism as antagonistic or opposition.
In your previous meetings with the president, is it that you have not been suggesting ways to tackle insecurity to him?
We have been, but you know those in power know what they will take from what you say. We have told them, number one, to investigate the sources of the ammunitions of the insurgents. I don’t think any step has been taken over the years since we have been emphasising this.
Number two, we have advised the government to investigate and find out the people who are financing this terrorism, especially within our nation. Number three, we have told the government to rejig the security chiefs. If illegal immigrants are entering the country with ammunitions, what is Immigration doing? What was the Customs doing that allow these people to come in and with ammunitions that they are not permitted to bring into the country? Don’t we have law enforcement agents that would have prevented this from happening right from the beginning? We have given lots of pieces of advice, but it depends on what you want to take.
Why do you think the President is not taking to the advice and put them into action?
I don’t know. I think that question should be better put to him.
Considering what has been happening recently, people have been saying that there may be a religious war. Is CAN praying against this?
Religious war? You better pray that you don’t have religious war in the nation because the religious war will not spare anyone. So, it is not about CAN being afraid. It is about everybody working against anything that comes near a religious war. It spares no one. Go and tell them in Northern Ireland. Go and ask them in Sri Lanka and other places where religious war happened. It is a total devastation because you see brothers killing brothers, parents killing children; religious war is very brutal.
So, where do you think the insecurity and what is happening in the polity is leading the nation to?
If care is not taken, if the government does not address it squarely, if they will be telling us that they are no longer bombing, they are beheading, then it is going to lead to total annihilation of the entire country if care is not taken.
The recent spat between the government and CAN after–
There was no spat. We only told them to do what they were supposed to do. If they call it spat, it means that they were not ready to listen to Godly admonition. There is nothing like spat.
Is CAN considering supporting a Christian for the presidency in 2023?
We are going to support a righteous person, somebody with the fear of God.
If that is so, is CAN looking towards the Vice President whom CAN obviously have a soft spot for?
CAN is not God. CAN is praying for the right man to emerge, the right man at the center of God’s heart.
So, it is not Osinbajo?
The right man; it can be Osinbajo, it can be any other person.
And if it is Osinbajo, don’t you think that will pitch him against his godfather, Tinubu, who is also interested in the race?
I am not God, I have told you. I don’t know who that will be, alright? I don’t know about godfather, I only know about Heavenly Father. I know about Heavenly Father, not godfather.
What is CAN’s view about the North agitating for the presidency in 2023?
That is left to Nigerians to decide.
As the father of all Christians in the country, at this all-important moment, what advice do you have for Christians who are troubled day and night, from north to south and across the country?
The Bible says “A time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a service for God.” Jesus told his followers in John Chapter 16. He said they should not be moved. In the world, you will face persecution and tribulation, but He says in me, you will have peace. Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world for you – John 16:33. So, I will tell them to be of good cheer. Even if they suffer, they suffer for Christ and great is their reward in heaven. However, they should be steadfast. They should be unmovable. They should continue to abound in the work of the Lord.
If you see the president and the security chiefs today, what will you tell them?
I will tell them that they should sit up and drive away all the insurgents, bandits, kidnappers, Boko Haram and all those that are troubling the nation. They have been given everything to do it. They have the military, all our commonwealth, our resources; they are with them, to use to give us peace in this nation. No excuse any longer for failure.