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2015 election: What Pastor E.A Adeboye said when I sought his advise – Osinbajo

In this interview with PUNCH’s Kayode Falade,
the Vice-Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Prof.
Yemi Osinbajo, talked about his nomination and more importantly, disclosed how Pastor
Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, endorsed him.
See excerpts below:

You were not in the early picture of contenders for the vice-presidential slot. When and how did your name pop up?
I think my name was always being
mentioned. My name came up early. Maybe a great deal of importance
wasn’t attached to it but it came up early. At least, in the press, it
was reported frequently early too. This has been on since almost four or
five months ago. There have been speculations for that long. Thus, my
name has always popped up.
As a pastor and legal practitioner who is not much of a politician; why did you accept the offer when you were nominated?
I accepted the offer because I believe
one of the most important contributions that any person can make to a
society is public service. For me, it didn’t require much reflection
because I have always believed the most effective way of making maximum
impact on the welfare and well-being of our society is through public
service.
You’ve always emphasised prayers. Did you pray about this before you accepted?
I always pray. I prayed about this just
as I pray about many things because communication with God at all times
is important. I also think people, maybe, get more religious when it
comes to political office. People tend to say God told them to do
something or the other; but I think the most important thing to bear in
mind is that as far as the Christian is concerned, there is something
called the priesthood of the believer, which means that every believer
is a priest unto God. It also means every believer has a duty to serve
man as if we are serving God. In other words, service to man is service
to God. For a Christian, especially a pastor, to suggest that if he has
an opportunity to serve millions of people, an opportunity to effect
policies which may alleviate the sufferings of millions of people, as it
is the case in Nigeria, an opportunity to fashion policies that may
transform the lives of people, I think it may be hypocritical not to
participate in that.
I also believe that when you are
committed to doing God’s will — and His will for us all as Christians is
that we must participate in solving problems, especially the problems
of the needy and those who cannot help themselves — we must do those
things. That is part of our calling and in fact, our scripture says that
we will be asked on the last day, ‘What did you do when you saw me
naked? What did you do when you saw me sick and in prison?’ If we then
say, ‘Lord (Jesus), when did we see you hungry? When did we see you
sick?’ And then, Jesus will say, ‘Every time you saw those sick people,
the poor and the hungry; every time you saw the naked, it was me
(Jesus).’ For me, it is almost unthinkable for a Christian to
second-guess public service. We must be prepared to serve the people.
That is what I teach and preach in my church. There are probably
hundreds of thousands of individuals as deserving who do not get that
opportunity, but I do. And then I should turn it down for some reasons?
It wouldn’t even occur to me, except if God were to say specifically to
me, ‘Don’t do it.’
Did God reveal your victory?
That’s the point I’ve been trying to make
to you. It is not about winning. That is not what I am interested in.
What I am interested in is not what God says about winning or losing. I
am not asking Him for, as it were, a lottery. If we were going to play a
game, then I could say, ‘O Lord, will I win or lose?’ That’s not the
point. The point is will I serve the people or will I not? That’s the
only issue I need to consider and I don’t need any special directive on
that because that is what God has already said we must do as believers.
And what did He tell you?
No, I won’t disclose that to you.
The Redeemed Christian Church of God, where you are a pastor, has come out to say it never endorsed you…
I don’t think the church has ever said
any such thing. Also, the church does not endorse candidates. The
General Overseer of the church, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, has not said any
such thing. He has not issued any statement. In any event, the RCCG as a
church cannot endorse a candidate. How can a church endorse a
candidate?
But did you seek Pastor Adeboye’s consent before accepting the nomination?
I serve under the GO of the RCCG as a
pastor. If I am going to take any kind of action, especially an action
that involves public service, it is my duty to consult with him. It
would be absolutely irresponsible of me not to consult with him. And I
have consulted with him.
Did he give you his consent?
I have consulted with Adeboye fully. I am
not prepared to share with you the details of our discussion. But be
absolutely certain that I would not take these steps without properly
consulting with him and that I did what was needful.
The opposition has labelled you a stooge of the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. What is your reaction to that?
I think it is irrelevant. I cannot
dignify that with a comment. What anyone should do is look at my track
record. In any event, when you look at Tinubu, who is it that he has in
any form supported that turned out to be his stooge? Is it (Lagos State
Governor, Babatunde) Fashola or (former Ekiti State Governor, Kayode)
Fayemi? Is it (Osun State Governor, Rauf) Aregbesola or (Edo State
Governor, Adams) Oshiomhole? Is it (Oyo State Governor, Abiola) Ajimobi,
(Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle) Amosun or Wale Edun? These are
individuals who have contributed tremendously to the development of
their states and the development of this nation. And all you need to ask
those who tell you about stooges and all of that is, ‘Who are those men
and women of character who they have produced to serve in the same
states where we have served so creditably?’ I think the statement is not
really worth the comment.
One of the reasons given for
‘zoning’ the APC vice-presidential slot to the South-West was that the
region sacrificed so much for the emergence of the party and that it has
been marginalised in the current dispensation. As a candidate of the
South-West, what are your plans for the region?
I am a candidate of the APC, which is a
national party. Don’t regionalise candidature. Gen. (Muhammadu) Buhari
is a representative of the South-West, the North and everywhere else,
and so am I. We were elected nationally; we were not elected to
represent regions or places. It would be wrong for us to say that the
reason why I am there is for the South-West. What then would the
South-East and South-South say? I don’t think that regionalising it in
that way is right. I think we are persons who have been appointed into
national offices and we will serve in those capacities. I think that is
the right way to look at this. I believe the South-West will be an
engine of change and development in Nigeria. It is important that that
is maintained, just as all the parts of Nigeria — the South-East,
South-South and the North. Everyone has a role to play and a
contribution to make.
Why then did your party say it gave the South-West the slot?
I’m sure that is not an official
statement of the party. I am sure that is a speculation. I don’t think
it is fair to say that is the official position of the party. The party
may have its reasons; but officially, the fair thing to say is that
Buhari and I were nominated by the party to be national, not regional,
officers.
As a lawyer, you are trained
to obey the rule of law while Buhari is a retired Army general, who
gained power several years ago through a coup d’état. Are you sure there
wouldn’t be a conflict if you are elected?
I’ve interacted extensively with Buhari
and I think he is conscious of the fact that we are in a civilian
dispensation and that we are bound by the rule of law and the
Constitution. He has repeated this so often. He has demonstrated this by
going to court every time he lost election, pursuing the rule of law
and legal processes.
He could have completely ignored it. He
could have said, ‘I don’t even believe in the rule of law. I don’t
believe in the system.’ But he has consistently done the right thing and
whenever he speaks, you’ll notice that he always goes back to the
Constitution. I believe whatever we may say about the military
dispensation, we should realise that the era was not famous for the
observance of the rule of law. But I think that after all of these
years, Buhari has had plenty of time to reflect and all his utterances
in the many years after military rule show that he definitely subscribes
fully to the tenets of the rule of law and fundamental human rights and
also understands that democratic rule is different from military rule.
Thus, I have no problems at all working with a man like him.
Some schools of thought have
it that you are of less electoral value, compared with Governor Adams
Oshiomhole, Governor Rotimi Amaechi and even Governor Raji Fashola. The
argument is that the party is making a mistake by going for somebody who
has never contested or won any election. Is the argument valid to you?
I think that, perhaps, there is an
advantage to that, because it means that I have to work harder. And as
you can see, I am working very hard. I think that hard work always pays
off. We’re going round, speaking with the people to know their concerns.
I take nothing for granted and that is one of the most important things
I’d like to bring into the campaign. We must do what we need to do, we
must work harder than ever, we must answer questions from the public. We
are not saying to the people, ‘I am so well-known. I don’t need to come
and speak to you.’ Thus, that might well be an advantage for the party;
that I cannot take anything for granted. I need to work hard to get the
party’s policies known and recognised. I think it is important that the
party has chosen this and I am sure that it took everything into
consideration before making the choice that it made. Of course, all the
gentlemen you have referred to are thoroughly qualified individuals who
would have brought something of worth and value to the ticket; but
that’s the nature of the APC, we have many to choose from.
What are the things of value you are bringing to the table?
I’m bringing in hard work, focus, my
reputation for detailed work and also I like to support a man who
believes in probity and accountability. I think that is important. I
also would like to work with implementation of policies. We have shown
that for eight years in Lagos State. We worked very hard on our justice
sector reforms and all the other reforms of the Tinubu-led
administration. Even in the subsequent administration, we worked hard
with all of those who are there. We have been there in the public
service; we may not be famous, but we have worked very hard.
Considering the fact that the
Office of the Vice President has no portfolio under the Constitution,
how confident are you that you can realise all these?
Buhari and I have had several
discussions. I know that he will not waste the peculiar attributes that I
will bring to the table, because he is a person who obviously values
contributions from other people. I have worked with him and I have seen
him at work. I don’t think that he would waste my contributions. I think
he will happily receive contributions and give me roles to play that
will ensure that his administration benefits maximally. What’s the point
of having me on the ticket, if he is not going to use what I will bring
to the table? I don’t have any doubts at all that Buhari will find my
contributions useful enough for him to say, ‘This and that are the
things I’d like you to do.’
Which roles do you think he would ask you to perform?
I cannot speculate on that. You will have to ask him.
One of the most serious issues the country is facing is insecurity. How do you think this should be tackled?
I think the first problem is recognising
that you cannot deal with such a major assault on the integrity of the
nation when you are misrepresenting the facts. And one of the things
that the government, unfortunately, has done is to accuse the opposition
of being responsible for the Boko Haram (insurgency), which, of course,
has created a division. Look at everywhere else in the world where a
country has come under attack. What the government does is to ensure
that there is a bipartisan or a multi-party agreement on how to tackle
the problem. You don’t politicise the issue. In this case, the false
allegations made against the APC of being responsible for Boko Haram
(attacks), including allegations made against senior members of the
party by the government, first of all, created a distraction. Rather
than identify the real causes and issues surrounding the Boko Haram
(insurgency), they were busy labelling the APC. This, for me, is one of
the greatest disservices this administration has done to this nation.
The fact that, rather than focus on who the true enemy was, they waited
until Buhari was almost killed by the same Boko Haram before, they
started to rethink that allegation, is unfortunate. Whenever they find
it convenient, they just throw the allegation around.
I think that the first thing, when you
want to deal with a danger of such enormity to a nation, is that you
must be truthful, sincere and forthright. You must identify who the true
enemy is. The second is that you have to motivate and equip the
military and the Commander-in-Chief must lead from the front. You cannot
lead from behind. The people must see that just as you are saying to
them that they must be prepared to fight Boko Haram, you are also
prepared. It is apparent that our military is very disciplined. I have
said this many times, the Nigerian Army is one of the best in the world;
definitely one of the best in Africa. I served under UNOSOM 2 in
Mogadishu, Somalia; the head of the Police that took care of the entire
operation, Col. Pat Akem, was a Nigerian. He is now a brigadier. All of
the troops from other nations were under his care as the head of the
military police in that operation. The Representative of the United
Nations
Secretary-General in that mission always
insisted that Nigerians should be the one to guard him when he would go
out of the UN compound. Nigerian troops have distinguished themselves in
peacekeeping all over the world. It is unfortunate to hear terrible
stories that Boko Haram insurgents chased soldiers away and they are not
well-equipped or motivated. It is sad. If you want to win against an
insurgency, then you must arm the military well. That is what is
required. Look at the Chibok girls and all that has happened. Isn’t it
right for the Commander-in-Chief to visit the place? For me, I think
that these are some of the issues that boost morale, motivate the troops
and the nation. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
The third issue is that we must also
identify the fact that there seems to be a large pool from where these
Boko Haram members are continuously being recruited. What is the reason
for that? Many of our young people don’t have a stake in this society.
They are jobless; there are no opportunities. And then somebody comes to
them and says, ‘if you join us, whatever you steal or loot, including
women, is yours.’ That is a problem. I think what we ought to bear in
mind is that we must address some of the root causes, especially the
pool from which these people are constantly recruiting from. We must
address the problems of poverty and disillusionment among young people,
especially in those regions where Boko Haram has largely been operating
from. I believe that our government would be able to address those
issues seriously and comprehensibly. If we say, so far, trillions have
been spent on defence, and troops are complaining about bullets and
rounds of ammunition, then there is something gravely wrong.
Some personalities from the
Niger Delta region have threatened that if Jonathan does not win, there
will be unrest. What is your take on this?
I don’t think there will be any unrest. I
think our brothers in the Niger Delta are very reasonable people. I
think what everyone will be looking for is a free and fair election. If
elections are credible, no one will take up arms or resort to self-help.
If we have a free and fair election, I don’t think that anyone will put
their lives on the line to defend the government or any such thing.
What is most important is a free and fair election. That is what the
Independent National Electoral Commission and the government of today
should aim for.
Do you see INEC accomplishing it?
The distribution of the Permanent Voter
Cards has not shown INEC in a very good light. I would really urge INEC
to rise up to its responsibilities. These coming elections are very
important for the future of our nation. And I think it is important for
INEC to live up to its responsibilities; understand the importance of
the elections and understand why the elections should not be tainted in
anyway by any kind of suggestion that they were not properly conducted. I
think INEC really has a duty to this nation — to ensure that things are
done properly this time.
Buhari chose another pastor,
Tunde Bakare, as his running mate in his last bid for the presidency in
2011. Does he have a disposition to clerics?
You will have to ask Buhari why he likes
pastors. But I think it’s a good thing and a good sign. I think it shows
that he is well and able to work with anyone — clerics and people of
other faiths.
It is believed that Buhari’s
quest to sanitise the political system is an overambitious one due to
the level of corruption which political leaders in Nigeria have grown
accustomed to. What’s your take?
I think our nation is at a point where
corruption is almost the norm, especially in the public service. You and
I know that that is probably the rule; the exception is any kind of
transparency or forthright behaviour. But it is important to draw the
line somewhere, because this nation cannot continue with this level of
corruption. It is just impossible. I don’t think that people are born
good. As a matter of fact, my belief is that most people will do the
wrong thing if there is no consequence for their action. And the reason
why we are here today is that there is no consequence for the actions
that people take — for corruption, stealing, or anything of the sort.
That is the reason why I think that what is required, first of all, is
an administration where people believe that the number one man will not
tolerate corruption. If the number one man is perceived as a man that
will not tolerate corruption, then you have moved light years from where
we are today. I think that Buhari is somebody who is respected for his
strong views on corruption. What we need to introduce today is
consequence for corruption. If we don’t do that, frankly I am fearful
that we may not have much left of a country.
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