Pastor of the Household of God and presidential candidate of the Fresh Democratic Party, Chris Okotie, speaks with Williams Babalola on how he intends to fix Nigeria through a government of national reconstruction.
If you are elected Nigeria’s president, how do you intend to run the nation and your church together?
That is very easy. The church is an organised body; it has a life of its own. I am just the overseer. There are other people who take responsibilities within the local assembly. That is not any difficulty at all.
There are speculations that the funding of your campaign is from the church’s purse. How true is that?
I think there are so many misconceptions with the people and I don’t think it is necessary to even go into things like that. Whether it is coming from the church or from non-members, I do not think it is of any political relevance, particularly now that I am not talking about a partisan concept. What I am talking about is a campaign that concerns all Nigerians and I expect all Nigerians to participate. This is not about Peoples Democratic Party, All Progressives Congress or any other political party. The politics of partisanship is unproductive; it helps to divide the nation that is already divided. I am trying to get away from partisan politics but you keep drawing me back to partisan politics. The politics of 2011, which I participated in, is not what I am doing now. What I am doing now is creating a clarion call to say we need to come together. I am not trying to win election. I am trying to get our people to understand that the process of a presidential election is inconsistent with our contextual reality. If you are going to save Nigeria, you don’t need a presidential election. This is not a campaign to ask people to vote for me, that is what I am trying to explain to you. I am not coming from the partisan perspective; this is purely nationalistic. And I call myself a consensus remedial facilitator in the letter. For anyone to understand what I mean, they have to read the letter. We are at a juncture that partisan assimilation and consideration must be set aside for the survival of our nation.
How have you been able to handle religion with politics?
In the creation narrative, found in the book of Genesis, there are three dimensions to what God gave to Adam. The ecclesiastical, which makes him a preacher; he gave him the economic dimension by providing for him; and then he gave him the political dimension when he asked him to subdue the earth. So, political power is the power of religious reality and when Jesus returns, He is going to be a political ruler. I think the lack of information has made it impossible for people to recognise the tripartite creation in the New Testament. And this is what I’ve been explaining since 2003 when I started. They all go together.
What will be the focus of your administration?
I said that already in the letter that I wrote to political parties that what Nigerians need now is an interim government. Because of the existential adversaries that confront us at this juncture in our national evolution, we cannot go to the regular election. We must embrace a paradigm shift. That’s what I’m talking about. It’s not like what I did in 2011. I’m saying that Nigerians need to embrace a paradigm shift in order to survive the adversaries that confront us now. That’s the perspective I have picked my political philosophy from now. I’m saying that Nigeria, ab initio, is incapacitated. We haven’t come to the point where we can talk about the sector to approach first. There are fundamental issues that must be addressed. Nigeria needs to be restructured. Our constitution can no longer stand as a legal protocol that guarantees the peaceful coexistence of autonomous ethnicities. I am saying there are hostilities within the federating units. I am saying that the WAZOBIA alliances have failed. I am saying that the insurgents or Boko Haram phenomenon, the ubiquitous herdsmen hazards are all issues that must be addressed first. That’s why I’m asking for an interim government. My concept is that we need to address this issue first before we can begin to talk about anything else. Talking about sectors is futuristic. What we need right now is to come to a halt; that’s what I am asking for. I am saying that every axis should support the concept because this is what Nigeria needs now and not business as usual.
What is the reaction of your church members towards your candidacy?
They have been very supportive. When I began in 2003, there were scepticisms because of lack of information. Information always leads to emancipation. Christianity is not at variance with politics. Our almighty God that we serve is a political leader. So, they’ve been so supportive, particularly when you juxtapose the situation in the past with the harsh realities that come from Nigerians today.
Is there an instance where they have been a practical show of their support?
Definitely; if you frequent the social media, you’ll see all the support I’m getting, not just from my church people, but from the body of Christ. It is a clear recognition that Nigeria needs someone who can become a symbol of national unity; someone that can create a rapport between all of the warring factions in our country. Nigeria needs a man that is believable, that is credible. And that is what the Chris Okotie philosophy epitomises.
Do you think being a pastor will influence Christian votes?
I think we’ve gone beyond that. I am not asking for votes from Christians or non-Christians. What I am saying is that Nigeria is in a predicament. We are at the verge of a national disintegration and I am on a rescue mission. Only someone like me who can extricate himself from the usual partisan affiliation can help Nigeria at this moment. That is what my letter is all about. This is not even asking for votes. I’m saying that we must all come together at this point and look for a concept that will save Nigeria from imminent destruction. I am saying to the political parties to temporise and allow me lead a government of national reconciliation and reconstruction, a government that will be saddled with the responsibility of fixing Nigeria.
What do you regard as Nigeria’s biggest problem and how do you intend to solve it?
These are the things I have already enumerated in my letter. There are so many of them. Restructuring is very ultimate to the sustenance of any federalism. The constitution we are using is obsolete; it must be re-engineered and reworked completely. The system of federalism that we are operating is what I have termed a terminological inexactitude. We have the issue of ethnicity and the issue of religion. Those are the things that are creating the cleavages in the Nigerian society. That is why I am saying we need an interim government, a government that will be focused on repositioning Nigeria. That will inspire our people to rise above the mosaic of ethnicity; the captive of religion to an altitude where all of these cleavages will diminish to superficial integration in the terrain of national integration. We have to remember that we have an aboriginal connectivity as a people that cannot be jeopardised by religion, ethnicity or politics. These are the things we must focus on if Nigeria is going to be great and that is where Chris Okotie comes in.