2023: Igbos must get presidency or…-Pastor Ajayi
For about 20 years, Pastor Adesoji Ajayi has served as the President of the Christ Apostolic Mission Church. The church under his leadership has grown in leaps and bounds with several mega parishes springing up at various locations.
Ajayi, a successful business man and finance expert in this interview with DAYO EMMANUEL talked about his experience in leading a denomination in its sixth decade. He also talked about what Nigerians should expect in 2020, while also calling for patience with the current administration. Excerpts:
There are so many apprehensions about 2020. As a prophet of God, what should Nigerians be expecting in the year?
Nigerians should expect a very good year, the nation shall gain back a lot of things that were lost and there is nothing any anybody can do about it. The major problem we have is unemployment. And I think Buhari is doing his best to tackle it.
But the economy is not doing well?
Rome was not built in a day. When you talk about the economy, many things are involved. Nigeria’s problem did not just begin. It will take a while for it to be solved.
There are three types of people in the economy; the rich the middle class and the poor. The middle class has been eroded in the scheme of things. The few people who are rich are holding tight to their wealth because they don’t know what will happen. And again, the majority of those in that class got their wealth through the military and past civilian administrations.
Many have lost their jobs as a result of factories that have been closed down long before this government came. Buhari does not have the magic wand for quick recovery of the economy. It will take a process. And again, if he wants to practice what the developed countries practice by giving welfare to citizens that are yet to secure job; then it means we will not have any money to spend on other things. Nigeria is broke, quote me. It is Buhari that is beginning to tell us the truth. If President Buhari should behave like the past people, we shouldn’t have any developmental project at all. The money we used to earn were spent on salaries and what have you. But this is a man who has decided to build roads and rail lines.
From the meager resources of the states, some governors collect as much as N300 million per month which is not to be accounted for. The legislative army is money guzzling body. The interest rate being charged by banks is outrageously high. People are given loan and there is no moratorium period. Immediately the money is given, the next month they start to charge you interest that is not less than 20 percent per annum. No period of moratorium to stabilize your business before you start paying interest. If you want peace, progress and prosperity in this country, bring down the interest rate. There is no country in Europe that charges up to 5% on loans find out. If our banks imbibe that culture, growing the economy will be easy. Then, business men can get loan to run their businesses and pay back with peace of mind.
But there no evidence that he is saving cost of governance in order to have more money to spend on capital projects?
If you know what is happening up there you’ll appreciate what he has put in place. Buhari does not want to create joblessness. What we are experiencing now have been there before he came. That is not the main issue; the main issue is the National Assembly. How do you explain it when over 25% of the budget for the nation is spent on the National Assembly? It is an autonomous body. The executive is autonomous too. They will tell you this is what they want to spend to put the economy right. Buhari’s hands are tied. It is not easy for him to tamper with the status quo. If it is a military administration where he can put his foot down it’s a different thing. Unfortunately, majority of what those people do is already in the constitution.
If the constitution is amended to make governance cost-effective, that will be great. But those who should amend the constitution are even the ones benefiting from the bogus democracy we operate. You see a National Assembly member having close to 20 to 30 aides. Those are the people who helped them win the election. They will want to pay them back with appointment. So even if we agree that the constitution should be amended, the question is: Who will bell the cat?
But Buhari keeps going for loans despite the bad economy. Is this a wise decision?
You need loan to execute some projects. The question to ask is are these loans being well appropriated. We should ask ourselves, are we sure we can pay back, are the loans being used for what they were taken for? If you need loan, even those giving you will look at what you want to use it for. Brazil took loan to build major infrastructure in their country. Go to Brasilia. Go to Rio. You will think you are in central Europe. You can see what they have used the loan for. If you have a good project and somebody is ready to give you loan with a very good repayment plan wouldn’t you obtain it? Again, regardless of the loan, our money with the World Bank is still there. You have $30bn and you are taking $50bn, those giving you know what they are doing. It is better you borrow and get the work done and not just getting the applause of the people. Forget about those applauding you and do the work. I am not praising anybody but look at the former governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode. See the airport road he built. It is just like the Heathrow airport to London city. The loan can always be paid back.
The loans Buhari took are being used to build rail, roads and many other major infrastructure that will be with us for many years to come. But some cynics would say the money he has borrowed are in his account or the account of his wife or relatives. How many times has he even traveled to the US? Even when he travelled out, on the reason of health, he said it. Look, the world has gone sophisticated in computer. If you drop any amount in any country, they would flash it and ask how you got it.
Buhari is not an angel, he is not God. No matter how good you, are there are those who would be making things out of you. I am not a Buhari apologist but I admire his lifestyle and there are six of them I so admire. I can compare him to Chief Lateef Jakande, Pa Adekunle Ajasin, Balarabe Musa, Akanu Ibiam, General Yakubu Gowon and Professor Olikoye Ransome-Kuti.
How do you live in a world surrounded by looters and bad people and you are seen as so upright?
Joshua didn’t know Israelites had sinned. They went to Jericho and had victory. They went to AI, a small city. They thought they would overrun them being a small city not knowing Israelites had sinned. They were defeated before they ran to God who told them somebody had taken the forbidden thing. If Buhari can go to God in his capacity and ask God for guidance, God in His infinite mercy and love for Nigeria will have mercy. Those who think they will live up to 2023 I’m not praying for their death but a lot of things can happen. If you would ask me my opinion in the interest of this nation, I wouldn’t want a northerner or a southerner to become president in 2023. I want it to go to the east in the interest of this nation and of peace. If we do not give them the benefit, we should forget about peace in this country. They wanted to secede because of what happened to them in the past.
Ojukwu wanted to secede because of the killings of the Igbos in the north. Thank God it didn’t work out. But this time round we should try them by allowing them to taste the presidency. Once we do, the people will no longer talk of secession. But if we don’t I don’t know what will happen. I am not a prophet of doom, the only time they had it was when Nnamdi Azikwe was a ceremonial head. Since 1999 we have had it enough. The north has had it enough. But without prejudice, let the east present a credible person under the watch of other Nigerians. Let them have it. But without that we may be sitting down on a keg of gun powder.
Churches these days thrive on the strength of the youths how do you mobilize your youths in the face of distraction and drifting to other churches, how do you hold them?
Without prejudice, there is no denomination without its radical ones. But then, we have more of those who have dedicated their love to the Lord. If you see what they did during our convention you will know that the Lord did make a covenant of prosperity with us. We have a future and the youths are doing their best. We are going and they are coming behind us. We were not as lucky during our time. The covenant of prosperity didn’t come during our time. The covenant of prosperity is working during their time. During the 100 days and the 40 days fast the Lord asked me, if I promised you your daughter will be a doctor will it happen in a single day? I said no. He said, so, give me time. They have their teething problem, the process is on and they are growing. We are old but our age is not commensurate with our growth but we thank God. In the committee of denominations we cannot be pushed aside, we have been on TV since 2001 and there is no weekend that we have missed it. I recently paid 150 percent Christmas bonus, what I used to pay my staff in the secular is what I pay, they have their leave bonus and they are all happy praising the Lord.