“If you look at the present National Assembly, most of their families are 100% citizens elsewhere. They themselves are citizens of whether it is Dubai, Saudi Arabia, US or UK or France or anywhere.
“How do public officers whose children, wives or husbands, as citizens of other countries really maintain the passion to invest their time in building their country?” These are some of the posers raised by Dr. Sam Amadi, Public Affairs Analyst, Lawyer, Pastor, Associate Professor at Baze University, Abuja and a former Chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) while speaking with Lillian Okenwa about insecurity in Nigeria, absence of leadership, #Endsars, Pastor Paul Adefarasin’s call for a Plan B amongst other issues.
Amidst the unrest and growing insecurity in different parts of the country, Senior Pastor of the House on the Rock Church Lagos, Pastor Paul Adefarasin recently urged his members to have an alternative plan.
“I bring you greetings from Pastor Ifeanyi who is busy taking care of the frontier of our world and preparing our escape route. If you don’t have a plan B – I know you have faith, but I have faith too but I have a plan B,” the clergyman told his congregation.
Different lines of arguments have ensued since he made that statement. Dr Sam Amadi however, observed that the discourse perhaps have been handled in a superficial manner, pointing out that the clergyman merely echoed what many have secretly concluded. His words:
“Many have attacked him, many have supported him for being truthful unlike, other pastors who are simply collecting tithes and saying nothing. Some have accused him of lacking spirituality by encouraging his congregation to throw in the towel; to flee in the face of danger and so to say, abandon the cross of Christ. But I think the two positions are wrong. First, we must say that the pastor was much more forthright by saying what many Nigerians are doing. Many of the pastors, and their congregations have made provisions for their families outside the country. So, basically, there are few people who don’t have Plan B like me.
“When I was a student at Harvard, I did an article in ThisDay newspaper called: ‘Who is a Nigerian?’ That article was informed by my observations. Many people I met in Harvard then were children of politicians. A daughter of the Minister of Education then was with us. She had gone to City University of New York for her first undergraduate degree. After that, she stayed back in the US till today, married with children. I know many Senators whose children went to High School and university there in the US. So I was just thinking, how do public officers whose children, wives or husbands, as citizens of other countries really maintain the passion to invest their time in building their country? Then I discovered the problem with development in Nigeria. The problem is that most of our leaders are not wholly citizens.
“They have plan B already, because they hold dual passports. We had Saraki as Senate President who had a British passport. If you look at the present National Assembly, most of their families are 100% citizens elsewhere. They themselves are citizens of whether it is Dubai, Saudi Arabia, US or UK or France or anywhere. That means they lose nothing. If your child is not in Nigeria, are you really concerned about high infant mortality? If your wife, your children and family are residents in the US, are you really concerned about dilapidated health care, about light, to the extent that you invest extraordinarily in seeking solutions? So Pastor Adeferasin merely reminded us of what we know already; that many Nigerians have Plan B. That it is few of us who are stuck; who don’t have Plan B. What the pastor is telling them is, please do everything possible to have your Plan B, because I have it already.
“Beyond the call for Plan B, the dangerous part of his message, and what he is telling us that the state failure, the state collapse of Nigeria is no longer a preposition. It’s not even a prediction anymore. It is now a reality. It has come. This is really like a bare knuckle punch at the illusion that somehow we are getting out of this trouble. So he is saying look guys, you’re stuck, this is like the Titanic. It’s sinking. The captain has done the Yeo man’s job to see if he can steer the ship ashore, and it’s looking like the shore is still 100 nautical miles up there, and the thing is collapsing. And he says, guys take your life buoys and pray to God. Just jump in. If a whale swallows you like Jonah and vomits you, you are lucky. Otherwise, we are dead. So in a sense, we don’t need to begrudge him and say, this is unpatriotic or this is lack of faith. I don’t blame the pastor for the realism, but behind that realism is fatalism that we can’t change anything.
“You may blame the pastor for giving up but don’t forget or diminish the moral burden he has. This is a pastor leading young people. He watched Endsars end in brutal killings. Sees how the politicians are not responding to the signals of dangers everywhere. They are still doing 2023 politics when they should be talking about a National Conference, a National dialogue. Instead of reacting to a country that is overrun by criminality; bare criminality and brigandage. This pastor is saying ‘look guys, I don’t want to deceive you guys in the last minute. I’m just being honest, I have a plan B. By the way, he didn’t say abandon the work. He’s only saying that this house is falling, has fallen basically, I’m seeing that builders are asleep and I’m seeing that builders do not want to wake up, so I’m afraid, guys that nobody will rebuild this house, so while we stay in this house, get ready to also save yourself. He was not selfish.
“These criminals, who are in power, are not ready to solve the problem because they also have plan B and think about the North East. When we talk about the North East how many of the political leaders including Senate President Lawan, including all those leaders in the Senate, have children in the North East? Which legislator or villa official has a son and daughter living and working in the local government area in Adamawa, Borno, Gombe, Yobe now? They are here in Abuja, London, Saudi anywhere. They are not there. So they are not concerned about ending Boko Haram. In fact they are fuelling it. They are actually gaining from it.
“Look at it. Nigeria has spent over a trillion fighting Boko Haram. Have you done any audit on that amount, do you know, there is a scandal, a story from a foreign country about emergency contractors all over Abuja, throwing around proposals for gadgets? Gadgets that don’t work. It is typical in Nigeria. Right from Goodluck Jonathan and Obasanjo, Nigerian security crisis has generated big wealth to Nigerian leaders. War creates wealth for companies and that’s why somebody will deduce that the focus on fighting wars is by what we call, military industrial complex. They are the ones who always provoke wars because they produce aeroplane, they are making money. Defence projects don’t go through proper procurement process because of emergency; because of security issues around them.
“Take for example a state like Borno. Since 2014, there is no local government that is working in Borno State, but local government allowance has always been collected. Think about it. Most of these local governments are not working. They are dead. People are in IDP camps, yet the allocations to local government from FAAC, still goes to the Governor. These Governors are richer and they have no obligation. They don’t pay staff. There are no employees anymore. They are not paying teachers. Schools have closed. So you can see how war, insecurity, destruction can benefit political leaders and therefore, deprive them of the incentive to do something to fix the problem.”
Dr. Sam equally spoke about the #Endsars protests which came with so much expectations, the angry youths and caring leaders.
“Firstly, we should know the Nigerian crisis of incentives meaning that many people in power are benefitting from Nigeria. In 2009, I wrote a back page article in ThisDay where I had an issue with the then Senate President, David Mark over some repressive comments, and I said: “That Nigeria is not working is beneficial to David Mark.” It’s not personal to him, but to their class. It is only in Nigeria that these people will have the kinds of benefits they are getting. What that means is that the battle over Nigeria is a stiff battle until God sends His strong hand.
“It’s a country embedded in violence. Look at the killings going on now in the South East. Look at wall the crisis that’s happening in Nigeria. Whether it’s in Ogoni, in Benue, in Zaki Biam, Odi, South East now, anywhere in the country, you see indiscriminate waste of lives, arrest, detention, killings. If you look at the Newspapers, you’ll see stories about killings of persons who may not be involved in any criminal activity or criminality. The Nigeria State is a colonial state. It is structured to respond to any thing with threat; to respond to elite interests, and that’s why we have the Government Reserved Areas, (GRA). The police in colonial times was designed to kill natives who are restive. To keep them in check and that’s what it has been. I was a consultant to the National Assembly with Cleen Foundation, to redesign the Police Act.
“We argued for a new Nigerian Policing, meaning we have to change the DNA. Just like a human being is recreated by re-writing the DNA, there is need to recreate the police, because it has the DNA of repression, a DNA of protecting the rich against the poor. The Nigerian Police represents the Nigerian state, a repressive elitist, Neo Feudal state, that is not focusing on democratic citizenship. If you look at the Nigerian constitution, it is still the same crisis. Chapter 4 talks supposedly creates the Fundamental Human Rights but the drawbacks are several. It keeps equivocating, qualifying those rights in a manner that suggests the Nigerian state is not really keen about protecting the freedom of citizens. It’s more keen about preserving the status quo. For example, Right to Life. The Constitution says it can be taken away in defence of property. So flimsy.
“Days back we heard that Columbian Police stations were burnt but no casualties like citizens being killed. That is because their rights are strongly protected. It can only be taken when the life of the police officer is directly at risk of being attacked or killed or badly harmed. But the Nigerian Constitution allows the police to fire into a crowd and kill unarmed protesters. The Nigerian state was conceived colonially to protect the privileged. In this Postcolonial era, we have continued with the privileges and elitism.
“The point therefore is #EndSars was a signal protest to highlight the rigging in the Nigerian institution, perpetuated by the police, the key law enforcements and other institutions that the citizens engage. It was a call to reform the Nigerian state to respond more to citizens’ rights and demands. The point I’m making is that, this struggle will be more intense before it can produce results, because, the Nigerian foundation is built, locked in, built with big columns like ancient Roman structures on privileges. Then military rule re-enforced that foundation because military rule is essentially a rule of violence against the civil authority. After military rule, we didn’t exorcise the demon of militarism. That’s why we are being classified officially, globally as hybrid democracy. Democracy that is both authoritarian and democratic in terms of institution, but the values are that of authoritarian governance. All they care about is protecting the president and so a low level Presidential Aide can instruct them to go and wipe out a community. #EndSars was a very radical statement but it has to be re-enforced before it can cause a shift.”