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To avert a major crisis, leaders must urgently roll out poverty alleviation plans – Prophet Ogundipe

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Prophet Israel Oladele Ogundipe is the founder and presiding pastor at the Genesis Global Church. In this interview with DADA JACKSON, he bares his mind on a number of topical issues including poverty in the land and the recent #EndSARS protest

What is your take on the recent #EndSARS protest against police brutality embarked upon by some Nigerian youths?

Thank you very much for this question. The decision of the youths to take to the streets to condemn the act of brutality by the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) was based on several years of pain and frustration. Many youths have experienced this act of brutality either directly or indirectly. I totally support the decision of the youth to engage the government with this peaceful protest. Our leaders owe us accountability and we should hold them responsible when they fail to deliver on their promises.

So it was a protest that you aligned with?

Absolutely

Would you say it succeeded largely because they had no arrowhead?

Yes, it really worked for them. I supported the fact that the protesters didn’t have a leader. We have seen different protests and strikes in this country that didn’t make any headway just because their leaders were allegedly compromised and bribed with huge amounts of money. But in the case of the #EndSARS protest, everybody was assumed to be the leader.

What is your reaction to the alleged shooting of the unarmed protesters in Lekki?

It’s really painful when the people meant to protect lives and properties are now the ones who take lives. I feel very pained seeing this happening in a democratic government. I strongly condemn the act, and I appeal to the leadership of our nation not to run our country like a military government but rather to run a government of the people, by the people and for the people.

How would you rate the performance of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration?

I want to be very careful with my choice of words. But sincerely speaking, I will say that many Nigerians are not happy. People put in so much into making sure that this current government got elected into power with the expectation of a promised CHANGE. Unfortunately, things have refused to change and rather things are becoming very hard for the common man. To whom much is given, much is expected, and that’s why it’s looking like people are disappointed in this current government.

Would you say the administration has failed the people?

This administration has really failed the youth continually. Young Nigerians take their time to go to school, study hard just to make sure they graduate with good grades so as to be able to get a good job. But unfortunately, they roam around the streets without any job. As a young Nigerian, I feel pained seeing the level of unemployment and insecurity in our nation.

Did you at anytime foresee this happening?

The recent happenings have confirmed one of the prophecies I gave this year in one of our services. I said that if our leaders were not careful, the masses would start invading their premises to pack food items and other valuables. This goes a long way to show that the poverty situation in our country is alarming. Hardly will you find a family in Nigeria who can afford a good meal when it is needed. My major worry is that if something urgently is not done about the level of hunger and poverty in the land, people may turn violent and they could do much more than what we saw during the #EndSARS protest. I strongly agree with the school of thought who believes that if nothing is done quickly to ameliorate the suffering of the people, there will be a situation where the poor will be attacking the rich. A hungry man, they say, is an angry man. It may get to a level where some hungry/poor people will start to see the rich people within their environment as thieves who steal government money and then see them as the reason why they are poor and underprivileged. This could also make them see rich people as their enemies.

What do you make of the looting of warehouses where alleged COVID-19 palliatives were kept?

How on earth will the government deprive hungry people of palliatives that were supposed to help them suppress the effect of the hunger during the lockdown? I have heard several excuses given by governors and I feel quite disappointed hearing some of these excuses. The real time that people needed these items, they were kept away from them and so many people lived in terrible hunger and even some died during the lockdown due to the inability to get food; only to discover later that thousands of bags of palliatives were being kept in various warehouses across the nation. Our political elites need to address the people they govern; they should show empathy. They need to immediately start rolling out plans on poverty alleviation.

There is this controversy surrounding the visit of Ayinde Wasiu (Kwam1) to your church sometime ago. Could you shed some light on what actually transpired?

Two major things prompted that visit of Kwam1. I am a prophet who doesn’t discriminate against any religion and I say that all the time. Apart from the fact that I was born a Muslim, I have always learnt to see everyone as my brother. K1 visited our church to thank God in submission for what God is doing in the ministry.

I didn’t invite kwam1 to our church; he was the one who said publicly at a function that he would love to pay a visit to the Genesis Global Church to appreciate God for the great things He is doing in the church. And when he reached out to me on this intention, I obliged.

Secondly, I remember that when I was a little boy, each time my mum saw Wasiu Ayinde on the TV, she would lay her hands on the TV to pray for him and she would also lay her hands on me to say my own Wasiu too (because my Muslim name is Wasiu) would be great. So, when Kwam1 offered to come, I saw it as an opportunity to tell our mothers in the church that their prayers over their children would always come to pass.

In our church, we believe in transition and not tradition. The world is evolving and we should be flexible enough to accommodate new practices that are different from the old doctrines.

People say you’re generous to a fault. What do you want to achieve with this?

Let me say it without mincing words. I had a very humble background and this has informed my high passion to give. Each time I remember how we struggled to survive, I always try to make sure I put smile on the faces of people struggling. My philosophy is that giving is living. I am only privileged and everything that God has given to me is for me to be a blessing to others.

What do you make of pastors who preach only prosperity at the detriment if salvation?

Prosperity Gospel is part of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and it’s a major part of our existence. Where I have a problem with it is when people deemphasize other parts of the Bible just because they want to manipulate members to give or they want to attract members to their church. I must say that prosperity is good and I preach prosperity too but it should not be used as a means for manipulation.

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Former Ondo deputy governor agrees to return vehicles

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Former Ondo Deputy Governor Agboola Ajayi has finally agreed to return the two vehicles in his possession to the Ondo State Government.

The state government last week said it would embarrass Agboola if he failed to return the four vehicles.

But Agboola, who said he had only two vehicles, insisted they were part of his benefits.

The state government also petitioned the Ondo State Police Command to help recover the vehicles.

In a statement on Sunday, the former deputy governor said he was not the problem of Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu’s administration.

Agboola stated it was in the interest of everybody that Governor Akeredolu demonstrated good governance, transparent policy making and effective change.

He said it was unfortunate some members of the inner circle of Akeredolu have prioritised harassing him on a number of issues most especially the return of vehicles

Agboola said he hoped “these petty interactions would have ceased after the recent inauguration.

“To be clear – if the return of these two vehicles will make the administration focus more on the avalanche of pressing needs, challenges and predicaments facing the state most especially insecurity, the absence of governance and unpaid salaries across the entirety the Ondo public sector – then I’m ready to make the sacrifice and return the two vehicles which they so desperately need.

“I am not the problem of the present administration. I have moved on.”

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Pensioners demand payment of N35bn arrears

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Nigeria pensioners who retired from the electricity sector have urged President Muhammadu Buhari, to come to their aide in order to resolve the lingering issue of their owed N35billion pension arrears.

The pensioners under the aegis of Electricity Sector Retiree Welfare Association (ESREWA), led by its  President, Elder Benjamin Amako, asked President Buhari to save countless dying pensioners whose fate are tied to the delayed payment of their pension arrears.

Rising from its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Abuja, Amako said every Nigerian, including President Buhari, knows the pathetic situation of pensioners in the country.

Amako said: “First we thank God that Mr President returned from his medical trip healthier, stronger and successfully. The news of his return gave us pensioners so much joy because we know  he will not sit quiet and watch more pensioners lose their lives because of humanly inaction. So far, his administration has ensured that pensioners gets their rights and this arrears we are asking for is our right.

“Interestingly, President Buhari had already directed that this same arrears (N35billion) be paid to us, but for over five years ago he issued the directive, the relevant authorities who it is their responsibilities to ensure we get this arrears for our dying members seems to be working contrarily.

“So for the past five years, these arrears have always been part of the National Budget under Nigeria Electricity Liability Management Company (NELMCO) budget and accordingly transferred to Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD). But sadly, we have not been paid a dime even as I speak, for reasons that are totally and obviously human making.

“So we are pleading with President Buhari, the SGF, Minister of Finance, Chairman Senate Committee on Power, Accountant General of the Federation, PTAD and other relevant authorities to save our lives by paying us this money without further delay.”

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We’ll make South-East hot for governors if…, IPOB warns

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The Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, has raised the alarm that South East governors in collaboration with Ohanaeze Ndigbo and some “treacherous’ tradinonal rulers, and President Generals of some communities, are compiling names of suspected operatives of the Eastern Security Network, ESN as well as IPOB members and supporters for persecution.

The group stated that if the governors don’t rescind their plan, “IPOB will make the zone too hot for them.” IPOB in a statement by its Media and Publicity Secretary Emma Powerful, claimed that its intelligence unit uncovered “a secret file” containing the list of the suspected ESN and IPOB members.

The list according to the statement is to be handed over to the security agencies for torture and elimination. IPOB which said the idea was suggested to South East Leaders by the federal government to weaken ESN regretted that efforts of the security outfit for flush out killer herdsmen from the zone were being sabotaged by the selfish political elite. It noted that since the establishment of ESN, efforts to rid the zone of bandits and killer herdsmen had intensified, a development that has making the masterminds uncomfortable.

The statement read in part: “The South-Eastern Governors in collaboration with Traditional Rulers in the Zone and some PGs of communities are compiling names of suspected IPOB members in their respective communities to hand over to Nigeria security agencies for possible executions. “The arrangement has been perfected to help Nigeria Police and Army to quickly pick anybody suspected to be IPOB member and ESN operatives in the zone. “Our intelligence further revealed that they took this decision to launch this joint military operation to quench and permanently silence what they termed as IPOB and ESN menace in the zone. “IPOB intelligence unit gathered that these enemies within and without have perfected arrangements to abduct our people and put them incommunicado in the security dungeons in unknown locations. “It is unfortunate that our so called leaders could not see or observe how Fulani terrorist herdsmen are raping and murdering our mothers, wives and sisters in the farms across the Biafra territory but they see us as their problem.” IPOB denied any link with the unknown gunmen suspected to the behind the wave of bloody attacks against security formations in the zone and wondered why its members would be marked for elimination. “We have severally explained that ESN has nothing to do with the unknown gunmen responsible for the attacks in South East. The unknown gunmen are not ESN or IPOB.

We wonder why Government will continue to associate us with that group without investigations.” IPOB argued that a government that treats bandits and killer herdsmen with kid gloves cannot claim to be unaware of the said unknown gunmen.

The pro-Biafra movement warned South East Leaders to retrace their steps or brace up for the grave consequences of their action. “If South East Governors do not stop this plan against their people, IPOB will make the zone too hot for them. “We expect all tradinonal rulers and PGs in the South East communities to retrace their steps before it gets too late. The land will also rise against them if they allow this to happen! “Any IPOB member or ESN operative killed shall be avenged! The statement also advised the federal government to jettison any plans to persecute pro-Biafra groups as doing so would come with some price. “We advise Nigeria government and her partners in crime in the zone to desist from this evil agenda because it will backfire. We are aware of their secret file, but we are not going back until Biafra is finally achieved.”

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