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?
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.
Buhari promises to sign forensics, fraud examiners’ institute bill
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday promised to sign a bill seeking formal establishment of the Chartered Institute of Forensics and Certified Fraud Examiners of Nigeria (CIFCFEN).
He spoke at the State House in Abuja after being honoured with Global Integrity and Anti-Corruption Award of Excellence by CIFCFEN.
He was presented with the highest honour of the institute reserved for only African heads of states with impeccable character and unimpeachable ideals by the chairman of the Governing Council CIFCFEN Board of Trustees, Dr Iliyasu Gashinbaki.
Buhari was the first African leader to be bestowed with the award in recognition of his lifetime outstanding commitment to the fight against corruption and selfless service with exceptional integrity.
He directed the anti-corruption agencies to continue partnering with the institute for the benefit of the country.
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He also directed the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to work with the Institute in areas of providing technical assistance and capacity building to all revenue generating agencies and regulators in the public sector.
He said: ‘’The need for forensic experts arises in educating, preventing, detecting and prosecuting fraudsters, while fraud examination helps mitigate vices like embezzlement, money laundering, misuse and mismanagement of public resources.
‘’Many Nigerians, who are serious about eliminating corruption in our country, will welcome this review of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy midwifed by the Federal Ministry of Justice and the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption in 2017 and supported by our International friends.
‘’This effort by the institute to undertake the review of the national anti-corruption strategy is highly commendable and it has shown the usefulness of partnerships with professional bodies and my administration will continue to partner with the Institute and as well as other private institutions, the academia and other stakeholders in the fight to stop sleaze and mitigate corruption.’’
We will restore peace, stability before leaving office, Buhari vows
President Muhammadu Buhari has said his administration will not relent in its quest to restore peace and stability in the country.
Buhari said this on Monday during the 58th anniversary of the Nigeria Air Force (NAF) in Kano.
He said his administration’s investment in the air force had helped to “turn the tide” against terrorists.
He promised that he would continue to give necessary and sufficient support to the NAF in the battle against insecurity from non-state actors.
“The huge investment in the Nigeria Air Force has helped to turn the tide against terrorist and non-state actors in our nation,” he said.
“In furtherance of our drive to continue to do more to support the air force. Rest assured that our government is willing to do even more to ensure the provision of requisite support and the encouragement to overcome various security challenges.
“This government will not rest until peace and stability is fully restored in the nation. I, therefore, urge you all to remain steadfast, committed and resolute.
States lose battle over LG funds’ management
The 36 Governors lost on Monday in their opposition to Federal Government’s efforts to monitor their handling of Local governments’ funds.
Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja dismissed a suit filed to that effect by the 36 states, through their Attorneys General and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF).
The States, in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/563/2019, challenged the legality of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) Guidelines, which came into effect on June 1, 2019.
The NFIU 2019 guidelines required among others, that the States/Local Governments Joint Accounts should be used only for receiving funds and subsequently transferring them to Local government accounts only.
The NFIU claimed that the guidelines, which also limit daily cash withdrawal from the State/LG joint account to N500,000 are intended to reduce “crime vulnerabilities created by cash withdrawal from local government funds throughout Nigeria effective from June 1, 2019.”
Listed as defendants in the suit are the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), the NFIU and the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE).
They argued among others that the NFIU guidelines: known as “the NFIU Enforcement and Guidelines to Reduce Crime Vulnerabilities Crafted by Cash Withdrawal From Local Government Funds Throughout Nigeria,” particularly provisions 1 to 6 and the penalties prescribed are ultra vires the power of the NFIU under Sections 3 (1) and 23(2) (a) of the Nigerian Financial Intelligent Unit Act, 2018 and therefore unconstitutional.
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In the judgement on Monday, Justice Ekwo held that he is unable to see where the guidelines contradict the provisions of sections 7(1), (6) (a) and (b) of the Constitution.
The judge added that the guidelines also did not conflict with the provision of Section 162(6) of the Constitution, which creates the State Joint Local Government Account, into which allocations to the Local Government Councils of the state from the Federation Account and from the government of the state are paid.
He said that the guidelines did not contradict Section 162(8) of the constitution which prescribed that the amount standing to the credit of the local government council of the state shall be distributed among the local government councils of that state on such terms and in such manner as may be prescribed by the House of Assembly of the state.
Justice Ekwo added that the provisions of the NFIU guidelines also do not contradict the provisions of the 4th Schedule to the 1999 Constitution which prescribes the functions of a Local Government Council.
Noting that “ duty of the court is limited to expounding the law and not expanding it,” the judge said: “On the whole, I see the provisions of the guidelines of the 2nd defendant as seeking to direct the monitoring of accounts, transfers and any other means of payment or transfer of funds of local government councils as provided for in Section 3 (1) (r) of the Act of the NFIU.
“It only limits cash withdrawal made from any Local Government Account anywhere in the country to amount not exceeding N500,000.00 (Five Hundred Thousand Naira) per day.
“Any amount higher than that can be done using other methods of banking transaction save cash.
“Unless it can be shown that there is any provision of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which these provisions of the 2nd defendant’s guidelines have contradicted or conflicted directly and practically, then the issue of unconstitutionality cannot be said to arise.”
Justice Ekwo said he found that there was no provision in the NFIU’s guidelines that has contravened the provisions of Sections 7(1), (6) (a) and (b), 162 (6), (7) and (8), and the 4th Schedule to the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“I also find that the case of the plaintiffs has not been established and I so hold.
“I find, in the end, that the case of the plaintiffs lacks merit and ought to be dismissed and it is hereby dismissed,” the judge said.
Earlier, Justice Ekwo struck out the name of the NGF as a co-plaintiff in the suit on the grounds that it lacked the locus standi to file the suit.
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