MILITARY BETTER THAN CIVILIAN IN NIGERIA -General Essien
…Says, Leadership Must be Exemplary
…Present Military Structure unsuitable for Coup
…How I Joined Brotherhood of the Cross and Star
His lordship, Bishop (General) Enang Essien is former Director of Co-ordination, Armed Forces Command and staff College, Kaduna. He is now a Bishop in the Brotherhood of the cross and star and presently, the Director of security of the kingdom, at the world Headquarters, Calabar. He is known for his humility, strong believe in God, objectivity and straight forwardness. His footsteps in the Nigerian Army are indelible and remain reference points in military service till date. In this exclusive interview with Niger Delta Standard Assistant Editor, WALTER DURU, he speaks on his days in Military service and experience, governance and politics in Nigeria, solution to the myriads of world problems, among others.
What was your early life like?
Well, actually, my early life was very quiet and uneventful. I come from former Ububra Local Government area of Cross Rivers state. My parents, though, late now, were farmers and I can say that as a child, I was a farmer. I assisted them until when I went to the secondary school. Even at secondary school, during holidays, I assisted them in farm work. When I finished my secondary school, I went to Lagos to meet my in law, who was a soldier, and later joined the Nigerian defense academy.
What attracted you to the military?
The thing is that as a young boy, my in-law, who was a Last Corporal, was a solider before the civil war. Sometimes, we see him come home in uniform. It was not that the uniform attracted me so much, but, sometimes, my in-laws would joke with me, telling me that I have the features that could make me fit into the military. When I finished my school certificate exam and went to Lagos, I lived with him in the Barracks. That was really where I had a lot of exposure in the military and then, I used to see young cadets, smartly dressed. Then, I asked my in law, who are these guys? He will tell me they were cadets and that was how the interest started developing. He encouraged me a lot to go into the military.
As a youth, what kind of child were you, stubborn?
Eem, honestly speaking, if I tell you anything about myself, it might look as if I am praising myself. I can't bear testimony about myself. Others will tell about me. But, one thing I know is that I was very close to my mother. One thing actually, my parents knew me for was honestly. Anything I told my mother of father, even if a million people came to tell them something different from what I said, my parents will believe me, because they knew that I was not the kind of person that told lies. I like a quiet side. I was not into truancy like a lot of other young children.
I tell you, up till the time I left secondary school, I was still a virgin. That will tell you the kind of life I lived and that made my mother to like me so much.
What is your account of the Nigerian Civil war?
You see, during the civil war, I was still a little child. The war got to my place between 1968 and 1969. Then, as little kids, given where I come from, we were somehow involved. The Biafrans then did not know the terrain very well. We took them through the paths. I was born in 1968, how old was I then? I could not actually have fought as a regular soldier, either in the Biafian or the Nigerian Army. So, what we used to do then was that we took the Biafian troupes, who were stationed in my village, through the paths, to where the Nigerian Soldiers were supposed to be based, but to be honest, I really never saw any of the Nigerian Soldiers until when they entered our place.
I was commissioned in December, 1977 and retired on the 1st of January, 2009. During my period in service, I was involved in so many challenging military, National and International activities. I was in a Corps called Air defense Artillery.
What does the Military Coup in Niger portend for African democracy?
Well, that is to tell you the level of maturity of our democracy. We have reached a point where Military government, by any means is not wanted. By every standard, democracy is good. But since military coup is still happening in Africa, it means that we still have a long way to go. We have politicians who are not really ready to live according to the culture of democracy and they are not themselves democratized and that is why the military was able to do that in Niger, because, if they are democratized, the President of Niger would not have done what he did.
The Constitution there provides for two terms and you start tinkering with the Constitution, to elongate your stay in office. No developed country will do that kind of thing. Nigeria is a more sophisticated democratic society.
Do you see the fate of Niger visiting Nigeria of today?
No! no! no! I don't think that kind of a thing can happen in Nigeria. If the military tries to return to power in Nigeria, they will not succeed. For some reasons, as a military man, nobody will even support them.
Most importantly, leader Olumba Olumba Obu has said that no Coup will succeed again in Nigeria and that is final. Again, the military, the way it is presently structured, and based on the country's past experiences of military rule, I do not think that the military chaps themselves will think of it and if anybody does, I don't think it will have a kind of national support. In fact, I don't see it happening at this time.
Do you think the military era did anything good for Nigeria?
As an individual, honestly if we are really talking about physical infrastructural development in this country, the Military has done much more for this country than the civilian. That does not mean that I support military government. I just want to call a spade a spade. For instance, look at the money that has been available to Nigeria since the present democratic dispensation. During the military era of late General Sanni Abacha, the price of crude oil was as low as twelve to fourteen dollars, yet, he was still able to run this country. Yet, we had Petroleum trust fund, [PTF] and that was about the time I had an accident. I was in Kano Orthopedic Hospital. We had a lot of facilities then, courtesy of the PTF. They were still able to maintain roads. Today, look at the state of our roads; look at how much money Nigeria has made between 1999 and today. Oil prices are astronomically high. During Chief Obsanjo's eight -year rule as President, oil price almost hit one hundred dollars per barrel and up till today, our infrastructure is in comatose.
What is your philosophy of life?
Actually, what makes me happy in life is when I see a smile on another person's face and I know that I contributed to it and the person says thank you, and especially as a Brotherhood member; to say thank you father and I know that I have contributed to that, I feel happy. I enjoy simplicity. I believe in our being our brother's keeper. For example, in the military, a lot of people who served under me as soldiers and junior officers; there is none of them that will come out to tell you that General Essien took from him/ her what was rightfully his/hers. Whatever is my soldiers' entitlement, I made sure that I even pushed my subordinates, to ensure that their entitlements and benefits were released in full and so, I am happiest, when I see others happy.
What really gives me joy, Walter, I am telling you is serving my God, as I am doing presently. I can tell you, my happiest moment in life is now that I am Director of security of Brotherhood of the Cross and star world headquarters. I can't read God's mind, but when I do certain things and father calls me and tells me, thank you General; can you imagine God himself telling you, a human being thank you? I get an inner satisfaction that I am living the purpose for which I was brought into this world.
What is your concept of leadership?
I believe in a leaders who says follow me. He is giving you that leadership. He wants you to copy him, not a leader who will say listen to him. Up till the time I retired from service, do you know that even as a Brigade Commander, I used to go for morning drilling? I tell you the truth. My last command as a Brigadier General was in 31 artillery Brigade, Minna. The Commander's house was far by about three kilometers from the barracks or probably more. Do you know that I wake up in the morning, dress up, every morning beating day, I dress up as a Brigade Commander, get to the Barrack, sometimes, before my officers and I take part in every thing my soldiers did. Even when I was a Cornel GOC in Lagos, I revived morning duty evening games. People could not believe it. As a Cornel, I took part in everything everybody was doing, because I made my soldiers to believe that whatever I asked them to do was not to punish them, but their duty to do it, if it were my duty, I will do it, probably more than all.
What is recipe about an enduring peace and harmony in Nigeria?
You see, if I talk about this, I could talk from the military perspective. I could also talk from the spiritual perspective, but, I think what is really more actual is the spiritual. As a Brotherhood member and as a Bishop, if we talk about the secular, it would be based on theories that up till date, have not worked. To me , the truth about it is spiritual because, anything that happens physically must have first, happened spiritually. The world, its form, as well as what is happening in it today is spiritually ordained and dictated by God and if it is so, then, how do we solve the problem? It is going closer to God, so that he will change things for us. Therefore, my recipe for peace in Nigeria is simply knowing God. Unfortunately for us in Nigeria, my concept of God and the person I regard as my God, leader Olumba Olumba Obu, not many Nigerians would want to accept him. If I tell them, look, let us go to this being and believe in him, it might be difficult for them. Let us believe in the message of Leader Olumba Olumba Obu, which is: love ye one another.
How did you join Brotherhood of the cross and star?
Everything is as ordained by God. God brought me into this world for a purpose. My joining Brotherhood of the Cross and Star was not a matter of my choice, because, it is something that was ordained, for me to be able to fulfill my destiny in Brotherhood. Again, given the period; I was born in 1955 and I was baptized into Brotherhood in 1962. I was just seven years. I have grown up as a Brotherhood. My attitude to life and most of the things I do in life, I attribute them to the teachings of leader O. O. Obu. If today, there is anything good about me, it is as a result of the teachings of Brotherhood of the Cross and star.
What do you know about leader O.O.Obu?
Simply put, whether the world believes it or not, Olumba Olumba Obu is God manifested in human form in this world, created by him. You remember the Lord's Prayer. When people imagine that there is a place of bliss prepared. Heaven is a concept. Leader O.O Obu has come with that kingdom, which he established at the Garden of Eden and kept Adam there. Adam aborted the establishment of that kingdom. So, that paradise is now on earth and that is what Brotherhood represents. The father promised his first begotten son a kingdom after his death. Christ died and he was able to fulfill everything about the agreement he had with his father.
Remember the things he said, even on the cross. Remember how much he gave account of his stewardship in John 17. That Christ has now come to be glorified and that is his first begotten son, His Holiness Olumba Olumba Obu. His father has come to establish that kingdom and that is Brotherhood of the Cross and Star, and now the king of kings is now superintending over that kingdom, and that is what he is developing. Whether the world believes it or not, it does not change anything.
What, in you opinion is the cause of the calamities in the world today?
Honestly speaking, it is as a result of the refusal of mankind to recognize and worship God in their midst.
The first Adam came back as Christ, to take man back to that Paradise that was lost. He physically manifested as a Jew among his own and they rejected him. What is the fate of the Jews today?
The best thing that can happen to any nation is, if God manifests physically in your midst and you accept him, that nation is fulfilled. But, if however, you reject him, it is a big curse and that is what is happing to the Jews and that is what I am appealing to Nigerians. We are lucky in one dimension and that is that leader O.O. Obu and his Christ have manifested physically in their midst in Nigeria, so, to that extent, I will say that they are Lucky. However, if they reject him, as I see it happening, then, Nigeria will be a cursed nation, because, it is going to be very problematic. Why do I say so? Walter, look, Nigerians are not the worst cocaine carriers in the world. Nigerians are not the worst criminals in the world, but, do you know that it is a liability to carry this our green Nigerian Passport. It is what I have experienced, even as a top Military officer. What do you think is happing to Nigeria? It is a manifestation of God in our midst, whom we are rejecting. The sufferings of Nigerians will manifest in a different form. The Jews were scattered abroad, six million of them were killed, all because they rejected and killed the son of God. It took the intervention of the United Nations, U.S., Britain, and France, to create the State of Isreal, others wise, today, the Jews would not have had a state. Can you see the sufferings and humiliation of Nigerians? It is because, we are refusing to recognize God in midst.
Anything other counties are doing, the moment the name of Nigeria is mentioned, theirs will become the worst. Nigerians have not sat down to ask themselves; what is happening to this Country? It is the presence of God in our midst, whom we are rejecting. Instead, they are calling him names, They call him blood sucker and all sorts of names. The churches have all ganged up to call him names and this is how he is paying Nigerian for our refusal to recognize him. Worst things are going to happen to the country if we continue this way. I have thought over these things and I shed tears.
What is your assessment of the present administration of president Jonathan?
Well, it is too soon to make any objective assessment, but, I hear that power supply has improved, and I want to believe so. I hope, that is a sign of good things to come and I wish him the best.
But, this issue about zoning, we have a quota system, I don't know if zoning is part of our quota system, but actually, you don't zone leadership. Even in the military, it is at the entry point of a race that you talk about zoning. Leadership at the national level should not be based on where the person (s) come from. We really need fairness in the selection process. I think, zoning is unnecessary, but the winner takes all syndrome should be jettisoned.
What is your understanding of friendship?
You see, I did not grow up with the believe that there was anything like love and friendship, because, my definition of friendship and love is such that you can give and lay down your life for a friend, if it gets to that level. That is why when I want to assist somebody, no matter what it costs me, the moment I make up my mind and I tell the person, look, I am going to help you, I will go on until I get to a point where I have either achieved my aim or I know that I can't go further, no matter what it takes, even if it is going to cost my life. So, to that extent, I realized that most human beings are not like this and I start asking myself, what is friendship about ?In my understanding of real friends, the above qualities are central.
Simply, Nigerians and indeed, the world must open their eyes wide to recognize the presence of God in their midst. Those in positions of authority must rule with the fear of God. Transparency and credible leadership is what is required.
Crack in Rivers PDP:
EX -GUBER CANDIDATE CALLS FOR CAUTION
Following the recent springing up of a faction in the Rivers state chapter of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, a former gubernatorial aspirant in the state, Eric Lazarus Iyango has called for caution in the handling of the matter.
Iyango, who was the gubernatorial candidate of the National Solidarity Democratic Party, NSDP, in the 2007 general election in the state, made the call, during an exclusive interview with our correspondent in Port Harcourt.
He blamed the division on the inability of the parties to properly harmonize their interest, describing it as a threat to the Party's consolidation ahead of the 2011 general elections.
Speaking on the recent killing of an ex Commander of the Movement for the emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, Soboma George, Iyango condemned the act, describing it as ungodly.
“Yes. The recent springing up of a faction in the Rivers state chapter of the Party is quite unfortunate. Caution must be applied in the handling of the matter, as if not properly handled, could throw the party into a deep crises, capable of posing a serious threat to the Party's success in the 2011 elections. The problem is strictly political and needs a political solution. The problem is as a result of the parties involved not being able to harmonize and reconcile their interests.
Just recently, Soboma George was killed and some persons are blaming it on the conflict in the party. Let me tell you, nobody on earth has the right to take another person's life. It is ungodly to kill. I condemn it in totality. Why must you take away that which you cannot create. There is need for a thorough investigation into his death. Meanwhile, we must all surrender to God, for he has the final say and he only can Judge”, he stressed.
On his planned defection to the PDP, Iyango reiterated his decision to so do, adding that modalities are being put in place for his formal declaration for the Party.
Reacting to the question of which of the factions of the Party to join, he said: “I am joining the mainstream of the Party. There is an already existing structure of the Party in the state, recognized by the relevant authorities. That is where I am declaring”.
Commenting on the performance of the Rotimi Amaechi led administration in the state, he expressed satisfaction with the present government, describing the governor as having good intentions for the state.
He however frowned at the poor jobs executed by local contractors in the state and called on the government to probe all such contracts, with the view to bringing the erring contractors to book, to serve as a deterrent on others.
Iyango also advised all residents of the state, to support and contribute their quota to the development of the state.