My church will grow bigger if I become President----Pastor Kris Okotie
Pastor Kris Okotie, a law graduate of University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) founded the Household of God Church in 1987 after hitting the airwaves with his rare musical talent.
Okotie, born on June 16, 1959, has once again declared his intention to slug it out with other prominent Nigerians who are warming up to take control of Aso Rock next year. A member of Fresh Democratic Party (FRESH), the man of God said he has all it takes to govern the country and take it to the Promised Land.
In this interview with REPORTER, Michael Jegede, in Lagos, Okotie insisted that Nigerians must rise up to the challenge of doing away with the government of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the 2011 general elections. He equally dwells on other pertinent issues of national interest.
Why exactly do you want to become the president of this country?
Well, I have said this many times and I will like to say it once again. Ours is a divine mandate deriving from God's desire to answer the prayers of the oppressed masses of this nation, who have cried out in pains, in agony and their cry have entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabath like we see in the scripture and He has come down to deliver. Every system of oppression, every agency that violates man's freedom and incapacitates and incarcerates him has always been dismantled by the instrumentality of the almighty God, and Nigeria will not be an exception. So that is part of the reasons outside of the love of the country and the fact that I identify with my people and their suffering and the marginalisation that has been going on for so many years.
The present democratic dispensation came into being in 1999, over 11 years ago. Do you feel that the people have not benefited much from democracy that you want to come out and make a difference?
Definitely! The whole system was hijacked by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and because they are like a business conglomerate that has incapacitated the Nigerian people and disenfranchise them, it has become needful for those who are progressives, who believe in the Nigerian experiment to come out and salvage our nation. What is worth doing is worth doing well. I believe that posterity will judge us harshly if we forsake Nigeria at this time of her greatest need. That is why I believe that Reverend Kris Okotie should come out to vanguard a process of redemption that is inevitable in the politics of our nation.
What has the PDP not done that you feel you will do under whatever platform you emerge as the president of the country?
The PDP hasn't done anything. Outside of the years of Olusegun Obasanjo, particularly in his last term, the PDP has done nothing. I believe that the Obasanjo leadership set the pace, such that if subsequent government had built upon what he had established, there would have been hope for this nation. But because you have a group of people who do not have any ideological connectivity and a disjointed assemblage of men and women with antithetical political philosophy, they have shown themselves to be incapable of ensuring continuity. And since their common denominator is just to amass wealth, which is why you have seen that it is just business as usual. Grab as much as you can is their philosophy. And that is why we cannot even begin to say that they have anything because really nothing has happened. The development of our nation has stagnated. We have been working, perambulating in the wilderness of retrogression. There has been no cohesion, no inspiration. To my mind, it has been a journey in futility.
Would I be correct to say that you are giving some level of credit to the Obasanjo administration, which has been widely condemned by the generality of Nigerians?
I believe that General Olusegun Obasanjo set the pace in the war against corruption and he had a blueprint, economic blueprint that if (late President Umaru) Yar'Adua had accepted, he would have set Nigeria on the right path. But because the politics of the PDP is fragmented and polarised, they do not see themselves as a cohesive unit. There are too many fragments within the PDP and as such when Yar'Adua took over, rather then building on the foundation of Obasanjo, with all due respect, he resorted to vindictive purposelessness and the dismantling of structures that have been there to see Nigeria to the next level.
You are contesting on the platform of FRESH; what is the strength of the party at the moment?
We cannot compare to the PDP. There is no doubt about that because PDP is a behemoth. It is a gargantuan body. It is leviathan compared to us. But the thing about the Fresh Democratic Party is that it presents a platform for the articulation of the grievances of the people. We ventilate their need and so we believe that even though we do not have the structures compared to PDP, our greatest advantage is the discontent and the disenchantment of the Nigerian people as far as the present administration is concerned. And so we believe that as a foundation, we can actually bring a new government in place because the Nigerian people are with us.
Since you are talking about becoming president, have you really done a wider consultation and do you not think that it is important to ensure that you carry your campaign to all parts of the country, instead of limiting yourself to Lagos and Abuja?
I have done a wider consultation. I have been to the six geopolitical zones. I have met various groups of Nigerians who are concerned about the present state of affairs in our nation. Whether you are in the north or in the south or in the west, our problems unite us. There is no food on the table. There is no electricity. Social infrastructure is nil. Educational system is down. Health is moribund. There is nothing going on. What we are seeing is what I call the political dramaturgy of the PDP.
At the moment do you have structure that cuts across the country?
We do. But that is not what is going to help the situation. I want to make it abundantly clear that we do not see the Fresh Democratic Party competing with the PDP. To say that is to abound a comprehensive failure. What we are saying is that the Supreme Being that is the Almighty God who governs the affairs of men, who has instituted law and order as to how men ought to be governed, and PDP has found itself wanting and the handwriting is on the wall that their time of occupation has come to an end. I believe that through the agency of the Almighty God, this oppressive machinery that has been put in place will be dismantled. And if you looked at the government of Nigeria in tandem, you will see that what I am saying is not in question. How did former President Olusegun Obasanjo become president? How did late President Yar'Adua become president? How did President Jonathan become President? They were not things that any political prognosis would have been able to capture. At the time that Obasanjo was incarcerated there is no one who had any prognosis politically that will say well, in a few months from now, a year from today this man is going to be the head of state. So, I am saying that I believe that the PDP has failed in its responsibility to govern Nigeria and Nigeria is greater than a group of men and women. And that is why I am saying that in the days ahead we are going to see a systematic dismantling of this political party.
If peradventure you become the president, what will happen to the Household of God Church?
Oh! It will be a bigger ministry. Wouldn't you like to go to the president's church? It will just create a wider platform, a more visible platform because in this New Testament age God expects us to operate in the church and hold secular offices as well. That is why everybody ordained Christian who is a priest today has some secular work they do. Whereas, in the Old Testament once you are a priest, your activities are restricted to temple. But there is a new priesthood, which enables us to serve in the church and hold secular offices. So, it is a very unique period in the revolution of the church. So, my emergence as the president of our great country will only enhance our ministry.
How would you react to the kidnap of some Executives members of Lagos State Council of the Nigerian Union Journalists (NUJ) in Abia State? What does it tell about the level of insecurity in the country?
Well, if you ask me, I will say it is the political ineptitude on the part of the PDP-led Federal Government. When you have people who do not understand the convolution involved in governance of a state that is as multifarious in terms of ethnicity and religion like what we have in Nigeria, this is certainly the result you are likely to get. There is no connectivity ideologically in the PDP. They are just a business conglomerate. They are only interested in the mercantile aspect of politics. They are not interested in good governance. The welfare and security of the people they claim to be governing are of no importance to them. That is why we have this sustained state of social neglect. You don't need to study rocket science to provide security for the people. There is a disconnection between the people and the government. That is why you can have journalists at that level of authority being kidnapped and government has no answer.
What is your perception on the issue of zoning of the presidency?
It is a partisan political contraption that has no relevance to the Nigerian people because it is not in the Constitution. So, if a political party like the PDP that has been characterised by perfidy and mendacity takes upon itself extra constitutional measures within the organisation of their own party, to my mind that is their own business. I want to say that history, posterity will come together to judge what is going on in Nigeria. There are some eminent Nigerians within the PDP who ought at this point in the evolution of our nation to stand up to oppose the aberration and abnormality that we are seeing in that party. And I am hoping that when the time comes these men who have shown themselves to be such great men will come against their political party for the sake of saving this nation. This is because if these ones within the party don't stand up against the plan of some of these PDP members, this nation is going to go under and God is going to hold them responsible. There are so many of them within the PDP. Today, they ought to be what I describe as living ancestors of our political genealogy to make sure that there is continuity in our nation. And the responsibility comes upon such men to stand now for our nation and not to be swallowed by the vortex of the confusion in PDP to stand aside and take a stand and say that we will not accept and make sure that Nigeria get a wholesome leadership in 2011 even if it is against there political party because they owe it to Nigerians. Most of them are what they are today because of this country. And they owe it to this nation.
Jonathan has assured that he is going to do everything possible to give Nigerians a free and fair election in 2011. Do you believe his words?
With all due respect to the President, who is also my kinsman because we come from the same zone. To my mind that is just political rhetoric. He does not even have the capacity nor does he understand the convolution and complexity. He just came in. He was excluded from the active duty of the member of the cabinet, while Yar'Adua was in charge. So, I think he needs time to study the mess that is in government before making such statement. Because, to my mind, it is absolutely impossible within the period of time that is left for him to organise things in such a way that we can truly have free and fair elections and all of the laudable things they are suggesting that they can do. It is impossible and time will prove it. Mightier men than him who have been in position of authority have not been able to achieve what he is aiming at. I still believe that if President Olusegun Obasanjo couldn't do some of these things, there is hardly anyone from within the PDP who can do any of those things.
The northerners seem to be bent on ensuring that power remains in the north till 2015. Do you see northerners voting for you in the next election?
Yes, I do.
What gives you that conviction?
I am convinced the north will vote for me because I know they know who Reverend Kris Okotie is. I virtually grew up before them. In 1981, I became a recording artiste. There were lots and lots of our friends and brothers in the north who embraced my music. And they know my worth as well. In the past 30 years or so I have been in the limelight and they have observed me. I am very sure that if you go up north and ask them about me and they will tell you what they think about Reverend Okotie. One thing about the north is that they are more transparent in terms of honesty more than some of us here in the south because here we are more diplomatic. You ask a question, they will rigmarole and they will never say yes or no. But up there, you are more likely to find a yes, when it is a yes and a no, when it is a no. So, I believe that if you place Reverend Kris Okotie beside Jonathan and ask people of integrity that of these two men, which one will prefer to take, I am absolutely confident that a greater majority will say Reverend Kris Okotie because they know me well. If I say yes, it is yes and if I say no it is no, and I have no score to settle with anybody. I am doing this basically because I love this country and because the Lord has asked me to do it. So, it is sacrifice on my part. That is why I have never joined the PDP. If I was looking for political power, I would have joined them. But because I will not compromise philosophy and my understanding of governance, I have stayed outside of that political party.
A number of prominent Nigerians like Atiku Abubakar and Orji Uzor Kalu who left PDP and became major critics of the party have returned. What does it tell about the kind of politics we practice in Nigeria? Do you think the Nigerian electorate can trust the words of those in the political class anymore?
It is difficult to say because of the present arrangement. I will say that those of them who want to help Nigeria, who desire to see Nigeria become great will have to go back to the PDP because that is the only way they can assess what is going on in that party. Because if the progressives within the PDP exit the PDP, what you are going to have is something that will be so inimical to our existence that Nigeria will fizzle out in no time. But I think that if they are going to resist certain aberrations within the PDP, then they are better strengthened being members of the party than being outside of the party. It depends on why they are going back there. But I think that with the crisis that is before Nigeria today, all who have connection to the PDP should get back there. That is my thinking, so that they can help to stop Nigeria from plunging from the edge of the precipice. If that is the strategy, then it makes sense. It does make sense because you can't fight the party outside of the party. It is always better to be within the party. So, I am expecting that some of these progressives who are back in the party will garner enough influence to say no to the enthronement of a new colonialist propensity that we have seen within the PDP. I am hoping that these men and women who are within the party can bring forth a renaissance in our nation so that in 2011, it will be a war within the party for the survival of our nation. That is how I see it.
What would be your candid advice to the Nigerian youths in terms of political violence and thuggery as we approach the 2011 general elections?
Number one, any young man who allows himself to be used by an unscrupulous politician is foolish because the only use they have for that person is within an election period after which they don't even care whether he exists or not. So, I just hope that they have learnt a lesson from that. But basically, there are three areas. I call them the tripartite coalition of evil responsible for the state of politics in our nation. The first will be mysticism. Then you have elitism. And then you have Satanism. This is what I call the tripartite coalition of evil responsible for the state of politics in Nigeria. Now, mysticism derives from the situation where some people have built a mischief around them that without them nothing can happen and have created an impression in the minds of Nigerian people that if they do not go along with a political party or an individual that person is doomed to fail. These ones must be demystified, just like we are seeing in Edo State. Elitism, the elite, these are the ones who have arrogated for themselves a natural representation for the people. They feel that they represent the Nigerian people. So, they decide what direction, which party, who is going to be governor even though they are not democratically elected. These ones have to be made to realise that elitism is a medieval concept and has no place in the 21st century democracy. The third one is what I call Satanism and that is where it comes to violence. These are the ones who foment trouble. Once they recognise that their wishes are not being met, they create a state of emergency, just like that person that used to be in Ibadan. These men will take ballot boxes in their hands. The police can't arrest them. Nobody can talk to them because if you do there will be violence. So, these are the adversaries. That is why I call it Satanism. And until they are made to understand that nobody is above the law, and that they must subject themselves to the Constitution of this nation, there will continue to be breakdown of law and order. And so once we can eradicate mysticism, elitism and Satanism, we have a better atmosphere that will be conducive for election, and even free and fair election.
As a man of God, what do you foresee for the 2011 general elections?
This is what I see. I see God, Almighty God stepping in, what we popularly know as Divine intervention. I see God and God alone stepping in to salvage the Nigerian state. I see the weakness of the Nigerian people that they are unable to fight against the political party known as the PDP that held them in slavery and political captivity. That has marginalised, impoverished them, repressed and suppressed them. And I see God responding to the cry of the weak, and coming down to salvage the Nigerian people, to save them from this kind of draconian leadership of the PDP. In 2011, I believe that there will be an implosion within the PDP that it will be so fragmented and polarised and bulcanised that it will not survive thereafter. And that out of this hardships will rise a new Nigeria. The political cynicism, the reawakening and reminiscence of the Nigerian people so that we can become what have been created to be as a great nation amongst the comity of nations so that Nigeria can take her rightful place. With people like me in the vanguard of this process, I believe there is a great day ahead for Nigeria.