By NBF News

Bishop of Enugu Anglican diocese Rt. Rev[Dr] Emmanuel Chukwuma is not known to hedge or hesitate in airing his views . At the recent standing committee meeting of Church of Nigeria, a retreat for all bishops, their wives and delegates, he managed to squeeze out 10 minutes to speak on some current issues.

He announced that he had placed a course on kidnappers in the South East insisting that only their repentance and return to straight life will change the situation.

A lot of candidates have declared their intention to run the affairs of Nigeria come next year. Of all these candidates can you assess them and recommend?

One thing is for people to declare and my assessment of candidates will definitely take cognizance of their past records. Going by their assessment and my own observation I believe that Nigeria needs a Joshua, a Joshua that will lead us to the 'promised land.' Some who have been there before and have failed should not aim to retuen.

I don't know what magic they have again to offer, particularly we are talking about democracy, and we will not want a military democracy. So first and foremost anybody who has been in the military ruling cadre for this country is not qualified, because we don't want a soldier in democratic uniform, because they have been there before and I don't know what they are looking for again. Then those people who are the civilians, what we shall assess is their integrity, their honest disposition to lead the country .

We are concerned about what agenda they have, is it a selfish agenda or an agenda that will concern the generality of Nigerians who are in poverty, unemployment, the spiral decline in education and security, we have to look into that. We need somebody who is concerned for Nigeria, who will be very much concerned about the welfare of Nigerians. So in all of them I have assessed them and I found out that it is difficult to really say who and who is qualified, but since we have the present President who seems to be God-fearing because I have heard him say we cannot succeed without God, I believe that we Christians are saying let us give him a chance, since he is right now still continuing with Yar'Adua's administration and second term.

We should give him time to see what he can do but the most important thing that will qualify him is maintaining the good integrity and addressing the question of power and security in this nation. If that can be done then we will know that he is serious; we don't want somebody who will continue again where Nigeria will continue in slums. Nigeria is of age at 50 to move forward and we are looking for a time when Nigerians will breath the sigh of relief that with the abundant resources God has given to us, we are able to say Nigeria must move forward. So we have had enough of corruption, enough of aggrandizement and selfishness.

How do people defend their votes to be sure that when they vote, what they vote is what will eventually come out?

This again comes to the question of security. Voting is one thing, registration is another thing. There must be that surety and assurance of security in the constituencies. People have ran away now, in the Eastern part of Nigeria, people have ran away for the fear of kidnapping, how do they now get assured to go back, with adequate security to register, not to talk of voting. In the constituencies back in the East, people are no more in these constituencies they have ran away because of kidnapping.

How do they now get assured that when they go back they will not kidnap them, for them to register and to contest, and people to vote because people have to go back to vote. That is one question. Then if people are given that opportunity to register and to vote, everybody must rise up now to defend their franchise. Time has come now that even the church must be involved in the social action. That's what we are discussing at the Diocesan committee that we are going to be involved.

Churches are going to be involved, leaders must be involved and we are going to make sure we defend our vote, and that's why we think that Option A4 is very much important in this case, whereby you will count the whole votes in public, before everybody, we will know who is succeeding and who and who is failing and the mandate of the people must be respected.

We have come to the stage where if we are talking about free and fair election, if you don't respect the mandate of the people, the church will mobilize to rise against the government. In the Philippines people rose against Marcus, the church rose against Marcus. The time has come and we must rise against any government that comes into power by hook or crook or by whatever means. And when we say this person must be there, and he must respect the mandate of the people and must be sensitive to the needs of the people. Failure to do this, I think people should now begin to rise. We have been patient enough and we should not be taken for granted any further.

Talking about the church, you are the Bishop of Enugu Diocese. Are you planning anything to that effect?

Yes, I'm planning one thing, first of all, against kidnappers, against people of violence, to plan for churches to begin to rain curses on those who will cause violence and those who plan to kidnap people and then we are also going to rise up against all those who want to go for second term.

They must give us account of their first tenure. We are going to invite them; we are going to the political parties. If those people have not done well, we will not allow them to go again for the second term, but those who have done well we will encourage them, because time has come now for politicians to know that they must give account to the people, accountability must be taken into consideration, integrity must be taken into consideration. Enough of somebody thinking that the winner .

The country belongs to all of us, the position you occupy is for our representation and you must definitely give us what you have used our position for. And if we cannot get any account of your representation or any record of any account of your first outing, then we will definitely say no, and we will surely defend it. It is not a matter of political parties alone; it is all about the people because democracy is government of the people for the people by the people.

You said people who have been there before should not come back?

Yes, we will assess them; if they have not performed well we will not allow them to go again. We want them to give account of their stewardship.

I'm looking at the Presidency now. IBB has been there before, should he come back?

We don't want military democracy. He has been there before and I don't think he's qualified to come back. You talk about Atiku, he was vice-president under Obasanjo, and I don't think he is qualified. What about Buhari, he stopped the democracy of Shagari, so if he disturbed democracy at that time what is he coming for democracy. That again is against his personality.

We don't want somebody who had scuttled democratic rule to come back to rule. If you talk about Atiku, he cannot get it. Nigeria is so large that we need people who are graduates to take over. We want people who are learned to take over the leadership of this country, people who are digitalized, people who are current with ideas, these are the people fit to take over the situation. The older people should now remain as consultants. The new generation should come in and take over and let us move with the trend of our time. Look at England, look at America, Mr. Cameron is young so also Barrack Obama, look at their age. Any body above 60 should not be qualified as president of this country anymore.

A bishop of the Anglican Communion was kidnapped the other day. I don't know what the latest is, has he been released? If yes, what is the church doing to protect his people?

What you should understand is that I took a position in that case. When he was kidnapped, the wife ran to me and I gave them three days ultimatum. I went over to Radio Nigeria, they must have heard it, network and also gave the ultimatum and called upon the Governor of Imo State and called the people to rise against it and within three days they released him. I was told that they begged for forgiveness. So we did not give chance to them.