OPINION: We will demand Christian Republic if… – Anglican Bishop

Rt. Rev. Nneoyi Onen Egbe, a professor of radiography, is the Bishop of the Diocese of Calabar (Anglican Communion). In this interview, Egbe, who last taught at University of Calabar, speaks, among other issues of public importance, on the reported call for ‘Islamic Republic of Nigeria’, in a viral video, by the immediate past governor of Kaduna State, Mallam El-Rufai.>>>Continue Reading

El-Rufai is quoted in the video as narrating during a meeting with some Muslim clerics how Islam was used to secure victory for President Bola Tinubu in the February general elections. Egbe speaks ahead of the third session of the 11th Synod of the Diocese of Calabar holding under the theme ‘See, Joshua 6:2 from Wednesday july 12 to Sunday july 16. Excerpts:

From the peak of academics to the peak of religion, how do you see yourself?

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I see myself as a man whom God has favoured greatly. One who has been blessed to bless, saved to save, and made free to show others the way to freedom. All that I am is by the grace of God.

What is your assessment of the call by the immediate past governor of Kaduna State, Mallam El Rufai, for an Islamic Republic of Nigeria?

In my opinion, people who only focus on their side of human existence should never be taken seriously.

Mallam El Rufai can create whatever he desires with his family, certainly NOT NIGERIA. Nigeria is too big for such to happen. When statements are made like this, one need not forget that one’s listeners also have the right to declare their own republics. Such unguarded utterance is meant to escalate bad blood among stakeholders in the Nigerian project. My worry is that someone makes such statements and is still walking freely in the streets. If this statement were made from another sector of our polity, many voices would have arisen to vilify him. Truth be told, if he calls for an Islamic Republic, we also call for a Christian Republic, and then republics for all other religious sentiments. Such talk is to create diversion for them, politicians, to engage in their misrule while we are busy debating responses to their statements.

During moments of social unrest like the #endSARS, government will always seek the assistance of religious leaders in appealing to the people for peace. How do you describe the relationship between the government and religious leaders in Cross River State?

We have a new government in place now which we believe will be more open to inputs from leaders of thought in the state. Early engagement with religious leaders will provide the platform for a more people-oriented approach to governance, and the Prince Out-government in Cross River State has shown early signs of interest in her people. The practice of only running to religious leaders when there is a crisis is manifest evidence of a government that does not value her people and would only pay attention to them when threatened. We are watching.

No doubt Anglicanism is not yet deep-rooted in Cross River State. And we have a state of great diversities, from the highlands of Obudu to the creeks of Bakassi. How has this affected evangelism?

Of a truth, Anglicanism is not yet deep-rooted in Cross River State, but we can say categorically that Anglican Church has come to stay. The diversities of Cross River State favours the growth of the Church because the Anglican Church is a communion of diversities, races, backgrounds, ideologies, ethnicities and so on. The church is owned by everyone and no one! We are all co-owners and have equal opportunities. When communities receive our ministry and missionaries, they find people who are willing and eager to become part of these communities.>>>Continue Reading

What are the major challenges facing the Anglican Church in Cross River?

Major challenges! There are many but not unexpected. The diversities mentioned earlier present a challenge: Communication problems as a result of the many languages in the state. We also face the challenge of the topography, especially in the mountainous areas, some of which do not have access roads. Of course, the very size of the Diocese is a challenge. The lack of indigenous workers is also an issue, though this is gradually shifting. Do we need to mention the all-important issue of money? These are some of our challenges, but, again, they are not unexpected.

How do you describe the state of the nation, in view of the removal of petroleum subsidy and the proposed hike of electricity tariff?

Many Nigerians have been aware of the level of corruption and criminality surrounding fuel subsidy over the years. No right-thinking person will support this. While we commend its removal, we are very opposed to the lack of adequate preparation for the action. And coming on its wake, is the increase of electricity tariff.

Again, what has the government put in place to ameliorate the pains borne by Nigerians? I heard someone saying recently that the suffering is for a while, and Nigerians will soon enjoy it! That was what they said when SAP was introduced. And for every one of similar decisions of government, the Nigerian masses have borne the brunt thereof. See, I have come to the conclusion that the people that rule us do not take decisions for the good of the nation and her people, but for their own interest. An example is the former President shelving the removal of fuel subsidies SO THAT HIS PARTY WILL WIN ELECTIONS! Is there any reason to believe that these subsidy removals are not meant to feed some few people’s greed? I tell you the truth, at the rate we are going, the government will soon make Nigerians pay for the air we breathe!

Has democracy been a blessing to the ordinary Nigerian or a curse?

There is no democracy in Nigeria. We have civilians in government, but it is definitely not a democracy. We will be able to answer this question when we have a democracy in the country. If you ask what we have, I will call it a KLEPTOCRACY: government of ‘Snatch it, grab it and run with it!’

The theme of your Synod is ‘SEE’. What are the expectations of the Diocese at the end of the Synod?

We expect that the Lord will ‘open’ and expand our ability to see things as he sees them. We have promises of God’s working among us, and the varied provisions he has made for our success in the Diocese. But not many of us seem to understand the depth of God’s provision, presence and empowerment available in this Diocese. Our expectation is that we will come out of Synod with a renewed awareness of the wealth within us and around us; that will propel us towards achieving the mandate of God upon our lives as individuals and as a Diocese.>>>Continue Reading

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