Thus sayeth the Lord: What Bishop Chukwuma told Nigerian politicians at Alex Ekwueme’s graveside

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Men of God are speedily finding their voices. At the graveside of the late Alex Ekwueme, the last Igboman to be vice president, the man of God who delivered the Homily, the Anglican Bishop of Enugu, Most Rev. Emmanuel Chukwuma, made what many considered as bold and daring statements targeted mostly at politicians. He spectacularly decreed 70 years as retirement age. He did not ask that it be enshrined in the constitution but he wants it to be a matter of conscience.

He came down heavily on President Muhammadu Buhari, who is over 70 years. He wiped off the biggest legacy that Buhari is struggling to hold onto, corruption, saying the present president came into power through corruption and has failed to curb the menace of corruption in the country.

Full transcription:

Thus saith the Lord, set thy house in order for thou shall die and not live. That was what Isaiah told Hezekiah. If I come to your Excellencies and say: set your house or state in order, you will die. You will send the SSS (State Security Service) to get me; but if they come, the Almighty God will defend me.

You tell me, Archbishop, I don’t believe in 70 years. Although David in the Psalm said 70 years, is not the age for one to die? 70 years is the age of retirement. Politicians, are you hearing me?

Seventy is the age of retirement. At 70 years, you get your passport to heaven; 80, you get your visa; 90, you get your ticket; 100, you get your boarding pass; 120, you fly.

And the Federal Government said: fly him to London for overseas treatment, which again, I must say, is a good idea. But it is a shame that many of you big men cannot be treated in Nigeria. Flying abroad for treatment is a disgrace to our health system. We must do something about that.

I wonder why we should keep flying our vice presidents, presidents abroad when we cannot even buy Panadol in the State House clinic. I hope there is Panadol now? I hope the x-ray machine is working there? That is the first place to start fighting corruption.

Politicians, listen to this: this man (Ekwueme) had what he was doing before venturing into politics. Many of you are into politics and you don’t have anything you are doing; hence, you are recycling yourself day by day.

He was a technical consultant to the World Bank’s educational project. Ekwueme did not believe in bribery; he did not believe in rigging. Today when conventions are done in any of the parties, people carry Ghana-must-go bags all around to make campaigns to get themselves elected. And that is why Nigeria has continued to be corrupt.

Even the present government came by corruption and so it is difficult to fight corruption. I once confronted the head of state and said, ‘Those who stole their state’s money used the state’s money to campaign for the president of Nigeria.

That is why they are given three ministries. That is corruption. Many of you should ask, because this is one of the legacies you must learn from; he entered politics and left it with poverty. Some of you have nothing, even local government chairmen – I know some of them – who had nothing but have built two houses before they left…Thirty-two years ago, Buhari put Ekwueme in prison and thirty-two years after, Ekwueme died in Buhari’s government.

I want to say that you people in the National Assembly should be very careful and promulgate a law to stop this cross-carpeting from one party to another. That is political prostitution. You must stop it. It is a disgrace. It is selfishness. I cannot imagine someone who gained an elective post in the Senate on the platform of a political party coming now at a point in time to desert that party and cross-carpet. It is not right. If you cross over, you should leave your party. And if you leave your party, you must leave your post. That is our own submission.

Two, South East will not tolerate any colony. No colony for any herdsman. Any governor that does it will be resisted. We in CAN (Christian Association of Nigeria) will resist any of you governors that will bring any colony here. We don’t want any colonisation. Herdsmen should stay away. It is a private business. They can go to Daura, Sambisa Forest; we don’t want them here. The Python Dance that we have here is enough, and they must go.

Also, we want to say here that as far as we are concerned as Igbos, we are very hardworking people; we must be recognised and we should not be marginalised. Our governors must be united; Igbos must be united. Let us stand as one voice as Ekwueme stood for us. Who again will stand as our unifying figure? Odimegwu Ojukwu has gone. Ekwueme has gone, Zik has gone…

The politics we are playing now is the politics of selfishness, materialistic tendencies and aggrandizement, and it is time you must begin to think selflessly on how eradicate poverty in our land.Unemployment itself is worrying our youths. Let every rich man begin to think about creating employment for our youths and there will be no agitation.Recycling yourself into politics with the money you have is a disgrace and if you have money, show it by investing and let us have more employment.

How have you spent or how are you spending your position? Remember those who are lower than you. Remember also that one day you will leave this post.I saw a governor who will not allow people to come near him, but when he was voted out, and I saw him at the airport, nobody was ready to carry his bag. But when I came down, people were struggling for my bag. Hence, I said to myself: I make myself accessible and people come near me. Governors, make yourselves accessible. Ugwuanyi is making himself accessible in Enugu here and when you finish your second term, people will not run away from you. The governors of Ebonyi and Abia states, make yourselves accessible to your people. Make sure you eradicate poverty in your state.

 

Also Imo and Anambra states and all of you politicians, stop blowing sirens for nothing. If you are blowing siren, what is the siren for? Is it for us or for your own selfishness? A time is coming, if you are not careful, if you don’t take care of us, we shall block you and your siren. And you will go nowhere because we elected you there and you must go back to your constituency.May God help us all as Nigerians to be ready for a new Nigeria; a new Nigeria of new brains, not expired and analogue brains. That is the finality.

Let everyone in politics that is 70 years old go and retire. Everybody above 65 years should not be president of Nigeria. That is the limit we must seal. Let them become advisers and consultants.The people who are really hot in brain, technocrats, are waiting to become leaders and do Nigeria well, rather than all these analogues (brains) and cabals. Let them go and rest because Nigeria needs a new brain and a new spirit.We cannot put a new wine into an old wine skin.

 

REACTION BY THE GRAND MASTER:

 

  • The audience exploded in happiness and satisfaction of speaking their minds. The Enugu governor he recommended just conducted local council elections where no single opposition person won a seat. Is there democracy at the grassroots in any of the states?
  • If the present FG has no right to lay claim to fighting corruption because some state governors supported o sponsored them, is there any president that would emerge in the feasible future without any state governor?
  • While the new mood is against state governors supporting the FG, the new groups or 3rdfor rising is boasting that seven state governors were with. So, the new parties that are clean are eyeing the same corrupt state governors?
  • There is a hype against old age, meaning that the moment someone is young, he would be alright. But, all the state governors are young but they are the same ones that do not allow democracy in their parties at state level; they are the same ones that do not conduct LG elections and when they did, no opposition wins; they are the ones that owe workers despite FG refund of Paris Club. Is it not clear that Nigerians should look beyond age but credibility?