The Senior Pastor of Rhema Deliverance Mission International, Lagos, Dr. Anene Nwachukwu, a political scientist, in this interview with SEGUN ODUNEWU, speaks on the significance of Easter; the focus on ‘deliverance’ in Rhema and many other national issues.
What is the Rhema Deliverance Mission all about?
I am Dr. Anene Nwachukwu, the Senior Pastor of Rhema Deliverance Mission International, Lagos. Rhema Deliverance Mission is a prophetic church founded for these perilous times by Bishop Arthur Nwachukwu, who happens to be my spiritual father and also my biological father. Rhema Deliverance Mission started in 1983, and my father has six children; five of whom are male, and all are working for God: The first son is the Senior Pastor of Rhema Deliverance Mission, Kubwa, Abuja. I am the second son, and in charge of Lagos state and the southwest. The third son is a medical doctor and Managing Director of Princeton Specialist Orthopaedic Hospital, Awka. He is also the Senior Pastor of Rhema Deliverance Ministry, Awka. The fourth one is a female evangelist, while the fourth son is a lawyer and the Senior Pastor with Rhema Deliverance Mission, Nnewi. The last son is also a lawyer, and a pastor. He is the one in charge of Rhema Deliverance Mission headquarters in Umunya, Anambra state. My mother is Dr. (Mrs.) Patricia Nwachukwu, who is always standing by us at the headquarters to move the ministry forward.
What is the significance of the Easter celebration? Is Easter for Christians only or for mankind generally?
Easter is the best celebration every believer must identify with. Christmas is good, but Easter shows that somebody paid a supreme price to redeem us from death. Before Christ was born, many people had been in existence, but nobody was able to sacrifice himself to die for our sins. The world we are living in was in a very serious bondage until he came and decided to offer himself to die for humanity. Philippians 3 vs 5, says, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” Even though he is God, he thought it not to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation and became obedient even to die on the cross.
And because of that, God has highly exalted him and given him a name above every other name and at the mention of his name, every knee shall bow. He died to restore back the dignity of humanity. He died so that the devil that has been having a field day in our lives will stop doing so. He died so that sicknesses and diseases tormenting us would no longer torment us because by his stripes, we are healed. He died to make a name for us. He is trying to tell us that at the mention of Jesus, every knee will bow. In fact, Jesus died so that we can reign. As many that receive him, he gave them power to become the sons of God. We are now the sons of God through his death. His death brought reconciliation from humanity to divinity…So, that is the significance of Easter. Somebody paid a price to reconcile us back to God for us to reign and become who God has ordained us to be.
Does the security challenge in the country, like Boko Haram attacks, kidnapping and menace of herdsmen, worry you?
Every Nigerian – whether a man of God or an ordinary citizen – should be worried about the recent developments in the country, especially the problem of insecurity. Firing the service chiefs might not be the solution. The solution should be that the government should make adequate arrangements for the protection of lives and properties of the citizenry, because it is the responsibility of the federal government. If you look at events unfolding in the country, you will see that nowhere is secure. Recall that people were making reckless statements and threatening the peace of the country some years ago, before the 2015 election.
Today, we are living witnesses to the coming to fruition of those threats. For example, one of the threats was, “Monkeys and baboons will soak themselves in blood.” Don’t forget that before the 2015 elections, there was palpable tension in the country and you cannot rule out the possibility of people amassing weapons then, waiting for any eventuality.
Not too long ago, the country was relatively at peace, but with time, those weapons started coming out in different parts of the country, leading to insecurity everywhere. We have to note that Nigeria today is not secure under this administration, and we must do everything possible to be praying for the President and those in authority so that God will give them the wisdom to direct the affairs of this nation properly.
If you meet President Buhari today, what advice will you give him regarding these national issues?
I will advise the president to grant national amnesty to all the bandits, killer-herdsmen, kidnappers and all those causing trouble in parts of the country, including members of Boko Haram. The government should give them one or two months to surrender their arms to the various state police headquarters across the country. There should be specific places where all of them should surrender their arms. As part of the programme, the authorities should take special record of all those who surrendered their arms and allow them to walk away. If this is done, the President would be seen to have done his best. After this, the armed forces and the security agencies should then launch a total onslaught against the remaining insurgents and criminals who refused to take advantage of the gesture.
I can tell you that some of them are willing to surrender, but there is no safe avenue for them to come out of the bush to do so. As part of the deal, the security agents should not kill any of them coming out from the bush within the two months of grace, and while coming out with their arms, they should raise both hands so that it is clear that they actually want to surrender. I believe that 70 percent of the bandits will like to grab the opportunity to surrender and will never go back to the life of violence. The government should also rehabilitate them. Concerned state governments should disburse some money to them, like N200, 000 each, to enable them start life again.
This will be controversial, because the federal and state governments are already opposed to any kind of amnesty or negotiation with such insurgents and criminals
Well, I support amnesty for the criminals. Many of them want to come out, but there is no pre-agreed avenue for them to be received. In September, 2020, in Benue state, a notorious young man, Terwase Akwaza [Gana], was willing to surrender, but he was shot and killed on his way to the place where he was to turn himself in. That was not good, and it must have discouraged others like him who must have wanted to surrender. Let me give you another example: Tompolo of the Niger Delta would not have given up armed militancy if not for the general amnesty granted to people like him in the area by the federal government.
Do you think men of God should be close to those in govt or are they supposed to restrict themselves to the pulpit?
In Ezekiel 3:17, the bible says, “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel. So, hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.” When you see a wicked man, going on his wicked ways and you do not warn him, the wicked man will die in his iniquities, but God will hold you responsible for his blood. We are watchmen. We are not called to be romancing with politicians. But, we are called to tell the powers that be the bitter truth. As recorded in the bible, it was the prophets that ordained the kings. The kings did not ordain the prophets. But, today, you see in Nigeria that the kings are now ordaining prophets. Today, you hear somebody boasting, ‘His Excellency is my friend. He comes to my church.” That should not excite you, because if His Excellency comes to your church and His Excellency is not ruling well, it means, you are part of his problem. There must be a difference between darkness and light.