Nigeria’s problems were caused by politicians with myopic ideas – Rev Yohanna

Rev. Amos Kumai Yohanna is the candidate for Adamawa North Senatorial District on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in next year’s general elections. In this interview with ADOYI M. ABA, he speaks on his chances, what he intends to do to better the lot of his constituents as well as other national issues.

Let me first of all congratulate you on your victory at the polls during the primaries; how did it go?

Thank you very much. As for the primary, it went well. Politics is not beans, but it went well.

How would you describe your emergence as the candidate of your party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)?

Well, there are two factors. One, as a man of faith, is God. This is because having done everything you will come to a point where your human efforts are not the ones pulling you through and you say everything I thought I had done is not adding up and so you see the divine hand, you see the supernatural power opening doors and turning things around for you.

The second factor is the people; this is because at the end of the day politics is about the people as they are the ones that decide either way and they decided to give me the mandate to carry the flag of the party, which is the PDP. So, those are the two things that resonated with me.

As an ordained man of God, how would you put religion and politics together in order to effectively represent your people?

I don’t want to say religion and politics, I just want to say that as a man of God, the direction you are taking is that God Himself is the one directing the affairs of men and God wants the people to be governed in the right way. He wants the people to be governed with God’s fear; He wants the people to receive what He has for them. And for me because of that direction it is a straight line; it’s a flow, so to speak, of what God wants his people to benefit and His people are the communities. Irrespective of their faith professions He has everybody under His care and He wants every single individual, no matter your faith, to enjoy the things He has put in the world for them. He wants them to live decent lives. He wants them to live like humans and humans here means decency, dignity and for me as a Pastor coming to that I think it’s a flow of what God wants His people, His humanity to enjoy.

You are very conversant with the country’s political space. You are a man of God and you are going to meet with people who may not be in your class of divinity in the National Assembly. How would you convince your constituents that you would stand up for them and represent them very well in the midst of the other people, your colleagues in the Senate?

People need you to speak the truth to them irrespective of what people think about society. Let me tell you something here – the Nigerian people are a very decent people. And they want what is decent, they want what is right, they want what is good. And so it’s not very difficult when you speak the truth to them and represent decency, righteousness and justice. It is not difficult to convince them or for them to understand because all these colourations that people give to Nigerians, for me, are not fair because it doesn’t represent them. The Nigerian people are decent and God-fearing people. They are people that cherish the truth; and that is what they are yearning for. If you come from that direction of the truth it doesn’t take much for them to know that this one is standing for the truth.

We gathered that you are very popular among your continents. How was that possible when you were most of the time carrying out your assignments at the Nigeria Christian Pilgrim Commission (NCPC) from where you retired last year?

I came into the NCPC from people and I have remained in touch with these people from whom I came. I have always been with them. That’s the best place to be in the world for me. I have travelled to many parts of the world. Be it America or Europe, many African countries, and the Middle East countries which became the main place of my work in the last ten to fifteen years or even twenty something years when I started a romance with Christian Commission.

What was your experience at NCPC like and what advice would you give to those who would want to work there in the future?

This is a place that exposes you to different cultures of the world, particularly the Middle Eastern cultures. I see where people enjoy what it means to have a government. The government is there for the people, the government works for the people. When people deserve something they are given. So, that experience actually propelled me to say let me accept this call into politics so that I will be able to replicate what I saw to my people. You take, for example, their tax system is very high. There was a time when their VAT was as high as 18 per cent, but then they brought it down to 17 per cent. For about a year now I have not been there so I don’t know whether it has changed or not, but people pay their tax willingly in those countries. The people are happy to pay, why? This is because they see it in the streets they drive on; they see it in their homes in terms of stability of light, security, and water. So, they say my tax is working. I see it on the ground.

So, as a result of that type of leadership and governance that the people enjoy, they are willing to sacrifice because they know that they will see the results and that motivated me to seek the opportunity to translate this to my people in terms of infrastructure, human development, human unity and peaceful coexistence. I was in Jordan; pilgrimage took me to Jordan. If you are outside, you will say it’s a country that belongs to one religion and you ask yourself how do the minority survive and coexist with the majority. I was there and I never saw the dividing line. You cannot differentiate between the majority and the minority. Why can’t it happen in my own community such that people will live together in peace, where we respect each other for being humans, for being Nigerians, for being people from Adamawa state and being people from Adamawa North Senatorial district? Of course, they have lived together; let me tell you what is happening in Nigeria, all these divisions you see are caused by politicians who have very myopic ideas.

 What are your chances in the elections?   

You want to know my chances? I will win by God’s grace. As I have stated earlier, I am a man of faith. And my Holy book teaches me that power comes from God. And every other Holy book both in the Christian faith and Islam faith believes that power comes from God. And because I believe in God, I am praying to God and I am asking for the favour of my people, I will win.

What are those things you are going to tell your constituents that would be different from what other politicians had told them in the past which they never did?

Let me tell you, when I go to places and speak, people ask me Reverend Amos but you said exactly what the last person said, how is your own going to be different? It is the conviction, the goal and the purpose. I am not into politics to deceive people just to get their votes and run away from them. When I speak to them, many of them have told me that you speak with so much conviction.

My antecedent also makes me different. I have never held any elective office, but I have held political appointments. I was a civil servant before I retired last year and they know me. If I tell you I will call you back, I will surely call you back and my people have known this over the years. If I tell you I will give one kobo to solve that problem you are talking about you can go to the bank. I have history, I have antecedents, I have a pedigree that people know me by. As a result of that I am different, I am not like any other person who will come make promises and go away. I tell them I am not promising that I will do anything for you, I tell them I will do what the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria says a legislature should do. I will represent you, I will engage you, and get your opinions and that will form what I will do in the National Assembly. That is by way of presenting bills and supporting bills that are beneficial for my people first and foremost and then to the Nigerian people. This is because I will be in the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

What would be your main message to your people and what advice do you have for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as it prepares for the 2023 elections?

My advice to my people is to always see each other as one people; we should stand together for truth, justice, and equity. We should resist any attempts by anyone to divide us. Election periods come and go, but we will remain together as a people. And for INEC, play the game by the rules.

What is your take on the security situation in the country, specifically in the North-east?

It cannot be specific because the North-east is now better than the North-west. The whole epicentre of terrorism and banditry has shifted from the North-east to the North-west. And from the North-west it is moving all over the country. That is unfortunate and our prayer is that God will help our leaders so that they will fear Him. This is because if they fear God they will be able to fight this insecurity. God has given the government of Nigeria all the tools needed to fight insecurity; they should use them.   

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