Mr. Celestine Chukwu is the founder and President of Celchi Global Peace Foundation, and the Secretary General of Igbo community assembly in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). In this interview with Ikenna Okonkwo, Chukwu bares his mind on burning national issues, especially on how Nigeria can be free of Bandits, Boko Haram, and other insecurity problems.
What does Celchi Global Peace Foundation stand for?
It’s a global line and a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) that focuses on peace and human empowerment. You know if human beings are empowered, peace will be assured, so that’s what we do. We have to ensure that there is peace in our society.
How does the foundation view what is happening in Nigeria in the area of insecurity, and what are the remedies?
Well, you see there are many factors that determine what is happening in this country now, and they bother on the level of trust and unity. The level of hunger in the system is alarming and is affecting human psychology in the country.
The present situation in this country is a proof that the nation has not intertwined in its citizenry at all. It’s proof that the citizens are not comfortable or don’t have confidence in the project called Nigeria, Why? It’s because of how the country is being run by the elites, especially the direct elites in power.
In what ways will the mindset of people begin to change in this direction?
Well, you see yes sensitisation, orientation or education is paramount in the life of any individual and the society at large. But I want you to understand the fact that a hungry man is an angry man.
Yes, you can tell somebody don’t go and steal but if you keep the person hungry and you keep food close by, and the person is hungry and seeing that if he doesn’t eat he will die, the person will go and take that food then, you call it stealing, that is one of the major problems in this country.
We are in a democratic dispensation. Now how are the dividends of democracy going round? Yes, Celchi Peace Foundation will be carrying out time to time re-orientation programs, even in schools, in different places in the society to tell people and talk to them but most importantly, will you just go and talk to the people verbally? What is the support? People are hungry, people are homeless, people are angry in society. Again, even when you go to reorientate the masses, what about the elite who are educated, what about the politicians, the religious leaders? We will also be talking to them because the politicians and religious leaders are part of the problems of the society.
What kind or quality of leadership at both the local, state and federal government levels will address all of these problems?
Beautiful, at this point in time in the life of this country Nigeria, all we need is transformational leadership. We need people that will come in and transform the leadership system. If we transform the leadership system, it will affect changes, you will see that a lot of things will fall in places. Where we find ourselves today did not start today, it started yesterday, and what will happen today, will determine what will happen tomorrow too.
Our politicians need to know that a winner does not take all, and we need to understand that if I lose, I lose for tomorrow. Politics with bitterness should be overruled in the system. Religious politics should be overruled in the system. Politicians should abhor religious bigotry, they should do away with these factors because they are agents of divisiveness, they are centrifugal forces in the system.
They should employ centrifugal forces that are religious tolerance and unity among our people. They should be ready to deliver political dividends. Governments should make policies that will enhance the life of the people, ‘welfarist’ policies. We need leaders that will come and be leaders of Nigeria, not an ethnic leader of Hausa, Yoruba. Igbo… No No No No.
Recently, some groups from Niger Delta, and of course the IPOB also from the south east, sometimes you hear of the Oduduwa from the south west clamoring for cessation, what do you think is responsible for all of these and what can be done to quench all of these so that the country can move forward?
You see the clamor for cessation is determined by many factors. 1. Lack of trust in the system, in the powers that be. 2. When an ethnic group feels marginalized in the affairs that concern them. For instance, in the present government, looking at the structure of those in charge of various arms and tiers, looking at the people in positions, you can see vividly that some ethnic groups are sidelined.
Yes, so if such happens what do you expect, and it is seen as intentional, do you understand? You should understand the fact that there are three major ethnic groups in this country, and in any government in this country, those three ethnic groups must be well represented.
Let me tell you another thing, you see there are actions of government that are sometimes detrimental to the unity of the people. When you try to use force on people, it could cause more damages because certain forces that have been used to quail agitations cannot yield desired fruit.
In this country, there was a national conference that was held in 2014 that gave birth to a document called reconstructing documents. That document has not been respected, that conference has not been respected, so some of these things lead to instability.
Do we Nigeria need another conference or we should just stick to that of 2014?
Presently, we don’t need another conference because how can you give birth to a child and abandon him, and you want to give birth to another one, what is the assurance that the second one won’t be abandoned like the first. So, it’s not issue of conference but the attitude of the leaders on agitations, the attitude of the leaders of conferences held in the past, the attitude of the leaders on the unity of Nigeria, what are you doing to these people, what are you doing to the other people, how do you share democratic dividends?
Do you think restructuring can make this country better?
When you talk about restructuring, it depends on how the country is restructured. When you talk about restructuring, it will definitely affect some changes in policies and programmes. Changes on how things are done, who is involved and who isn’t, at what level? So some of these changes I think the national conference was a very good representation, and the minds of different groups of the federating units were well represented, so setting it aside was a problem.
The clamour by the south that it’s their turn to lead Nigeria, particularly south east do you share in that sentiment?
Yes, Again, Celchi global peace foundation is all out for anything that is going to bring peace in the system. If the country has been shared to geo political zones and other zones have taken their shots, it’s natural for the zone that has not taken theirs to clamor for it.
If they are denied, it’s another factor that will determine instability in the system. So we share the opinion that let every part test the juicy motion, let every part be seen as worthy of leading the country.