At 82, he is retired but neither tired nor senile. As a courageous cleric, patriot and nationalist of the best hue, Emmanuel Bolanle Gbonigi, retired bishop of Akure Diocese of the Anglican Communion, enjoys a longstanding reputation for using deep knowledge of theology as an instrument of advocacy for public and private morality.
Like genuine nationalists in the garb of clerics in other climes, who have used their position in the Lord’s vineyard to pursue the good of society, Gbonigi has dedicated his entire life to promoting the reformation and regeneration of his nation’s doddering polity, assured that a society that operates and lives by the ethos of justice and fear of God is the only place on earth where the downtrodden can be uplifted and peace reign.
To enthrone a society where universal happiness shall reign, the spiritual giant has constantly engaged those in authority, sometimes needling them with his caustic criticisms of the sorry state of affairs, and pouring invectives on marauders and upstarts who found themselves on the corridors of power, especially during the years of military rule.
In an interview that lasted over two hours in his country home in Akure, Ondo State, Gbonigi looked through his spiritual binoculars while appraising the parlous state of the nation, saying justice and fear of God are two intangible but critical ingredients that are lacking in the hearts and acts of men and women who currently take charge of affairs of this country.
Thus, Gbonigi, son of a catechist, predicts that the masses of Nigeria should be ready for a social cleansing through an imminent “bloody revolution,” since their leaders have continued to wallow in the muddy water of sins in flagrant disobedience to the will of God. While spitting fire like the dragon, the cleric declares that a revolt of the poor is what the nation needs to end the suffering in the land, a suffering foisted on the people by the nation’s “greedy and selfish rulers.”
In an interview conducted by Adekunle Yusuf, assistant editor, and Adewale Adelola, photojournalist, Gbonigi bares his mind on other burning national issues, such as why democracy is not serving the ends of the governed, remuneration of public officials, rising poverty, anti-graft war, youth unemployment, among others. Excerpts:
You were part of a group of Yoruba elders that recently raised the issue of marginalisation of the Yoruba by the Goodluck Jonathan administration. Are you talking about appointive or elective positions or both?
We talked about both. If you read the press release we issued in Ibadan recently, the annexure is quite clear. We showed very clearly how the South-west has been shortchanged and marginalised by the administration of President Jonathan. But our emphasis is not on appointive positions; the President could appoint any person as minister, which is not our primary concern. But the middle-level cadre is the most important thing. When you appoint junior officers, they gradually rise to become middle-level officers where they rise to the top – they become directors and permanent secretaries and so on.
If a minister gives jobs to people from his or her own area so that there are so many of them that are appointed as secretaries, assistant secretaries and so on, it is a matter of 10 years before you start seeing them up there at the middle level. And of course from the middle level they come to the top. It is not because people from the South-west did not apply for jobs and it is not because they did not have requisite qualifications – academic and the rest of it, but because somebody from a particular area is deliberately sidelining them, and if that happens for a few years, you will find out that very few people from that area are in the civil service. It means very few people from that area will come to the top later.
For full interview, click http://bit.ly/UMu3a8