By Christy Anyanwu
Former Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Apostle Alexander Bamgbola, is an erudite investment banker and strategic management expert.
In this interview with Sunday Sun, he aired his views about the state of the nation and other issues.
What is your take on the state of the nation right now in Nigeria considering the security challenges in the country?
It is unfortunate what this nation has become. None of us in my generation ever, ever, ever would have expected this country to be like this, but then we deserved what we got. Number one, because of our sins. I’m talking about Nigerians, be it Muslims, Christians or whatever you are. We need to repent of our sins and continue to pray and pray for God to forgive out sins. People no longer have conscience. What is happening in Nigeria is so sad. No one would, if anybody had prophesied that this nation would get to this point. A Briton, who lived in Ilesha for many years, Papa Hilton, was a true prophet, he prophesied in the 70s what’s happening today in Nigeria, but said when it reached that level of deterioration it would turn around and become one of the greatest nations on earth. Christians of my generation believed in the prophecy that there shall be a turn around and this nation will become a great nation again by the grace of God. I spent so many years in America. But in 1972, when I was in college in America, I came across a study which was funded by the United Nations, the study was carried out in the early 50s. It was actually in 1954 that they wrote the conclusion. It highlighted the nations that will become developed in the 70s and three nations were specifically mentioned with assurance that they will become developed nations before the end of 1970s. The three nations were: Brazil, South Korea and Western Region, Nigeria. That was the way it was written in the report. Of course, Western Region was ahead of the two other regions then. It was talking about Nigeria, that Nigeria will become a developed nation. I read it in 1972. Unfortunately, today Brazil is producing everything themselves, including aircraft as of now. South Korea just ended the North/South Korea war and everywhere in Korea was worse than Ajegunle in 1954, but have you seen what Southern Korea has become today? When I came back to Nigeria in 1979 as an expatriate, Volkswagen was here, bringing out Volkswagen every day. Peugeot was there in Kaduna, but today everything has been destroyed. In the 70s and 80s, Nigeria was producing one of the best textiles in the world. We destroyed every industry, including Kaduna textiles, the textiles companies in Ikeja. We destroyed everything. I have never seen anything like that. Only God will take over and rule over this nation. We can’t sleep anymore; we are calling on God to rule over this nation. When the unrighteous reign people will continue to mourn. Even the thieves, the corrupt people who are stealing and destroying this nation, they are not enjoying. Insecurity all over the place. Many of the elite and politicians are sending their children abroad for schooling because they are insecure. It’s a sad situation that Nigeria will become like this. When we brought our investment, 40 per cent globally, Bank of Boston which was then the 9th largest bank in the world where I worked as international officer and assistant vice president, and came here to invest in Nigeria, a dollar was 57k in 1979, 57 kobo was a dollar. Recently, when I called one of my foreign exchange sons, he said dollar is 572. How can Nigeria nation get to this level and the leadership still don’t care. As long as God is still upon His throne, this nation will never continue like this, God will intervene, how he will do it, we don’t know, but we will keep on trying and praying. The only reason the devil is angry is that God has raised this nation to propagate the gospel into the world. Nigeria has carried Christianity to all nations of the world, evangelizing and bringing nations to Christ, they want to destroy it, but they cannot.
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You just mentioned the exchange rate. The Central Bank governor went on air recently to say Aboki FX is the cause of the high dollar rate, do you believe that?
I wish you saw me how I was reacting when Godwin Emefele was speaking. Godwin is my son. His uncle handed him over to me as a youth corps member in 1987 when he left Nsukka. In all my life as a banker, I was ashamed of what Godwin was speaking that day that it was Aboki FX. How can my son be speaking that way? I know he is part of this government; he has to speak that way. What has Aboki got to do with exchange rate. Things are bad, they are bad. You just have to do the right thing. In 1985, when I was managing director of a bank, and we are working on the International Monetary Fund (IMF). That’s when we recommended that this nation should be strengthened up. You cannot keep an exchange rate under your own rule. You have to float the currency. If you remember, Ghanaian Cedis became a laughing stock years ago, a thousand Cedi to one naira then. They left it to float. You must leave a currency to float and achieve its own natural rates of exchange, but not in this country where they kept it under control so that the disparity goes to the pocket of people which will run into trillions. In my own days, as managing director in the bank, it used to be kobo kobo difference between dollars to a naira, eg 10k, 22k, 25k, but now, can you imagine somebody who takes $100,000 at N400 plus artificial rate of the Central Bank and take it out to sell at N550 in one day. There are people taking millions of dollars a day, who go and sell in the black market and make billions every day. That is what is happening. It’s so sad. I have never seen a country run like this. I read a lot. I’m an academician by the grace of God. It’s sad. That’s why we have to cry to God. It’s so sad. With all the resources God has given this country?
Politicians’ defections, especially from the two major political parties, the Peoples Democratic Party and All Progressives Congress. What would you say about this?
They are all the same. When the Lord raises principled men and women in this nation who really want to build a nation, you won’t see this kind of thing happening. That was what preceded the downfall of Nigeria, in 1963/64. You see people switching parties from AG to NCNC that was what we saw and that was the beginning of the mess. Awolowo went to jail, and the army took over and it led to the civil war. These are irresponsible people, totally irresponsible. People without principle, without conscience. As long as we have a pack of these kinds of people as politicians in a nation, only God can deliver that nation from the hands of evil men and women. It used to be men alone, but there are more evil women politicians in this nation than men today. That’s why you see a woman collecting hundreds of millions of pounds, and dollars, buying houses in cash all over the world, and buying trinkets of 42 thousand pounds and other things. Women used to be decent in this nation. I was an advocate of women, all my banking days, even when I travelled abroad. I remember during the civil war, when a woman was brought to be in charge of foreign exchange at the Central Bank in the 60s during the war, nothing worked, but when they brought a lady to take charge of foreign exchange, she took control. You never see women in corruption until in the last few years.
Secession by different ethnic groups, is that okay?
It’s unfortunate. They are right because where there is no justice and fairness, people will bring up new ideas they will begin to talk about secession and stuffs like that, but God didn’t create this nation to secede. God has a purpose that is so much important than just ordinary material resources. God’s purpose for this nation is to propagate the gospel and that’s why the devil is angry so much.
There’s so much hardship in the county what do you think is the way forward?
The Church has a big role to play. The Church is responsible for this hardship. You may not believe it. The custody of this nation is in the hands of the Church. Any nation where there is Church and the Church is the custodian of the nation, if it fails (the Church), then many things would go wrong. If our fathers in the Lord, people like: Bishop Mike Okonkwo, Papa Adeboye, Pastor Kumuyi and all the elders across the land, the Catholic leadership and all the Christians come together and cry to God to forgive our sins, and we turn away from our wicked ways, the Lord will hear us from heaven and heal our land. The Church is responsible for all this nonsense. We permit the politicians to do what they like, we hail them and we support them. We are getting there because a lot is going on now. We have realised we have to come together and ask for mercy. There’s a scripture the Lord gave to me some years ago, Hosea 4.1-4, go and look at that scripture. Everything is there. What is happening in our land today.
Talking about the Church, you mentioned Brazil and Korea, they don’t worship God like we do, but they are thriving and prosperous?
What makes God is integrity. Integrity of God. Where there is no integrity, you will see evil, corruption. You don’t have to be religious. See the man, who built Singapore from rubbish, from nothing like other nations that are worse than our nations that are built by men, are not even religious. They are neither Muslims nor Christians. When I was in the bank of Boston, as far back as 1978, we travelled to Barin (Middle East), we are lending the Arabs money. The only place where there was a hotel in the whole of Middle East outside of Saudi Arabia is Barin. Dubai was all deserts and the oil money that was coming out of there, international banks were lending money to them as they were lending to Nigeria in the late 1970s. Look at what they have done with their own money? The Emirates and Qatar were all in the desert as far back as 1979, there was nothing in the Middle East, it was all desert. Look at what they have done with their oil money. They’re not Christians. There’s no integrity in this country. Resources, in billions of dollars, are wasting every day in this country by the government. To build a road of 1 kilometre anywhere in the world is not more than maybe N10 million, but in this country, it will be built for N1 billion. Secondly, it will not measure to international standard because of the sub-standard materials used in the construction. We’re ranked as the 7th most corrupt nation that is because they don’t know the level corruption has attained in this country. The worst corrupted nation on earth is this country.
Governors in the South are gradually making real their threat to ban open grazing in the zone. Do you see this as a right approach to ending farmers-herders clashes in the zone?
The rulers of the federal ruling power, they are not just realistic at all. I grew up on the farm and in my village there’s what we call the cow path. That was the path that they were using to bring cows to the South. It’s very close to Ibadan where I grew up in the village. That cow path had been there for generations. There were no problems in the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s; the cattle rearers knew their path. They would not take a cow outside that path. They can stop them to eat when they come to grazing areas which were not farms. But when they now began to take the cow deliberately into the farm lands and destroy all the farmers’ crops. In the process the farmers are denied of the little earnings, probably as little as N4,000 and when they raise their voice you begin to fight and even kill them. Initially, it was physical fighting, but it later turned to shooting and killing them. In our time, when a Fulani man comes and settles down in a village, he becomes a member of that village. I remember a Fulani man, who settled in my village, the man is called Yisa. When he settled there, he started a meat business and became the richest man in the town. He had buyers who would distribute the meat to different villages on their bicycles and motorcycles and sell every day. He was the first person to buy a car then in the late 50s. There were no problem. The Fulani would settle even in Kwara which is my original home state. My grandfather was an oba and he had a Fulani who settled on our land and built small, small huts around our town (they were not charged anything). They lived peacefully, selling their wara (milk) and raising their children. My father and his brothers buy cows and give to them to raise for them. Some of these Fulani’s children went to school too. Today, I know there’s one lawyer among the children of the Fulanis that settled in our home town. That was the way it was until these jihadists came. They just bring cows from Niger, Libya and allow them to come in and kill farmers, kill people. What do you want people to do? Look at what happened in Benue. People have been killed in Plateau and Taraba, that’s why people have to rise in the South to say no. This action confirms that these people are planning to take over this nation and it’s not just possible.
How do you see the agitation by groups calling for emergence of new nations?
If two tribes agreed in this nation among the three major tribes, we can’t breakaway easily. Let’s face reality. I’m a strong believer in the old anthem (Nigeria we hail thee, our own dear native land. Though tribe and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand…). That anthem was spiritual. Go and look at the wordings of that first anthem before the military came and give us this rubbish anthem that we sing these days. It was a prophetic prayer and it mentioned there that where there is justice, where no one is oppressed. But what we see today is oppression. The example this government is laying is demonic and it’s destructive. Supposing an Igbo man becomes president would he put Igbo in charge of everything in the nation that belongs to so many tribes? Look at the NNPC; everything is Fulani. Where is that done? I married an Igbo woman for about 40 years before the lord took her away, so I’m an Igbo man by everything and I’m loved so much in Igbo land. How do we run a country like that? These are people who insisted on federal character when they had no education in the 70s and 80s. We have to balance it with federal character. How can somebody come and rule and it’s only one tribe he put to man everywhere. How do you expect people to be happy when things are like this? The people producing the oil are there in the South and then you impose one tribe over them. What would you expect? They would react. Until we follow that first anthem where no one is oppressed. Every government that is not fair and just will be destroyed because someday people will rise and say to hell with you.
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