Rev (Dr.) Uma Ukpai, is the founder and President of Uma Ukpai Evangelistic Association and a Grand Patron of the National Advisory Council of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN). In this interview with Ayoyinka Jegede, the renowned Evangelist traced the course of kidnaping, criminality and insecurity to general disobedience to the law.
Nigeria won’t collapse
Nigerians would want to know the cause of these incessant kidnappings, killings and all these vices in the country?
The cause is ignorance. Most friends are mistaken for enemies, and what you do unto others God will do unto you. It is ignorance that makes a man to threaten a neighbour, or kidnap a neighbour, but knowledge will show us the punishment and the pain. A dying man’s word is a word forever, if you are about to kill anybody and he/she says, God as I die, let this man and his brothers also die with me, God will bring it to pass.
Both the killer, his brothers and relations cannot escape it. We are called by God to love one another, support and help one another, as well as pray for one another. If we do it God will bless and multiply us.
I repeat, the word of a dying man is a word forever. The man you want to kill, whatsoever he/she says at the time of being killed, shall be done by God. It is only proper that we should stay away from killing others, because that act will determine your own future. This is just the attack and programme of the enemy and the right thing is to love one another. That is what God has commanded us to do.
What of the rising clamour for self-determination and secession, each ethnic groups wanting to be on their own, will this nation break up?
Nigeria will not break up. The country will not break up; where there is no problem, there cannot be greatness. This phase will soon pass away; we shall come to another level of maturity of responsibility of caring for others, of fulfilling the demands of life. When we get there the country shall become established and we’ll have the blessings of God and God will pour his rain upon this land. I can’t see this country breaking up, no matter the temptation, no matter the harassment.
Is there anything the government can do to save this country?
The government ought to be a good umpire. The government should monitor what we do and keep to the laws of the land. We should learn how to obey and enforce the laws and the demands of the land.
22 years on, how can we strengthen the nation’s democracy?
We can only strengthen our democracy by obeying the demands of democracy, which are: Love for one another, care for one another, support one another, forgive one another, help one another, and be a brother and sister to every man or woman around you.
Some commentators insist that restructuring is the only way out of our myriads of problems, what’s your view on this?
Restructuring is one of the options, but the leaders will know the best and let’s trust them to do the right thing. Let’s trust our leaders to do the right thing.
Ahead of 2023 what qualities should the electorate watch out for before voting for any leader?
It is not only for the future, it should start from now. All of us should become accountable and responsible. All of us must ask ourselves, what does my neighbour expect of me? We should ask ourselves, what does God expect me to do to show my love for my neighbours? We must ask and know God’s expectations from us to show our love for those who do not like us. We must always make room for those who do not like us and love them despite their attitudes.
Is there really unity in our diversity?
No man is a failure until he begins to give excuses. We should not give excuses, we need to take up that which God expects us to do, which is to love and forgive others. If you don’t want to be offended, then go back to your mother’s womb and do nothing, say nothing and become nothing and nobody will offend you. But, if you want to live in a real world, expect to be offended, insulted and abused. Your reply should be forgiveness as Jesus said, ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do’.
Good governance has become a mirage in this country, what could be done about it?
Good governance would generate good response and good response would give this country a great energy to serve one another and serve better. When there is good governance there will be appreciation, it will make the citizens to love one another, but we don’t want to look for excuses why we are not doing well.
It’s proper we look for what makes for good governance. The government must tell us what the law says, we, as the people, must obey the law and enforce it, carry it out and execute it. The more we do so, the more we shall prosper, the more we shall be united, the more we shall grow, the more we shall be all that God wants us to be.
Is leadership truly our problem?
I don’t want to blame anybody. I want to blame everybody. We all need to take responsibility for the things we do. We need to obey the law of the land; we need to honour God, who brought us together. We need to respect God, who has called us his children
What could be the way out of killings, kidnappings and banditry?
We need to love one another. A country where there is no love, there cannot be progress. Surprisingly, the man you don’t like has something you need. God planted neighbours without consulting us. Every neighbour is to be loved, appreciated and celebrated, that will determine our progress, promotion and lifting. We need to love and care for one another, celebrate, support and pray for one another.
This country will never be a great nation, until we begin to love one another, support one another and help one another. We need to be closer to one another, your neighbour is only a friend you do not know, therefore get close to your friend, who is your neighbour, and get to know him or her, with this there would be great love, great power and unction between the two of you.
Nobody is good enough to be your enemies therefore don’t let anybody become your enemy, no matter your religion. Your religion should be translated into the things you do. And, loving your neighbour is a great act of being a religious person and God will bless you beyond measures and the blessing will flow unto your children.
We have to learn how to forgive one another. I cannot guarantee that nobody shall offend you, but whosoever offends you, forgive him or her, and love that person no matter your political party. In fact, your political party should speak of who you are, what you can do, and what you have done. The Bible commands we love one another; it is an assignment that is commanded, and a demand, when you do it you are showing that you are a good citizen, and you are also a good Christian.
The Bible says by this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. If you are a lover of the people around you that also means you are a lover of God. Why did God post that person to be close to you, it is that he or she may be blessed, allow God to use you to bless those around you, they will come back to bless you also.
We have killings, kidnappings, because we don’t know the assignment that God gave us towards every one that lives around us, there is something God wants us to do for him or her, if we don’t know it we will do the wrong thing. To harm any neighbour is to do the wrong thing. Your neighbour was sent to be loved and cared for. A neighbour is to be helped and to be supported and if we do it, we are going to have a vibrant community, and great and mighty things would happen around us.
Again, it is an affirmation of what Jesus Christ came to do for us all, he came to die for us that we may die for others, live for them, bless them, serve them and make their lives fulfilled. It is my prayers that we’ll begin to practice it by loving our immediate neighbours, it would bring good health to us. It would bring lifting and comfort to us. So, can we all please practice the act of loving one another?