Every successive government in Nigeria has received the full brunt of Okogie’s assault. Like a diligent watchman, Okogie guards the Nigerian multitude of poor by warning the “Ogas at the top” of the impending judgement. He calls and calls, but no one is listening.
The career of Okogie, presents the life and ministry of “theology of liberation” as he preaches to his once mighty nation – Nigeria – a withering flower or a passing shadow. For nearly half a century, Okogie proclaims an unpopular message to the politicians as well as the Jet Pastors: do not pray that the poor be fed unless you are willing to provide the bread.
His sermons go unheeded by the headstrong leaders who do their best to silence Okogie by ignoring his cries and counsel. Opposed, hated, and once arrested, the heartbroken priest lives to see the cruel political leaders unleash all forms of barbarity on Nigerians.
Okogie, one of Nigeria’s prophetic mouthpieces – what a privilege and a responsibility – for the 77-year old priest to peer into the troubled waters of 2015 and doles out unpalatable truth to President Goodluck Jonathan not to run in 2015.
In an interview published in The Citizen Online September 22 last year, Okogie focused on 2015 presidential elections. Headlined “Don’t Run, Jonathan, Don’t …” the interview is a deliciously satisfying encounter with the fiery priest. At 77, Okogie remains unbowed and unbought. He dispenses the truth with divine generosity. There is still fire in the belly of the lion.
Excerpts from his interview:
On President Jonathan and 2015: “If I were Jonathan I will not try it because the writing on the wall does not favour it. We have not even got to 2015. There is so much sycophancy and flattery. It is like telling Okogie now to go into politics, ‘come, you are the kind of person we want,’ you think I am stupid.”
“Apart from the story that Jonathan made an agreement that he would do just one term, if it is true, do you think those who were there when he said ‘just one term’ are stupid.”
On corruption: “It is quite true and corruption has been there, but not as strong as it is now. It is now a cankerworm. The only good Lord can help us out of it. But if we want to fight corruption, we should start from the top. The man at the top is thinking when I leave office, what happens to me and he want to build an empire for himself. How did it get it?”
“Why are so many people running into politics? 2015 is two years away; see how they are killing themselves. Who even knows who will get to 2015? What do you think they are looking for, money? Nothing else. They are not patriotic; they are not. All our political leaders, how many of them can beat their chests to say they are patriotic. It is just gimmick and pancake that they are doing.”
On government’s plan for the youth: “They often say the youths are the future leaders of tomorrow; it is not true, because where are the plans they have for the youths; how many of them are truly educating the youths or giving scholarships?”
“Look at the ongoing ASUU strike, then consider the amount of money the senators, president, and governors collect, compared to what others are getting in Europe. And look at our schools, the citadel of learning, where the youths are supposed to be trained for the future of the country, that they claim is for youths.”
“Why are they not sending their own children to those kinds of schools? And those who do not have enough money to take their children to Europe take them to Ghana and even Benin Republic. This is the problem we all have. And this is why corruption is there.”
On the political parties: “The parties are chop, I chop like Fela said; they are all the same. If we are all patriotic, you do not care where the person who rules comes from…” I am looking for job, but I cannot get the job simply because I am from a particular region. What is wrong with us? So, our political leaders should guide and guard their mouths, because some of the people listening to them are stark illiterates, they hear go they do not hear come.”
On unholy alliance between Jet Pastors and oppressors of the ruling class: “It is pity that a good number of those who call themselves religious leaders today are not religious leaders; they only became religious leaders because they want to feed their tummy… And they feel they can take it up, read, and interpret it (Bible) to suit themselves, but no way. And this is why they are not keeping to their calling.”
The iconic figure of the Roman Catholic Mission in Nigeria, Cardinal Anthony Olubunmi Okogie retired from the pastoral governance of the See of Lagos having reached the age limit of 75 years May 25, 2012.
Born June 6, 1936 in Lagos, to a royal family of Uromi in Edo State his father was Esan and his mother was Yoruba. He holds a licentiate in sacred theology and was ordained as a priest December 1, 1966. In 1973, he became the Archbishop of Lagos. From 1994 to 2000, he headed the Bishop’s Conference of Nigeria.
Excerpt Taken from Sahara reporters