Why I won’t care about our next president’s tribe, party — Ajiboye, BSN scribe

Why I won’t care about our next president’s tribe, party — Ajiboye, BSN scribe


The General Secretary/Chief Executive Officer of the Bible Society of Nigeria, Dr. Dare Ajiboye, tells OYETUNJI ABIOYE about solutions to the worsening state of insecurity in Nigeria, among other sundry issues

Worsening state of insecurity is perhaps our biggest challenge now as a country. How do you see this and how can the country address this problem?

It is very sad to see what Nigeria is going through today. Sometimes, I sit down and wonder how we got to this level. Sadly, what we are witnessing today did not just start, it is a product of impunity. This is what happens when people are doing things and government pretends not to know or even when they know, they do not take any timely and decisive action to stop such things. For example, look at kidnapping and how it has become a lucrative business now; this is why it appears it is going on unabated. When the kidnappers started these things, what curative efforts did government make to stop it? We were slow in acting and before you realise it, it became a very big thing. When it first started, kidnapping was not pronounced in the North. But now, it has spread everywhere. When you talk about insecurity, it is a function of many things. When you have unemployed graduates and no one engages them, they will think of what to do to earn something. That is why we talk of the YahooYahoo Boys today and it is booming. So, unemployment is a challenge. The family system has also collapsed. A situation where parents abandon their children to babysitters or nannies in the name looking for money calls for concern. And these are nannies that are not properly groomed or had poor background themselves. Hardly do parents spend quality time with their children nowadays. The children have become products of nannies and househelps who never had good background or training. In fact, these children were taught immoral acts by these same nannies. The children were exposed to things on the television unguided. What they saw on the television and Internet is what we are witnessing in our society today. So, it starts from the family, then to government and I would say to our institutions. In our days in school, teachers taught us to be useful in society. We feared and respected the teachers but the reverse is the case today whereby parents go to fight teachers dirty in school because they disciplined their children or wards. The school system has also collapsed, the values of the school system have collapsed. Idleness is growing from family to school and to religious institutions. Also, what we preach on the pulpit is more or less about ephemeral things. Consequently, we churn out young people from families, institutions, religious houses to society where they become wild. And the government that is supposed to have laws to curb these vices are not effective. Besides, some of the laws in question are archaic, yet they are not put to use. So, it is a combination of factors.

Talking about insecurity as a result of the activities of Boko Haram insurgents and the allied groups, as an organisation with bias for Christianity, are you worried that more Christians are being killed than Muslims in Nigeria?

I’m highly concerned over the worrying state of insecurity in the country. It is extremely high when you travel by road. But I want to correct one impression even though it doesn’t go down well with some people. The killings in Nigeria isn’t about Christians alone, it is about killing Nigerians. They kill Christians as well as Moslems; those who don’t believe in God are also being killed. Of course, we are concerned as Christians because we count our own people that are being killed. But our concern as Christians and Muslims should be on how to mitigate the problem of insecurity. Kidnappers kidnap whoever they want to, being a Christian or Moslem does not matter to them. The concern is that the government should be alive to its responsibility. Parents should go back to those qualitative values that shaped peoples’ lives in the past. Whatever I am today, I attribute them to the values my parents inculcated in me. This is the time for parents to go back home and give attention to their children and inculcate godly values in them. Academic institutions should implant moral values in the young ones, churches and mosques should instil spiritual values as well. And governments should be alive to their responsibility by making relevant and effective laws. Whenever people run afoul of the laws, they should be punished.

There has been campaign to allow youths to lead this country as we steadily approach the 2023 general elections. Do you subscribe to this view?

I’ve heard people say the youth should take over. But I keep asking myself, are the youths not the product of the decadence in our society? Do they have different moral values? When they get there, will they not be thinking of how to make more money or become billionaires within a year? Don’t we have youths in politics now? We have them as governor, legislators and so on. What impact have they made in politics? Be that as it may, if Nigeria would change, the first thing we need to do is to go back to God. We need to go back to our root. We’ve abandoned God. Churches, mosques, politicians, schools and children are all looking for money. And this inordinate search for money has affected the whole thing we are talking about. But if we trace our steps back to God by making Him our priority, then the rate of insecurity will drop because you will know it is wrong to kill, the crave and greed for money will also subside because no one will take money to the grave. If we trace our steps back to God, we would know that as a leader, you have been put in charge to serve and not to cheat on people you are leading. That is when we will begin to see servant leadership or stewardship in service. From the example of Jesus, He was a servant leader, He was selfless. Can our leaders emulate this godly character? Can any Nigerian do the same thing?

Talking about the election coming, I don’t know who we want to put there. Considering even the fight over which region should produce the next president; is it not for selfish purpose? Tell me, which political party is doing the right thing today? Are a sizeable number of the people you find in the ruling All Progressive Congress not from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party? Chameleon remains the same animal, depending on its environment which affects its colour. For me, what I need is someone who will deliver result, I’m not interested in the party or tribe a leader or the president is coming from.

There is proliferation of religious centres in Nigeria and our country is reputed to be the most religious country in the world. How come Nigeria is still at the top in the global corruption index?

I should start by saying that what would have happened if churches and mosques were removed from Nigeria? It means it would have been worse off. We go to church and hear the word of God, yet we are still like this. I must admit the churches are making impact, even when people think they are not.

We have proliferation of churches without impact because the objectives of those religious institutions are not to win people to Christ. Today, some people jump into Christian ministry because they are unemployed. Look at some of the respected famous ministers of God today, they had great things doing before God called them; they were not the hungry type. Even Jesus’ disciples, when He called them, they weren’t the hungry ones. I’m always being careful and scared when people say God has called them into the ministry. If you do some research into the lives of the people called by God, you will discover that they were gainfully engaged before God called them. Even when God told Abraham to leave his father’s house, he was somewhere doing something. But today, we are nowhere and people say God has called them. I would rather say that the reason we are having these challenges is not far-fetched: our value system. People go into ministries, religious leadership because they are looking for a way out of hunger rather than to bless lives. If God has called them to bless lives, Nigeria wouldn’t be in the current state it is as you have rightly observed and pointed out.

You will soon retire from the leadership of this organisation, having spent about eight years in the saddle. What would you say are some of your achievements?

If you permit me, I would not say my achievement, rather, I would say what God has done. When I came on board, one of the things God told me was that “don’t share My glory with Me”. He promised He would see me through but I should not share His glory with Him. And I’ve been careful about that. From translation, when I came on board, we had the local Bible in 20 Nigerian languages published. But I want to say that by God’s grace today, for first language translation, we have 26 Nigerian languages. So, it means within the eight years, we were able to add six. We have first and second translation just like when we say versions of the Bible. We also have other languages that have been privileged to have second version of their languages like Hausa, Yoruba. But the one we have also dedicated which is translation in the course of this administration is three: Hausa common language, Tiv Revised and Igala common language. In terms of full Bible, we dedicated six first languages and three second languages. In terms of New Testament, we also dedicated three.

In the course of the period of eight years, we also started six language translations: Epie, Ogbia, Okun, Yungo, Egan and Nigeria sign language. They are very dear to my heart, I must tell you, because these are neglected people. We can’t put price on them when they are completed, they might have to be free or very cheap.

Let me tell you, it will take more than 40 years to complete a Bible in sign language. But we have been able to start it in this administration and we are trusting God to take us far. We have our centre in Ibadan. We are the only bible society in Africa to achieved a lot in terms of structure. A Kenyan consultant confessed to me recently that among the bible societies globally, for sign language, the Bible Society of Nigeria is number one in terms of structure unlike others in other climes that are just endeavouring to come up.

When we talk about distribution, when I came on board, the best BSN has distributed in one year was 1.8 million copies. But to the glory of God, in this administration, we’ve done 2.3 million in a year.

In terms of Bible distribution globally, BSN is number five out of 200 Bible societies globally.

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