Isaac Idahosa, a cleric and Bishop of Illumination Assembly, Ajah, Lagos, was recently nominated as the vice presidential candidate of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP). He was formally unveiled in Abuja last week. In an interview with FRED EZEH, Bishop Idahosa narrated to Saturday Sun the journey that culminated in his emergence as the vice presidential candidate of the NNPP.
How did your name come up as NNPP vice presidential candidate because it is known that you are not deeply involved in Nigerian political activities?
First of all, I am not new to Nigerian politics. I have been deeply involved in political activities in Nigeria and this is contrary to what many may think. However, they can choose to define it their own way based on their own assessment.
What earned you Kwankwaso’s trust and confidence?
Well, I have been so close to Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso for quite some years now. He knows me and my capacity, and we have worked together in different areas and aspects, and I accepted and joined him in this transformational race because of my belief in his personality and ideology which are similar to mine, irrespective of our religious and ethnic differences. I must also add that his leadership style over the years also made me to love him and choose to work with him, and we have been doing that in different areas for several years now.
What kind of man is Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso?
Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso is a man of the people and leader of the masses. He has great care and concern for the poor and less privileged in the society, hence he commands massive loyalty, support and respect among the poor and less privileged people within and outside his home state. Though he is from Kano State, but his impact cuts across different parts of Nigeria. Hope has come to many families in Nigeria because of his kindness. He has invested heavily in children of the poor and less privileged in the society. He is a lover of education and human capital development. He has sent so many to school within and outside Nigeria to acquire knowledge and skills in different fields of study. To me, that’s the best kind of investment – human capital development. He has trained male and female doctors, pilots, teachers, engineers and several other professionals. Basically, he has invested in human capital development and that’s perhaps the reason for the love and support he enjoys among different tribes and religions in Nigeria and beyond.
Why do you think he chose you as running mate?
Well! I didn’t even see that coming in the first place. Like I said earlier, we have been friends for several years now. We have shared prospects and challenges together over the years. But I didn’t see this coming, neither did I had it in dream.
So how did it happen?
I got a call from His Excellency earlier in the week that ended with INEC deadline for submission of parties’ candidates. He asked me to be in Kano on a particular day. I arrived Kano and found myself in the midst of thousands of people who had gathered in his house for the Sallah celebration. He requested that I greet the mammoth crowd in his house in Kano, and I did. Same day, at around 12 midnight, he called me to a discussion and asked for my suggestion on who he could nominate as his running mate ahead of INEC deadline. He specifically mentioned that the person must come from the South-South region. I said okay to that assignment and promised to revert with a response. When I returned to Lagos, I presented the matter to my fathers in faith and other trusted persons, and requested that they assist me carry out the assignment by suggesting a credible and acceptable name that I will present to hi,. That was on a Monday. We brainstormed together to find a name that is credible and suitable for that job. Myself and others were in that task when he called and requested that I fly to Abuja with him on Wednesday of same week. Remember that INEC deadline was fast approaching and there was need to take a decision as quickly as possible on whose name to submit to INEC. All these while, he never told me that I had been chosen to fly the flag with him. When we got to Abuja, he asked me same question if I had succeeded in the assignment he gave me, and I said no. After several search and consultations together with my fathers in faith, a name was suggested for the job, but when we reached out to the person, he declined the offer with the excuse that it was rather too close for him to consult and take decision. That was on a Tuesday, and time was running. On Wednesday of same week, His Excellency called again that I should come to his house in Abuja at around 1pm so we could brainstorm together with the party’s screening committee on the choice of running mate. I thought I was just going to be part of the screening committee but when I got there, I saw the likes of Buba Galadima and several others. I was in their midst innocently. They asked me several questions that was surprising to me, and I answered the best way that I could.
Were you a registered member of the party before that time?
Oh yeah! I have been a member of the party long before that day.
What was the outcome of the engagement with the screening committee?
After the engagement, they requested for my resume (CV), and I couldn’t remember the last I touched that. I requested that I be allowed to return to Lagos and put them together, and I did as promised. I also sent a copy of my PVC as was also requested. Shortly after that, I began to see my name on social media that I have been nominated as NNPP VP candidate. It was a shocker to me when I began to see all those things. In my surprised state, I called His Excellency, about it and he said I should just relax, assuring me that everything is fine and well. On Thursday, about 2pm, I received a call from Dr. Kwankwaso congratulating me on my emergence as the vice presidential candidate of NNPP. I screamed in surprise because I never saw it coming. After the call, I immediately went to my prayer altar to ask for God’s opinion. After the prayers, I got peace in me, and I said that it might have been divinely arranged because i never lobbied for it neither did I see it coming. That was the story of how I emerged.
Do you think Kwankwaso has the necessary experiences and competence required to pilot the affairs of Nigeria at its current state?
Yes, of course. At the risk of being accused of campaign before the time, Dr. Kwankwaso is a repository of knowledge, wisdom and skills that he has gathered over the years in public service. He has been two term governor of Kano State, a Senator, Minister and several other positions held in the past. So, he is not coming to experiment but he’s coming with great experience that would help him to hit the ground running from day one of his administration.
What kind of leader do you think Nigeria needs now?
At the current state that we are today, Nigeria needs a leader like Dr. Kwankwaso who has courage, competence and character. A leader that is loved and accepted by the people. Someone that will be accountable to the people and be objective in his judgement. It’s not about religion neither is it about tribe, it’s about someone who will pull Nigeria from the dungeon of underdevelopment and backwardness that is currently being experienced. Nigeria is fast being consumed by insecurity and socio-economic problems. It’s time for leaders to emerge to rescue Nigeria from being overrun by charlatans who had unleash terror on the people.
What happens to your pastoral responsibilities if your party wins the election?
My being the Vice President of Nigeria, by God’s Grace, doesn’t stop me from carrying out my responsibilities as a Bishop. Besides, there are other men of God who would be there in my absence. Remember that a success without a successor is a failure. I have been pastoring for the past 33 years, and many people have graduated from the Bible School and God is using them massively to do His work. For me, it’s a higher calling to pastor the nation and won’t stop from doing my work as a Bishop. That I am not there for a while doesn’t mean that things would go bad. Besides, it’s a four year job, at most, eight years if Nigerians found us worthy of a second term.
Have you been able to reach out to your colleague-pastors and fathers in faith since your official unveiling?
Yes, I have done that as expected, and I will continue to do as time permits. Shortly after my official unveiling in Abuja, I visited some pastors and we had good discussions on the subject matter and how to move the Body of Christ forward. Some of them reacted well, while some were obviously not at peace with my decision. But I am not bothered because everybody is entitled to his or her opinion. Besides, you can’t force everybody to see what you see or see things the way you see them. So, it is wisdom to run with those who see what you see and avoid those who see otherwise; maybe they would catch up along the line. You don’t wait for everybody to see what you see or run to your direction. If you are sure of what you see, then you move without looking back. You can’t be convinced and confused at the same time.
What are the things your team are bringing on board to change the fate of Nigeria for good?
The record of the man, Dr. Kwankwaso is there for everybody to assess. His antecedents and records are in the public domain for assessment and comparison. He is a man who loves education and human capital development. It’s when people are educated that you can talk about unifying the nation (healing). There’s so much division in Nigeria today. The suspicion among Nigerians is high because of mismanagement of our diversity. The nepotism, lopsidedness, absence of federal character are conspicuous in our national life today, and that might be the reason for the high level of suspicion and lack of trust among Nigerians of different tribes, religion and other differences. So, the process must begin seriously and sincerely. There’s no peace in Nigeria today, and there won’t be peace if there’s no justice. During his time in Kano as governor, he embraced peace by giving justice to all. We would bring together unity of purpose and justice to all irrespective of religious, ethnic, political and other differences, in addition to inclusive government and tolerance.
APC is fielding candidates from same religion, preferring a Muslim-Muslim ticket. What’s your take?
That is what they decided to do. It doesn’t concern us in NNPP. My interest is NNPP and anything outside that is not my concern. I am focused enough not to think about what other parties are doing. Their decisions are in their own best interest and our own best interest is in a different page.
But do you think religion should be an issue in electing people into political offices?
That shouldn’t be, but we are already divided as a nation along ethnic and religious lines. So, it’s nice for leaders to be sensitive to that. They should know what to do per time in every environment and time. Leaders should know what to do and say in a country like ours that has religious and ethnic diversity. They must find a balance in their decisions and steps for the sake of equity and fairness. But then, I am not speaking on their behalf because they have taken their decision and they are responsible for that.
What solutions is your party bringing on board against rising insecurity in the country?
Insecurity is a big challenge to Nigeria, and its effect can be felt across the country. The security challenge we have is not insurmountable. We need the right people, courage and political will to tackle the challenge. One of the fastest ways of curbing insecurity is to make people busy. Our children shouldn’t be at home for several months because of ASUU strike.
The best way is to look for the origin of the problem, and have the courage and political will to proffer solutions. We must also look inward and make provision for proper welfare of our armed forces. That would make them give more to the nation. Deployment of technology is also very key in solving this challenge.
What messages are you passing to people ahead of the 2023 general elections?
It’s simple. Register to get your Permanent Voter Card (PVC). Vote your conscience when the time comes, protect your vote and avoid violence. That’s the passport and right to participate in choosing the next political leaders. Politics is not dirty as we were made to believe. It’s the players that are dirty.