Chris Atamata is a practicing clergyman and the owner of the Zuriel Christian Centre. Pastor Chris Atamata, who is also the chief executive of a contractual firm, and considers himself a practical individual, speaks to Leadership’s Onukogu Kanayo Jubal on some pressing national issues and proffers some solution, as well.
As a clergyman, what is your opinion of what Nigeria is going through at present?
Permit me to give you an analogy, using I Samuel chapter 30 from versus 1, you can see the way the Amalekites attacked David’s home-town of Ziklag. These Amalekites, who are very much like the infamous Boko Haram, were cowardly and, in order to avoid face-to-face combat, resorted to cowardly tactics, including women and children in the war. If not for some form of cowardice, why should the Boko Haram abduct helpless girls, children who know nothing about their crazed wishes? Just as that dastardly deed brought about total defeat of the Amalekites, so has the abduction of the girls by the Boko Haram. Their end is near.
How can you abduct girls and make them pass through great trauma? That is wicked, evil and heartless. What do they do to these girls in their camps? Can you imagine the trauma the parents of these girls are going through? Boko Haram are cowards, just like the Amalekites. What Nigeria is going through is not new, I must tell you. Those girls will be recovered and I say so, because I have spiritual back-up. Mark my words.
If God is not interested in government, why did He ask Daniel to help out the king? Why did He give Joseph the ability to use his wisdom for the good of Egypt?
Only a lack of spiritual understanding makes people to condemn men of God who speak about or relate with the government. Why should my country be aflame and I sit and watch because I am a clergyman? Why?
Do you think that the whole saga has been handled in a sincere manner?
True, it has not been sincerely handled. Some people are, unashamedly, playing politics with the whole issue, because they want to nail the government. I have nothing to benefit from President Goodluck Jonathan, so I’m going to speak my mind. Some people want to use this to discredit the government and push forth their own political ambition.
Talking about that, many spiritual leaders have preferred to live in denial, concerning the true situation of the country. Is this because they do not want to court controversy or because they do not want to acknowledge the problem?
You see, people talk about being ‘controversial’, but then, saying nothing is worse because people will talk about you anyways. Why should you be within your confines when the nation is in flames? Perhaps, it could be that they have no spiritual directive to speak and, therefore, cannot go beyond what God has asked them to do. But when God has asked you to speak, people must throw stones at you and ask why you didn’t prefer to mind the pew, instead of barging into worldly affairs.
When people wonder why some clergymen cannot stop talking about politics, I let them understand that politics started in heaven. If Lucifer had succeeded in politicking and winning some of the angels in heaven to his side, we wouldn’t have been worshipping God today. Till this day, he (Lucifer) is still politicking, even though he knows that doomsday awaits him in the abyss.
Why did He make Joseph second-in-command to Pharaoh? Why did he allow Esther and Mordecai to be a part of King Ahasuerus’s government? If God is not interested in government, then the purpose of Isaiah chapter 9 versus 6 is defeated.
If God is not interested in government, why were Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego advisers to the government? If God is not interested in government, Christ wouldn’t have eaten with Zaccheaus, one of the most corrupt government officials of his time?
If you don’t speak about the dangers confronting Nigeria today, what will happen to your children and their children? If you speak and people call you names, that should not stop you from speaking next time.
Do you think the affinity Nigerians have for religion is helping or destroying the country?
First off, I belong to no religion. I am a Christian and Christianity is no religion. It is a lifestyle, a relationship with God. I only acknowledge ‘religion’ when I fill forms. But the truth is that those who know their God belong to no religion.
Religion is highly destructive. Nothing kills a nation or a human being as quickly as religion does. Religion is a ritual; going to church every Sunday to go sit near so-and-so and see so-and-so. When that person comes out, he or she remains unchanged.
But a relationship is different. In this case, I must watch what I do to my brother and sister, as well s my neighbour, because they are all created in the image of God. A relationship is built on working towards perfection, while religion is directionless. Until humanity cultivates a relation with God, we will continue to struggle; because our biggest problem is religion.
Has the Christian Association of Nigeria been politically correct, on happenings in the country?
You see, the CAN does not have to be politically correct in any way. They do not have to appeal to the sentiments of anyone or any part of the country. When you can be what you are wherever you are, that is true honesty.
True, the CAN has been outspoken but that does not mean that it is making so much noise or looking for trouble. No. The current president of the CAN, Bishop Ayo Oritsejafor, is an outspoken person. I strongly believe, without mincing words, that if he had been in this position during the Obasanjo or the military era, he would have said the same thing. You can give him some credit, rather than say CAN is speaking for the government or the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) or to say he has been bought over. That is quite insulting and unfounded. He is a proactive man and he will be remembered for that.
How can some of these problems be solved, then or do we have to wait for some sort of divine intervention?
According to experts, our education standard has been falling, so that one’s been there for some time. As for the insecurity, poverty and every other form of challenge, they are up to politics and the greed of politicians who have made their belly their god. But you have to note that every country on earth has a specific problem it wishes to solve.
That said, none of man’s problems were created by God. Every problem man has is created by man, so it is up to man to use his God-given intellect to make them go away – if he ever can. Poverty, it may surprise you to now, is not the lack of money, but a mind-set.
Psalm 127 vs 1 makes us understand that true security is only in God. No man can provide that, not even security men. Ask Bola Ige, Funsho Williams, Aguiyi Ironsi, Dikibo, Alfred Rewane and the others.
The bottom-line is a change of mind-set and ideology.