What Clerics Want Buhari And Osibanjo To Do
It is a new dawn for Nigerians, as President Muhammadu Buhari grasps the reins to steer the affairs of the country for the next four years. Naturally, expectations are high, and the nation’s number one citizen will have to grapple with and surmount a lot of fundamental issues to be able to move the country forward. In his inauguration speech, Buhari had told Nigerians to trust his team, which he is yet to constitute fully. Should Nigerians then expect a radical departure from past norms? As a crucial segment of the society, what do religious leaders have to say to the Buhari and Osibanjo team? Is the relationship between the new government and religious leaders going to be different from what obtained in the past, when there was so much hobnobbing between the two, which was considered unhealthy in some quarters? The clerics that spoke to CHRIS IREKAMBA, ABOSEDE MUSARI and IJEOMA OPARA set agenda for the new administration.
‘They Should Bring Back The Chibok Girls’
(Rev. (Dr.) Felix Omobude, National President, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN)
I WANT him to tackle the issue of security and bring back the Chibok girls. I would want them to tackle the problem of epileptic power supply and give Nigerians the basic needs of life such as water, electricity, good health and good road among others.
On the relationship between religious leaders and the government, I don’t think that the accusation that religious leaders are hobnobbing with governments should be generalised. The role of the church is to partner and help credible government and so, there is nothing like hobnobbing. We will stand on what is right and oppose oppression. We will support the government and advise them on the right path so that they can serve our people better.
‘He Should Overhaul NNPC And All Other Relevant Agencies’
(His Grace, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins, Catholic Archbishop of Lagos)
THE new president should carry out a major overhaul of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and all the relevant agencies in order to sanitise this crucial sector. Having been a past petroleum minister and Chairman of the defunct Petroleum Task Fund (PTF), I expect him to have a good understanding of how the sector works and how it can be rid of corruption and all forms of bureaucratic bottlenecks affecting its smooth operation. More importantly, the controversial issues surrounding the subsidy funds and the Petroleum Industry Bill should be re-examined in the interest of the nation. Nigeria deserves a functional power sector to enable it grow the economy and thereby attract the much needed foreign investment for further economic growth. President Buhari pledged in his inaugural speech to confront Boko Haram headlong by directing the Military Command to move its base to Maiduguri. This is heartwarming and we hope that in the weeks to come, we shall hear positive news concerning the liberation of the Chibok girls. Beyond this, he should empower and retrain our security personnel in line with global best practices, as a proactive way of preventing possible national security threats posed by terrorists and their sponsors, thereby safe-guarding our territorial integrity.
Mr. President must be seen to be truly committed to fighting corruption and cutting down on the huge cost of governance. The current situation, whereby a large chunk of our resources are being expended on paying salaries and allowances of elected political office holders, their numerous advisers and aides, to the detriment of developmental projects, is not only unacceptable, but worrisome. We can start with trimming down the number of ministries and parastatals, as well as that of special advisers and aides.
Also, the number of planes, helicopters and vehicles in the presidential fleet and several entourages that accompany the president and other government functionaries on foreign trips should be reduced henceforth. Equally, the bogus yearly budgetary allocations meant for entertainment, contingency allowances and other sundry expenses for the executive and legislative arms of government need to be examined in tune with current realities.
Other areas that need government’s involvement are job creation, provision of adequate housing, prompt payment of salaries, provision of social security, qualitative education and standard health delivery. The list is endless.
I appeal to Nigerians to give our newly elected office holders some time to allow them hit the ground. However, we must not fail in our responsibility to hold them accountable when the need arises and we must continue to offer supplications to God and pray for our leaders so that He will empower them to serve diligently with a deep sense of patriotism for the good of all Nigerians.
Clerics have the responsibility of imparting principles unto politicians and any other professional within the system. Therefore, there cannot be a clear-cut break such that we don’t interact with politicians because if not, they won’t enjoy the benefit of the principles, which the church wants to impart to them. The positive partnership is really necessary. But we should not allow politicians to influence us. Rather, we should be influencing them in ways that are good and right and I think that we need to put that into consideration. Sometimes, some clerics behave almost like politicians themselves, though these are the exceptions. It is the responsibility of the church to ensure that members of the church and also people in government are given spiritual guidance. There has to be a line drawn such that the interaction of the church do not suck into the life of government. In order words, there should be a good measure of distance so that we will not be drawn into politics.
‘Power Is Very Critical, Just Like
Security Of Life And Property’
(Bishop Olanrewaju Obembe, Presiding Bishop, El-Shaddai Bible Church, Ikoyi /former Chairman, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Lagos Chapter)
BUHARI should tackle the issue of power. If he is able to fix this, then he could have written his name in gold because it will shoot up the GDP, the SME and industries will come alive. If the issue of insecurity is also addressed, then Nigerians will be able to live in the country without fear. To me, power is very important. It’s very shameful that over the years we have not been able to generate sufficient power. Somebody said: “…if we have been doing 1000 mega watts yearly since independence a lot could have been achieved.” Power is very critical, just like security of life and property. And of course, we have to invest heavily in infrastructure. They also have to explore all available means of transportation; but we have to have infrastructure that will drive other sectors of the economy. The idea of using truck to ship our petroleum products to various geo-political zones in the country is causing so much strain on our roads. They have to do something about it, so that the carnage on our roads will be reduced. The pipeline that was laid during the oil boom, when President Buhari was minister of petroleum resources should be reactivated. Our road networks, rail system, waterways transportation should be better handled. I think I read it in the papers that a rail system is supposed to connect Calabar to Lagos. All of that should be vigorously pursued. I hear contracts have been awarded for that to happen. Then we have the Sokoto-Badagry road. Imagine what will happen, if we have something that is parallel to Lagos-Ibadan expressway that connects the north and south. With that, I think that the problem in that area will be eased.
The issue of refineries and subsidy should be looked into. I think we are better off with the removal of subsidy. That money should be ploughed into addressing critical issues of infrastructure. Right now, people are buying fuel at N120 and N125. In some places, it is even much more than that. Why don’t we come to terms with the reality so that government can plough the difference into areas, where we have been deficient? Such benefits accruing from increase in petroleum products locally could be divested to address some of the dilapidated infrastructure that we have. Then they should invest heavily in education because when you educate people you empower them. The healthcare system is another area that the government should also focus attention. I was shocked to hear that a Nigerian went to Dubai just to treat typhoid and so many people are also going to India for similar things.
Religious leaders must recognise the sanctity of their office, as the Bible commands us to magnify our office. We should recognise that we are the light and salt of the earth; we must not lose people’s confidence in us. Of course, the political class will want to throw so many baits, but we must be firm and recognise that we have a duty to God and to the government and not to rubber stamp their way of doing things. That will be inimical to national development. We must be bold and not compromise our sanctified unassailable ecclesiastical position.
‘Buhari Must Ensure That The Refineries Work’
(Mike Onyeka, Senior Pastor, Victorious People Assembly, Aba, Abia State)
NIGERIANS expect a sincere, genuine and complete war against corruption with no sacred cows. This is especially so considering that many of the politicians now masquerading as patriots and agents of change in APC were part of the rot of the last eight years, both within and outside government. The so-called oil subsidy should be removed. The refineries must work and private Nigerians should be assisted to establish functioning refineries. The monster called NNPC should be tamed. Sanity must be brought to the oil sector. It won’t be enough to just substitute Buhari’s men or APC’s men for Jonathan’s or PDP’s men. I pray that God will help Buhari, for even his own people are likely to frustrate him.
With regards to religious leaders; they ought to be neutral and operate as advisers to the governments and secular leaders. They should reject Greek gifts and maintain their divinely exalted offices.
‘Remove Fuel Subsidy, Slash The Salaries And Allowances Of Legislators’
(Archbishop Joseph Imariabe Ojo, General Overseer and Presiding Bishop of Calvary Kingdom Church, CKC, Lagos-Badagry Expressway)
I WANT a complete departure from some of the things that have not been helpful to the previous administrations. The president should cut down the size of the ministers, ministries and parastatals. He should remove fuel subsidy immediately and slash the salaries and allowances of legislators. There is also the need to create jobs and ensure that the funds for SME get to the real people that need it, as well as improve the power sector.
The truth is that many of the religious leaders have had their hands and robes soiled with the lubrication oil of different governments both at the state and federal levels. It is a shame to church leaders, as it has become very difficult for people to believe that it is not the practice of all religious leaders.
Scripturally, our duties should include praying for the political leaders and advising them on the need to rule in the fear of God. The God of Israel said, ‘the Rock of Israel spake to me. He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God’ 2 Sam. 23:3).
I was invited by the church leaders in one of the states to pray for a governor before he was reelected for his second tenure. I did not get any financial reward. I only did what was expected of me as a minister. ‘I exhort, therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks be made for all men; for kings and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.’ 1Tim.2: 1-2.
The relationship should be that of building together by praying for and advising them.
‘He Should Promote Peace And Oneness’
(Most Rev. Nicholas D. Okoh, Primate, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion)
THERE is what I consider a theological and political capital that Jonathan bequeathed and that is peace. It is a theological and political capital in that where it does not exist, there will be no country. The new administration needs to take advantage of that capital to do more to promote peace. No matter how it is viewed and from whichever angle, peace is essential. Thus, this capital must be properly understood and utilised so that Nigeria can move forward. The capital is there. It could be utilised or ignored, undervalued or properly valued, depending on the way they are looking at things. But I want to say that the presence of that capital is not in doubt, and it is key to the further development of this country. This is the peace ushered in by President Jonathan’s behaviour.
Second is the issue of the country’s unity. No matter what you want to do for Nigerians, if there is no unity, they will just look at you with suspicion and there will be no progress. Presently, there is tension concerning such issues as ethnicity and tribalism. While some people feel safe, others feel insecure. So, what programme can be put in place to reassure everyone that they belong? That is the main issue. After all these can then come such issues as electricity, education, food and so on. They are all secondary.
For instance, can someone from Warri go to Maiduguri, sleep and wake up without fear? Can you go to Sokoto, sleep and wake up without fear of anything? Can you build your house there, live and feel comfortable there? Can a person from Sokoto go to Port Harcourt or Lagos or Warri and build his house and not be troubled about security? This is why the issue of oneness is a major one because until people feel safe, they cannot commit themselves to any development.
The church’s role is still the same and it is to pray for the new government, which we will continue to do. It is a divine assignment. If you go through the scriptures, we are duty bound to support the government with prayers so that they can lead well. In fact, Daniel 4:17 says that the Lord rules in the affairs of men. And because He rules in the affairs of men and sets up governments, we are duty bound to pray for government, which is like a driver. We are inside the vehicle and if the driver drives well, we will all arrive safely, but if not, we crash. If the government succeeds, then Nigerians will be more respected globally and we will enjoy our food and sleep well. What Jonathan did brought honour to Nigerians because otherwise, we would have been running helter skelter by now. Some of the foreign journalists that came to cover the elections were only here to witness how we would kill ourselves. But God helped us and it didn’t go that way.
No comments yet