By Rev Samson ‘Olasupo A. Ayokunle, PhD, CAN President & President, Nigerian Baptist Convention.
We give glory to God at this unique time of Diamond Jubilee Anniversary of our nation. But for God, the country would have become history or at best balkanised as a result of the military misadventure to power, three years of the needless civil war, the political upheavals, the travails of mismanagement of the economy, insecurity, unemployment, decaying infrastructure, and of recent, the COVID-19 pandemic, e.t.c., that constitute the biggest threat to the country. Though we are far from being at where we ought and want to be now, the leadership of CAN is fully persuaded that we can still get to where we ought to be if we resolve to fix all these problems, once and for all.
We believe, with the right attitude from both those who are in the position of leadership of our three tiers of government and the led, coupled with God helping us, our tomorrow in Nigeria shall be greater than today. However, it is imperative to all Nigerians, irrespective of our political, religious and ethnic affiliations, to fear God to love our nation and love one another. We have paid enough lip service to godliness and patriotism, hence why our country is still crawling at 60. This is a shame on our political leaders and the rest of us who have not done our best in various places of leadership, including those who governed us during the military misadventure to power. They have failed to invest in the future of our Fatherland hence while we have collapsed infrastructures everywhere. They failed to build an enduring institution but instead enriching themselves at the expense of the dreams of the founding fathers of the country. Our electoral system has remained far from being free, fair, and credible because of thuggery, godfather syndrome and the use sometimes of law enforcement agents to intimidate voters in order to win election. Failure to have credible elections was why some developed countries threatened and are still threatening our political leaders to rig elections and risk visa denial. Our politicians have often over promised but under-delivered at the expense of the electorate and this has led to voters apathy.
Our economy is in shambles and the Naira has been devalued beyond recognition while the masses are at the receiving end. The cost of living has gone beyond the reach of many Nigerians, our youths are becoming increasingly vulnerable to criminality in the absence of gainful employments or job opportunities. None of our refineries is functioning to its maximum level. Today, our security agencies are battling terrorists in the Northeast, herdsmen killers in the Northcentral, bandits in the Northwest and kidnappers and other criminals in virtually every state of the Federation. Herdsmen are ramping the Middle- belt and the South. We have never had it this bad as we had it in the last ten years. It is disheartening to read in the print media that some governors are literally begging criminals to stop their attacks because they have no answer to stop them. Nigerians abroad are not happy with the horrendous conditions at home.
This nation is blessed with human and material resources, let us engage them for our general good. As we begin the journey of another decade, we must adjust our strategy or remain where we are now, God forbid. When we are celebrating Nigeria at 70, I pray we would have better Nigeria to celebrate in Jesus’ name.
While both the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Church in the country will not cease praying for our leaders for divine guidance, wisdom and integrity, we are calling on our governments at all levels to consider the following if truly they are not paying lip service to the peace, unity and progress of the country:
1. We urge President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) to immediately sign the Electoral Bill reform which has been gathering dust on his table since last year. Our elections should be free, fair and credible if we want the governed and other nations to respect our political leaders. Trust is earned not imposed or enforced.
2. Our governments should be sensitive to the yearnings and the groaning of the governed. The era of asking the people to tighten their belts while those in power are loosening theirs should stop.
3. Both the Federal and State governments must give a sense of belonging to all citizens irrespective of their religious, tribal, and political persuasions. Lopsided appointments in favour of one part of the country at the expense of the other, or in favour of one religion at the expense of the other will only deepen the crises in the polity. This will put pay to those calling for the balkanisation of the country. And if such a call is unacceptable and unfortunate, then doing what is promoting the agitation must be stopped.
4. We call on the government to revisit the 2014 National Conference Report with a view to using it to address some problems militating against the peace and unity of the country. We don’t need another conference if there is a political will to implement the report. It should just be sent to the National Assemblies as template to guide legislative process of better repositioning of Nigeria.
5. We insist on calling for a total overhauling of the security architecture of the country to inject personnel with fresh ideas that can address all security problems. There’s no doubt that all at the helm of affairs of our security agencies are doing their best but it seems they have nothing new again to tame the monsters of the security challenges. We are sad that both the security agents and the civilians continue to be killed by insurgents.
6. There is an urgent need to reduce the cost of governance if our governments are sincere in fixing the economic problems. If it is too late to return to the Parliamentary system, then, we should practise a Presidential system that will not be as expensive as the one we are practising. We may borrow a leaf from Ghana and France in doing this. Why should we be running a system that drains our meagre resources?
7. We call for more Job opportunities for our teaming youths in order to reduce the menace of insecurity in the country.
8. CAN is calling for the inclusion of the private universities among the educational institutions that are enjoying subvention from the Federal government with a view to reducing the cost of running them. After all the resources that are being used belong to all Nigerians and, Education, like security, is a business of everybody.
9. We are also calling on the Federal government to reduce the issue of hike in electricity tariff and fuel pump price in order to reduce the economic burden on the masses. We at CAN are monitoring the dialogue between the Federal government and the leadership of labour over the issue.
10. That our universities have been under lock and key since March is an ill wind that blows no one any good because of lack of implementation of previous agreement between the government and Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). CAN is calling on both the Federal government and the leadership of (ASUU) to return to the table with a view to reopening all universities as COVID-19 pandemic is gradually going away. We should stop toying with the future of our youths if we truly want this country to remain relevant in the comity of nations.
We commend the government, especially, the Presidential Task Force on Covid- 19 headed by Mr. Boss Mustapha for the great effort they put in to flattening the curve of the pandemic. Lagos State in particular must be specially commended for a job well done.
It is our prayers that the next decade will be far better than the last six decades in Jesus‘ Name.
May God heal our Land and grant us victory over every challenge facing the country in Jesus’ Name, Amen
Happy Diamond Jubilee to all Nigerians.
Thank You and God bless you richly for always being for us.