PRESS RELEASE BY SOUTHWEST PENTECOSTAL FELLOWSHIP OF NIGERIA ON MARCH 15TH, 2022 ON THE STATE OF THE NATION.
Greetings to all church leaders and fathers present here, men and women of the press, ladies and gentlemen.
It is my pleasure to welcome you all to this press conference organized by the office of the National Vice President (NVP), South West of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN).
I want to especially thank you for creating the time to be here. There is so much uncertainty and insecurity in the land that, going out from one end to another is more of a project than a pleasure. Even places that were hitherto considered safe and secure are now death traps. So I want to say we really do not take your presence here for granted.
Why are we here?
We thought it wise to call this press conference to unburden ourselves and intimate the public with our position on certain issues bedevilling our nation.
We have watched as events unfold from both the leadership and the led. We are really pained at heart and uncomfortable with these events. So we thought it wise to give out a piece of our mind and chart a way forward for our country. This conference is our own modest way of intervening in the polity.
The Bible has rightly enjoined us to watch and pray. We have watched and we have prayed. In fact, we will keep praying, but this time, we feel compelled to share our thoughts on some of our concerns.
One of the burdensome situations in Nigeria is the insecurity of lives and properties. This has become more or less a major cause of concern for all Nigerians. Though no war has been declared on us as a nation, it seems we are in a perpetual state of war.
For years now we have been grappling with the issue of Boko Haram, killer herdsmen and bandits. Thousands have been killed as a result of these monstrous elements. The government has evidently been clueless in the face of the insecurity in the land. Rather than go headlong to prosecute the war against terror, the government has been paying lip service and at best been rehabilitating criminal elements in the deadly groups in the name of finding solutions.
There are so many IDP camps around the country as a result of the insurgents. So many have lost loved ones and it seems those who are in charge of keeping the peace in the country do not care.
What is however more worrisome is the increasing rate of ritual killings in the land. Many have lost loved ones in unbelievable circumstances. Corpses of young men and women are found in despicable places. It seems kidnapping and ritual killing have taken on a new garb. Both young and old are victims. Nobody can be trusted again.
The Bus Rapid Transport Service, known as BRT which was considered a reliable and safe means of transportation within Lagos metropolis seems to be no longer reliable.
Revelation from the recent killing of a sister known as Bamise is too chilling to be true. The lady had boarded a BRT bus only to end up being killed apparently for ritual purposes. The BRT driver who goes by the name Nice did not live up to the billing of his name. From all indications, he was at the centre of the death of this innocent lady.
Bamise’s case is known to all because she was smart enough to record and alert her family and friends of the circumstances around her before she was murdered.
There are many more Bamise’s that must have been killed in similar circumstances. Today, videos of kidnappers flood social media. They are in the hospitals and many other public places.
They disguise themselves as madmen and women to perpetuate their activities. Dispatch riders are also being used to kidnap babies as shown in a video making the round on social media.
The situation in the country especially in the southwest is becoming scary. It was the northeast before and then the east. Today, the southwest seems to be the theatre of these evil men. They are growing by the day.
Hijab in police service
It is really worrisome that despite the myriad of problems facing the Nigeria Police Force, it seems the issue of hijab is the most pressing for this government. It shows how those in leadership have turned governance into a circus show and a parade of inanities.
The Nigeria Police which has been in existence since 1945 has gone through several phases and challenges. Over time, the police force has been underfunded. Many Police barracks are eyesores. The morale of the police has been so low and uninspiring.
Recently, the video of a police officer carrying a plate of rice supposedly for a socialite at a public function was circulating on social media. It shows the base level the police have descended to. Yet, those in government think the issue of female police officers wearing hijab is more pressing.
We will like to use this medium to tell the public that the introduction of the Islamic hijab head dress for female police officers by the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba Alkali on March 4, 2022 is a big distraction for us as a nation and an attempt to continue to portray Nigeria as an Islamic nation.
The Force’s spokesman, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, had claimed that the dress code was approved “for optimum output and professionalism”. He said, “The IGP noted that the Nigeria Police workforce has officers from every local government in the country with a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds, and increased inclusion of female folks. This, therefore, brings the need to guarantee inclusion, gender mainstreaming, ethnic and religious diversity in the workplace for optimum output and professionalism”.
The reason for the introduction of the dress code is not only puerile but shows the level of arrogance that is being paraded in the corridors of power. Pray, how will the dress code of the police enhance their performance? Is performance in the dress or in their action? It seems to us that the government has undertaken to make itself an instrument of destabilization.
From available facts, the issue of hijab has become a recurring decimal in the nation’s polity. Just a few months ago, some Christian mission schools in Kwara State were forced against their wish to accommodate hijab-wearing students. This is not only a slap on our face as Christians but a provocation of a sort.
Section 10 of the 1999 Constitution stipulates that government and all its agencies should be neutral in religious matters while Section 42 of the same Constitution forbids discrimination in all its ramifications.
Closely following this is the recent donation of $1 million to Afghanistan by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari. The Secretary-General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Hissein Brahim Taha, disclosed this in a statement recently.
President Mohamadu Buhari and the IGP should be aware of the neutrality of Nigeria in the matter of religion. They must not allow themselves to be used to bring unnecessary chaos to the country.
We observe that our patience as Christians is being tested every day. While we keep praying, we dare to say that we are not oblivious of the several moves of this government to stamp the Islamic toga on Nigeria.
We are saying this government will not succeed in its Islamisation drive. In about a year from now, we will all see its end. But we want to appeal to it not to tear the country to pieces before it leaves.
Directorate of Politics and Governance
It has come to our notice the hullabaloo generated by the internal memo of the Redeemed Christian Church of God telling its parishes to set up a directorate for politics.
We will like to say the initiative was that of the PFN and it was shared with many churches. RCCG was acting in line with this directive. It is not true that the DPG is being set up to promote the political agenda of a particular candidate.
As a fellowship, we know the implication of supporting a particular person to the detriment of others. There are many people in the church who have political ambitions. It will be naive of us to back just one of them. The DPG was not set up to do that.
Rather, it was set up to curb the perennial use and abuse of our people’s votes at every election while nothing is done to address or fulfil all electoral promises by politicians who come to our churches to ask for votes at every election, the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) through the Directorate of Politics and Governance (DPG), is re-orientating our members and churches on the need to get involved deeply and practically in the unfolding political process in the country.
The DPG was thus set up to sensitize Christians and make them participate in the electioneering process.
Our goal is to enthrone democracy in its purest form. Our goal is to deliver Nigeria from political charlatans who have held the country by the jugular.
The Directorate of Politics and Governance (DPG) is not a political party or partisan in its operations but to politically empower and enlighten our churches and members on the practical and formidable process of political re-orientation, integration and empowerment our people to make our votes to count and be counted in proportion to our formidable numerical numbers and strengths.
To this end, we count on the divine understanding, cooperation and support of our revered church fathers, mothers and leaders on this necessary move of the church.
All churches are to get in touch with their PFN State Chairmen or State DPG Director to be properly guided on how to appoint their Church Officer of Politics (COP) for each of their branch or parish as contained in the National DPG operational guidelines
We do appreciate also that credible candidates are not limited to the walls of the church. We, therefore, seize this opportunity to assure the public that our intentions are genuine and altruistic.
This government came to power on the mantra of change. Perhaps what it did not tell millions of Nigerians while it was campaigning for change is the manner the change would take.
We observe that virtually all economic indices are not friendly at all. The naira keeps going down in value. The purchasing power is growing weaker by the day.
Many Nigerians can barely live on their income. This is the reason corruption has become somewhat institutional. A lot of workers now take advantage of their offices to exploit fellow Nigerians. The clerk in the office asks for a bribe before he can lift a file.
The gateman wants to be bribed before he performs his duty. The cleaner has an entitlement mentality. Many civil servants are now compromised because of the need to survive.
Recently, many filling stations jacked up the pump price of PMS known as petrol and nobody is saying anything. As we speak, petrol goes for between N200 and N250 in some parts of the country. This is really worrisome. For how long are we going to bear with this pain? How long are we going to live with this government of empty promises?
We appreciate this government’s achievement in the area of infrastructure. We now have a burgeoning ongoing rail project. Many of our roads are wearing a new and formidable look.
There are however indications that things are not looking up at all for us in other areas of the economy.
Our educational system
The bad economy has extended to the educational system of the country. We are constantly being harassed by the strike action of the Academic Staff Union of Universities.
Our students are perhaps more out of school than in school. This has informed the exodus of many students to other countries of the world.
The recent war in Ukraine shows the number of Nigerian students in that country. An average university in Ukraine has as many as 500 Nigerian students.
Apart from this, there has been a mass exodus of professionals especially those in the medical sector out of Nigeria. Many of our people would rather take up jobs of cleaners and gatemen in other countries than work with their professional certificates in Nigeria.
This is worrisome and a signal that if nothing urgent is done, this country would gradually slip to its grave, God forbid.
There is hope
Despite these misgivings, as watchmen, we are confident that Nigeria will rise again. The dry bones will come alive again. Our economy will pick up again and the whole world will behold our glory.
We are not saying this to sound good and give false hope. We are saying this by the spirit of the Lord. There is hope for a tree that is cut that it shall yet rise again by the scent of water.
We only need to sound the alarm because we need to keep in check agents of destruction. They have had their fill and done enough havoc to Nigeria. But God has not abandoned this country. We are coming up again. The economy will bounce back again.
God will however not come down to make this happen. He will still have to depend on human agents. Despite the fact that He gave the children of Israel the land of Canaan, He still asked them to still contend for it. We will therefore like to give the following suggestions:
- The cost of governance is evidently huge. The salary for our lawmakers is embarrassingly high and not in tune with our fragile economy. There are too many white elephant projects in the country. There is a need to cut down on our excesses. The budget for capital projects is unduly high. Too many leakages and loopholes in the system. We need to put in place laws that will reduce these excesses if we are to make progress.
- There is the need for government to live up to its billing as a democratic government that has no sentiment for any religion. While we agree that Nigeria is a country of people with diverse faiths, the government can’t afford to show partisanship for one particular faith.
- There is a need for government to maintain its neutrality and stay away from matters that divide us. We ask that the issue of dress code for public institutions should follow what is agreed in the institutions’ code rather than the code of the religion of those in the institution.
- There is an urgent need to invest in the young people of this nation. Many brilliant young people are roaming the streets without jobs. Many of them have creative ideas. All they need is just a push.
- Government should create support funds for this set of people. The money used for jamboree by state actors is enough to rehabilitate many young people.
- Government should find a lasting solution to the ASUU strike. There is a need to create a formidable template for our academic institutions with a view to making them productive and relevant to the present-day economy.
- Academic communities must be a solution ground for many of the challenges in the country if well funded. Universities should be able to generate productive ideas.
- There is an urgent need to look into the plight of military personnel and find a lasting solution to the security in the land. The morale of the armed forces is low. The police are underfunded. There is a need to look at the twin problem of low salary and the lack of adequate security equipment to work with.
- In this age of technology, it does not speak well if we still find it difficult to unravel criminal cases. All these criminals make use of phones. If there is a working relationship between the telecommunications outfits and the security, unraveling crimes will be easy.
- There is the advantage of Close Circuit Cameras that could be placed in strategic places unknown to the public. We need to put all these in place if we are going to make progress as a nation.
The suggestions for a better country are indeed endless. What is critical is the will power to carry out these suggestions. Nigeria has never been bereft of good suggestions and ideas. The problem has always been the implementation of these ideas. We appeal to the government to come down from its high horse and have meaningful dialogue with strategic stakeholders that will bring the country out of the mess it has found itself.
Thank you for your time
Archbishop John Alagbala Osa-Oni
NAC member; National Vice President, South West, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria.
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