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STATE OF THE NATION – RT REVD JAMES ODEDEJI

STATE OF THE NATION – RT REVD JAMES ODEDEJI

STATE OF THE NATION – RT REVD JAMES ODEDEJI

(An Extract of the Presidential Address of the 2nd Session of the 11th Synod delivered by the Rt Revd Dr. James Olusola Idedeji on Friday, May 20, 2022 held at Archbishop Vining Memorial Church Cathedral, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos)

 

People of God, our nation Nigeria is sliding swiftly towards a failed State. All our economic indices are pointing to the direction of a total recession that may not be easily reversed. Ours is becoming a banana republic where there is no rule of law let alone people obeying same. All the zones of the country are faced with one challenge or the other.

 

The nation is sharply divided along religious, ethnic, and political affiliations. It has never

been this bad in the history of Nigeria. There is palpable fear all over the country - fear of

insecurity, social malady, economic woes, religious intolerance, banditry, kidnapping for ritual

purposes etc. The government seems not to have solution to myriads of problems confronting our

nation. We are therefore using the opportunity of this Charge to appeal to all our religious

leaders. We must intercede on behalf of this nation, using the scriptural advice in 2 Chronicles

7:14 which says “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray

and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will

forgive their sin and will heal their land”. May our God arise and heal our land in Jesus’ name.

Amen.

 

Lagos State   

This State of Excellence and Aquatic Splendour is still maintaining its lead of all the 36

States of Nigeria in all aspects of development. Suffice it to say that the development

started from the beginning of the fourth Republic in 1999. The roadmap was indeed

designed by the administration of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and all the subsequent

leaders after him have not deviated but improving on it year after year. Our brother and

namesake, His Excellency, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, took over the mantle of

leadership in 2019. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic that shook the entire world to its

foundation in 2020, the development in Lagos State remains unparalleled, compared with

other states in Nigeria. Our State wears a fresh look on daily basis. The entire State has

become a construction site of sort, with Contractors working in all the zones of the State.

One important vision of our Governor is the ease of doing business of his government,

which has attracted big time investors to Lagos.

 

Only recently, the multi-billion Naira fertilizer plant, the biggest in Africa, built by Aliko

Dangote Group, was commissioned by the President of the Republic of Nigeria,

Muhamadu Buhari at Lekki axis of Lagos. We are still awaiting the completion of

another multi-billion Naira Refinery also built by Dangote Group. What about the Lekki

Deep Sea Port? All of these are available because of the government’s business friendly

policy which will go a long way in improving the economy of the State, create millions

of jobs for our teaming youths, improve on the State’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP),

and making Lagos one of the best industrial hubs for investors, from all over the world.

 

Our appeal to the government of our dear State is to work hard on improving the power

need of the State. A State like Lagos must not depend absolutely on power supply from

the National Grid. The private sector must be involved in the business of power supply

aside GENCO and DISCO bodies of the Federal Government, with all their bureaucracy.

Also, more than ever before, our road network must be given adequate attention, as this is

another way of driving the rapidly growing economy.

 

We congratulate our indefatigable Governor for all his effort so far, and we pray for the

grace to do more exploit for Lagos State. “Ipinle Eko. Ajumose Gbgobo Wa Ni”.

 

Nigerian Nation and Insecurity

It is no longer news that the entire Western World is keeping watch on the Nigerian security situation. Many States in the North East, North West, North Central and South East are presently under the control of either the bandits or Boko Haram fighters, or worst still, unknown gunmen. Suffice it to say that what really prompted Nigerians to settle for the government of the day, back in 2015, was the promise to stop all forms of banditry, senseless killings, maiming, and raping of minors and women by the Boko-Haram fighters, who had seized many local governments’ areas, in the Northeast. They had even declared areas forcefully taken over as a Caliphate. The coming of this government then, was a welcome one. Nearly every part of Nigeria jubilated to celebrate the new government. Today, however, and after about seven years in office, the story has become different from what it was in 2015. These terrorists had extended their territories to the North Western States of Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto and Kaduna.  In the North Central, states like Benue, Plateau and Niger citizens are seriously feeling the heat. Permit us to say that Southern Kaduna and part of Niger State had recently become slaughter arena. Hundreds of people have been killed, while many houses have been razed.

 

            In the Southeast, INEC workers have become targets of unknown gunmen. Where do we then go from here? Recently, calls for the resignation of the President, Muhammadu Buhari had come from different stakeholders in the country. The Northern Elders Forum, Catholic Bishops, Imams (inclusive of the Imam of the Aso rock Mosque) who was promptly removed from office for his hard comments on the nation’s insecurity.       

 

            Power Supply: A Catalyst to Economic Growth

            We cannot over-emphasize the need to pay attention to our power supply if Nigeria will move up the ladder of development. No nation of the world would be considered developed when it has power crisis. Although no census has been conducted in the past ten years, but it is believed that Nigeria has a population of about 200 million people. The implication of this is the existence of abundant human resources to drive our economy. However, rather than our population to have a positive impact on our economy, the reverse is the case. This is a nation where the teeming employable youths only engage in unproductive activities such as political brigandage, following our Politicians around to secure them, kill and maim on their behalf. Criminality is therefore the order of the day. Many of these youths would have put their productive capabilities into economic use, thereby increasing our Gross Domestic Product, if power supply could be stabilized. So many of them would have been self employed and many would have become employers of labour. How unheard of it is, for a nation of about 200 million people sharing power capacity of below 5000 megawatts? Are there no other means of generating power aside “thermal and hydro” that our nation depends on? When are we likely to get it right?

 

            Once upon a time, Enugu, in the present Enugu State of Nigeria, was known and addressed as coal city. Coal is a reliable source of power generation. We are also privy to solar as a source of power. Our political leaders cannot claim ignorance of these facts; they are fully aware of what could be done, but they lack the political will to do what is right. If the right thing is done, how would they be able to amass wealth enough to sustain their generation yet unborn?

 

            No amount of fiscal or monetary policies can help an economy where the power supply is inadequate. Both the manufacturing and service industries depend heavily on power. And where cost of power is beyond the reach of small and medium scale industries, the result will be hyper inflation on the part of consumers of their products.

 

            Closely related is the idea of fuel subsidy running into billions of dollars, being paid yearly to make Petroleum Motor Spirit and related products available to Nigerians. While the average person on the Street will look at this as a populist idea, only a few of the population are really feeding fat on the policy. Only recently, a consignment of adulterated fuel was imported to the country by these few opportunists, thereby causing severe damage to people’s vehicles, but no organization or person have been punished or sanctioned for this act of sabotage.

 

            And on the final note, the rate at which our government keeps borrowing externally is becoming so alarming that the World Bank has sounded a note of caution on the implication of both our level of borrowing, as well as provision for subsidy. Although the government continues to justify the need to deal with these two evils, the result may not be that palatable at the end. Presently, Nigeria uses almost half of her yearly budget to service debts! This is a bad omen for our fragile economy.

 

            Calls for Regional Governments/2023 Election

            It is no longer a secret that about four out of the six zones of this country are presently clamoring for a self-determination or self-rule. While this may not be noticeable in the South South, and North Central, the Southeast and Southwest are seriously pursuing the agenda of a self-rule. Mention of names like Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Republic of Biafra, Oduduwa Nation and Oduduwa Republic appear on the pages of our Newspapers and even in electronic media every now and then. Suffice it to say that the Western World, and particularly the United Nation cannot claim ignorance of the agitations.

 

            We make bold to say that Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which is responsible for 2023 election, is already facing myriads of problems. This ranges from shortage of election materials, effect of Boko Haram and bandit’s invasion of many Communities particularly in the Northwest, Northeast, North Central and Southeastern parts of the country. INEC workers (casual and regular) have become targets of unknown gunmen, and many have lost their lives. The body also complained recently of loss of about 9,000 Card Readers. There is also a perceived unwillingness on the part of the people to offer themselves as casual workers due to insecurity.

 

            No wonder, a foremost Lawyer and Educationist, Chief Afe Babalola, voiced out recently, advising the Federal Government to consider a postponement of the election, and the inauguration of an Interim Government. As difficult and unconstitutional as this arrangement might sound, it is a fact that all is not well, and the dream of a free and fair election by 2023 might be a mirage.

 

            Civilization/Social Malady

            Let us open this sub-heading with the definitions of the words ‘Civilization’ and ‘Social Malady’. Civilization is the stage of human social and cultural development and organization, which is considered advanced. It is a complex human society, usually made up of different cities, with certain characteristics of cultural and technological development.  On the other hand, ‘social malady’ means social disease that affects society and its people negatively.

 

            In the year 2003, the then government of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, introduced a modern form of communication referred to as Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) to take over from the analog way of communicating with each other.  This new policy was widely embraced by the old as well as the young people in our society.  As time went by, even the uneducated in the society e.g., the market women/men farmers in the villages, artisans and even the destitute in our desolate places, all later embraced the new technology.  The motive then was to open our economy in such a way that the modern technology would play a positive role and add value to Nigerian economy.

 

            As much as we believe that to a considerable extent, it has impacted our economy positively, the negative side effect is biting hard on Nigerians.  The technology has impacted the young ones negatively, and if not properly checked, could spell doom for our nation. Teenagers now engage in all sorts of atrocities with their proficiency in technology. Our youth now engage in acts of making quick money and wealth using technology and the internet. Words alien to us in the past as a Nation, now ring bells all over the place. Today, we have ‘Yahoo’, ‘Yahoo Plus’, kidnapping in a sophisticated way, ‘bank fraud made easy’, forex fraud etc. As if this was not enough, immorality among the youths and teenagers has attained a dangerous height.

 

            Only recently a 10-year-old girl was said to be gang-raped by her peer group, and the sex tape went viral on social media. Fraudsters between ages 15 and 30, only need to know BVN and NIN numbers, to empty their victims bank accounts, courtesy of knowledge of social media manipulation, through communication technology. Majority of our youths are no more interested in serving others, rather, they perpetrate all sorts of evil from their rented one room apartment. They hack into government and business accounts with ease, to conduct fraud in connivance with workers of organizations such as banks and the rest of it. May the Lord help us.

 

            Corruption – Winning the War or Not

            Corruption in Nigeria today is taking a new dimension, and no one could be said to be a ‘Saint’.  There are manifestations of corruption in government, among the Legislators, in the Judiciary and even in the Church. Today many business people (men and women) are merely fronting for those in government. Often, our Legislators embark on oversight functions of government ministries and parastatals, only to share in the national cake, that they may not have access to, by virtue of their elections to make laws. As respected and honourable as our Judiciary is in Nigeria today, we still find some bad eggs who are in the profession, with ulterior motives.

 

            Pastors now head Committees of the Church when huge Church projects execution is involved. Many connived with Contractors to inflate contract sums, and yet they mount the pulpit to preach to the same congregation. Corruption is now being taken as ‘normal’ in Nigeria today. It has become if you cannot beat them, you join them.

 

 The Agencies in charge of corruption in Nigeria, EFCC and ICPC are becoming toothless bulldogs. It is alleged that they oftentimes prosecute those in the opposition, seize their properties and jail them after thorough prosecution. But for those that are part of the government of the day, they are said to be considered for juicy political appointments. The ‘hunt’ has started to haunt the ‘hunter’ in Nigeria’s bid to stop corruption. Many of our Government Ministries and parastatals are stinking for corruption. Only God can help us in Nigeria. No doubt, our Messiah is yet to come.

 

            Education

            There is a pertinent question we need to ask ourselves considering what educational sector of Nigeria economy is offering us at present. The question is whether there is a future for our youths through education? As at today, we make bold to say that there is hardly a year without workers’ strike in the sector. When we consider the brain drain occurrence, where our brilliant ones are migrating in their numbers in search of greener pastures overseas, it is quite alarming and worrisome. Our University Lecturers are always home for months, asking for implementation of agreement between the teachers and the government. No wonder, most products from our tertiary institutions these days cannot justify having passed through the walls of a University!

 

            Many of our graduates are not employable, except those that attend the paid schools around, or privileged to study abroad. It is grossly an understatement to say that a ‘state of emergency’ is overdue to be declared in our educational sector, if our teeming youths would be relevant in the nearest future in anything that has to do with the decision-making process of this nation. This is a nation where primary school pupils are getting involved in use of illicit drugs, the teenagers in our secondary schools now engage in beauty pageant, showing their bodies in the public. Immorality has become a norm. But what could teachers whose welfare is not being guaranteed do? Lecturers in the higher institutions now charge students heavily for handouts that must be considered compulsory if they must pass their examinations. Many of them had been fingered to have forced female students into immoral acts commonly referred to as ‘sex for mark’ in academic circle.

 

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

Having highlighted those things that have become so worrisome in all sectors of our Nation, Nigeria, we are still of the opinion that it is not yet over until it is over. Some of the suggestions below could be given a thought by our government representatives    at the local, state, and federal levels of governance.

 

  1. Giving a worthwhile education to our teeming youth can be the needed impetus to change our society for the better. Our Northern leaders should make haste to abolish the Islamic policy of Almajiri (Religious foot soldiers), in which young ones are not sure of their future. Still on education, a state of emergency need be declared in the education sector to be able to receive the needed attention in terms of human, material, and financial resources to achieve the desired goal of Nigerian development.

 

  1. Unless the evil, called ‘corruption’ in the local parlance is addressed frontally, by enacting laws that will make our anti-corruption Agencies (EFCC & ICPC) truly independent, and not being supervised by any Government ministry (e.g., Ministry of Justice and Attorney General) as being practiced now. The Officers concerned will be able to do the job contentiously and will be guided properly by the law. Also, more stringent laws to curb corruption need be enacted to carry severe punishment for those found guilty of corruption in Nigeria.

            Just recently, two former Governors who were jailed for corruption were pardoned by the National Council of State. This is an encouragement that could make corruption flourish among the upcoming generations. Our government must stop playing politics with corruption.

 

  1. Concerning insecurity, we need to consider urgently the following measures:

            (i)         Our government should begin to think of how only the educated youths are enlisted both in the army, police, and other security agencies as against allowing secondary school dropouts and the like to take control of this sensitive aspect of governance.

 

(ii)        Our various governments must work hard to occupy our teeming youths in

profitable ventures. Encouraging the youth    to learn one trade or skill in addition

to their academic pursuit. They can then be empowered after their skill or trade

acquisition.

 

(iii)       Our laws should be reviewed to ensure that the use of thugs by our

Politicians during political campaigns and the like, become an offence punishable

with death or life jail. Since these Politicians cannot use their own children for the

same activities.

 

(iv)       It is high time a consideration is given to the establishment of ‘State

Police’ our states. If our laws are amended to achieve this, insecurity would be

reduced significantly because those to be recruited to serve in the force shall be

from the same State with total knowledge of the terrain where they are to work.

Criminals also can be traced to their family compounds and be shamed in the

presence of their family members.

 

 

(v)        The issue of drug abuse must also be addressed. Our laws must be

reviewed in such a way that stiffer penalty will be considered for drug offenders,

including death or life imprisonment.

 

(vi)       Our laws must be able to treat sponsors of criminal activities, no matter

how highly placed, as criminals and must be dealt with when exposed by our

stringent provisions of the law. Nobody must henceforth be treated higher than

the law.

 

  1. On the 2023 election and calls for Regional Self Determination, the following must be addressed urgently:

(i)         Elections in Nigeria must be such that all regions of the country must be given the opportunity to aspire to the highest position of President of this country. Priority must not be given to any region of the country at the expense of the others; hence those that are calling for self determination should be allowed to leave peacefully. What is good for the goose is also good for the gander.

 

(ii)        The current Constitution has been criticized by various sections of the country as being lopsided in its provisions, and that there is an urgent need to address every clause that seems suspicious of creating master/servant relationship among the different regions of the country. We hope our government and our Law Makers will heed this voice of reason.

 

  1. On the use of modern communication technology, we want to submit that more stringent measures be taken to check the influx of applications that can be accessible by our youths and school children. A lot of applications are destructive to the future of our children and youths. Modern ways of committing crimes are copied from these destructive applications, and our youths been cleverer in their handling of the technology than their parents/elders, many have mastered their operations without the knowledge of their parents. For instance, the 10-year-oldschoolgirl, who was gang-raped, while on excursion to Dubai, left her mother speechless, when confronted with what the daughter had been doing on the internet prior to the incidence. We appeal also to parents to ensure that they monitor their children, and what they do. The idea of having to buy sophisticated telephone sets for our young school children should be discouraged.

 

  1. The issue of power supply must be taken with all seriousness if our economy will grow andbe comparable to those of our contemporaries within the third world countries. Other sources of power, aside hydro electricity generation must be explored. Our leaders must reach out to countries that are currently enjoying uninterrupted power supply, such as South Africa, and even Ghana, to be of help. It is not about our size as a nation, but about doing it right.

 

  1. Also, our government at the centre must be cautioned to check the nation’s level of borrowing, particularly from some powerful nations such as China, of which its modus operandi is to give a condition that tends towards recolonization. Our economic experts have challenged the motive of the said nations to include ceding our sovereignty as a nation to such powerful countries if we are unable to pay back. This is purely an attempt at recolonization. Our leaders must be careful, not to put the future of our country into jeopardy.

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