BISHOP ODEDEJI SPOKE ON THE STATE OF THE NATION
At the 1-Day Synod of the Diocese of Lagos West (Anglican Communion) held on Thursday, October 3, 2013 at Archbishop Vining Memorial Church Cathedral, Ikeja GRA, Lagos. During his Presidential Charge, he spoke extensively on the state of the nation and Lagos State.
(a) ASUU Strike/Decay in Educational Sector
It is only in a country like Nigeria that teachers in our Universities will embark on strike for as long as 3 months without solution to the problem which led to such face-off. I often get worried when I am confronted with whether our leaders do visit other countries of the world to see what obtains. This could be the developed or even the developing world as ours. If therefore our children cannot go to school for 3 months or more, why do we complain of a fall in the standard of education in Nigeria?
In the whole of Africa, only a few Universities in this country make the first 100, while only Obafemi Awolowo University made the first 10 and it is the first from the rear. To save our Universities in particular and our educational sector in general, from total collapse, the Federal Government of Nigeria must make haste, not only to dialogue properly with the Executive of ASUU and to fulfill the promise made to the teachers as claimed in the pact signed by both parties in 2009, but to also consider a state of emergency, in the education sector to receive the required attention, from all the three tiers of governments.
An idle hand, they say, is the devil s workshop. Students that have been home for 3 months may be lured into bad gangs and thereby allowing crime to be on the increase in the land.
Suffice it to say that 20% savings from what is currently paid to all our political office holders, could be profitably utilised to revamp the already decayed educational sector of this country. We hope that our politicians will look into the right direction and save the country educational sector and the future of our teeming youths from total collapse. These are future leaders who determine what happens to this entity called Nigeria after most of us may have gone.
(b) INSECURITY IN THE LAND
Boko Haram Insurgency
We want to thank God for the efforts so far put in place to curb the violence being perpetrated by this deadly sect under the guise of religion. Let me commend the Federal Government for the declaration of the State of Emergency in the three States where the activities of the sect were prevalent, even though the decision was lpng overdue as many lives as well as properties worth billions of Naira had already been lost.
However, the fact remains that there is serious insecurity in the land. If therefore there is going to be any meaningful transformation agenda as propounded by the present government, a lot more is expected in the area of total overhauling of the entire security Agencies of the nation. The Military, the Police and all other paramilitary bodies must be properly equipped with modern weaponry. Nigeria has attained that level where the point of entry into any of our Military cum paramilitary agencies should not be lower than the first degree if real transformation will take place. Education must be one of the indicators or even key to any meaningful transformation agenda. Today, in these agencies, there are enemies from within and not until enlightened people are asked to man our security outfits, Nigeria is yet to get there. The Security Agencies are advised to be more careful in order to avoid the loss of innocent lives A case in point is the recent killings within Apo Village at Abuja which we advised, must be properly investigated.
c. Kidnapping for Income
In Nigeria today, you have to think twice and be sure that it is absolutely needful for you to embark on an outing before you leave your domain. The reason is not farfetched, you may not come back home so soon, especially if your destination is towards the Mid-Western, Eastern or the Niger Delta areas of the country. We are worried because these kidnappers do not only kidnap money bags but men of God, the Clergy and even common people of this country. What readily came to mind was the kidnap of the Archbishop of the Niger Delta Province, and Dean of Church of Nigerian (Anglican Communion), The Most Revd. Ignatius Kattey on the eve of the Church of Nigeria Standing Committee meeting that was held within his Province.
This is indeed an ugly trend that must be curbed with full government might. If we are serious as a nation, asking Investors to come and invest in our economy, we must go beyond empty declarations that the nation is on top of all her security challenges. Our little research into the activities of these men of underworld, revealed that they work on a network of members drawn from among all strata of people in the society including those in our security agencies. We therefore wonder how a thief could be given an assignment to pursue a fellow thief and there will be a positive result. Our entire security network must be addressed in such a way that all bad eggs be flushed out from the system and new blood injected, who would be trained to cope with modern security challenges and with loyalty and patriotism that we face as a nation.
d. Rape of the Under-aged
Rape of young girls is fast becoming a new wave of violence against the female child. Men that are as old as 60 and 70 years of age are now being found to be involved in violent rape of children of 10 years and below. When accosted however, they throw shame into the winds and claim such barbaric acts are works of the devil.
We need to say here that punishments for these kind of offences should be so weighty to serve as a deterrent to others. Since arrests of these heartless men commenced, we have not heard that they were given appropriate sanctions. There may be the need to revisit our laws with a view to dispensing heavy penalties for this very callous and mindless behaviour from our so called elders. The earlier this was done the better for this nation.
e. 2015 Election
A lot of events are now being revealed to convince the people of Nigeria that our elected office holders have abandoned us to struggle for positions in far away 2015. Recently, about four political parties have fused up to form one party while some new groups are also warming up to become political parties. This is good if the reason is to enlarge the coast of the opposition. Worthy of mention also is the current face off within the ruling party in Nigeria. While some claimed to belong to the authentic party other ones are up in arms to be identified as the real owners of the party.
Recently, the visit of a faction of the ruling party to the house of parliament nearly marred the sitting of the House. For those of us that watched the events on the electronic media, it was an outright disgrace and a disappointment to the teeming electorates of this country. Members violently rising against fellow members in the hallow chamber. Is this really honourable? The fractionalized Nigerian Governors Forum is another pointer to what the electorate should expect in year 2015. In a free and fair election, one need not be told that 19 is greater than 16 and that whoever score 19 must be the winner. The reverse is however the case in Nigeria. May God have mercy!
We therefore wish to implore our politicians to please consider delivering the dividends of democracy to our teeming populace rather than to begin to exert their energy on 2015 general elections. Many youths are unemployed, the Retirees are not paid their severance entitlements as when due while the minimum wage is being debated to be removed from the Exclusive Legislative list. God will save this nation and her leaders.
f. The Judiciary
Out of the three arms of government, the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary, majority of Nigerians still consider the Judiciary as the last hope of not only the common man but also the uncommon and not-so-common.
However, events of recent past have proved that this saying might not be totally true. Penalty for big time stealing for instance, is light punishment while the one for pick pocketing is life imprisonment, often times depending on how the prosecutor is treated by the people concerned. It is no longer news that corruption has eaten deep into the fabrics of some officials of the bench.
However, we need to commend the current leadership under the Chief Justice of the Federation, the Hon, Justice Aloma Mukthar for her unrelenting effort at sanitizing the Judiciary. While many judges have been shown the way out of the bench, many are under close watch. If justice could not be guaranteed in our law Courts, where else do we go? We pray for Mama Aloma, that God in His infinite mercy, will continue to strengthen her and secure her life. Nigerians appreciate you.
g. Lagos State
All Lagosians and non Lagosians alike could attest to the fact that Lagos State is indeed a State of Excellence and Aquatic splendor. It is indeed a pace-setter. We thank God for the leadership of our amiable Governor, Barrister Babatunde Raji Fasola, SAN, FDLW.
Suffice it to say that our familiarization visit to churches under our Diocese recently, afforded us the opportunity to get acquainted with various developmental projects that are ongoing in the State. In all areas visited, we came across one project or the other. This was in addition to the gigantic road constructions that are ongoing around Ikorodu, Ojo, Mile 2, and Ikeja areas as well as the intra rail project that is moving on steadily. It is our prayer that even after leaving the office as Governor; your vision for Lagos State will not die off in Jesus name. We are interceding for another visionary leader to succeed your tenure in Jesus name.