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National issues: The Anglican voice – A word from Primate Nicholas Okoh – Part 1


Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, Primate of all Nigeria (Anglican Communion)

Herdsmen Menace:
The carnage inflicted by armed herdsmen in recent times in the country on unarmed and innocent citizens has reached an alarming stage. It is disheartening to describe what these wicked human beings do to their fellow human beings. Their bloodthirsty swords do not recognise children, as they delightfully open up pregnant women and display unborn children. For them, a single cow is worth a community of human beings. To further worsen the scenario, the Government appears either powerless to curb their activities or deliberately, purposely and intentionally indifferent.

The Federal Government has in times past dealt with different groups that threatened the peace of this country. Why is dealing with the herdsmen a difficult task for Government? This is a question making Nigerians lose confidence in the present Federal administration. The Standing Committee wishes to reiterate the call of our Bishops at their last Retreat and call on the President to take decisive, swift and pragmatic steps toward stopping the killing permanently. In addition, Government must disarm these murderous herdsmen. It should, therefore, not be allowed to degenerate any further in the interest of all, and the Nigeria nation.

Cattle Colony: Again, as already stated in the Communique of our Bishops at the Retreat, the Standing Committee hereby states categorically that the move to create Cattle Colonies for Fulani herdsmen around the country does not have our support. This is because the move treats a set of people with unwarranted special preference, making them indigenes of all regions of the country. More so, they are private businessmen who take away all proceeds of the business, not sharing with either their host communities or the Government.

We wish to re-echo to the Federal Government, States and individuals involved, the recommendation already made earlier, that ranches should be built in their own localities for modern animal husbandry. In some parts of Nigeria, people are already grappling with high population growth and land does not expand. Nobody’s land should, therefore, be taken forcefully or be given to another person under any guise. It will be grave injustice and corruption of the highest order to spend taxpayers’ money on the private business of a set of people.

Insecurity around the Country: Too many evils are bedevilling our nation at the same time, all constituting insecurity and a kind of widespread fears never before felt. The polity is becoming increasingly volatile with no end in sight. Just as we were hoping for a respite from the Boko Haram menace, herdsmen have taken over. Militancy in different parts of the country, armed robbery, kidnapping, human trafficking, ritual killings, etc. are all still there. Nigeria needs prayers now more than ever before. We call on the security agencies to double their efforts in the fight against everything constituting a threat to the nation’s peace. We call on all Nigerians of whatever status not to be unconcerned with the insecurity problems in the country today. If nothing drastic is done and fast, it is capable of harming the country.

Minimum Wage: The Standing Committee wishes to commend the Federal Government for their concern for workers, especially with the move to review the Minimum Wage. The realities of the present day have made it a necessity. The inflation rate has worsened the situation. When the policy of N18, 000 minimum wage came, petrol was N65 per litre. Now, petrol has risen to N145 per litre (an astronomical hike of about 123%). With the hike in the price of petrol came increase in the cost of living generally, but minimum wage has remained N18, 000. As a result, the salary that could solve effectively all family issues before can do virtually nothing today. The Government should do the needful and quickly, too.

Fuel Scarcity/Subsidy: The mysteries shrouding the problems of fuel scarcity in Nigeria are becoming more mysterious by the day. Nigerians had thought, as we were promised, that if only the price of fuel is increased to N145 per litre, fuel subsidies will be removed, ‘cabals’ will be eliminated permanently and fuel scarcity will never come up again. However, with all the hardships inflicted on Nigerians due to the astronomical hike of fuel price, we had to again face acute fuel scarcity at Christmas, so much that the country almost came to a halt. Furthermore, the issues of fuel subsidy resurfaced in the midst of the crisis. The question now is: which subsidy are they referring to? Is it the one that had been removed to hike fuel price or is there another subsidy? Nigerians are expecting the Federal Government to use the funds saved from increasing fuel price to fix the refineries and get them to work optimally, not a return of fuel scarcity.

2019 General Elections: As 2019 draws close, we wish to call on our political leaders and all politicians to work harder to deliver on their previous campaign promises. Nigerians are still yearning for the dividends of democracy, not another round of empty promises. The Standing Committee wishes to urge INEC to work harder to make registration of voters as smooth as possible. It is not expected that the challenges faced in registration in 2015 should still be there, since INEC has had a long time to improve on their work. Whatever will disenfranchise any Nigerian should not come from INEC and should be avoided by all. Finally, we urge all eligible citizens to get registered ahead of the General Elections. Your vote is your power and your vote will count.

Culled from The Opening Address presented on Wednesday, February 7, 2018 to The Standing Committee of the Church Of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) held at the Cathedral Church of St. Barnabas, Sabo-Oke, Ilorin, Kwara State by His Grace, The Most Rev’d Nicholas D. Okoh; Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate Of All Nigeria and Chairman, Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) Primates’ Council).

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