Rt. Revd. James Odedeji, the Bishop of the Diocese of Lagos West, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), during the 3rd Session of the 7th Synod of the diocese, speaks on the state of the nation, anti-corruption war of the Federal Government and Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration in Lagos State, among other issues. Excerpts:
Politics of second
term We have taken a deep look into our political system in Nigeria, especially election into the office of the president and governors as touching on tenureship. Our politicians who had served two terms in office have always been ending poorly.
In the course of their first term in office, they tend to perform, often times, excellently well but when they are given the opportunity to continue in office for another term, people suffer severely for it. It is like the demon has been using the second term of our elected executive arm of government to punish the electorate. Often times, the zeal in them wanes, their commitment fades, focus lost, pride sets in and corruption takes over.
As much as we may not want to mention names of those who had performed wonderfully well in their first term, but woefully in their second term, we wish to humbly submit, for consideration of our lawmakers, one term tenure of may be five to six years. If considered, it is in our opinion that the cost of campaign for the second term could be channeled towards infrastructural development, and by extension, the cost of governance reduced. Also, it is time we begin to consider payas- you-sit policy for our lawmakers, if indeed the love of our nation is in us. What could be used to bring back our old infrastructures are being spent on government overhead expenses.
If the current trend continues, our dear country may never experience development. Quite a percentage of Nigerian resources are being used to maintain our elected officials through their emoluments and various allowances. No wonder that our politicians are ready to kill and destroy their fellow Nigerians in the opposition for them to win elections. On this, we humbly suggest that we make elective offices less attractive. We should allow only people that can serve without much benefit attached to be considered for election in Nigeria. Politics has remained the business that makes people become rich overnight.
Prior to the advent of this administration, particularly in the course of the campaign before the 2015 election, one of the three cardinal promises in the manifesto of the current administration was eradication of corruption in our system, security of lives and property and stabilisation of the economy through agricultural diversification.
However, what really made a lot of Nigerians to troop out to cast their votes for the party was indeed ‘corruption eradication.’ But five years down the line, one may not be able to conclude weather we are fighting corruption or corruption is fighting back. As we speak, there are numerous high profile corruption cases that are on-going in different courts of the land. However, when we take a cursory look at the trend of various litigations, those involved in those high profile litigations are either current political office holders or members of the National Assembly.
These are people who were governors, who had looted the treasuries of their states in the past and today are ministers, or worse still members of the National Assembly. As much as opinions may differ on this all important discuss, one thing is clear, our nation is not doing well to curtail the menace of corruption. One is not surprised that corruption even rears its ugly head even in the seat of power.
It is as bad. As much as one may not believe all information from the social media, but not all are fake even though our governments’ spokesmen use the privileges of their offices to convince the public to disregard all as fake. We, therefore, wish to use this charge to encourage our political class to address the root cause of corruption rather than beating the air all in the name of fighting corruption. If the present trend continues, we may not win the war against corruption.
However, we are not painting the picture that our government is not doing anything to address corruption, but rather we want to praise the courage and the political will of Mr. President in tak-ing some far reaching decisions to curb the menace. But unless the roots of a tree are cut, the growth is unstoppable. Moral education through religious studies must be brought back in schools. The names of corrupt convicts should enter the hall of shame with serious consequences, like barring them from politics, to say the least.
Security is very vital to the aspiration of this government. However, in our own humble opinion insecurity in our nation today is on the increase. While a lot of achievements may have been made to curtail the activities of the dreaded Islamic fundamentalists, otherwise known as Boko Haram, the end may not still be in sight. It has gotten to the point of saying the fear of Boko Haram is the beginning of wisdom in the north-eastern part of the country. In recent years, a splinter group by name, Islamic state of West African Province (ISWAP) has been targeting our military formations, to attack our armed forces. We humbly believe that 10 years have been long enough, not only to decimate the groups, but to eliminate them absolutely.
Aside the Boko Haram and the ISWAP groups terrorising the North-East part of the country,banditry and kidnapping for ransom is on the rise. As if that was not enough, herdsmen invade villages, killing, maiming and often times raping their female victims.
Today, a lot of villages, especially in the middle Belt states of Plateau, Benue, Kogi and Niger as well as in the Eastern part of Nigeria are deserted for fear of this deadly sects’ invasion. Our government must therefore rise to the occasion before anarchy sets in. Already, the south western part of the country has come up with the idea of setting up its own security outfit – Amotekun. Others may follow suit in no distant time.
Power generation and distribution
Substantial development may continue to elude Nigeria if power continues to be in short supply. When a country of close to 200 million population cannot boast of 10,000mw of stable power generation and distribution, it calls for a serious concern. It is no gainsaying the fact that all sectors of the economy depend heavily on power for their productivity.
Though the government has explored other areas of generating power such as the resuscitation of Mambila Power Project, the Industrial Private Power Project, power to major markets and academic institu-tions in the country etc, however, more still have to be done.
Now that virtually all the countries of the world might have taste of the economic recession as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, all hands must be on deck to ensure that our economy get a rebound quickly and one of the stimulus packages should be how the power supply will be relatively stable to help drive our industrial revolution and create jobs for our teaming youth population. Many of our youths will become self-employed as artisans and the like, rather than being restless and graduating into the world of crime.
We want to humbly submit that our political leaders must endeavour to copy good things from the advanced countries where they visit regularly and mostly on taxpayers’ money, where power is never constant. Many years after the decentralisation of the power sector, not much has been recorded as success. As recent as the month of April, both the GenCos and the DisCos are agitating for more recapitalisation if total blackout would be averted in Nigeria, whereas billions of dollars had gone down the drain already. We need to change our way of doing things.
Nigeria’s foreign policy
We must say that the creation of the Diaspora Commission ably led by Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa and under the Ministry of External Affairs, has gone a long way to help improve our foreign policy. One can say at this point that both our allies in the West African sub-region, African Union, United Nations and the Commonwealth of Nations, among others, are all in cordial relationship with us. This cordiality has really helped us to play our role within the comity of nations. Today, the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Prof. Tijjani Muhammed- Bande is a Nigerian. The Secretary-General of Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Mohammed Barkindo, is a Nigerian while the President of African Development Bank, Mr. Akinwunmi Adesina, is also a Nigerian.
The World Health Organisation, not quite long ago, appointed our own economist per excellence, Dr. Mrs. Okonjo Iweala, as a Special Envoy for the newly inaugurated Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and this was in addition to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) appointment some weeks earlier as a member of the Funds External Advisory Group.
With all of these to our credit, Nigeria can always stand tall when it comes to asking for any assistance from these bodies. For instance, Nigeria has just been granted a loan of about $3.4 billion and another $1 billion from the African Development Bank (AfDB). Today, Nigeria has a say among petroleum exporting countries of the world and that has been working in our favour. Furthermore, unlike in the past, Nigerians enjoy special status in various countries of the world, where they have chosen to reside.
Any maltreatment of our citizen anywhere in the world attracts instant condemnation from our government, and often times, a redress is immediately sought after and secured. Many countries of the world want to relate well with us nowadays because of our market potentials for their finished products as well as our enormous raw materials for their industries.
We must, however, be careful not to allow our present opportunity to secure any loan or any assistance for that matter, at our beck and call from any developed country of the world or better still, the financial bodies such as IMF, AfDB and others to enslave the up-coming generations. A word, they say, is enough for the wise.
Sanwo-Olu administration in Lagos State
Suffice it to say that Lagos State commonly referred to as the ‘Centre of Excellence and Aquatic Splendour’ has always been very lucky in terms of selection of leadership since the inception of the Fourth Republic in 1999. This singular honour has gone a long way to boost development in the commercial hub of our nation and which has also doubled as the state with the best economy in Africa.
Since the administration of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and his successors in office, the infrastructural development in Lagos has become second to none. No wonder the state retains the Centre of Excellence. As we were waiting to celebrate a year in office of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on May 29, came the invasion of Coronavirus pandemic, which was imported from a city called Wuhan in China and is today ravaging the entire globe.
As Lagos has become first in all things in Nigeria, the index case also came from Lagos, and today, it is the epicentre of the pandemic in Nigeria. In the light of this pandemic, we want to appreciate in no small measure, the proactiveness of our indefatigable governor, who is actually the “war general” in addressing the pandemic, without which Lagos would not have retained her appellation of Centre of Excellence. Without mincing words, our governor acted like a visionary leader, which he actually is.
This is evidenced in the number of discharged patients within the first two months and the availability of some strategic isolation centres to cater for the high figure of infected Lagosians and the foreigners as well. We appreciate the governor and his able team members.
He has done not only Lagos proud, but the entire Nigerian nation. We are still on our knees to call on God to stop the pandemic and we know it will soon become a thing of the past. However, we want to call the attention of the government to those projects inherited from the past administration, since governance is a continuum, to ensure speedy completion, for the citizens to further enjoy the dividends of democracy. Our prayer is for his government to finish well and strong in Jesus name.