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Easter message: CAN tackles FIRS, demands apology

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Following wide outcry by the Christians on social media on the controversial Easter flyer message by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has tackled the agency while demanding for an apology over the controversial Post.

The FIRS, in a now-deleted post on X (formerly Twitter) under the hashtag #FIRSNigeria, shared an image of a Point of Sale machine accompanied by the caption, “Jesus paid your debts, not your taxes.”

The post sparked outrage among Nigerians, particularly Christians, who condemned it for its perceived insensitivity.

In a statement on Tuesday signed by CAN’s National Director, National Issues and Social Welfare, Commodore Abimbola Ayuba (rtd), the apex Christian body highlighted that such statements disrespect the Christian faith and threaten the unity of Nigeria.

It also demanded a public apology from the FIRS and called for intervention from high-level officials, including President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Minister of Finance Wale Edun.

The statement reads, “It has come to our attention that the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has released an Easter message that has sparked significant public outcry amongst Christians. It is with a profound sense of duty to national unity and respect for religious sentiments that we address the controversial statement ‘Jesus paid your debt, not your taxes’ circulated by the FIRS.

“As a nation that prides itself on religious harmony and peaceful coexistence, we are deeply concerned by the recurrence of provocative messages around religious holidays. This year, a public institution, which should be the bastion of exemplary conduct, has been implicated in disseminating content that is widely regarded as offensive and derogatory to the Christian faith.

“Such messages not only threaten the delicate fabric of our national unity but also undermine the efforts of countless Nigerians working towards fostering mutual respect among diverse religious groups.

“The Easter period, a time of solemn reflection and sacred observance for Christians, should not be juxtaposed with civic obligations in a manner that trivializes or mocks core religious beliefs.

“Religious convictions are at the heart of our identity and deserve the utmost respect. The analogy drawn by the FIRS between the pivotal Christian doctrine of redemption and the civic duty of tax payment has been received with distress and indignation by the Christian community.

“We recognise that the intended message may have been to creatively engage taxpayers; however, the execution has regrettably crossed the bounds of cultural and religious decorum.

“While the FIRS’s intent may not have been to show irreverence, the impact of the message cannot be ignored. It is imperative to remember that the use of religious symbols and narratives should be handled with the highest degree of sensitivity, especially when intersecting with secular matters.

“The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) advises all public and private organisations to exercise caution and consideration for the diverse religious backgrounds of our society. It is crucial that communications, especially from public institutions, are crafted with a clear understanding of the cultural and religious tapestry that defines our nation.

“In light of recent events, we call upon the management of the FIRS to retract the message and offer a public apology for the distress caused. We also urge President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Minister of Finance, Wale Edun and the Department of State Security Service (DSS) to take cognizance of this incident and to guide the FIRS in adhering to communication strategies that promote respect, unity, and cohesion.

“As a nation, we must strive to uphold the principles of respect and sensitivity in all our public discourses. It is through these values that we can continue to build a truly harmonious and inclusive Nigeria,” the statement read.

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President Tinubu commissions NDDC’s power station in Ondo

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President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has commissioned the multi-billion naira 132KV Transmission Line and I32KV/33KV electricity substation at Ode-Erinje in Okitipupa Local Government Area of Ondo State.

Speaking at the commissioning ceremony, the President, who was represented by the Minister for Niger Delta Development, Engr. Abubakar Momoh, said that the project demonstrated the determination of the Federal Government to develop the Niger Delta region.

He said that the Federal Government was placing priority on electricity as one of the sure ways of boosting industrialization in the country.
The President congratulated the NDDC for completing the project and enjoined the people of the Niger Delta region to continue to support the Federal Government.

In his speech, the Ondo State Governor, Hon. Lucky Aiyedatiwa, gave kudos to the NDDC for what he described as a landmark project.

He declared: “I am deeply grateful to all individuals, organisations and stakeholders whose dedication and collaboration has brought this project to fruition. A special acknowledgment is owed to the current management of the NDDC under the Chairmanship of Mr. Chiedu Ebie and the Managing Director, Dr. Samuel Ogbuku for its invaluable partnership, unwavering support, and steadfast commitment to realising this high impact endeavour.”

“I appreciate our esteemed Royal fathers, in this district, the resilient residents of Ode-Erinje: our gracious host community, and the entire people of the Southern Senatorial District for their cooperation and steadfast support throughout the journey of this project.”

“This transformative project will bring significant benefits, including job opportunities, new investments, better healthcare and support socioeconomic development in the district. Moreover, the project will, no doubt, boost economic activities and improve the quality of life for our citizens by ensuring reliable and affordable electricity supply.”

The Governor urged the people in the Senatorial District to own the project and protect it , considering what they had been through for about 15 years without electricity supply. “It is our collective duty to protect the Substation and other allied facilities from vandalism,” he said.

In his remarks, the Chairman of the NDDC Governing Board, Mr. Chiedu Ebie, said that the project was a reflection of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s strong desire to have the Niger Delta Region transformed into a zone of peace and development.

He stated that the NDDC was dedicated to advancing the implementation of the President’s Renewed Hope Agenda. Our commitment to this project, which has been in progress for over a decade, remains unwavering. As a board, we have chosen to focus on initiatives that will positively impact the lives of the people, regardless of who initiated the project.

Also speaking, the NDDC Managing Director, Dr Samuel Ogbuku, affirmed that the electricity project would complement the Federal Government’s effort in the power sector, noting that the benefits were enormous.

He assured that the electricity sub-station would illuminate over 2,000 communities across five local government areas within the oil-producing region of Ondo State, significantly impacting lives and boosting businesses.
Ogbuku commended the traditional rulers and leaders in the area for protecting the project from the activities of vandals.

Giving a brief of the project, the NDDC Executive Director, Projects, Sir Victor Antai, said that the contract provided for the construction of 45km double circuit 33KV Feeder lines from Omotosho Power Station (Hook-up point) to Okitipupa and two 30MVA, 132/33KV Injection Substations with breakers, gantry and substation automations. It also provided for the construction of 3-bedroom semi-detached bungalow as service quarters.He explained: “The project is aimed at complementing the Federal Government’s effort in the power sector by improving power supply to Okitipupa, Igbokoda and other neighbouring communities in Ondo South Senatorial District with direct value to chain in small and medium scale industries, job creation and consequently ,engender growth and development in Ondo State.

Giving a goodwill message, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on NDDC, Senator Asuquo Ekpeyong, said that the project symbolized a significant step in our collective effort to enhance the quality of life and economic potential of our region. He observed: “This project is not just an infrastructure endeavor but also a beacon of hope for what can be achieved when we unite with purpose and determination. A closer look at this specific project reveals several positive milestones in bridging the infrastructure gaps in the Niger Delta and Nigeria as a whole.

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Abiodun approves disbursement of BTA differentials for Ogun muslim pilgrims

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Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun has doused the palpable tension among the Ogun State Muslim Pilgrims by ameliorating the shortfall in their Basic Travel Allowance (BTA) as a result of unexpected vagaries of the foreign exchange rates.

While NAHCON used 1,252.01 per dollar to calculate hajj fare (BTA inclusive) to give 500 USD as BTA to each pilgrim, the CBN released BTA at 1,530.86 per dollar, which gave each pilgrim 415USD instead of 500USD earlier proposed.

Going by this development and in order to give each pilgrim 500USD at the new exchange rate of 1,530.86 per dollar, the differential to be paid for the State 934 pilgrims stood at N119,560,712.70.

In the face of the shorfall therefore, and in an effort to make the 934 State pilgrims perform their hajj rites without stress as well as making them comfortable during the hajj exercise, the State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun with dispatch, has intervened by paying BTA differential of the sum of 119,560,712.70 for all the 934 State pilgrims for 2024 Hajj Exercise.

This prompt intervention by the Governor will enable the pilgrims to collect 500USD agreed without blemish and douse every anxiety earlier caused by the sudden increment.

To this end, the Consultant to the Governor on Islamic Affairs, Sheik Iskeel Lawal, expressed appreciation to the Governor for the timely intervention and prayed for the continuous success of the administration.

Meanwhile, Governor Dapo Abiodun, has implored the pilgrims to be patriotic and pray fervently for the state in particular and Nigeria at large, adding that the courage and sagacity exhibited by President Bola Tinubu in the quest of changing the ugly narrative of the past require robust spiritual support from all Nigerians.

“As you are going on this special and highly essential spiritual exercise in the holy land, you are expected to pray for the sustainability of this tempo of development and transformation embarked upon by our administration in Ogun State.

“In the same vein, our President, Asiwaju Bola Hammed Tinubu needs your supplications and fervent prayer to continue with his courageous and selfless move towards changing the ugly past for the survival of our nation”, Abiodun averred .

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Emir of Kano in Ijebu Ode, felicitates with Awujale on 90th birthday

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The Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ahmad Ado Bayero, has paid homage to the Awujale and Paramount ruler of Ijebuland, Alaiyeluwa Oba (Dr.) Sikiru Kayode Adetona, CFR, GCON, JP, Ogbagba II, to felicitate him on his 90th birthday and 64th coronation anniversary.

The visit, which took place on
Wednesday, May 22nd, 2024, was also meant to strengthen the cordial relationship that has been in existence for several years between the Awujale and the late Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero.

It further reinforced the enduring ties between two of Nigeria’s most respected traditional institutions and
attracted dignitaries from both the Ijebu Traditional Council and the Kano Emirate.

Speaking on the significance of the visit, the Emir said, “I was supposed to be here during the 90th birthday and 64th coronation anniversary but I was out of the country. So, upon my return, I decided to pay homage to my father. I say he is my father because when my late father was alive, he used to refer to him as my brother. So, if he is my father’s brother, then he is my father.”

The Emir wished Awujale many more years on the throne of his forebears and expressed his readiness to pay another visit very soon.

Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State was represented by the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Hon. Ganiyu Hamzat, who delivered a goodwill message on behalf of the Governor.
Members of the Ijebu Traditional Council who joined the Awujale to receive the Emir of Kano were the Orimolusi of Ijebu-Igbo, Alaiyeluwa Oba Jayeoba Lawrence Adebajo; the Obiri of Aiyepe, Alaiyeluwa Oba A.R. Okubanjo; the Dagburewe of Idowa, Alaiyeluwa Oba Sikiru Okuribido; the Ebumawe of Ago-Iwoye, Alaiyeluwa Oba A.A.A Adenugba and the Elerunwon of Erunwon, Alaiyeluwa Oba J.A.Okubena.

Others were the Obelu of Ensure, Alaiyeluwa Oba Abdulsamad Olalekan Kasali; the Sadereren of Isonyin, Alaiyeluwa Oba Abdulsamad Omotayo; the Oru of Imoru, Alaiyeluwa Oba (Engr.) Adeposi Bashorun; the Oliworo of Iworo, Alaiyeluwa Oba G.A. Onafuwa, Otufosejoye of Irete, Alaiyeluwa Oba AbdulGaniyu Awokoya Yesufu; and the King of Fuji music and Olori Omooba of Ijebuland, Chief Wasiu Ayinde Marshal (popularly known as KWAM1).

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