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The Church in Nigeria: Silent NoMore –Godman Akinlabi

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The nominal Christian population in Nigeria is approximately 80 million people, traversing virtually all parts of our great country. It is widely suggested that Nigeria is home to the largest collection of black Christians in the world. When one begins to think about this sub-population as a socio-economic group, especially when juxtaposed with the Bible’s positioning of Christians as “salt & light”, the role of the Church in issues of national significance becomes critical, vital, and in many respects, quite decisive.

The recent peaceful #EndSARS protests are a case in point. The Nigerian youth enunciated their pain and pleas, and these resonated across the country, but in the midst of all that was going on, there was no categorical statement on the matter from the leadership of the Church in Nigeria. To all intents and purposes, the Nigerian Church did not do enough for the youth – no wonder there is a growing apathy towards issues of faith and spiritual fortitude amongst our youth.

The Nigerian Church needs to draw lessons from the #BlackLivesMatter protests across the world, and particularly in the USA, as well as the core issues surrounding the recent American elections. The American Church did not handle the issues of racism properly, and appeared to be partisan in official utterances by key church leaders in both the build up to, and in the aftermath of the elections. The Church simply did not walk in love towards all, often attributing opposing standpoints to the influence of the devil. Freewill presupposes that there will be differences in personal interpretations of any situation, and the American Church perhaps should have made room to listen to all, before then basing her utterances on a balanced understanding of relevant scriptures. Above all, with all sense of responsibility, church leaders should have asked themselves what Jesus would have done were He called upon to adjudicate in such delicate and potentially divisive discourses.

Back to the Nigerian situation, the disconnect between the leaders and the youth is so glaring, that we cannot afford to keep papering over cracks. The average youth is actively looking for a chance for self-realisation in other countries. They are looking for reasons to believe in their leaders again, to believe and hope in a future that they feature in prominently, and unfortunately the Church has not done enough to mediate in this impasse between hope and illusion – between the youth and the government.

This disconnect is made all the more obvious because the Church is not challenging the government to pay greater attention to young Nigerians, to listen, to learn and to act in the interest of Nigeria’s future. The Nigerian Church should be an active participant in shaping the conscience of our nation, and thus must demand to be listened to, as the protectors and nurturers of this and future generations.

The Church must rapidly transition from a position of mere rhetoric and a neutral posturing on issues of national significance, to become an obvious participant in the execution of a working social mobilisation strategy for our dear Nigerian youth. The objective of this social mobilisation is not a revolution in a negative or destructive sense, but perhaps a better word  is “re-evolution”, and I will explain.

This re-evolution points to a rebirth of the Nigerian youth from the womb of divine values and character. A reconditioning and radical shift of mindset from a survivalist me-first winner-takes-all attitude, to a wholesome and inclusive disposition that allows useful ideas to thrive, while providing the opportunity for the most obscure of the least to become the best of the best, no matter the field of endeavouror circumstances of heritage.

The peaceful #EndSARS protests gave us a glimpse of the readiness of the youth to embrace order, progress and social welfare. The craving of the Nigerian youth for positive self-determination, measurable change and the consequent pride in a vibrant forward-moving nation, must be slaked with a peaceful, yet firm and clearly-defined strategy, executed by competent Nigerians across sectors, with the full backing of a listening and responsive government. The church can be the catalyst to enable this scenario, if her leaders would simply speak up clearly, strategically, knowledgeably, prayerfully and consistently.

The government should begin to move beyond the seeming systemic  persecution of peaceful #EndSARS protesters and sympathisers, to the expression of the sort of empathy that paves the path for healing and reconciliation, and then allows for collaboration in building a better nation for all. We may never know what truly transpired on that eerie Tuesday night at the Lekki Toll Gate, neither will a squabble with the international community serve any purpose besides providing a convoluted distraction, but the Church must demand that the government answer the question of how to make things better for the Nigerian youth of today and the future.

At this point, I would also like to challenge corporate Nigeria to get involved and also craft strategies that will change the narrative. If you consider that banks and businesses were vandalised when hoodlums took over the peaceful protests, a deeper reason for this has to be investigated. Could it be that the government isn’t the only “enemy” of the youth? Did the Central Bank and other banks in the country, unwittingly position themselves as anti-youth/anti-future by blocking the accounts of peaceful youth protesters?

A further case for consideration is the telling (and desperate) response of citizens to the discovery of warehouses for COVID-19 palliatives across the country. That response was not helped by ensuing reports of misappropriation or hoarding by the very people entrusted to ensure adequate effective distributionof the said palliatives. There are too many unflattering statistics of infant mortality and poverty, for instance, or negative projections of impending famine in Nigeria, for the church to stay in a neutral gear and try to keep up regularly scheduled services only.

The Nigerian church must prepare the Nigerian youth for personal and communal leadership, for governance and strategic sectoral empowerment, as well as for fervent and effectual participation in our electoral process. The Church must speak up and be the unrelenting voice for the weak, disenfranchised, overlooked and the downtrodden.This should be non-negotiable for 2021.

Godman Akinlabi is a thought leader, author, teacher, public speaker, philanthropist and the Lead Pastor of The Elevation Church which is headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria.

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Double taxation: Ogun govt. moves to harmonise taxes, levies

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Ogun Government says it is working round the clock to ensure harmonisation of taxes and levies to reduce incidence of double taxation that may affect the revenue base of businesses in the state.

Commissioner for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Adebola Sofela, said this during a visit to the Managing Director of Nestle Nigeria, Mr Wassim Elhusseini, on Friday.

Sofela said that his visit was occasioned by the need to boost the existing relationship between the state government and its various stakeholders and to further collaborate and share ideas on areas of common interest.

He expressed the Gov. Dapo Abiodun-led administration’s commitment to capacity building at all levels.

As a practical demonstration of this, the commissioner said that that technical schools across the state were being upgraded to ensure companies that did not have any gap in power to fill the technical needs.

Sofela, who was accompanied by top management staff members of the ministry, stated that the present administration had improved land administration system to enable investors get title documents without delay in order to leverage for financing.

He said that government had been creating new industrial clusters to take care of the new influx of investors and prepare for the future.

The commissioner appealed to the various companies across the three senatorial districts to consider the qualified residents of the state for employment, as part of efforts to promote their relationship with host communities.

“We are working to ensure harmonisation of taxes and levies to reduce the incidence of double taxation.

“The governor is particularly interested in creating an enabling environment for business to thrive, considering government’s huge investments in security and infrastructure,” he said.

In his remarks, the Managing Director of the firm, said that 80 per cent of his company’s investments were domiciled in Ogun.

According to Elhusseini, the state government is in the right direction with its business-friendly policies.

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Reps committee to probes appointments of NASRDA, RMRDC DGs

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The House of Representatives on Friday unveiled plans to investigate the appointments of Director General of the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC), Prof. Martins Ike-Muonso.

The committee will also investigate the appointment of the Director-General of National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) Dr Mathew Adepoju.

This is contained in a statement issued by the Chairman of the committee, Rep. Olaide .

The committee chairman said that a six-member panel headed by Rep. Abiodun Akinlade had been inaugurated to carry out the probe.

He said both DGs were recently appointed by the Minister of Innovation Science and Technology, Chief Uche Nnanji.

“The panel is to look at the procedure of the appointments qualification and the compliance with the relevant laws and regulations that established both agencies.

“The panel is to invite the Minister of Innovation Science and Technology, the Secretary to the Federal Government, Head of Service and both DGs amongst others.

“The panel has two weeks to within which to submit its report,” he said.

The chairman promised that the assignment will be free and fair saying that the aim is not to witch hunt anyone but to put the records straight.

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Tinubu to observe Eid-el-Kabir in Lagos

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President Bola Tinubu will depart Abuja for Lagos state on Friday ahead of the Eid-el-Kabir celebration.

This is contained in a statement by Chief Ajuri Ngelale, Special Adviser to the President, Media and Publicity, in Abuja.

The statement said the President would observe Eid-el-Kabir in Lagos, where he would also spend the Sallah holidays.

“The President will mark the occasion in prayers and reflection on advancing the transformation of Nigeria in line with his Renewed Hope Agenda,” said the statement.

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