In what can be described as a double whammy, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, in the 19 Northern States and Abuja, as well as members of the National Christian Elders’ Forum, NCEF, over the weekend, disowned some pastors who made a solidarity visit to President Muhammadu Buhari at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, last week.
Presenting themselves as members of Arewa Pastors’ Non-Denominational Initiative for Peace in Nigeria, and led by Bishop John Abu Richards, the group had paid a courtesy visit to President Buhari, urging him to continue his good works and not be distracted by nay sayers
The President thanked members of the delegation and also used the opportunity to debunk accusations in some quarters that he is biased against Christians.
But in a swift reaction, both CAN and NCEF came out strongly to lampoon the Arewa Pastors in two separate statements.
According to a statement signed by Reverend John Hayap, CAN’s publicity secretary, “these folks who described themselves as Arewa Pastors are unknown to us,” insisting that the body is not known to the Christian Association of Nigeria in the North and cannot be said to be representing Christians in the North.
“We have searched through all our chapters in the 19 Northern states and Abuja and we found out that the leader of the delegation and most of them reside in Port-Hacourt, Rivers State,” the CAN PRO stated.
He alleged that the leader of the group is from Benue State, according to findings with most of them from the South-South states.
Rev. Hayap wondered why the Christian leaders did not seize the opportunity of being with the president to draw attention to Leah Sharibu’s plight.
“Boko Haram was said to have retained Sharibu, the only Christian among more than 100 kidnapped girls who were freed recently, prompting the Northern CAN to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to obtain her release. Boko Haram refused to release Leah Nathan Sharibu, 15, because she would not renounce her faith and convert to Islam. The Northern Christian leaders are all busy praying for the safe return of Leah Sharibu, and would not engage in politics. We love the president and we pray for him daily,” he concluded
On its part, the NCEF, in a statement signed by the chairman, Elder Solomon Asemota, said “President Buhari made a veiled reference to NCEF in his speech when a group of persons purporting to be Arewa Pastors’ Non-Denominational Initiative for Peace in Nigeria led by one Bishop John Abu Richards visited him”.
According to NCEF, “this group portends danger to all Christians in Nigeria, especially when these impostors want the President to link them with the security agencies. One newspaper quoted them as saying: ‘we demand His Excellency, 1. That you support our 5,009 Arewa Pastors Peace and Unity National Delegate Prayer Congress at the Eagle Square on Thursday, April 26, 2018. We will want His Excellency to link us with the relevant security agencies in our crusade for peace and fight against hate speeches and those dark walls that separate us as we will network with our counterparts from the East and West to hand over those of our colleagues being used by the enemies of our togetherness to inject confusion and false stories into the public space resulting to the destabilization of peaceful co-existence we were enjoying in the country’”.
“This request,” NCEF pointed out in its statement, “shows clearly that these people are not Christians much less pastors. When a child of 15 years, Leah Sharibu, can defy death, they are asking for security protection”.
On the issue of Islamisation raised by the Arewa Pastors, NCEF pooh-poohed their position, saying “this statement portrays ignorance of the meaning of jihad. Muslims killed in jihads are martyrs while Christians and non-Islamists including traditional worshippers are the victims of conventional jihads. It is stealth jihad by Islamists(fundamentalists) in the establishment who have assembled impostors posing as Christian pastors to promote political Islam by discrediting responsible Nigerians in their defense of Democracy and Rule of Law.
“This explains why no Christian should speak in defense of Islamism or political Islamism because of extreme ignorance on the subject. It is clear that this body of impostors of Christianity wants protection in their crusade against democracy in the promotion of Sharia in Nigeria. The same security that did not protect Leah Sharibu, now must protect them against Sharibu’s religion. In the face of the above fact, CAN is being gradually replaced by impostors before the present administration,” NCEF chairman stated.
The Arewa Pastors, during their visit, had pledged loyalty to President Buhari: “Your Excellency, we the 19 Northern States pastors under the New platform called the Arewa Pastors Non-Denominational Initiative for Peace in Nigeria believe in your leadership and we are here to let you know that we are fully standing by you and your government to ensure that you succeed and peace is restored to every and corners of the country.
“And to counter those deceiving and poisoning Nigerians with fake news to destroy your good intentions for the country especially those giving the impression that you are against Christians and some ethnic groups in Nigeria which is a big lie for instance: Some Pastors using places of worship to preach hate. People using Church to preach violence”.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has described as “stage-managed,” the recent courtesy visit to President Muhammadu Buhari by the Arewa Pastors Non-Denominational Initiative for Peace (APNDIP), saying that the visit was aimed at procuring political endorsement for the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Presidency.
The party also said the Buhari Presidency’s hiring of supposed Arewa pastors was a second attempt to orchestrate fake endorsements ahead of the 2019 elections.
PDP said both procured endorsements, which had turned out to be fake; were, to say the least, despicable, and betray the nervousness of a sinking leadership, desperately trying to save its face, having been rejected by the people.
In a statement signed by the party’s spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, yesterday, the PDP said the “controversial” endorsement has called into question, the highest elective political office in the land.
“It is heartrending that because of the desperation of one man, the integrity of Nigeria’s seat of power has again been ridiculed as the world watched religious bodies and groups in the country disowning the procured band.
“The fact that this disgraceful drama came barely a week after our nation suffered an international show of shame over President Buhari’s presentation with a procured award fraudulently linked to Martin Luther King Jr, speaks volumes of this administration’s proclivity for falsehood, lies and deception.
“Having failed to gain any endorsements from reputable international figures, such as Bill Gates and the Martin Luther King Jr group, the APC and the Presidency have now shamelessly resorted to cheaper ways and means, particularly, along the unregulated and porous religious and sectional lines.
“It is now overtly manifest that the Buhari administration is ready to even stage anything, no matter how ignoble, including fake rescue missions, to deceive Nigerians,” the statement read in part.
While fingering three unnamed Presidential aides as the power behind the “endorsements”, the largest political party in the country further tasked the ruling party to brace up for its imminent defeat awaiting it in the 2019 general elections.
“These disgraceful endorsements are being coordinated by three presidential aides, a cabinet minister from the South-South and certain officials of the APC, a project for which billions of naira have been earmarked.
“This cabal is also responsible for the renting of crowds, who are usually conveyed in buses, trucks and trailers, to fill the space during President Buhari’s visits to various states of the federation, as witnessed in Benue during the last visit of Mr. President.
“That President Buhari could be begging for endorsements only points to the fact that he and his cabal have lost the support of Nigerians whom his administration has subjected to horrible economic hardships, traumatic bloodletting and a bleak future.
“If President Buhari and his dysfunctional APC had performed to the least expectations of Nigerians, even by implementing the littlest of their numerous fake campaign promises, they would have no need for mundane gimmicks of procuring awards from well known street quacks ahead of the elections.
“We charge all credible groups in the country to be at alert and resist any attempt by the Presidency and APC to induce them to compromise their integrity, as well as guide against plots to use money to infiltrate and divide their ranks.
“The APC and Buhari Presidency must admit that their time is up as Nigerians are now rallying with the repositioned PDP in the national quest to rescue our dear nation from the incompetent, failed and deceptive administration of the APC, come 2019,” the party added
PDP Inaugurates 15 Convention Sub-Committees –
Wike Chairs Special Duties Committee
6,000 Delegates Expected To Attend
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) National Convention Committee, yesterday, in Abuja inaugurated 15 sub-committees for its national convention scheduled for October 30.
The sub-committees as read by the Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Duoye Diri, include the National Convention Organizing Committee, chaired by Adamawa State Governor, Hon Ahmadu Fintiri.
Others are Constitutional Amendment Committee, chaired by Akwa lbom Governor, Udom Emmanuel; Zoning Committee chaired by Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; Screening Committee, chaired by former Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke.
Sub-committees and their chairmen also inaugurated were Screening Appeal Committee chaired by Senator Ike Ekweremadu; Special Duties Committee chaired by Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike; Accreditation Committee chaired by Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa; and Security Committee chaired by former Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase.
The Electoral (Statutory) Committee, with Adamawa Governor, Hon Ahmadu Fintiri as the chairman; Publicity Committee chaired by Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki; and Venue Committee, chaired by Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed are also among them.
Others include: Welfare and Entertainment Committee with Mariya Waziri as chairperson; Transportation Committee, with Ibrahim Dankwambo as chairman; and Contact and Mobilization Committee with Taraba Governor, Darius Ishaku as chairman.
The rest are, Protocol Committee with Sen. Biodun Olujimi as chairperson; Medical Committee — Nuhu Zagbayi; and Secretariat Committee — Umaru Ibrahim Tsauri.
Inaugurating the sub-committees, Fintiri expressed belief that the October convention would be successful and lead PDP to victory in 2023.
Fintiri said that the leaders and members of the sub-committees were carefully selected to organize a credible convention for the party.
The Adamawa governor urged them to make the necessary sacrifices to deliver the best convention to the party.
Fintiri, fielding questions from newsmen after the inauguration, said that by PDP’s new constitution, over 6,000 delegates were expected at the convention.
“We are fully prepared for that. We are expecting everybody in every ward that is a delegate to attend the convention.”
He said that the sub-committees had been given directions and they were expected to go back, adequately prepare and submit their report to the main committee for approval.
On which part of the party’s Constitution would be amended, Fintiri said he could not pre-empt the Constitution Sub-Committee, but allow them do their job.
On how far the zoning committee had gone after the one-week appeal he gave them, last week, Fintiri said the committee was in a meeting in Enugu carrying out its responsibilities.
“You can see the party is working, and it is a turning point for all of us,” Fintiri said.
According to him, the leadership tussle in the party has largely been addressed even as he came short of saying the PDP has moved on from the crisis.
He said, “We are moving on. I am the chairman of the convention committee and you can see that we are doing our work. Everybody is happy and participating. I don’t see any crisis in this party.”
The party’s national elective convention is slated for October 30 and 31 this year in Abuja.
RSG Recommits To Building Agric Sector
The Rivers State Government has said that it was committed to building the agricultural sector and utilise the huge potentials the state has for the benefit of Rivers people.
The state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, stated this while speaking at a seminar of the Norwegian Seafood Council at Hotel Presidential in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Represented by his Deputy, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, Wike said, “In the face of dwindling oil prices, and the need to diversify the economy, we see a lot of potentials in the seafood industry especially post Covid-19. This is an important industry for creating employment opportunities, generate revenue and boost economic activities in our area”.
Wike, who said that Rivers State was one of the coastal states in the Niger Delta endowed with valuable seafood resources, revealed that Norway and Nigeria have had a long history of relationship and trade.
According to the governor, “Rivers State, known as the oil and gas hub of Nigeria, is open to do business in all sectors including maritime and welcome more partnerships and investments from stakeholders who wish to do business in the state”.
Wike further said, “In the effort to grow our economy, the Government of Rivers State supports making laws that work for us all, by putting laws in place to improve society’s efficiency. Hence, the assent and signing of the VAT law”.
The Rivers State chief executive, who commended the Norwegian Seafood Council for conducting the seminar in the state, stressed that stock fish was enjoyed across Rivers State by all groups, including low and high earners, while both men and women are involved in the sales in our markets.
“I believe this seminar will examine the many advantages and gains of seafood as well as anticipated support from the Norwegian Embassy in the areas of encouraging deep sea fishing, trawlers, good storage for sea products, training to grow and nurture fish production standard, fish ponds and open fish farms, use of technology and encouragement, support to artisan farmers.
“We believe that the gains for removing stock fish and stock fish heads from the list of items not valid for the FX windows far outweigh the losses if any.
“For all the reasons stated above and many more, we anticipate Federal Government and the CBN’s removal of stock fish and stock fish heads from the list of items not valid for the Central Bank of Nigeria FX window”, Wike further stressed.
In his remarks, the Ambassador Royal Norwegian Embassy, Knut Lein, who described the history of stock fish in Nigeria and Norway as fascinating, said it creates a bond between both countries, and expressed the desire to foster increased cooperation, build on bilateral relations and inform the government of Norway about the opportunities in the country.
He said, “together we could create lots of jobs”, insisting that “doing what we can to promote stock fish trade was a win-win for all of us”.
Highlights of the occasion were the presentation of papers by the Director Africa, Norwegian Seafood Council, Mr. Trond Kostveit, and other stakeholders.
The Norwegian Ambassador, Mr. Knut Lein, had earlier paid a courtesy call on Governor Nyesom Wike, at the Government House in Port Harcourt, where the state chief executive expressed the state government’s desire to continue to partner with the Norwegian Embassy to facilitate economy growth and development of both countries, and the state in particular.
Encourage States To Harness Own Resources For Dev, Wike Tasks FG
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has said Nigeria must encourage federating states to harness their resources and generate revenues, including Value Added Tax (VAT) to advance their development.
He also stressed that it was baffling to note that Rivers State was not included among states to benefit from any of the projects to be executed with the fresh loan that the Federal Government was seeking to obtain from the World Bank.
Wike made the observation when the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the SUN (Newspaper) Publishing Limited, Mr Onuoha Ukeh, led a delegation to present letter of nomination to him as the SUN Man of the Year 2020 Award at Government House, Port Harcourt, last Monday.
The Rivers State governor observed that there were mounted attempts to frustrate federating states like Rivers, to actualise the constitutional provisions that empower them to harness their resources and revenues, particularly VAT.
The governor decried the situation where the legality of states collecting VAT was not considered on the merit of the law by some public commentators, including state executives, rather, they were politicising it and looking at it from prism of ethnicity and religion.
According to Wike, what the FIRS was doing was illegal, and could be likened to robbing some states to pay others.
“You don’t even need to be a lawyer to know that VAT is not in Items 58 and 59 of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended. Everybody knows that. It is not even in the Concurrent List. Therefore, it falls under the Residual List. It is not arguable. That yesterday, nothing happened, does not mean that today, nothing will happen or tomorrow, something will not happen.
“Nigeria should encourage states to be strong enough to have resources to develop themselves. We are in a federal system where we are practicing unitary system. Everybody at the end of the month will run to Abuja to share money. Nobody comes back to the state to think, how do I develop my state.”
He explained that the contest against the collection of Valued Added Tax (VAT) was started by Lagos State, which had sued the Federal Government at the Supreme Court.
According to him, Rivers State only avoided their pitfall by suing the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), which is an agency of the Federal Government that was illegally collecting the tax in the state.
“The issue of VAT did not start from Rivers State. It started in Lagos State when Lagos State challenged it in Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court said you (Lagos) shouldn’t have sued the Federal Government. All you would have done was to sue the agency.”
The governor observed that rather than commend Rivers State Government for seeking to entrench fiscal federalism and constitutionalism, a particular state governor had threatened that the judgement of the court that declared that states, and not FIRS, are entitled to collect VAT within their jurisdiction, will not stand.
He urged those demanding for a brothers’ keeper consideration to first, appreciate the position of the law and situate it rightly.
“Some people say, ‘be your brother’s keeper’. I have no problem in being my brother’s keeper, but why not come out and say, let us tell ourselves the simple truth: as it is provided in the law, who is the person responsible to collect the VAT?
“When you agree to that, that it is the state, then, we can sit down to look at the different problems of states. And not to say ‘be your brother’s keeper’ while you’re doing an illegal thing, in disobeying what the law says you should not do.”
Wike stated that it was sheer act of discrimination for the Federal Government not to include Rivers State as one of the states that will benefit from projects for which it was seeking fresh foreign loans to execute.
“Look at the money that Federal Government has gone to borrow from the World Bank. Of all the projects, in all the states, Federal Government did not include Rivers State.
“Look at the list of projects that states will benefit from this money they’re borrowing from the World Bank that they have sent to National Assembly for approval, the only state that is not benefitting is Rivers State”.
He further noted, “It is the prerogative of Mr President; if he says he does not like Rivers State, if the ruling party says they don’t like Rivers State, I won’t kill myself. But leave the one that the law says I should be the one to collect so that I will be able to develop my own state.”
Speaking further, Wike explained that beyond the provision of infrastructure, his administration was seeking a law that would provide comfortable accommodation for judicial officers on retirement.
The reason, he said, was to ensure that, while in service, the judicial officers can concentrate on their jobs without cutting corners, and avoid corrupt practices.
In his remarks, the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the SUN (Newspaper) Publishing Limited, Mr Onuoha Ukeh, said the SUN Man of the Year 2020 Award was the flagship of award the company.
According to him, Wike was unanimously selected for his remarkable contributions to the socio-economic development of Nigeria and promotion of fiscal federalism with his position on VAT, which would help in the restructuring of Nigeria.
“Today, His Excellency has guided Nigeria to true federalism with the issue of VAT. Knowing what fiscal federalism should be, His Excellency went to court to challenge the collection of VAT, and the court stated that actually the states should collect VAT. And that is laying the foundation for true federalism and fiscal federalism”, he said.
Ukeh commended Wike for his sterling performance in office and infrastructural revolution taking place in Rivers State.
- Sports3 days ago
CAFCL: Rivers United Will Go Beyond Group Stage – Chairman
- Business3 days ago
IPMAN Seeks Foreign Partnership For Robust Refinery Deal
- Business3 days ago
Piracy: Stakeholders Canvass Rivers Coast Guard
- Business3 days ago
CAC Registers 245,000 SMEs Free Of Charge
- Sports3 days ago
10 Athletes To Represent Nigeria At Winter Olympics
- Business3 days ago
1,818 MSMEs Benefit From Covid-19 Recovery Package In Delta
- Sports3 days ago
I Want To Take Remo To Next Level – Ogunbote
- Sports3 days ago
Keves Football Competition Kicks Off In PH