What clerics foresee for Nigeria, expect from government in 2018

Taofeek Olawunmi Agbaje

Despite the fact that the outgoing year was not quite rosy, Nigerians, ever hopeful and known for their resilience, are looking forward to a better 2018. Should they really prepare their minds for a more prosperous New Year? What do religious leaders feel about it? Is the Lord telling them anything concerning the coming year? CHRIS IREKAMBA and AYOYINKA JEGEDE report

‘I Want An End To Power Failure’
(Rev. (Dr.) Felix Omobude, National President, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN)
I believe that Jesus Christ of 2017 is gone ahead of us into 2018. I appreciate the gift of prophecy, and I believe that, in 2018 we shall also triumph, much more than 2017. This is my belief and I pray and hope that the good Lord should grant it. Next year, 2018, is the pre-electioneer year. There will be a lot of campaign and activities, but I want Nigerians to conduct their political campaigns and aspirations in a godly manner.

Recently, the Federal Government has been campaigning against hate speeches. We would love to see this campaign actualised during political campaigns. We should be civil in our approaches and if we have gained anything politically and democratically, 2018 will be the year to prove this and know whether we have learnt anything or not in democracy. I wish all Nigerians a very peaceful celebration of both Christmas and the New Year. By His Grace, Nigeria will be a better nation in 2018. I would like to see a Nigeria, where you can just switch on and there will be electricity. We want to see a Nigeria, where you can turn on the tap and water is running. We want to see a Nigeria with better roads and communications. Above all, we want to see a Nigeria, where people are free to live wherever they want, do their businesses and practise their faith without let or hindrance. I wish government at all levels God’s guidance and peace to lead Nigeria well. I wish all Christians a year of closer relationship with the Lord and greater unity among the Christian folds.

‘Better Quality Of Life In 2018’
(Arc. Taofeek Olawunmi Agbaje, President, Jama-at-ul Islamiyya of Nigeria / Overseas)
I’M expecting that the New Year will be a better one, much better than 2017. This, I think, is also the expectation of many Nigerians. The present condition of things, which we have witnessed so far, should be improved. So, for me, I am looking for a better life in the New Year.

Secondly, I want government to improve in the area of security. Nigerians’ lives are very important, so let there be security for every Nigerian, as well as for the mosques and churches. I also want government to get the youths off the streets, by providing jobs for them. Election is coming very soon and politicians will be busy campaigning that people should vote for them. But the most important thing for the majority of people is to have their basic needs met. So, government should urgently create opportunities for hungry Nigerians. Our children are going about looking for jobs that are not there.

So, I hope and pray that government will do something very unique in this aspect in 2018. I think the system has some problem for now, so government must pump more funds into the system for necessary activities to take place. My prayer is that this government is able to get it right, as we go into the New Year. We are praying that there will be an improvement in the lives of Nigerians. My expectation is that government will focus more on the people than politics. We want to live better than previous years and those of us who are not in politics want some means of livelihood. We want to be happy, so that we can easily take care of our families.

‘God Will Open A Book Of Remembrance For Nigeria In 2018’
(Primate Theophilus Olabayo, founder of Evangelical Church of Yahweh, Worldwide)
A NEW Nigeria will be born in the New Year. God will open the book of remembrance for Nigeria in 2018 and He is going to change the society totally, and give us a new leader, who will transform this country. The new leader will rule this country between three and five years and there will be restructuring.

For the government, I expect that everything that is dead will be revived again. Between now and 2019, there will be total cleansing. A man, who has the fear of God, will emerge in 2019 to cleanse the entire system of leadership. But before then, Nigerians are going to experience God’s intervention in 2018. And all those clamouring for positions of authority because of corruption, many of them will be disappointed.

In the interview with The Guardian this year, I made it clear that there would be fuel scarcity in the country. What have Nigerians been experiencing in the last few days? In a country, where government and state governors have refused to pay workers. Is hiking the cost of fuel the best way to deal with them? Did you notice how fuel scarcity marred the festive period? Most Nigerians were unable to travel to see their loved ones during the yuletide. Even prices of goods rose astronomically beyond the reach of many Nigerians! Is that a healthy development, if truly we have a government that cares about the people? They are just playing games with the product, but God is watching.

‘Government Should Tackle Proliferation Of Firearms’
(Most Revd. (Dr.) Ephraim Adebola Ademowo, Bishop of Lagos and Dean Emeritus, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)
I FORESEE a new beginning like prophet Isaiah did; a time of final triumph and peace; a time when good shall triumph over evil. I see a time when the seemingly consumed people of Nigeria shall be freed and liberated. I see a time when “the swords shall be beaten into plough-shares” and a time when Nigeria shall no longer be plagued with disease and death, because “for Zion’s sake, God will not keep silent and for Jerusalem sake, God will not sleep, till her righteousness shines like a blazing torch” Isaiah 62:1-2. There shall come a time of complete restoration of peace and beautiful things the enemies have stolen from our nation.

In this New Year, our government should look at the proliferation of firearms, which has remained a threat to the security of lives, as well as a major global challenge for law enforcement agencies. These illegal possessions of firearms have led to mass killing of unarmed individuals and groups of people at such innocuous events and locations as concerts, family gatherings and places of worship. Reports emanating from the united Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC) disclosed that over 500 million of small arms and light weapons are currently circulating in West Africa with over 350 million (70 percent) domiciled in Nigeria. This has made it imperative to amend the ineffectual firearms law in existence in the face of the modern, sophisticated trend in weapons trafficking and outbreak of violence.

There is the need for practical action in tackling illicit small arms proliferation and violent extremism within a holistic human security approach. We should pay particular attention to border communities, residents in our extensive and often porous borders, who are often the farthest from our capital cities and with minimal state presence. Government shout enact laws that make gun possession difficult. The illicit circulation and illegal possession of small arms and light weapons have contributed to nurturing hotbeds of tensions and conflicts in our nation.

There is the issue of corruption at all levels in our national life. No doubt, it is a tough time to be upbeat about corruption in our nation. When the senses are assailed by the mind-boggling figures allegedly stolen through all kinds of schemes, the first reaction is disbelief and hope that another country, and not yours, is the subject of discussion. When your credulity is confronted with the evidence of graft at all levels on an unimaginable scale, and you see poverty walking around you in all the four corners of Nigeria, any upwardly journey of the spirit must of necessity take a downward turn. Government should spend more time plotting what they would be remembered for. They should pay more attention to those brought on board to assist government. Discerning Nigerians now have the impression that these are insider’s jobs, whose perfidious acts are too embarrassing to shame in a hurry.

The economic situation in the country calls for a better approach, as the economic indices of health, job creation/employment and industrial growth are still very low. Power supply remains epileptic, youth unemployment and other vital issues are all calling for urgent attention.

Our government and the economic planning/co-ordinating group must work hard and come up with concrete solution to avert the painful effects and hardship austerity created by the high exchange rate and high inflation have on Nigerians. Let our leaders demonstrate their love for this nation by example. Good people of Nigeria, I call on you all to continue to pray for our nation, that the forces of darkness will not be able to destroy our peace, unity and fledgling democracy.

‘I Want A National Debate That Will Produce Good Governance’
(Alhaji Nasir Awhelebe Uhor, Rivers State Islamic Leader/Vice President General, Rivers State Council for Islamic Affairs)
THE coming year is critical politically. If things are not handled right, there will be as usual, losses of lives and property here and there, as many desperate politicians jostle for power. But then, I expect people of character, patriots with abiding faith in Project Nigeria, to bond together and deny the political class space to unleash their insensate greed, banality and brutality on the long-suffering populace.

I expect people of goodwill to set agenda for good governance. Again, I wish to call for a robust, sustained national debate that will produce a viable template for good governance. Somehow, we must enforce morality in politicking and governance. Deliberate efforts should be made to encourage, persuade or if necessary, force political parties to present candidates of integrity; candidates who have what it takes to serve the people, not party masters, who have a little more than scant regard for morality.

I was excited the other day, when a court, annulling the election of a senator, ordered him to refund all the money he received, while illegally serving as senator. This court judgment reinforces the war against corruption. It should be extended to all elective officers from the president down to ward councilors. It should form part of the good governance template.

The law has provided hefty and ultra-juicy retirement and severance packages for top political officeholders, especially the president, state governors, heads of national and state Houses of Assemblies. But the good governance template must insist that the packages apply only where workers and pensioners are not being owed, especially by the president, governors and local government chairmen. There is no justice, where a governor or president, for instance, leaves months and years of unpaid but budgeted salaries, gratuities and pension, only to freely and smoothly enjoy his over-bloated retirement benefits.

As a matter of justice, good governance must begin to be promoted as theology of some sort. The major problem is not so much the lack of fund as the lack of political will to tackle the issues or challenges with available resources.This coming year should see robust efforts at all levels to tackle the core issues of food production, resuscitation of industries in coma, as well as setting up new ones. I scorn the idea that governments, especially in these dire times, should not involve themselves in setting up industries. And I ask: If they do set up industries or revive existing ones and, in the process, provide jobs for thousands of jobless youths and adults, pray, what economic crime have they committed? It served us well in the past, why not now?

In Port Harcourt, for instance, the Trans Amadi Industrial Estate in the 70s up to the 80’s was actually crawling with all manner of industries. So were jobs and business opportunities, as private and government-owned industries operated side by side. Where is the glass industry, Nigerian Engineering Works, Rivers Vegetable Oil Company (RIVOC) and Rivers Biscuit Company, among others?

Rivers Breweries, producers of Grand beer and malts, and Risonpalm have been revived and are contributing to the economic growth of the state. Others can be revived too. The state has a governor not lacking in sheer will; all he needs do next year is to see his way to resuscitating these industries that could provide job opportunities and take youths off the streets. The Federal Government is already doing the same.

States should look at the areas of comparative economic advantages and exploit the same with vigour. They can go into inter-state economic joint ventures. The task of reviving the economy and creating jobs should transcend politics. It must be integrated and sustained. To flood markets with all manner of home-grown foodstuffs ought not to be rocket science. It has been proven time again before. It can be done within the year.

And I expect it’s about time we gave urgent attention to food preservation. If we can preserve the little we produce, we’ll have food, fruits and vegetables all-year round. Such availability will encourage food and fruit processing ventures creating job opportunities.Finally, one earnestly expects governments to also be very uncompromising against saboteurs of service delivery. Sabotaging services meant to ease hardship of the people should be made an unattractive indulgence.

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