BEING STATEMENT PRESENTED AT THE END OF THE EMERGENCY MEETING OF THE NATIONAL ADVISORY COUNCIL AND THE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COUNCIL OF THE PENTECOSTAL FELLOWSHIP OF NIGERIA, REV. DR. FELIX OMOBUDE ON JUNE 12, 2014
Gentlemen of thePress,
Thank you very much for your presence here today. We appreciate your immense contribution, which often go unacknowledged, in national development.
We see you as partners in our desire to make Nigeria greater, hence our invitation to you as we share with the nation at large, our position on a number of national issues.
RELEASE OUR GIRLS
The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) is appalled that, in spite of our persistent call and appeals from all over the world for the immediate release of our young children who were kidnapped at Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, almost 2 months ago, the perverts behind this criminal abduction are still holding on to them.
We again condemn, in the strongest terms possible, this callous abduction of our innocent children by this gang of criminals who claim to be motivated by a desire to foist on Nigeria their own perverted ideology. We demand for their immediate and unconditional release. Enough is enough, we say.
The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) is alarmed at the increasing upsurge of criminality and terrorism by this group. We note the efforts being made by the government to address the challenges, but we call on them to do more in stemming the tide of insecurity in our land. We also call on both the Federal and state governments to increase their level of cooperation, as it is a battle that can only be won when we are all united.
We salute the courage of the Nigerian Armed forces, some of whom have made the ultimate sacrifice in the process of fighting terror. We enjoin them to re-dedicate themselves to this cause, and expedite action in ensuring the safe return of our girls. We have faith in their capacity and dedication to safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Nigeria.
We note, with immense appreciation, the generous support of the international community in this fight, especially the concerted efforts by them towards securing the release of our abducted girls. We commend the positive efforts taken by well-meaning leaders of the Islamic faith, especially in condemning the recent terrorist attacks. We urge them to even do more in joining hands with all of us to checkmate this raging evil.
The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) remains resolute that evil shall not overcome our land. We categorically maintain that there is no place in Nigeria, and there will never be, for such anachronistic and retrogressive philosophy which the so-called Boko Haram terrorists ignorantly espouse. There cannot be any accommodation for a misguided ideology which stands in opposition to civilisation and our cultural values. Its irrelevance is underscored by its stand against education and desire to relegate our women to the background. We are without any doubt whatsoever, that the evil they have continued to perpetrate will find them out, and they will be made to face justice soon.
We call on all Nigerians to join hands and remain united as we face the evil forces, in order to be able to defeat the enemy. Without doubt, we need to close ranks and face terrorism as one. We equally call on all men of goodwill, especially those from the affected parts of the country to intervene in this crisis and ensure that this waste of lives and resources come to a halt urgently.
Our thoughts and prayers remain with the parents and families of these children at this very difficult time. We urge them to stay strong as we all pull together, to ensure their safe release. We call on all Christians to continue to uphold Nigeria and the leadership with prayers and a renewed commitment in their civic responsibilities.
Killings by people alleged to be Fulani Herdsmen
The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria is alarmed at the rampant killings and outright decimation of communities being undertaken by some marauders, alleged to be Fulani Herdsmen, across Benue, Plateau, Kaduna and Katsina states. Reports have it that there was again such an attack from unknown gunmen in a part of Plateau state yesterday in which people were killed and churches again burnt.
It is incredible that this group of bandits consistently evade the security forces to unleash terror on predominant Christian communities, kill, maim, burn down houses, yet escaping into thin air after the acts. We call on the government to stop the terrorist activities of these elusive Herdsmen by smoking them out of the forests, mountains or valleys. The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria calls on our security agencies to unmask the sponsors of these heinous groups and prosecute them.
The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria salutes President Goodluck Jonathan for his exceptional courage in responding to the agitations from different quarters by instituting a National Conference to tackle the issues that are confronting the nation and inhibiting her optimal performance.
We believe that this National Conference offers an opportunity for Nigerians from different walks of life, ethnic and religious divides to come together to take another look at the nation’s constitutional configuration with a view to correcting the fault lines, entrenching fiscal federalism, cutting down on the cost of governance, ensuring greater devolution of powers, guaranteeing citizenship rights and securing freedom for all.
TAXING RELIGIOUS BODIES
The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria notes with concern the reported recommendation by the Committee on Religion for taxes to be imposed on religious institutions. We have also received assurances from the leadership of the committee, that contrary to reports in the media, no such recommendation was ever made.
It is instructive that the laws of the land took special notice of the very important role religious bodies play in a country where there is no social safety nets for the most vulnerable. The churches, for instance, have served as the last hope of the masses – shouldering the responsibility of meeting the needs of the vulnerable by providing shelter, access to health, education and other amenities to the unemployed, widows, the sick and orphans.
We take exemption to the efforts in some quarters to foist their erroneous impressions, borne out of ignorance on the role of religious bodies, on the people. We have no issue with religious organisations paying taxes on businesses they engage in. That has been the practice and we have always encouraged our members to comply with that. Churches are registered and run as not-for-profit organisations and we believe the tax-exempt status that apply to them was wisely thought of and should remain so.
STRIKES AND EFFECTS
The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria is worried at the incessant resort to strikes by trade unions to resolve industrial disputes. It is disturbing that the government and labour unions are not able to swiftly resolve their differences, often allowing such to degenerate to a point where workers embark on strike actions. The ASUU strike was on for several months. ASUP has been on strike now for almost a year, with a numer of Polytechics shut down. Doctors and other Health workers have resorted to strike actions a number of times. Some are on strike, with others threatening to down tools soon.
While not unmindful of the right of trade unions to embark on strike, the PFN is of the view that this right to strike ought to be exercised with a greater sense of responsibility.
The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria is deeply concerned with the alarming level of unemployment in the country. It is particularly regrettable that the bulk of the unemployed are our able and agile youths. The recent Nigerian Immigration Service recruitment exercise which ended up as a debacle, with lives lost across the country, attests to the danger Nigeria currently faces with its large army of the unemployed.
The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria calls on all tiers of government to, as a matter of urgency, address the issue of unemployment in the country with particular emphasis on youth restiveness by creating jobs and empowering the informal sector with adequate credit facility so that the small and medium scale enterprises are able to employ more people and more opportunities are created for entrepeneurship.
The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria believes these are unusual times. A large number of Nigerians live below poverty line and they find it increasingly difficult to make ends meet.
We call on government at all levels to institute social security schemes for the poor, unemployed and vulnerable. A social security scheme to render some form of assistance and provide a safety net for the millions deeply affected by the lopsided economic situation has become inevitable, as no society which desires progress can shut its eyes to the widening income inequality that continually impoverishes a large portion of its people.
The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria calls on the government to give teeth to the principles of state policy as expressed in the constitution which provides for equality of rights, obligations and opportunities for all citizens, the recognition of the sanctity of the human person, and the maintenance and enhancement of human dignity.
We call for justice and equity for all citizens; with free mobility of people, goods and services throughout the federation and for full residence rights for every citizen to be secured in all parts of the federation as provided for in the constitution.
The monster of corruption continues to stare us on the face as Nigeria continues to rank low in the various world transparency indices. We call on the federal government to give steam to the anti-corruption agencies and fund them appropriately enable them carry out their responsibilities and tackle corruption.
Ahead of the 2015 elections, the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria appeals to politicians to be more circumspect in their utterances and conduct, ensuring that they put the country first in all their actions. They should not let selfish ambitions blindfold them or let such override the peace of the nation.
The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria cautions political leaders to restrain themselves and shift their focus beyond the narrow confines of winning elections, as leadership of the country is not the birthright of any person, section or group. It is important that politicians do not destroy the country they aspire to rule. We look forward to our political parties engaging in more robust, issue-based discourse rather than the incessant personal and disparaging comments that are traded across board.
THE CHURCH AND THE NATION
The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria calls on all Christians to continue to be beacons of hope, shining brightly in a dark world. We encourage everyone to join hands with the government in building an egalitarian society where there is peace and prosperity. We remind all Christians of the scriptural injunction to pursue peace with all men at all times.
TOGETHER, WE STAND
We call on all Nigerians, irrespective of religion or tribe, to come together as one at this difficult time. Our differences are infinitesimal when placed side by side with what we have in common. Together, we can make Nigeria a land of integrity and honour. Together, we can overcome the challenges of today and face tomorrow with much hope and confidence.
God bless you. God bless Nigeria.
Rev. Dr. Felix I. Omobude