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Methodist Prelate: Nigerians should keep hope alive

The Prelate of Methodist Church Nigeria, His Eminence Dr. Samuel Chukwuemeka Kanu Uche, has called on Nigerians to keep hope alive despite the challenges confronting the nation.

The cleric in a good will message to Nigerians on the celebration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s one-year anniversary in office and 17 years of democratic rule said “Seventeen years ago, our renewed attempt at democratization yielded the much anticipated result when a democratically elected president was inaugurated into office.

Prior to that day, starting in 1992, the struggle for a nation where the collective will of the people would supersede that of a gun wielding few in khaki gripped the minds of many. This struggle for democracy led to several political assassinations, incarcerations, maiming and killing of innocent Nigerians, chaos and bloodshed. So it was easy to understand the great euphoria and celebrations that greeted the advent of a new democratic dispensation in 1999. But looking back to that day, one can aptly say those expectations for many have been shattered. The dream of enjoying the so-called dividends of democracy has become a mirage as we continue to wallow in poverty and penury.”

The cleric however said that while Nigerians have the unity and corporate existence of the country to celebrate “the fact that the economy remains very weak, with workers salaries unpaid, healthcare delivery near comatose, refineries that are not working despite the billions of naira invested by previous governments on Turn Around Maintenance (TAM), a power sector that was hurriedly privatised without securing corresponding infrastructural investment from the power generating and distribution companies, an industrial sector that has totally collapsed because we remain a largely import dependent country threatens the unity that we currently celebrate, if something drastic is not done.”

Prelate Uche also noted that Nigeria has an infrastructural deficit of over two trillion dollars, as he said, “One wonders when the country would be restored to full economic prosperity commensurate with its God given potentials and capacity.”

According to him, “The efforts of the Buhari led government at tackling the ‘hydra-headed monster’ called corruption must however be commended, adding that the sincere and transparent nature of the war against corruption which has brought enormous goodwill to the country, must be commended.

“This can be described as a spark light in the midst of what looks gloomy in our democratic experience so far. The fact that so much looted funds are being recovered and to see that many countries across the world are willing to return funds looted and stashed away in their countries also give ones heart something to cheer about.”
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The cleric further said the 2016 budget recently passed, reflects the positive direction the government intends to take the economy considering the 500,000 teaching jobs being proposed for some of the unemployed graduates and other palliative schemes designed to cushion the hardship being experienced by Nigerians.

On Boko Haram, Prelate Uche said Mr. President has recorded tremendous progress so far with over 12,000 captives rescued including two of the abducted Chibok Girls.

He was however quick to point out that the Fulani herdsmen insurgent across the country posses a greater problem and threat to the country and the integrity of the Buhari’s administration “if it is not handled decisively and effectively. The evil being perpetrated by the Fulani herdsmen across different states mostly in the Southern parts of the country was a serious concern.

“The discussions on the unpopular attempt to carve out grazing reserves for the herders men across the country and the resurrection of the National Grazing Reserve Commission Bill must be suspended and the herdsmen be encouraged at least for now to stick to the concept of ranching, until the damages so far caused by their unfortunate activities in places like Benue, Enugu, Ekiti, Ondo, Oyo, just to mention a few, settles.

“They have subjected people in these areas, especially women and children to traumatic emotional experiences including the massacre of their husbands and fathers in cold blood, which will take them some time to overcome.”

The cleric also noted the trend of trust deficit currently pervading the Nigerian polity under the Buhari’s administration, which he said must be addressed before further talks over what should be a lasting solution to the matter were tabled. According to him, “I call on the Federal Government to take on board the responsibility of re-constructing the destroyed Agatu land in Benue State and other such areas affected across the South in the same manner it plans to reconstruct places affected by the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-Eastern part of the country which is highly commendable. This will in no small measure begin the much-needed effort of rebuilding the collapsed trust that exists across the divide.”

He however called on Nigerians to believe more in the Nigerian project “because we are better off being together than divided. The state of our union may be under siege economically, politically and socio-culturally, yet our excellent values which were well espoused, demonstrated and exhibited by our founding fathers can certainly be re-invented and our future prosperity restored.”

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