N6 Billion – All In God’s Name
OTUOKE, village of President Goodluck Jonathan is in the news for the second time, in less than a year. The issue remains the same: a church.
National outrage rained on an Italian construction firm, Gitto Construzioni Generali Nigeria Limited, that in June 2012 built a church in Otuoke. The President then confirmed that he had asked the company owner Domenico Gitto, for a befitting church in Otuoke.
Public anger centred on the fact that Gitto was a contractor to the Federal Government. It was thought its owner was seeking ways to win more contracts or be paid the billions of Naira he was owed. Gitto passed on last year.
The anger this time is no less so. More than N6 billion was raised for another church in Otuoke, again at the instance of the President and similarly by contractors and other favour seekers.
They claim gratitude to God and possibly divine prompting that all that Otuoke requires is a church. Nothing can be further from the truth. The President’s village suffers the retarding poverty that weighs down Nigeria.
Otuoke was one of the places last year’s floods submerged, not sparing the President’s mansion. The devastation left marks that neither the President nor his friends has done anything to ameliorate. Could this explain why the launching had to be held in Lagos?
The village hosts a federal university; one of the more poorly funded nine universities government sprouted in 2011. One road that the flood ravaged last year, serves it. There would have been no befitting place to accommodate the President’s friends.
Is another church the need of Otuoke? What is the motive of the donors? What is the thinking of those behind this launching, righteously done in God’s name? Could a development project, an endowment to the new university or financing for the ignored East-West Road not benefitted Otuoke better than another church?
Did anyone think about the future of the flood victims who live in dread of another rainy season? Is a church all there is to the needs in Otuoke? Would God be against a church built in a flood free Otuoke?
The donors have been defending their giving as if we all do not know that a church in Otuoke is their concern because they are rallying behind the President. We are not questioning their right to give their money as they wish but do the donors pay appropriate taxes?
Donations of this magnitude, even for a church, will offend God in the midst of the raging poverty and on a terrain that flood sweeps away because governments are busy paying lip service to serving the people.