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Tackle corruption : Deregulation is no answer — Oritsejafor

THE National President, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, who will be marking his birthday (Don’t ask me how old he is) on Tuesday with the donation of wrappers to over 3,000 men and women in Warri, needs no introduction. As part of preparations for his church’s 22nd annual spiritual retreat, tagged Jubilee Word Festival which begins today at the International Gospel Centre of the Word of Life Bible Church, Warri, he spoke to our Sam Eyoboka on several national issues. The theme of the week long convention is; New Season Double Grace. Excerpts…

As an influential religious leader in the country, what is your take on the proposed deregulation of the downstream sector of the nation’s oil industry?

If you look at the level of poverty in the country, it becomes difficult for somebody to comprehend why anybody should comtemplate deregulation at this moment. Are we really looking at the majority of the people or we are just concerned about the welfare of a few citizens? I am not against the government, but some of us have to say our minds. Although we often talk about saving money from the process, but who are we saving the money for? I believe that leadership is all about service to the people and as such, it would have been better if the governmenmt consulted extensively with the stake-holders before even making the announcement of intent. I read in one of the newspapers of monumental fraud in the NNPC as certain individuals make millions for the use of their storage facilities. The level of corruption is high and it is everywhere. And the government is talking of deregulation. Deregulation of what and who are they deregulating for? Where will the money from the deregulation go to? I am really troubled and have been asking myself questions; because the problem of Nigeria is not the system, but the people operating in the system. There are people who are corrupt, they should be arrested and prosecuted. Deregulation cannot stop the problem, because all the money they would save, what are they saving it for? Is it not this same cabal that will squander the gains from the deregulation? Until the people who are causing economic hardship are arrested…because corruption has a human face; nothing will happen and we are merely wasting time.

What crucial steps should the government take now to eliminate poverty in the land?

Transportation is the major area where the common man suffers, the average Nigerian that owns a car is still poor. I think the government should look more into the area of transportation, we must find a way to ease the people’s suffering. Everyday, we hear of China and what they are doing there with good train network. I tell you the common people are suffering. Things that are achievable should be put in place for the people and not just talking. Apart from mass transportat-ion, the government should rehabilitate the nation’s major roads. Federal roads in Nigeria are in ruins. If state governments can take care of short distance transportation, the federal government should likewise take care of long distance transportation. If government take a decisive interest in the transportation sector it will reduce the pressure on the ordinary people and that is the one major way to cushion the effect of deregulation.
The reforms in the bank-ing sector has generated a lot of controversy with some people saying the CBN governor may operating a hidden script…

I am worried, because once you look at what some of these directors and CEOs were doing, you can’t totally blame the CBN governor. Their activities have weakened our economic system. But my concern is that the way the CBN went about the sack of the first batch is not the same with the second batch. I detest the way CBN governor is carrying out the reform, because what he has done is to weaken the financial sector of this country. The world today is viewing Nigeria’s economic system as either failing or has failed. What am saying is that he has given a wrong picture of the state of the nation’s economy to the world. And taking it further, there are some banks that were not touched. If that is true then the CBN is protecting some people and threatening some other banks; that is why people fear a hidden agenda. I hope not. But if that is the case that means Nigeria will be in serious trouble, because most people will not fold their arms and see this happen. The CBN should tell the public why some MDs were not touched. I am also troubled that my own CBN governor is the one championing the cause of Islamic banking in the country. I am very troubled, because I am a Nigerian. He was appointed to serve the interest of all of us and not a particular religion. If anyone should promote Islamic banking, it shouldn’t be the CBN governor. It will only be increasing our problems.
Development in Niger Delta…

The amnesty was a good move and I congratulate the Federal Government. I also appreciate the young men who responded positively to the call. Amnesty to the militants is only a small fraction of what should happen in the Niger Delta. It has come and gone, but let’s be honest with ourselves there is still danger in the region. The government has to really watch it and take bold steps to develop the area now that peace has returned. The boys are no longer in the creeks, the government should move to the next stage. There is a spiritual aspect of rehabilitation, but apart from this, there is actual rehabilitation. They said they are giving the boys pocket money, what can that do? Government needs to take steps to improve the lot of the erstwhile militants; train fast in different categories of skills that will make them useful in the society. The government should remember that there are some fundamental issues that created this problem, such should be addressed with despatch—especially the problem in infrastrutural decay in the region. There should be education for the youths and creation of jobs in these areas, and not just packing the militants to a place. Let there be massive development and once this is done nobody will complain.


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