By Emman Ovuakporie, Gbenga Oke, Levinus Nwabughiogu, Joseph Erunke and Johnbosco Agbakwuru
The uproar over the regulation by the Financial Regulatory Council of Nigeria, FRCN stipulating time duration for leaders of religious organisations has elicited interest from far and near. Equally remarkable for some was the speed with which President Muhammadu Buhari responded to the development. Within 36 hours Pastor Enoch Adeboye made known his decision to step aside as National Overseer of the RCCG in compliance with the FRCN regulation, President Muhammadu Buhari stepped in with the dismissal of Mr. Jim Obazee from his position.
President Buhari’s prompt response in the face of other aching national issues which the president appeared not to respond to has drawn diverse reactions. Is Nigeria’s president choosy on issues he responds to?
A cross section of some prominent Nigerians responded to the development thus:
Buhari’s prompt response is suspicious; he did it for Osinbajo — Dr. Junaid Mohammed, Second Republic member, House of Representatives
I have taken note of the development involving Adeboye/FRCN, and I can say boldly that President Buhari’s reaction over the issue is suspicious. One would have expected the President to react swiftly to other important national issues. I must say that the President reacted instantly because the vice-president, Yemi Osinbajo, is a highly placed Pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God.
If Buhari’s vice were not a pastor in RCCG, I am very sure the President would have done nothing. We are all aware it took Mr. President months to react to Southern Kaduna killings and Fulani herdsmen killings going on all over the country. What Buhari is doing is selective justice even in fighting corruption.
It is very unfortunate when it is that way and that is why his administration is not achieving anything.
President Buhari is a man of drama — Babatope
Chief Ebenezer Babatope is a former minister of transport and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
I am yet to come to terms why the government will get involved in the affairs of churches. This issue has made one conclude that Buhari does not comment on issues that do not affect him or his government directly and which is very unfortunate.
Anti-Corruption war is a ruse– Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN
I have always said it again and again that the anti-corruption war is a ruse and that it is skewed against perceived elements, political elements, and dissenters. It is neither holistic nor transparent. It targets certain persons at the convenience of the government and leaves others out as sacred cows and untouchables.
That’s why some ministers in the government, the Heads of certain parastatals who have abused the system with their atrocities reaching a crescendo have never been touched because some of them funded the last APC elections; some of them are in the present government. Some of them are in the Kitchen Cabinet. Some of them are wearing the toga of Naman, the man with leprosy. Once you defect to APC, you become white as snow.
But I disagree with the sacking of Mr. Obaze as the Chief Executive of FRCN. The man’s only “crime and offence” were that he enforced an existing law and code concerning church leadership. He became a sacrificial lamb to be slaughtered on the political board of desperation.
Let me state that religion is a personal thing between a person and his God. You can’t begin to make laws to govern religion because Section 10 of the Constitution makes it very clear that Nigeria is a secular state and that secularity is to inform both the decisions and actions of the government.
The same constitution also gives the right to freedom of worship, conscience, and religion to every Nigerian.
To that extent, the law itself that (spells) out on how churches should be governed was a bad law ab initio.
I observed that if you want to do a law that governs churches, then the law must extend to governing mosques also in Nigeria because, under the rule of law, all persons and authorities must be equal before the law.
But beyond, sacrificing Obazee for enforcing an existing law and code was highly politically motivated. Rather, he deserved to be garlanded with national honours not to be punished for enforcing an existing law. If the government does not like the law, the solution lies in presenting a bill to the National Assembly for repeal of the law or amendment. Not to punish a person who diligently enforced it.
The law itself is a bad law. There is no question about that because religion is a personal matter between a person and his God and you do not decree into existence leaders of religious organizations because religion is highly spiritual, celestial and ecclesiastical. It is not terrestrial. It is not of this world.
But having said that, If the law is bad, the government should seek to amend it not to punish Obaze for enforcing the law and the alacrity with which Obaze was removed when weightier allegations that have been serially made against the members of the kitchen cabinet of the president have never been looked into makes it a serious case of political grandstanding.
Buhari succumbed to the power of the church towards 2019
Alhaji Shettima Yerima is the National President, Arewa Consultative Youth Forum
I am worried, and I begin to wonder why the government was so much in a hurry to take decisions as related to Pastor Adeboye. And I begin to wonder why they are in a hurry? Did they succumb to the threat coming from the church that they will also mobilise against them come 2019? Was it about that?
And if they are talking about corruption, then I wonder why they are overlooking the issue of EFCC chairman. They play low on those issues that are very fundamental. One begins to wonder the kind of government we have that the fight against corruption has become so selective. I am worried, and I get panicked about it.
Magu’s case is different – Ogor
Rep Leo Ogor, Minority Leader, House of Representatives compares the action of the president on the FRCN boss and on issues raised against Ibrahim Magu of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
I think these are two different issues, two different scenarios entirely. First, when you look at the Magu issue, it is a responsibility before the Senate to clear him. There is a clear process; there is a procedure, and the procedure is still on. The AGF also has set up an investigative team to look into those allegations.
The FRCN turned itself into a law writing agency, and it didn’t even wait, all of a sudden started implementing the law. It usurped the powers of the National Assembly, and outside that, it started implementing without even getting clearance or getting back to the National Assembly.
The president was not late in his response to Kaduna killings -Lawrence Alobi, retired Commissioner of Police
Well, the president has the right on how to respond to different issues, depending on how he views the various situations. Each situation determines what action should be taken, depending on how he has assessed it and what he thinks should be done.
The president has the right to act when he feels he should act and to act when he feels it’s appropriate for him to act.
Any action that he feels it’s appropriate, he has the right to choose that action.”
He has reacted to the Southern Kaduna killings, and I don’t think his reaction was late.
The president acted within his discretionary powers
Rep Gabriel Onyenweife, APGA Ayamelum/Oyi Federal Constituency of Anambra State
My position is very simple. When one has discretionary powers especially a President or somebody that is in an executive position, discretionary powers are not mandatorily to be carried out on the expectations of the public.
What guides the exercise of discretionary powers is whether such discretionary power has been exercised in justifiable means based on good conscience, equity, and natural justice. It is left for the officer once it is left at his discretion to consider the surrounding circumstances of each situation.
Suspension of law has political inclination—Fayose, Ekiti Governor
Ekiti Governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose said the sack of the Executive Secretary of the Financial Regulatory Council (FRC) of Nigeria, Mr. Jim Obazee, in connection with the implementation of the controversial Corporate Governance Code 2016 was an afterthought and cover-up to stem the tide of negative public reactions to the implementation of the controversial law that stripped the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Enoch Adeboye and others of their positions.
According to a release issued in Ado Ekiti , signed by the governor’s Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, “When they realised the implication of their action on President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2019 ambition, especially the personality like Pastor Adeboye that’s involved, they quickly sacked an innocent man who must have acted on instruction.
“Obviously, their attention is more on 2019, not on justice and any love for the sustenance of Christianity in Nigeria. They have only suspended the implementation of the regulation. They did not abrogate it. It is obvious that they have an agenda.”
He said it was funny that a president that is over 70 years will be the one to implement a regulation limiting the age of General Overseer (GO) of Churches to 70 years, asking; “If men of God like Pastor Adeboye, Pastor W. F. Kumuyi, Bishop David Oyedepo, Bishop Mike Okonkwo and others cannot be GO of their churches beyond 70 years of age, how do we now justify a man like President Buhari who is over 74 and still willing to be president beyond 2019 that he will be 77?”
Fayose further questioned the speed at which the President reacted by sacking the FRC boss, asking; “Why was there no such swiftness in his action on Southern Kaduna killings where a race was almost wiped out, with people killed like goats? Why didn’t the President react swiftly to the Senate indictment of the EFCC Acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu?
“Obviously, it was an afterthought, which was aimed at dousing the negative outcry that greeted the action by using the sacked FRC boss as the fall-guy. Sadly, all those things that we have forgotten and never thought will happen again in this country are now happening.