… ‘How I spent N100m birthday gift’

By Elizabeth Uwandu & Esther Oyeniyi

The Prelate, Methodist Church of Nigeria, Dr. Samuel Uche, spoke on some national issues at the opening of the 19th National Conference of the Council of Knights.

Tell us about the conference

The theme for this year’s conference is ‘Obedience to God’s Word, Better than Sacrifice’. And it was reduced to suit the conference into ‘Obedient Knight, God’s Treasure’. Obedience to God can be likened to that of Abraham, which was total submission and what goes with it to God. And we saw what Abraham did when God asked him to sacrifice his son Isaac. There was no hesitation, no reservation. He simply went.

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That means that everything you have belongs to God including your life. When I did my birthday, it was a celebration of life. That is why everything donated to me by about five state governments and also the Federal Government as represented; in fact they raised for me about N100 million, I could have used it to become a big man, but I gave it to the church.

If you go there, you will see the building. I gave it to the church to build for staff members. Because I know, apparently, God would give me what I would eat, when I retire in three years’ time.

Political office holders’ allocation

I am happy with the directive by the President to the fiscal allocation committee to cut the salaries of the legislative, executive, and judicial arms of government. You have to save money to employ the youth. So many youths are graduates and are underpaid even if they are employed. They are just serving sacrificially.

But what they give them at the end of the month is so small. And that is one of the reasons those who cannot resist the heat, and stress, go into crime. If they give good education, quality roads, energy, basic infrastructure, food on everyone’s table, crime will reduce by 80 percent, because everyone will feel satisfied. So, apparently, what is causing insecurity is what those at the helm of affairs are doing.

They contribute to insecurity. And as Isaac Newton, in the study of elementary physics, said in the third law of gravitation, “action and reaction are always equal and opposite”. So what we are seeing in the country today is a negative reaction from what was caused by government. That is what leads to robbery, kidnapping, banditry and vandalism.

How do we then address the challenges of insecurity and other issues in the country?

If you want to curb these things, let’s share our national cake in a way that each person has a bite. Lawmakers and others must cut down the cost of governance. On minimum wage, if they say they are paying N30, 000, it should get to other levels. According to what I heard from Dr Chris Ngige (Labour Minister), they stopped at level seven. But I want them to continue from level eight to 17. Don’t deny other civil servants by saying that they won’t get anything. Why not give them pay rise of at least 10 percent? The money is there but being wasted.

What do you say about VAT increment?

VAT! CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele said, for instance, that if I come for the wedding of your daughter and you give me N500, 000 for transport and I decide to pay it into my bank account, they will charge me 10 percent. Mind you, I have paid my tax. Then I decide to withdraw part of the money and I go to the market to buy things, they will still take 7.5 percent of the money; by so doing, do they want me to survive? They should look into these things and let there be proper taxation, not multiple taxation.

Leakages in major sectors of the economy

There is leakage in NNPC, there is leakage in NDDC, there is leakage from those that collect our tax; we know these things. Let us stop the leakages and use the money to improve the lives of the people.

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Role of the Church in nation-building

The place of the Church is very crucial. We are doing our best. Ours is to advocate just as I am doing. In fact, if we close churches, you can’t walk along the road. We do a lot of advocacy, we talk to people’s consciences, and that’s why you have majority of our young people not taking into crime. They are working for government and the people because they listen to the Word of God. So, the Church is doing a lot.

And I am not talking about controversial churches, but genuine ones that preach Jesus Christ and the old rugged cross, churches that preach sacrificing through suffering to make your nation great, to make your family great. That is the gospel. Jesus died on the cross to make the world a better place; so, just as he had outlined, we should carry our own crosses to make our country better.

I don’t hate government

I don’t hate government or envy them, but we just have to do things right. What is good for the goose is also good for the gander. That would curb the incidents of restiveness in this country.

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