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2007: Religion no issue, Bishop Onaiyekan

Posted by By ISAAC ANUMIHE, Abuja on 2006/06/18 | Views: 574 |

2007: Religion no issue, Bishop Onaiyekan

Archbishop John Onaiyekan, the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, is a fiery clergy who, while other clerics are singing praises of President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, refused to join the crowd.

Archbishop John Onaiyekan, the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, is a fiery clergy who, while other clerics are singing praises of President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, refused to join the crowd.
For him, religion should not count in the coming presidential elections.

While conceding that the church has a role to play, he stated emphatically that anybody could become president no matter his religion: "I said this frankly and I don’t mind being quoted that I don’t even care who is the president provided he runs Nigeria very well. It will not be a pride for me if I have a catholic member as president who goes there and messes up and makes life miserable for all Nigerians. But if somebody comes from whatever religion and he comes and he is a good ruler and manages to control corruption and put all our social services in place and Nigeria begins to take off, I will pray for him every day."

Obasanjo’s regime, said Bishop Onaiyekan, has performed woefully, especially in the area of direct investment, provision of infrastructure, creation of jobs and provision of conducive environment for foreign investment.

He took a swipe on the administration’s economic policies saying that they have never impacted positively on the lives of the common man.
"Maybe, when it comes to looking at macro-indices, it looks like we have improved but we still want to know what happens to the man on the ground", he said.

The clergy said that he cannot encourage or advise anybody to set up business in Nigeria given the harsh business environment in the country.
According to him, what volume of business can anybody do in Nigeria in a bureaucratic setup of this nature and in the face of inadequate social amenities which normally a business person should take for granted.

"I am talking of light, water, and communications. You can see that our environment is still very much handicapped. I am told that there are many investors who come to Nigeria and when they study situations, a few days, a few weeks, they go back home and they decide to go elsewhere where they don’t have to go through all the hassles of bureaucracy. They go to places where electricity supply is regular, constant and affordable.

“They go to a place where, even if fuel is more expensive, there is a steady supply. In order words, they go to a place where they can do proper planning. I don’t have a business but I run an office and I know that I spend quite a lot of money on diesel which I shouldn’t be spending", he explained.
On the basis of the foregoing, Onaiyekan asserts that Nigerian environment is harsh, unconducive, and unpalatable for business:

"And when you put all these together, you can’t really say that the Nigerian environment is conducive for business. The only thing with Nigeria is that our economy is too big to be neglected. People come despite all these problems and set up business but they have to make room for a wide margin profit. If they cannot guarantee that kind of wide margin profit,
then they will not be able to make ends meet.”

Cost of production
The clergy gave reasons why Nigerians are not investing in Nigeria whether on small or medium scale:
"The cost of production is so high. What you find is that by the time people bring in their raw materials from the ports, you spend a whole lot of money just to get your goods out of the ports. By the time you bring it out, the cost is so high that you can’t sell.
“Certainly, you can’t compete with the young men who take their briefcase and go to Taiwan, buy their stuff, load it in a container and come to clear. That is a much easier job. But unfortunately there is nothing the government is doing about employment for our people."

Obasanjo’s rating
The Catholic Archbishop agreed that Obasanjo is embarking on radical reforms but stated that the reforms are for long time planning:
"Obasanjo’s regime is investing very much on radical reforms and all these reforms are going to be at the long run. And they are invariably in terms of

privatization, in terms of consolidation. When it comes to macro-indices, it looks like we are improving but we still want to know what happens to the man on the ground. And that is where I am."
Onaiyekan saw reforms as a change capable of affecting everybody, high or low, positively adding that "reforms have to be judged on the basis of the impact on the lives of the people in schools, in health services, water, employment, adequate accommodation, even for the poor, because these are the things that touch human beings."

The Catholic Archbishop gave thumps down on claims that the foreign exchange has improved adding that it makes no sense to have billions stashed outside the country when majority are wallowing in abject poverty:

"What is the point if the people are hungry. Our children are dying in the hospital and you are spending billions to pay our debts to people who are
rich. I don’t think it makes sense. If I am owing a rich man N5,000 and my child is dying in the hospital, even the rich knows that I should take my child to the hospital first before paying him his N5,000. So, in my
own opinion, I cannot see the reasons for these policies.”

IMF, World Bank’s commendation suspicious
The man of God suddenly became emotional when he remembered that these reforms have received accolades from both within and outside Nigeria, including International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank:

"Those who are congratulating, I am suspicious of their intentions. IMF congratulating us?. World Bank congratulating us?. I begin to ask myself, is it the best thing for us?. Who wants their congratulations?.”

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Comments (23)

emilia(Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria)says...

Wow,trying to get across to Ekene jnr he happens to be my old friend,lost his contact.any info would do me good

Valarie(Nairobi, Kenya)says...

What’s your point?

robloxian(Bangor, Maine, US)says...

hahahaha u r a wierdo…hehehe

ur so boring(To, Northern Territory, Australia)says...

have u ever thought the garbage or the toilet might be jealous? Ur so full of shiz- white piece of shiz BET lol. That's where ppl like you belong (toilet garbage etc), ik the truth hurts but dont take it as an insult im just trying to describe you; ik im good at it ty-The truth hurts right. JSYK black ppl aren't nerds were just smarter than you oops Btw BLMM!!!

robloxian(Bangor, Maine, US)says...

wow so bad.


U r weird gus

yawning(On, Northern Territory, Australia)says...

Hmmm define weird plz