Being (Presidential) Address by The Rt. Revd Timothy Yahaya, Bishop of Kaduna Diocese, which was delivered at the 3rd Session of the SYNOD of Diocese of Kaduna, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) held at St Paul’s Church Kakuri, Kaduna, on Friday, 7th July 2017, with theme as “FAITHFULNESS.”
MESSAGE TO THE NATION:
Our Nation should come together and pray for the health of our President, who is away on medical vacation the second time this year. Our President is a human being like any other person and, therefore, can fall sick. All he needs from us is prayers. I call on all in government and out of government playing politics with the health of President Mohammadu Buhari to stop it.
If there is anything we should learn as a Nation from the ill health of our President, it is our ill-equipped hospitals. How many Nigerians can afford a medical vacation out of this country? We therefore call on the Government to declare a state of emergency on our health sector, with the sole aim of making them world class.
Medical tourism has become a money drainer in our nation; and on a daily basis, Nigerians travel out for medical attention; yet, we have the best medical personnel in world class hospitals working all over the world. With the right political will, I believe our government can change this capital flight. This will help the common man to afford Medicare in our Nation.
Synod commends the Federal government on the fight against corruption in our Nation. We stand with the government on the fight against corruption. The reason we have infrastructure deficit as a nation today is greed and corruption. Synod calls on the government to fight corruption without fear or f avor; the fight must be seen to be all encompassing; there must not be sacred cows in this fight. Corruption does not have tribe, religion, political party, etc. Corruption is corruption, and we must all join our hands together and fight corruption, as government alone cannot do it.
THE WAR ON TERRORISM:
Synod commends the Federal Government on this war. We must as a people and nation commend our Armed forces for paying the ultimate price for the security of lives and property. Synod, however, calls on the government not to relent until our nation is fully secured and save. We in Synod call on government to ensure that our gallant men, who paid the ultimate price, are not forgotten but their families are properly taken care of.
MENACE OF HERDSMEN:
The recent trend of Fulani herdsmen carrying guns freely, killing and destroying communities and farms in our country, portends great danger in our country. We now have herdsmen in the East, South South, West and some parts of the North, that have become a menace to our nation. Overnight, villages are ravaged, displaced, and thousands are rendered homeless in their ancestral homes and farmlands. State governments are crying, with little or no help. Synod is calling on Government to do something drastic to turn the tide of the terror of these herdsmen.
Every year, our Tertiary Institutions are turning out graduates with nothing to do. The Unemployment Rate in our nation is alarming! Young people are living in frustration and depression, some left the world of the University many years back with great dreams, but right before their eyes these dreams of a better and greater life are crashing. This helps breed crimes in the society. An idle mind is the devil’s workshop. A young population is a Nation’s asset. Synod calls on government to do something about unemployment, as this will help reduce crime and create wealth for our beloved Nation.
Synod commends the Federal government on the effort to diversify the Nigerian Economy. Our over-dependence on oil as a nation has killed other sectors of our economy that used to be the pillars of our Economy before oil came. Nigeria was on the world map on some agricultural produce – cocoa, rubber, groundnut, palm oil, cotton, etc.
The coming of oil in a way killed our agricultural sector. It is so bad that even to feed ourselves as a nation is not tenable now. We import food with our hard-earned foreign reserves. The initiative of government to go back to Agriculture is highly commendable. In spite of the fact that this initiative is laudable, government should please, answer the following questions:
When going to farm becomes a death sentence to the farmer because of the menace of the herdsmen, how will this encourage the poor farmer to go to farm? At a time, government is taking Agriculture farming communities in rural areas are being displaced by herdsmen and nothing tangible is happening to reassure the farmer that he is the concern of government.
How does he put in his best when herdsmen go to farmlands, destroy the crops planted and even some ready for harvest; will this encourage the farmers in the villages to farm? Let’s leave the questions on herdsmen. A lot of farmers only hear about the Anchor Borrowing programme from radio or television; what is the government doing to ensure that all farmers have access to this laudable scheme of government? Furthermore, what is government doing to ensure that the farm produce of farmers are not sold at “give-away” prices during harvest? What is government doing to ensure that our youths have a reorientation on the issue of farming?
If agriculture in Nigeria will succeed, some of the above pertinent questions must be answered by government.
This august-body commends the Federal Government on their effort to end recession. The impact of this recession on the life of ordinary Nigerians can only be imagined. Some lost their jobs; some companies packed up, some businesses relocated out of our country. Some workers are owed salaries of three-to-six months. The human development index of our nation in our sub-region is nothing to write home about! Government is declaring ‘good news’ that technically we are almost out of recession. The common man in the street does not understand big grammar; all he wants is food on the table – at affordable prices. In short, when prices in the market on essential commodities crash, the common man knows that the recession is over. Government must do all within its power to ensure that this happens.
PASTORAL NOMADISM IN OUR AGE AND TIME:
The best practice of Animal Husbandry in our world today is the establishment of ranches. In the ranches, the herdsman and the cattle don’t have to travel from place-to-place looking for greener pastures for his animal. He grows grass in the ranch and uses it to feed his animals. The risk of traveling north-and-south every six months of the year is eliminated from his life. The children of the herdsman in the ranch can now have access to western education; that will help him even in rearing his cattle.
The veterinary doctors and other livestock workers can easily locate the Fulani herdsmen and their cows to give them medication when there is an outbreak. The cow now will be healthier and fatter, which means more economic gain to the herdsmen. The tension between farmers and herdsmen will surely be eliminated. The insecurity caused by this transhumance will finally come to an end.
Synod rejects the Articles of Crazing Reserve Bill because it is adversely disadvantageous, hostile, antagonistic, ill-advised, inconvenient and inconsiderate to the common man in Nigeria and his commonwealth. This bill clearly shows favoritism to one trade over the other. All other businesses in Nigeria are important but no bill is sponsored to protect them! Why, then, this personal and private business?
We want the office of Bureau for Statistics to tell us how much the government collects as revenue from cattle that is making government do what it is doing? As compared to other trades, we hardly pass part one of the Petroleum Industry
Bill and yet crude for now is our major revenue earner. Government should tell us what percent does cattle business contributes to the Gross Domestic Growth of our nation. The argument of Synod is, if the cattle business is a private business, our government should treat it as such. Making a law that shows favoritism will only create problem in the nation.
THE NEW CURRICULUM:
There is a newly introduced Curriculum for Basic Education. The Primary and Junior Secondary Schools are the bedrock and foundation upon which the whole education system is built. Following the decision of the Federal Government to introduce the universal nine (9) years basic education program, the Nigerian Educational Research Development Council (NERDC) restructures and re-aligns all extant Primary and Junior Secondary School curriculum into nine (9) years Basic Education Curriculum, which commenced in 2008.
Recently, the Federal Ministry of Education, through the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council, revised the Curriculum and enshrined what they call “Religion and National Values” as a subject. Religion and National Values is said to be the merging of formally independent subjects such as Christian Religious Studies, Islamic Religious Studies, Civic Education, Social Studies and the newly introduced National Security Education into one compulsory subject.
This decision, to the mind of the Synod, portraits danger as well as infringement on the rights of the children and their parents. Hence, there is need to educate all and sundry (especially the Church) on the implication of the newly-introduced Curriculum by the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council.
THE OBSERVATION OF SYNOD IN THE NEW CURRICULUM:
The offensive part of the curriculum includes:
- The subtle silence of the entire Curriculum in the fact that Jesus is the Son of Cod, the Messiah and the Redeemer of mankind.
- The supremacy of Prophet Mohammed over other prophets or religious Icons.
- The “glorious Qur’an” being the final authority of Allah.
- Children being encouraged to disobey their parents if they refused to follow Allah.
- Indoctrination of children on religion and national values is encouraged by this Curriculum.
- Do not listen to your parent if they prevent you from accepting Islam. Obviously, such a statement is very offensive to the tenet of Christian Faith.
- That, Prophet Isa did not die nor was he crucified, and neither did he resurrect. Synod considers this statement as deliberate attack on the very foundation of Christian Faith.
- In the new Curriculum, all the children – including those of other Faiths, apart from the Islam – are to compulsorily learn, recite and memorize the Qur’an or Arabic language! For Synod, this is a cruel infringement on the human rights of Christian children, as enshrined in the Nigeria Constitution that they should be forced to memorize and recite the Qur’an or Arabic language under any guides.
- Synod observes carefully the nine (9) years curriculum is written for tender hearts, where indelible impressions are formed to shape them for life. Making this new subject compulsory for tender minds negates the Declaration on Human and People’s Right, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and even the Child Right Act of 2003.
- Synod more importantly observes that the new curriculum takes away the Biblical injunction of Christian parents in Proverbs chapter 22:6, which says, and I quote: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
- Synod observes that curriculum review is supposed to eliminate subject matter overlaps, redundancies and enrich curriculum quality through the infusion of the emerging issues. Synod, therefore, further observes this new curriculum did not fulfill this condition and, therefore, is faulty.
- Synod asks the question: Who are the stakeholders that were consulted before the formulation of this new curriculum?
- For Synod, the right of the child not to be exposed to a contrary religion outside those of his parent and guardians is not taken to consideration by this new Curriculum.
- By section 38(2) of the 1999 constitution, as amended, no person attending any place of education shall be required to receive religious instruction or take part in any religious observances that are contrary to his/her religion, that of his or her parents or guardian. Also, sub-section 1 of the same section 38 makes it clear that the freedom of worship is sacrosanct.
RECOMMENDATION OF THE WAY FORWARD:
- Christian parents should present a formidable front and say “No” to the new Education Curriculum on religious and national values where five subjects are being fused into one.
- Christian Religious Studies and Islamic Studies should be allowed to stand separately and be allowed to be studied as independent subjects, with separate text books and languages – Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba.
- Synod wants curriculum developers to ensure that the contents of a Curriculum do not contradict our constitutional provisions.
- Furthermore, curriculum developers should be conscious of religious and cultural sensibility of Nigeria.
- Synod observes that merging five subjects into one has more disadvantages than advantages.
- The child would be made to struggle to learn and comprehend five-in-one subjects, which would not be easy for him or her. The result of this merger may be sacrifice of excellence on the altar of social integration, which will amount to “penny-wise and pound-foolish.”
- Government should look for means of confronting directly the enemy of our corporate existence as a nation; that is, those who propagate religious intolerance, rather than making any religious subject compulsory, as Nigeria has no national religion.
- Synod recommends there should be a public hearing on such a sensitive matter so as to feel the pulse of the parents of the children.
- Synod calls on government to revert to the “status-quo ante.”
- Conclusively on this matter, Synod observes that the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria should tow the path of honor and re-examine critically the new Curriculum that is creating tension in this nation. It is the belief of Synod that the government will do the right thing and help this nation.
‘QUIT-NOTICE’ IN NIGERIA:
Synod observes with dismay the impunity with which some people take laws into their hands. Nigeria as a corporate entity is not a banana republic; one expects in a democracy like ours, that the rule of law will be the watchword. In a country where some individuals will sit down and give an ultimatum of ‘quit notice’ to others of the same corporate entity is not acceptable. Therefore, Synod condemns the Arewa Youth Consultative Council that issued the ultimatum to the Igbos living in the north.
The following are the observations of Synod in this ‘quit notice’:
- Why the Igbo people in the North? We want the Arewa Youth Consultative Council to answer.
- Furthermore, who is Arewa Youth Consultative Council in the Constitution of Nigeria, and which right has she in the Federal Republic of Nigeria?
- This ‘quit notice’ is more than a hate speech! Our society is civilized, and we must not be taken back to our dark age; in a civilized clime like ours, the law has no sacred cows. Synod is waiting to see what Federal Republic of Nigeria will do to those responsible for this ‘quit notice.’
- Synod observes that whatever government does concerning this ‘quit notice’ will restore the confidence of not only the Igbos but all people living in a corporate entity called Nigeria.
- Synod observes that this statement has created a lot of palpable tensions in the country; therefore, the government must be seen to be doing something to douse the tension.
- The ‘quit notice’ given by the Arewa Youth Consultative Council goes a long way to saying Nigeria is “a mere geographical expression.” After more than a hundred years of Amalgamation, we are still different entity and not a nation. Synod therefore calls on Federal government to do the following to make us one visible entity:
Any Nigerian, who moves to anywhere and lives up to six months, should become an indigene and should be seen to be given the right of a citizen of such place.
- Finally, Synod calls on the government to be watchful, to be ready, to prove that all Nigerians are one and they are free to live anywhere and everywhere in Nigeria.
KADUNA STATE GOVERNMENT:
Synod wants to commend the Kaduna State Government for a laudable achievement in the provision of portable water in Zaria and environs. Synod observes that by the singular act of this project, a lot of water-borne diseases will be eliminated in Zaria and environs. Furthermore, Synod is happy that the project is not an abandoned project; that what His Excellency, Namadi Sambo, started is not discarded. We commend the spirit of continuity with the viable project that is people-oriented.
Synod commends the Government of Kaduna State for quickly condemning and ordering the arrest of the Arewa Youth Consultative Council that gave the ‘quit notice’ to the Igbos. What the State Government did was in the spirit of National unity. However, Synod is surprised that despite the order of arrests, nobody has been arrested so far so good to the best of our knowledge. Synod therefore urges the security agency to do the needful and arrest these divisive elements that want to disintegrate our great nation.
Furthermore, Synod commends Kaduna State Government for housing the Airport during the repair of Abuja Airport. These have helped in bringing the Kaduna Airport up-to-date. The challenge, however, for Kaduna State Government, is not just to have a modern airport that is not busy. Synod calls on the government to set up a think-thank to think about things that can be done to make Kaduna Airport a commercial hub like Lagos, Port-Harcourt and Kano, where people will come in their numbers.
Synod encourages the State Government to work on the tourism sector of the state to bring in tourists that will help the economy of the State. Synod calls on the government to make sure that all the Textile Industries in Kaduna and Peugeot-Automobile Plant in Kaduna that are moribund come back to life; by so doing, Kaduna State will be great again.
The Southern Kaduna genocide by the purported herdsmen is a shocking incident up till today to Synod. We call on the Government to stand up to their responsibility of protecting lives and property and to make sure that the perpetrators of these heinous crimes are brought to book.
We call on government to make sure that the internally-displaced people created by these herdsmen are properly taken care of by re-building their homes and helping them to start life all over again.
We commend men of the Armed Forces, the Police and State Security Services for the roles they played in arresting these criminal elements known as ‘herdsmen.’ Some of them have to pay the ultimate price. We pray that Government will look at their families and take care of them.
Synod calls on the Kaduna State Government to invest more on Education, as the sorry state of our educational facilities in Kaduna does not create conducive environment for learning. We have a lot of dilapidated schools that need government attention. The learning environment is very important to learning. With a good learning environment, both the teachers and the students will be happy, and qualitative education will be delivered to the students.
INFRASTRUCTURE IN KADUNA METROPOLIS:
Some parts of Kaduna metropolis are well developed, while some today, have no government presence. Places like Conin-Gora, Sabon Tasha, Television, Maraban Rido, Zokoriko, Romi, etc., etc., need government attention.
A few months ago, drainages were being dug in Kaduna as if it is a serious business. Suddenly, the work on these drainages stopped. This is not good for our community. The rains are falling, stagnant water gathering here and there. This may lead to flooding, which is avoidable if the government can be proactive to make sure that the drainages are done.
INSECURITY – KADUNA-ABUJA EXPRESS WAY:
The level of insecurity on our Kaduna-Abuja express way is quiet alarming! The rate at which people are being kidnapped on that road is quiet disheartening. In a state where we want development, insecurity cannot attract foreign investment. The government needs to declare a state-of-emergency on security and make sure that kidnapping and insecurity are things of the past. This can only be achieved when all the citizens are brought on board and community policing is encouraged.
Synod wonders why, after two years in office, the Kaduna State Government cannot conduct Local Government Election; the Local Government is an area that deserves attention for development. If every Local Government is developed, Kaduna state will be a model state in our nation.
One wonders why a democratically-elected government will not conduct election for Local Government. If the State Government is legitimate by virtue of the ballot box, then she should do the needful by organizing Local Government Elections that are free and fair so that the people will enjoy representation and dividends of democracy.
Synod observed that the school feeding programme done in eight (8) months is said to have gulped Ten Billion Naira (N10,000,000,000), which is not all the schools in the State. Synod asks: how many children did we have in this schools that warrant this amount of money expended?
Synod wants to ask, why our Governor cannot stay and serve the people that voted him. Most of the time Your Excellency, you are out of the state. Is that the new style of leadership? This style of leadership, Synod is afraid, cannot help Kaduna State.
Synod has a further question: Does the Governor think it is wisdom to be in school at this critical time in the history of our State? Who then runs the state?
Thousands of traditional rulers were sacked by the governor; the reason given for the sacking of these 4000+ traditional rulers do not hold water.
Furthermore, we hear of consultants, we hear of projects, but how many of them have been completed? Synod thinks that the Governor and his Government should take more pragmatic steps to ensure that the consultants and the project initiated does not become a waste but a reality.
The selling of the people’s assets by the government has left a lot of questions unanswered; some of these questions are:
- Why are we selling the assets?
- What do we intend to achieve by selling these assets?
- Is selling the assets easy way for getting easy money?
- The colonial masters that put the assets in place – are they foolish?
- Previous governments who did not sell the assets – were they naïve?
Synod pleads to government to be careful before she mortgages the future of our children yet unborn.
Synod observes that it seems this government does not have her ears down to the grassroots. The poor man is crying everyday with no one to wipe away his tears.
A democratic, responsible and responsive government is what the people are looking for. Synod, therefore, calls on government of Kaduna State to be more proactive to the needs of the people in the State.