THERE is no church without the people. By virtue of that fact, the church provides a veritable ground for understanding the real effects of the current economic recession, especially as it affects the people.
Speaking with TribuneChurch, clerics shared experiences of the effects of the economic recession and suggested ways for the government to handle the situation.
Poor management and administration, cause of recession –Archbishop Fape
Archbishop of Lagos Province, Most Reverend (Dr) Michael Olusina Fape, affirmed that the church was feeling the effect of the economic recession. According to him, “the recession is taking a great toll on members. Honestly, I think it is only by the grace of God that people have been surviving. It is true that God has blessed us with all that we require to be a prosperous and very fruitful nation.
“I can only adduce the reason for this recession to poor management and administration. For instance, the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria said that people were attributing the recession probably to the shortfall in the revenue generated from oil. But that only accounts for 15 per cent of our GDP. It means then that the current situation is as a result of poor management of the resources that we have, not the fall in the price of oil, as it were.
“Members of the church are lamenting and praying that God will intervene to bring relief and reprieve to those of us in the present generation.”
In his recommendations for government on easing the recession, Fape noted that while “it is true that the present administration is taken to accountability, in the bid to do this, it should add the humane factor to whatever they’re doing. There should be element of human touch so that, at least, while they’re chasing after people who have squandered our resources in the past, they should also put in place programmes that will bring people out of the woods so that people would not all have died before they begin to do whatever they think they want to do to make life meaningful for the people. Let the government work and introduce programmes that would be people-friendly.”
People now eat from the rich’s dustbin –Bishop Omoniyi
Bishop Titus Omoniyi of the Methodist Church Nigeria, Oyo, in his reaction, stated that “the situation has become so bad that people are now eating from the dustbin of the rich. The rich in the country have forgotten the poor and we find people going about begging for food. I work in a rural area and from what I’ve seen, the situation has become so critical that people can hardly feed two times a day. That is why I want to appeal to the Federal Government to focus on the youth. Many of them have no jobs and they’re now beggars and are all over the place. Even at the MCN Cathedral in Oyo, a lot of people can no longer give offering in church. I would also advise government to diversify the economy. Let us go back to the farms. Just like what obtained during the (Olusegun) Obasanjo regime (in 1977), when the ‘Operation Feed the Nation’ was launched, if the government can feed the nation at this time, I think the poverty level will reduce.”
The church has become like an IDP camp –Bishop Adeoye
Bishop Seun Adeoye of Sufficient Grace and Truth Ministry, who noted that the effects of the recession were becoming very serious, stated that the church had embarked on providing encouragement for the people, advising them to be prayerful, save more and embrace agriculture.
According to him, “We have been trying to encourage people, telling them that the recession has come and it would soon go. It is a season and it’s not only Nigeria that is affected. Prayers are also very important. We also encourage people to work hard because, basically, people at this time cannot get food to eat. So, we encourage people to work hard, embrace agriculture, and imbibe the culture of saving, particularly in this time of hardship, because we know that the hardship is not going to end now, based on what we’re hearing from our leaders, especially as they say it may last till 2020.
“People should be prayerful because it is very important. It’s not only affecting members, but even I as an individual. In fact, let me say this, the church has turned to what I will call an IDP centre. We distribute food, clothes and other items to people. Tithes and offerings have dropped and the situation has even discouraged us from embarking on church projects because we have to ensure that the people are properly taken care of. It’s really bad and is affecting all of us.”
In his advice for government on handling the situation, Bishop Adeoye called for policies that will help the people.
“Government should not just fold its hands believing that people will sort themselves out. The essence of government is to give people succour in times like this. Government should ensure that they find a way of cushioning the effect through effective policies. They shouldn’t tell us that we have to wait till 2020. See how many people have died. People cannot care for themselves medically or even get food to eat.
“If it means government suspending infrastructural projects to take of the people, that is better. Because if you have infrastructure, and the people expected to use them are dead, what’s the point? When people are healthy, they can contribute their quota to national development.”