Things getting from bad to worse —Cleric warns

PRESIDENT of Abuja Conference of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, Rev Dr Israel Akanji on Monday warned that things are getting from bad to worse in the country.

“As a religious leader, it is also glaring to me that more of our people are falling into poverty.

“While we commend the Federal and state governments for striving to pull Nigeria out of current recession, we appeal that more should be done so that the results of their efforts would become glaring in the shortest possible time,” he declared.

Akanji spoke during a press briefing to herald the 104th Session of the Nigerian Baptist Convention (NBC), which the Abuja Conference is hosting from Saturday April 22 to Thursday, April 27, 2017 at the National Stadium Abuja.

According to him, the Convention theme “Moving Forward: Overcoming the Challenges of Life through Jesus Christ” as found in the Book of John 16: 33 “was carefully chosen with the leading of the Holy Spirit and it should be clear to all that it is an apt theme at this point of our national life when our country is witnessing various forms of challenges from every corner.”

What I could be seen as a state of the nation briefing, Akanji, who is immediate past Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), FCT Chapter warned about insecurity, unemployment, hunger, poverty and acute shortage of electricity supply in the country.

“A new World Bank report has categorised Nigeria among countries where 80 per cent of citizens have no access to electricity.

“The power sector was privatised a few years ago with the promise that the move would improve power supply situation.”

He pointed out that unemployment rate has worsened from 8.2 per cent in July 2015 to 13.9 per cent exactly one year later.

“Also, inflation rate, which was at 9.2 per cent in July 2015 rose to 18.72 per cent in January 2017 before moderating slightly to 17.78 in February.

“Some of the things that never happened before in our land are beginning to become a trend. For instance, in the last one month or so, incidences of suicide have been on ascendancy.

“This clearly is a result of frustration and hopelessness. It is a good thing that government has launched the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan. We hope that in implementing this plan, great effort would be made to court both foreign and domestic investors as a way of ensuring that enough jobs are created to lift our people out of poverty,” he stated.

The current North Central Zone Chairman of CAN also spoke on unending menace of Fulani herdsmen in all parts of the country.

“It is time to move with the realities of the time. With climate change, exploding population and shrinking arable land, it is no longer possible to continue with the outdated practice of cattle grazing.

“Some statistics have it that land per rural dweller in Nigeria was 2.0 hectares in 1960, which has now shrunk to 0.9 hectares.

“By 2027 it would have reduced to 0.5 hectares. With this reality, we must appreciate that ranching is the immediate way to go if the constant battle between farmers and herdsmen will be eliminated.”

While commending the determination of government to reduce corruption to its barest minimum, he cautioned that “war against corruption must be devoid of witch-hunt and beyond mere populism.

We advise anti-corruption agencies to be thorough in their work so that our country will profit from their diligent work.”

The Nigerian Baptist Convention is made up of churches and associations, which make up conferences; and constituting subsidiary organisational structures.

NBC he disclosed has grown into over 10,000 churches with about 3,000,000 baptised members and up to 6.5 million worshipping members spread across the nation.

“What started in 1850 by Thomas Jefferson Bowen, as a foreign missionary project of the Southern Baptist Convention of the United States of America, formally emerged as the Nigerian Baptist Convention in 1914; 63 years after the missionary work started.

“The Convention has since been completely self-governing, self-propagating, self-sustaining and self-supporting.

“In the course of its missionary enterprise, the Nigerian Baptist Convention has started and supported other Baptist Conventions in West Africa; notably in Ghana (now the Baptist Convention of Ghana), and in Sierra Leone, now the (Baptist Convention of Sierra Leone).”