By Paul Obi in Abuja
As opposition continue to mount against President Muhammadu Buhari’s reliance on taxation in order to redeem Nigeria from the current economic recession, the General Overseer of the All Christian Fellowship Mission, Rev. William Okoye, yesterday urged the president not to create more problems for Nigerians in an attempt to solve many of the problems confronting the nation presently.
Okoye stated this in Abuja during the church’s programme on how to overcome the current economic recession with the theme; ‘When God Seems Distant.’
Okoye’s comments came amid discontent over attempt by the federal government to increase taxes in data usage, driver’s and immigration licences.
According to him, government has to thread with caution in search of means to remedy the excruciating economic challenges in the country.
“It will be simplistic to say that there is one thing that can be done to get out of the present situation. We are in a very complex situation. But as a clergyman, I know that except the Lord builds the house; they laboured in vain that build. Whatever we do, we need God.
“We have to sympathise with government, they are desperately looking for sources of revenue to run the nation. It is wise for them to know that you don’t solve problem by creating more problems.”
He explained that “it is better they (government) look on the way of luxury goods, like champagne, cigarettes, things that people don’t really need, but they must enjoy, we tax those things and get resources from them. Not to go into things that poor people depend on, you make them poorer, you create more problems. In fact, even drinking, and all kinds of things that we don’t need, they are basic needs of life, that’s what we can tax.”
Okoye also argued that President Buhari’s stance that Nigeria is not negotiable is a disservice to Nigeria given that such statements polarise the country rather than unite the nation.
“It is better to try to unite the nation, regardless of party affiliation, but if we are able to unite the nation, we have a large pool of resources. But when you segregate, you are cutting off a huge chunk of resources that you may need in order to move the nation forward. So, the key element is to stop every form of discrimination, every step of favouring one group against the other, then, everyone will see himself as stakeholder.”
The General Overseer further held that Buhari’s position on the matter does not help Nigeria’s unity, stating that such position “is archaic to say the least. Because we cannot be here congratulating countries like Palestine, that are struggling for self-determination, and other people, even the British people that took decision, we congratulated them.
“We cannot congratulate them, and then on our own, we say self-determination is not negotiable, that is funny. I believe that Nigeria is negotiable; some of our leaders are funny. You are denying people of their rights, you are marginalising people, on the other hand, you said they should not talk.
“If the nation is run in such a way that there is that inclusiveness, then there will be no reason to start clamouring. But you are edging people out, you are stepping on people, and you say they should not cry. Then, you are being wicked. So I believe Nigeria is negotiable until we are able to run the nation in such a way that we are not favouring one group against the other. Right now, we have a lot of reasons to clamour,” he said.