By Ademola Babalola in Ibadan
Nigerian Pastors under the aegis of Great Nigeria Pastors Conference Friday took on the Federal Government on many national issues including the fight against the graft; the national security and restructuring among others.
A member of the conference now Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo was the guest at an event held at the Emeritus Prof Theophilus Ogunlesi Hall, University Teaching Hospital (UCH) Ibadan, Oyo State Capital.
Professor Osinbajo was put on the spot by some Christian leaders in the Oyo State to explain what they described as “some unsatisfactory events” in the country.
Speaking on the theme of the conference, “Nigeria of our Dream” the Chairman of Oyo State Chapter of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Bishop Taiwo Adelakun told the Vice President that Nigerians deserved to know the truth about how government was handling some issues which had been of concern to them.
Adelakun asked the Vice President to explain why most of the Security Heads in Nigeria were appointed from one ethnic group if the government observed the first stanza of the National Anthem that recognised fairness and justice.
He said Nigerians would want to know what the government that put the fight against corruption as its cardinal programme was doing to fight corruption within its government and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
He said, “We Pastors want to know what the government that put fighting against corruption in the front burner is doing about “Mainagate” and other government officials alleged of corruption. Many Nigerians believe that the anti-corruption war is selective and that is why it is not effective”.
He said the recent upsurge in killings and kidnappings by the terrorist Boko Haram group in the North East and government seemingly lukewarm attitude to checkmating the nefarious activities of killer herdsmen was of grave concerns to Christians.
According to him, “We have been told that Boko Haram had been technically defeated but they have killed many and kidnapped over 120 people this year alone”.
He also asked the Vice President to speak on the incessant clash among security agencies, citing the instance of the public scuffle between operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and men of Department of State Security (DSS).
Pastor Adelakun said Christians would continue to pray for the release of the Dapchi School girl Leah Shaibu who is still being held by Boko Haram for refusing to deny her faith and urged the Vice President to assure them that the girl was still safe.
Osinbajo in his brief response said he agreed with some Nigerians on the need for the restructuring of the country.
He equally disclosed that states deserved greater freedom to control their resources, increase their income and internal security.
Said he: “Restructuring is very important to us as a people and as a nation. But we also have to be careful with what we mean by restructuring.
“One of the issues raised which I agree with is that States should be able to control their resources, control their own security, they should be able to generate more income and exercise greater freedom.
“We discussed about security and we believe we should do more. We agreed that people feel more secured when they can control their security which bring to the fore the issue of state police. It will give them confidence”.
When asked to respond to some of the questions raised by the religious leaders, Prof Osinbajo said, “This is a meeting of Pastors, it is a family meeting, you know I am a Pastor. I belong to the Greater Pastor of Nigeria”.
While setting tone for the conference, Reverend Abayomi Kasali had said the gathering was to speak truth to the power because the Vice President was among them when they were all praying for a Nigeria of their dream.
He said, “Some years back some Pastors will gather in Lagos to pray for Nigeria. We see that things work better in other countries but not in Nigeria. Pastor Yemi Osinbajo was one of us, our prayer was how to change things in Nigeria, but in 2014 God answered our prayers and he became the Vice President. We want to tell him the truth today and he will answer us as a Pastor not as a Professor”.
Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi who accompanied the VP to the conference left immediately after protocol was established leaving behind his deputy, Otunba Moses Adeyemo.