By Our Reporter
Youths under the aegis of the Nigerian Baptist Convention Youth Conference, NBCYC, had a peaceful protest against insecurity, and rising inflation in the country. The protesters also rejected the recently signed into law, Company and Allied Matters Act (CAMA 2020) describing it as “satanic”.
The protesters lamented the rising poverty in the country which was made worsened by the rising inflation as a result of the increase in electricity tariff and pump price. The youths acknowledged the disruption of economic activities by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic saying that the government is not developing effective policies that can alleviate the sufferings of Nigerians.
While condemning the killings, kidnappings and associated crimes in the country, the youths noted that no part of Nigeria is safe and concrete efforts have not been made to contain insecurity in the country.
In his statement during a press conference, the National President of the Nigerian Baptist Convention Youth Conference, NBCYC, Pastor Enunuaye Onajite expressed disappointment in the government saying that Nigerian youths have been skimmed out of governance despite the “Not Too Young To Rule” law. He, however, commended the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) and all stakeholders for a peaceful election held in Edo state emphasizing that subsequent election should build on the success achieved in Edo.
In a statement titled “In A Time Like This” (Esther 4:14), Onajite said that the peaceful protest and the press conference was part of the activities that would usher in the 48th Annual National Conference of the Nigerian Baptist Convention Youth Conference, NBCYC, billed to hold at Molete Baptist Church, Ibadan over the weekend.
The statement reads in part:
“The theme for this year, “In a Time Like This (Esther 4:14)” is quite apt given the period that the world found itself and the threat to human existence. The world is faced with myriad of challenges that calls for alertness and doggedness. It was similar challenges that alerted Esther of her divine assignment. Had she failed, the world would have been in jeopardy. Therefore, we are all called, especially, youths, to understand the times like the sons of Issachar; redeem the times because the days are evil; prepare to confront the impossibility; accept to change the status-quo; chart a new course; and create a shift in the paradigm. As a body, we are focused on building and empowering the human race, especially, the youths for God and humanity.
“According to World Bank Nigeria Development Update (NDU) report, “Nigeria In Times of COVID-19: Laying Foundations for a Strong Recovery,” Nigeria’s economy would likely contract by 3.2% in 2020 and could contract further if COVID-19 is not contained by the end of third quarter. COVID-19, has affected the economy which was expected to grow by 2.1% in 2020. The macroeconomic impact of the pandemic will likely be significant, even if the country manages to contain the spread of the virus. Oil represents more than 80% of Nigeria exports, 30% of its banking-sector credit, and 50% of the overall government revenue. With the drop in oil prices, government revenues are expected to fall from an already low 8% of GDP in 2019 to a projected 5% in 2020. The report shows that the human cost of COVID-19 could be high. Beyond the loss of life, the COVID-19 shock alone is projected to push about 5 million more Nigerians into poverty in 2020. While before the pandemic, the number of poor Nigerians was expected to increase by about 2 million largely due to population growth, the number would now increase by 7 million – with a poverty rate projected to rise from 40.1% in 2019 to 42.5% in 2020. We have not seen an effective, workable policy by the government to address the myriad economic challenges.
Nigeria has never been more unsafe in recent times. Nigerians are being killed daily. The dreaded and violent Boko Haram terrorists are killing Nigerians in the North-East; Armed Fulani-herdsmen are killing innocent farmers in the North Central; bandits are killing Nigerians in the North-West; kidnapping, armed robbery and associated crimes have taken over the entire South. In particular, Southern Kaduna, Taraba, Benue and Plateau states have seen Christians being killed by Islamic fundamentalists who are hell-bent in propagating the Islamic agenda in the country. Protests in the Igbo-dominated southeast over perceived marginalization by the government have led to clashes with security forces. We demand for overhauling of the security architectural design of the nation. We demand for a Security Council that would reflect the plurality of the nation, a true Nigerian Security Council and not Northern Nigeria Security Council. Government must urgently address issues related to access to land, jobs, and socioeconomic development, which are sometimes fueled by politicians. Also, modern equipment to fight both symmetric and asymmetric war should be purchased and tactically deployed in these hotspots while welfare of the security agents must be prioritised.
“More than 95.9 million people live in extreme poverty in Nigeria. These are people living below the poverty line of $1.90 per day. This represents 48 per cent of the Nigerian population according to the World Poverty Clock. Nigeria today is the world capital of poverty. This has been further worsened by the COVID-19 outbreak which has led to increase in unemployment. Inflation has jumped to 13.22 percent in August 2020 according to the Consumer Price Index report released by the National Bureau of Statistics. The increase in the Value Added Tax (VAT), imposition of the Stamp Duty on almost all transactions that significantly affects the downtrodden; hike in electricity tariff and pump price and official mismanagement of the foreign exchange system have largely contributed to the high cost of living. We believe that there are better ways to deal with these issues rather than placing the burden on Nigerians. Government needs to build modular refineries; generate power through alternative sources beyond gas; support macro-economies; and formulate policies that are people driven. We join other groups to demand reversal of the electricity tariff, pump price, Stamp Duty and Value Added Tax (VAT) and we will support all efforts by various groups to achieve this.
“Baptist youths condemn the newly signed into law Company and Allied Matters Act (CAMA 2020). It is ill-thought; satanic and repressive. We believe that the law was hurriedly signed to limit civic space. Many provisions of the law are against the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999 as amended). The passage of the bill itself was maliciously done and that was why no public hearing was conducted. The law should be sent back to the National Assembly immediately to allow for wider consultation with various stakeholders and subsequent review. In the same vein, we reject in its entirety, the Water Resources Bill. The object of the bill has no good to do Nigerians. The Federal government should not force RUGA down our throats.
“We commend the President for assenting the “Not Too Young to Rule” Bill, which has helped to reduce age qualification for elected political position. Today, the law has helped to reduce the age to run for President from 40years to 30years; Governor, 35 to 30; Senate, 35 to 30; House of Representatives; 30 to 25 and State House of Assembly, 30 to 25. However, this has not in any way translated into inclusion of youths in governance. Nigerian youths must rise up to take the leadership of the country. In the same vein, we commend all stakeholders especially, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); the security agencies; election observation groups and the good people of Edo state on the conduct of the just concluded governorship election in the state. While significant improvement was made in the conduct, we must build on this and further review the process as we prepares for future elections.
The protest saw the youths carrying different placards to drive home their points with inscription such as “Stop Nigeria Bloodbath”, Enough of the Bloodshed”, Stop the Killings”, “We need Peace in our Land”, “Arise oh Lord”, and “Say No More Killing of Innocent Nigerians” among others.
Onajite noted that “In a Time Like This, Nigerian youths must stand up to challenge the status-quo. During the two-day conference, youths of the Nigerian Baptist Convention will seek God’s face for a better Nigeria. The activity going on here is part of our vision to reach all youths and position them for effective living and service that reflects the glory of God. We are achieving this through various youth targeted strategic programmes.”
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