From Oluseye Ojo and Taiwo Oluwadare, Ibadan
The Bishop of Ibadan Diocese, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Revd Joseph Akinfenwa, has appealed to government at all levels to restore investors’ confidence in the nation’s economy in a bid to end the extreme hunger in the country.
Akinfenwa made the remark in the bishop’s charge delivered at the first session of the 22nd Synod of the diocese, entitled: Anglican Heritage: an Enviable Heritage (Our Identity), held at Cathedral of St James the Great, Oke-Bola, Ibadan.
According to him, “In several ways, our government has created panic among the investment and business community, and the entire nation is suffering from the consequences of panic reactions by frightened investors – both foreign and local.
“Government should not forget that it has no capacity to provide employment for Nigeria’s teeming population, but depends on the private sector to assist in job creation as a tool for arresting restiveness and crime in the nation. Government should therefore not unwittingly create situations that will compel the private sector or business community to shrink, as we see today.
Akinfenwa noted that though oil money might be 90 per cent of government revenue, it was a tiny fraction of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), saying: “We should not allow the politics of oil to kill other aspects of an otherwise vibrant economy.”
“While promoting self-sufficiency therefore, we appeal to government once again not to turn a blind eye to the intense hardship being experienced by the citizenry. In acknowledging that Nigerians are suffering, platitudes and rhetoric are not enough; government must act decisively to untie – or at least loosen, the noose around the necks of the masses before they are totally strangulated.
“This government has a laudable anti-corruption agenda. However, government must remember that it is difficult to preach virtue in the presence of extreme hunger and deprivation. A hungry man is not interested in any sermon; he wants food first of all.
“Therefore, to harp on moral rectitude amidst the citizenry while ignoring the constriction of economic opportunities in the land is to unwittingly create a breeding ground for even more insidious corruption. When hunger becomes life threatening, even saints may be tempted to steal.”
Akinfenwa noted that the social interventions in the country must go beyond tokenism and must be all encompassing, urging the government to listen with sincerity to the private sector, and do the needful to make Nigeria a most desirable destination for investment.