By Bolaji O. Akinyemi
Apostolic Roundtable is a solutions driven ideology at attending to our nation’s challenges. Our experiences in this regard has been very profound. Participation in our meetings by our constituency of faith is quite encouraging.
Our views are respected, this however does not come easy. Sticking on facts of our nation’s realities as a platform of leadership Conference devoid of sentiments is the basis for our acceptance across various known lines of divides. Recently we held ATS which was organised to lead Lagos State and the nation at large to the path of peace after a very stormy 2023 election. The partnership of CCGI led by Rev Solomon Adegbolagun is a proof of our acceptance by generality of Christians in the country. It was graced via zoom by respected Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, Chaired physically by His Eminence, Dr Sunday Ola Makinde, Prelate Emeritus of the Methodist Church in Nigeria. The presence of Rev Dr John Adejoro-Oluwa of the Kingdom group is an attestation of our endorsement as a voice for the Body of Christ in Nigeria. Further proof of our public acceptance was confirmed by our invitation to Sheik (Dr) Abdullah Gumi to speak at ATS and he honoured us, though through zoom.
Several eminent Nigerians have featured on the Roundtable. The openness of our platform to views differing from ours has left many with the impression of our sincerity to see a country that truly works.
Credibility is of essence when service to humanity is the goal. This is one thing we have working for us!
ART is a fellowship of leaders from public sectors, Christian organisations and the corporate environment within the body of Christ. But for our stand against Muslim/Muslim ticket of Tinubu/Shettima for what it is; the marginalization of Christians and Christianity in Nigeria. It would have been difficult to tell the party that had our support as a group. My personal sentiments not withstanding, our pragmatic politicking gave confidence to those who differ with us. Same dynamics is seen within the group. One of our core leader is a well known BATist, and we never had issues, because at ART, all personal interests must be subsumed to our faith and God’s kingdom. Seek ye first the kingdom of God and its righteousness and all other things shall be added. This, I think more than any, earned us the respect we have with most Christian leaders and has greatly informed their view of us. These values we must keep to remain a rallying platform of conversation, consultation and communion towards the drive for a better and greater Nigeria!
Reactions of our nation’s leaders to Apostolic Roundtable has been mixed; those at the receiving end of our uncompromising stand are like, even “nuisance” has its values, and for our value with the people, they are compelled to keep on putting up with us!
Ours is to sustain our relevance with the citizens, for which some respected Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has reached out to us on the NCCE bill 2022 to help correct the wrong impressions about the bill owing to its mischievous presentation by some section of the media as a bill to regulate Christianity!
We are up on this and we have also set up a committee to tinker with the bill and be ready for its public hearing to add value.
We have held several consultative meetings with them and with other lawmakers who believe that the demarketing that the Muslim/Muslim ticket suffered, particularly in Lagos and some predominantly Christian populated areas was due largely to our disruptive operations in the space. They wanted us to stay off the religious track with respect to National Assembly leadership elections.
Truth be told, what is at stake for us at the NASS is a leadership that will be reasonable enough to encourage people orientated programs and policies of the Executive, at the same time must be disciplined enough to say no to Executive recklessness!
Those values have nothing to do with religion. I will even prefer a sango worshiper who can call down thunder against the Executive where necessary!
We table before them the controversy that May 29 Inauguration has become as it is believed that the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal and the Supreme Court cannot conclude issues bothering on the 2023 presidential election by then. There is a big question mark on the legitimacy of Tinubu/Shettima owing to many raging controversies that the tribunal is yet to resolve. Legitimacy of the incoming government for me, will be derived from the sanctity of the National Assembly.
NASS must therefore deliberately serve as the conscience of justice and its morality while the petition lasts.
Justice like I once said is a pendulum. One of the tasks before the 10th Assembly is to tinker with the nation’s constitution and the Electoral Act by way of amendment before the next elections to ensure that the Electoral matters at all levels are concluded before inauguration. In all honesty, no Patriot should think otherwise. Allowing access to power of the most powerful office of the president in the world in a controversial circumstances as we are confronted with, is unhealthy for the institutions of the Judiciary.
Though this obvious snare to democracy isn’t the making of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The question is; where is the moral of justice when on the 29th, the head of the Judiciary being the CJN will invoke the powers of the constitution to swear in a man yet to be cleared by the same institution the CJN will be representing and then pronounce him the 16th elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria when the legal dispute on the People’s mandate and who it is given rest on his Table unresolved!
Let’s reflect on the political game that saw Onoghen ousted. We must amend the constitution to erase such persecution. If that was the case, Onoghen would have survived that storm. The allegation that he was removed in anticipation of election petition of the Presidential election in 2019 wouldn’t be gaining traction in public dialogues and currying sentiments. The amendment is a necessity going forward to our next general election in 2027!
10th Assembly must be cautioned against reenacting the woeful performance of the 9th National Assembly. People generally sees the 9th Assembly as a rubber stamp to the Executive. This assertion is nothing but the truth. When benchmarked with the 8th Assembly.
The standard for Executive oversight set by the 8th Assembly led by Saraki and Dogara was top notch!
The 9th Assembly fell short of the achievements of their predecessors. The manner in which Executive Bills were passed, run riot of an assembly made for order, CAMA bill is one out of many as an example. Thank God it was eventually thrown out in court. The rubber stamping of loans to which our unborn generations are enslaved is a fact of gross ineptitude on the part of the 9th Assembly. Gladly, some Senators we consulted with confided in us and admitted they disappointed Nigerians with respect to the loans. This for me, is a major factor that will decide leadership of the 10th Assembly if they live true to the pricking of their consciences!
They can’t give the rudder of our legislative horse to the Executive to ride recklessly as witnessed under Lawan and Gbajabiamila!
The composition of the emerging 10th National Assembly, in its multi-party nature is a clear departure from the patterns we are familiar with.
The 10th Assembly is therefore already positioned for better performance than the 9th Assembly!
Nothing more than a better performance over the 9th Assembly should be the expectations of all Nigerians. The multi party nature of the Assembly is a message from the people to our political elite. I hope they read and understand the hand writing on the wall and interpret same appropriately. If they do, nothing should stop Senators who Distinguished themselves in the 9th Assembly from strategic leadership in the 10th Assembly. Ifeanyi Uba for example should have no issue making the caucus 10th Assembly leadership. He represents People’s approval of quality representation. How do you explain a YPP win in a boisterous Anambra where PDP and APC gasp for breath. Would you say the sponsor of 17 strategic bills that touches on critical sectors of our economy, security, health etc doesn’t deserve leadership position in the 10th Assembly!
June 12 is a date for democracy and we are consulting with various interests at the National Assembly to give us audience on that day so they can have a pulse of the people from us before their inauguration the next day!
On zoning, the duties of the National Assembly as structured by the 1999 constitution as amended as well as the House and Senate rules should be kept in view. If that be the case, the issue of zoning is dead on arrival. Here is where both the Christians and Muslims in the National Assembly should learn a lesson from the President-elect who couldn’t find a Christian fit in the whole of Northern Nigeria as his running mate on the grounds of competence!
The opportunity before the National Assembly is to weaken religion by playing it down in this engagement. Competence must have their votes and integrity their honour. Top on the list of our discussion at plan consultative meeting on democracy day tagged “from trials to triumph” is the need for the 10th Assembly to deliberately drive the nation towards secularism!
The “kurukere” movement of Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his foot soldiers among the elected members of the National Assembly to lobby them to consider their candidates is expected. It’s the natural propensity of all Executives to crave control over their control! Pastors want to have Elders on their sides, Chairmen desire a grip on their Board. It is part of the mundanity of humans. It is understandable that Tinubu is showing such traits. The question however is does the very essence of democracy allow it? No! Capital NO, I will say. Separation of powers for control is the reason democracy was created. Without prejudice to Tinubu, no Elected president must be forgiven for an open endorsement of leadership of the legislative arm. It is political arrogance taken too far! Independence of the 10th Assembly or otherwise will be communicated to us by the outcome of NASS leadership elections.
Recent request for fresh foreign loans by the outgoing Buhari administration is nothing but a legacy of failure left behind by both the Executive and the Legislative arms. A government which has already plunged the nation into very serious indebtedness is leaving us with additional debt burden with no prospects made in the economy to put a repayment plan in place.
Buhari Administration is a nightmare of a dream we wish to wake up from. There were just no sense in some of the reasons for the loans! Where in the world do you take a loan to run welfare programmes? Loans for subsidy palliatives? Who does that! If for employment and creativity of our citizens to trigger contributions to our economic growth, may be! But to think of a loan to bridge the gap the removal of subsidy will create for commuters is so unthinkable and unworkable! What are the indices that will decide eligibility for collection?
Sincerely, I don’t envy the incoming administration against the background of the people’s expectations, particularly the youths who have lost their patience and need a leadership that can fix the country and make it work for them. I can only wish this administration the best as a patriotic Nigerian whose desire is nothing than to see a better and greater Nigeria!