By Anthony Areh
The Anglican Bishop of Umuahia Diocese, Rt. Rev. Geoffrey Ibeabuchi, has called on the Federal Government to intensify efforts to diversify the economy for rapid economic growth and reduction in dependence on oil revenue.
Ibeabuchi made the call in his speech at the opening of the Ninth Synod of the diocese, at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, Isiama Afara in Umuahia.
“As a nation, it has become very clear that we can no longer depend on oil alone as the source of our revenue.
“Due to the dwindling price of oil in the world market, one doubts if the 2020 budgets of Nigeria and the states can be funded,” he said.
The cleric said that past administrations ignored ‘wise counsel’ from different quarters to invest oil revenues in infrastructure.
He called on the present administration to resist the pressure of external borrowings for consumables and perishables.
“Experiences have shown that it produces nothing but extreme suffering, humiliation and generational servitude,” he said.
The bishop also advised the three tiers of government to explore ways to tackle youth unemployment.
He advised against retrenchment of workers, saying that it would worsen the hardship occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He expressed concern over the rising spate of insecurity and destruction of lives and property in different parts of the country, citing the menace of bandits and kidnappers.
The clergyman, who also decried rising cases of rape and gender-based violence, called on security agencies and governments to tackle the challenges.
He appealed to the Federal Government to ensure equity and fairness in appointments and allocation of resources in order to promote peace and unity among the different ethnic groups.
He lauded states and federal governments’ efforts in fighting COVID-19, and thanked God for the recovery of Abuja Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu, who was infected.
Ibeabuchi also spoke on the incessant communal disputes between some border communities in Abia and their neighbours, and called for the intervention of the National Boundaries Commission to stop the clashes.
In a lecture at the synod, the Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Dr Uche Ogah, urged Christians to show more than casual interest in politics.
Speaking on the topic, “Faithfulness to God in Politics and Nation Building”, Ogah said it was wrong for Christians to isolate themselves from politics.
He said that politics offerred a huge opportunity for Christians to show love.
The minister said that time had come for people to change the stereotype ‘that politics is a dirty game and therefore not good for Christians’.
“When the people of God do not take it upon themselves to vote or stand for elective offices, they carelessly leave the fate of future generations in the hands of wicked and immoral politicians.
“Our people are in need of transformative, humanitarian leadership, leadership with a human face,” the official said.
He said that corruption, immorality, human trafficking and oppression of the weak might not be eradicated, if God’s people would not engage in politics.
Ogah said that people’s wellbeing depended on a robust religious influence.
“We don’t need more laws; the nation needs people willing to live by God’s moral laws, Christians who fear God so much that they will not lie to the people.”