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To avert a major crisis, leaders must urgently roll out poverty alleviation plans – Prophet Ogundipe

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Prophet Israel Oladele Ogundipe is the founder and presiding pastor at the Genesis Global Church. In this interview with DADA JACKSON, he bares his mind on a number of topical issues including poverty in the land and the recent #EndSARS protest

What is your take on the recent #EndSARS protest against police brutality embarked upon by some Nigerian youths?

Thank you very much for this question. The decision of the youths to take to the streets to condemn the act of brutality by the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) was based on several years of pain and frustration. Many youths have experienced this act of brutality either directly or indirectly. I totally support the decision of the youth to engage the government with this peaceful protest. Our leaders owe us accountability and we should hold them responsible when they fail to deliver on their promises.

So it was a protest that you aligned with?

Absolutely

Would you say it succeeded largely because they had no arrowhead?

Yes, it really worked for them. I supported the fact that the protesters didn’t have a leader. We have seen different protests and strikes in this country that didn’t make any headway just because their leaders were allegedly compromised and bribed with huge amounts of money. But in the case of the #EndSARS protest, everybody was assumed to be the leader.

What is your reaction to the alleged shooting of the unarmed protesters in Lekki?

It’s really painful when the people meant to protect lives and properties are now the ones who take lives. I feel very pained seeing this happening in a democratic government. I strongly condemn the act, and I appeal to the leadership of our nation not to run our country like a military government but rather to run a government of the people, by the people and for the people.

How would you rate the performance of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration?

I want to be very careful with my choice of words. But sincerely speaking, I will say that many Nigerians are not happy. People put in so much into making sure that this current government got elected into power with the expectation of a promised CHANGE. Unfortunately, things have refused to change and rather things are becoming very hard for the common man. To whom much is given, much is expected, and that’s why it’s looking like people are disappointed in this current government.

Would you say the administration has failed the people?

This administration has really failed the youth continually. Young Nigerians take their time to go to school, study hard just to make sure they graduate with good grades so as to be able to get a good job. But unfortunately, they roam around the streets without any job. As a young Nigerian, I feel pained seeing the level of unemployment and insecurity in our nation.

Did you at anytime foresee this happening?

The recent happenings have confirmed one of the prophecies I gave this year in one of our services. I said that if our leaders were not careful, the masses would start invading their premises to pack food items and other valuables. This goes a long way to show that the poverty situation in our country is alarming. Hardly will you find a family in Nigeria who can afford a good meal when it is needed. My major worry is that if something urgently is not done about the level of hunger and poverty in the land, people may turn violent and they could do much more than what we saw during the #EndSARS protest. I strongly agree with the school of thought who believes that if nothing is done quickly to ameliorate the suffering of the people, there will be a situation where the poor will be attacking the rich. A hungry man, they say, is an angry man. It may get to a level where some hungry/poor people will start to see the rich people within their environment as thieves who steal government money and then see them as the reason why they are poor and underprivileged. This could also make them see rich people as their enemies.

What do you make of the looting of warehouses where alleged COVID-19 palliatives were kept?

How on earth will the government deprive hungry people of palliatives that were supposed to help them suppress the effect of the hunger during the lockdown? I have heard several excuses given by governors and I feel quite disappointed hearing some of these excuses. The real time that people needed these items, they were kept away from them and so many people lived in terrible hunger and even some died during the lockdown due to the inability to get food; only to discover later that thousands of bags of palliatives were being kept in various warehouses across the nation. Our political elites need to address the people they govern; they should show empathy. They need to immediately start rolling out plans on poverty alleviation.

There is this controversy surrounding the visit of Ayinde Wasiu (Kwam1) to your church sometime ago. Could you shed some light on what actually transpired?

Two major things prompted that visit of Kwam1. I am a prophet who doesn’t discriminate against any religion and I say that all the time. Apart from the fact that I was born a Muslim, I have always learnt to see everyone as my brother. K1 visited our church to thank God in submission for what God is doing in the ministry.

I didn’t invite kwam1 to our church; he was the one who said publicly at a function that he would love to pay a visit to the Genesis Global Church to appreciate God for the great things He is doing in the church. And when he reached out to me on this intention, I obliged.

Secondly, I remember that when I was a little boy, each time my mum saw Wasiu Ayinde on the TV, she would lay her hands on the TV to pray for him and she would also lay her hands on me to say my own Wasiu too (because my Muslim name is Wasiu) would be great. So, when Kwam1 offered to come, I saw it as an opportunity to tell our mothers in the church that their prayers over their children would always come to pass.

In our church, we believe in transition and not tradition. The world is evolving and we should be flexible enough to accommodate new practices that are different from the old doctrines.

People say you’re generous to a fault. What do you want to achieve with this?

Let me say it without mincing words. I had a very humble background and this has informed my high passion to give. Each time I remember how we struggled to survive, I always try to make sure I put smile on the faces of people struggling. My philosophy is that giving is living. I am only privileged and everything that God has given to me is for me to be a blessing to others.

What do you make of pastors who preach only prosperity at the detriment if salvation?

Prosperity Gospel is part of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and it’s a major part of our existence. Where I have a problem with it is when people deemphasize other parts of the Bible just because they want to manipulate members to give or they want to attract members to their church. I must say that prosperity is good and I preach prosperity too but it should not be used as a means for manipulation.

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President Has Recovered Over N1trn Stolen Funds, Says PACAC

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Chairman of PACAC, Prof. Itse Sagay

•Funds used to finance annual budget

The Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) yesterday put the total amount of stolen assets recovered by the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration since 2015 at over N1trn.

Briefing journalists in Lagos yesterday, the Chairman of PACAC, Prof. Itse Sagay, who reeled out the achievements of the committee said the federal government had been deploying some part of the recovered funds towards financing the annual budget, especially its social intervention scheme.

Sagay, who said the fight against corruption in the country had come a long way, describing it as both sweet and sour, stressed that a lot of work still needed to be done to rid Nigeria of corruption.

He also said PACAC has continued to carry out capacity building initiatives for the various anti-corruption agencies as well as Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

“This has resulted in these stakeholders having an improved understanding of their individual roles in the criminal justice system, both in its substantive and procedural aspects. The impact of this effort is reflected in increased number of cases filed and concluded and the improvement in the rate of conviction of looters.

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“Total recoveries are hovering around the N1 trillion mark, and even more remarkably these recoveries have been recycled into the budget to uplift the oppressed and most vulnerable victims of corruption, namely, the young unemployed youths, young school children, who can now enjoy one free nutritional meal a day at school, extremely poor families who now receive the conditional cash transfer of N5,000 a month and women, youths, farmers, etc, who now receive interest free loans to capitalise their small scale businesses.

“So the recovered loot is pumped back into the lives of the most vulnerable Nigerians, in order to transform them into proud productive Nigerians, who will end up as employers themselves, contributing to the development of Nigeria,” he added.

According further, he said another contribution of PACAC in the war against corruption was the Committee’s concentration on illicit financial flows (IFF).

He claimed that very little was known about IFF in the country before PACAC brought it into centre stage nationally and internationally.

“Now, we know that this silent, quietly stalking source of financial bleeding, could even be worse in terms of volume of loss, than the typical looting we are all used to. Over invoicing of external expenses, under reporting of resources obtained from the developing countries, tax evasion, under declaration of profits, out sourcing of what could be done within the victim country, etc, all constitute IFFs,” he added.

The PACAC chairman disclosed that the massive losses underdeveloped countries like Nigeria were experiencing as a result of IFFs were recently documented and published by the Global Financial Integrity.

According to the report, Nigeria lost $83 billion in the period 1960 – 2011 and currently, “it is losing more than $45 billion annually.”

“Therefore, the importance of concentrating our minds on IFFs, as PACAC did for two consecutive years, through major international conferences and other strategic engagements, cannot be over stated.

“I have concentrated on only a few items of PACAC’s work, but the varied and extensive level of its work has been remarkable. We have organised Workshops for the Management and Protection of Assets, and an Asset Tracing Team/Central Asset Management Committee, was established in the first term of this Government with membership drawn from the Anti-Corruption Agencies, the Security Agencies, our Committee (PACAC) and from the highest echelons of Government.

“We have also produced manuals and protocols to assist the ACAs (Anti-Corruption Agencies) in their work. These include one on Effective Prosecution, entitled Corruption Case Management Manual, a Plea-Bargaining Manual, and Sentencing Guidelines for High Profile Cases, and A Frame Work for the Management of Recovered Assets, etc,” he added.

Sagay said the committee believes that productivity would be greatly enhanced and corruption greatly curbed if parents arouse themselves to inculcate the needed core values in the children; if schools at all levels become centres of character moulding and manpower development and religious values are deployed by Pastors and Imams in both theory and practice to re-mould the character and orientation of Nigerians.

He also advised the federal government, labour unions, civil society organisations and main stream civil servants to work together to reform the civil service to make it productive rather than a drain on the nation.

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LPG, Nigeria’s most viable way to zero emissions – Osinbajo

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The use of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as a transition fuel is the viable option for Nigeria to address climate change and energy poverty, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has said.

Laolu Akande, the VP’s spokesperson, said this in a statement on Tuesday.

According to Laolu, Osinbajo made the declaration while delivering his keynote address in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, at the week-long World Liquified Petroleum Gas Association (WLPGA) forum themed ‘Energizing Tomorrow.’

Osinbajo said LPG and natural gas are sustainable energy fuels that could address both climate change and energy poverty simultaneously.

“The world should not have to choose between energy poverty and climate change as this can be addressed with both natural gas and Liquified Petroleum Gas as transition fuels alongside other renewable sources,” the VP reportedly said..

  1. The VP said that it was ‘worrying that a growing number of wealthy nations have banned or restricted public investment in fossil fuels, including natural gas.’

This, according to the vice-president, resulted from increasing pressures to address climate concerns in the world without reviewing the economic importance of such investments to developing countries.

“Such policies often do not distinguish between different kinds of fossil fuels, nor do they consider the vital role some of these fuels play in powering the growth of developing economies, especially in sub-Saharan Africa,” he said.

“As development finance institutions try to balance climate concerns against the need to spur equitable development and increase energy security, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union have all taken aggressive steps to limit fossil fuel investments in developing and emerging economies.

“The World Bank and other multilateral development banks are being urged by some shareholders to do the same. The African Development Bank, for instance, is increasingly unable to support large natural gas projects in the face of European shareholder pressure.”

While acknowledging that all countries should play important roles in the fight against climate change, he emphasised that ‘a global transition away from carbon-based fuels must account for the economic differences between countries and allow for multiple pathways to net-zero emissions.

 

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FG: We have enough COVID vaccines to cover 70% Nigerians

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Nigeria has enough vaccines that can cover over 70 per cent of the country’s population before the end of 2022, Secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, has said.

The SGF said this at the national COVID-19 summit held at Muhammadu Buhari Conference Centre in Abuja, tagged ‘Pushing Through the Last Mile to End the Pandemic and Build Back Better’.

He said, “Nigeria has invested in enough vaccines that can cover over 70 per cent of our population before the end of 2022. These vaccines are safe and efficacious; hence, it is better and safer to be vaccinated against this virus, now.”

He said the summit was to create the opportunity to identify successes, gaps and lessons learnt so far in Nigeria’s national response to the pandemic since March 2020 to date.

He added that the summit is also aimed at developing strategies to actualise the international commitments towards ending COVID-19 before the end of 2022.

“Today, we are here to assess the level of impact of our national response and develop strategies as we push through the last mile to end the pandemic while we build back better,” he said.

The SGF said, “There is no gainsaying that the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, which was triggered when the index case was confirmed on the 27th of February 2020, precipitated significant disruptions to the healthcare system and socio-economic lives of Nigerians.

​”Due to the evolving dynamics of COVID-19 pandemic with progressive mutations of the virus to more transmissible and deadly variants, the international community has corroborated the insinuation that the pandemic will persist for few more years.

“This understanding has impelled world leaders recently to come to a conclusion that if efforts are not renewed and aggressive measures are not taken, COVID-19 pandemic will continue to ravage humanity well longer than earlier envisaged. Hence, the need to adopt an ambitious (but cautious) agenda to end the COVID-19 pandemic by the year 2022.”

He said the summit is a follow-up towards Nigeria’s commitment to the ambitious global agenda/movement to end the COVID-19 pandemic by 2022 and build back better.

“​Global efforts at ending COVID-19 pandemic are intrinsically linked to the call for nations of the world to take steps towards strengthening their health system and bio-security- which will make for better pandemic preparedness and the ability to respond more robustly and swiftly to future pandemics,” Mustapha said.

 

He asked stakeholders to encourage all eligible persons to get vaccinated and keep observing the necessary preventive COVID-19 measures.

 

 

 

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