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Fuel price, electricity tariff increase is double tragedy –Ajiboye

The Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of Bible Society of Nigeria (BSB), Dr. Dare Ajiboye, discloses that the COVID -19 pandemic slowed down progress of the Bible House and Hand Written Bible projects of the BSN; and speaks on other trending issues in this exclusive interview with TAI ANYANWU

 

Considering that the Federal Government has gone ahead to hike fuel price and electricity tariffs regardless of the high cost of living and sufferings of masses of Nigerians,º what is your reaction to all of these?

 

Leadership is one of the very challenging things to talk about. A leader is responsible for everything that happens under his or her leadership. True leadership is not a happenstance, it has to be intentional. As a leader, you do not do things all the time because they will make your people happy, but you weigh the short-, medium-, and long-term effects on the people you lead.

 

When your actions are based on making things better for the people you lead on the longrun even when it hurts now, you go ahead to do it. But you need to earn the trust of your followers that you are not doing things out of lack of concern for them or for selfish interest. Putting the blame of the hike in pump price of fuel and electricity tariff on the government may not be unconnected to the fact that a leader would always be held responsible for their decisions or the decisions they allow their agencies or stakeholders to make.

 

The argument by the government has been that subsidizing the pump price was unreasonable. Good point. But the challenge has been that what differences has it made after subsidy on diesel was stopped years back. If the citizens have seen the positive effects, there would not have been too many worries.

 

Back to your question, my reaction to the recent hikes is that the genuineness of the hike should be our concern. Especially, the electricity tariff. If the hike will lead to steady power supply with sane billing system and everyone given metre to prevent estimate or crazy bill, then, productivity will go up and invariably reduction in the cost of power cost.

 

Currently, people spend so much on fuel to power generator and still pay for crazy bills that is based on assumed power consumption even when power is not supplied. This is exploitation.

 

But if people are given prepaid metres and there is regular power supply at a higher but human-face billing system, there will be less complaint. One major concern I have is appropriateness of the timing of the hikes. Nigerians are already groaning under the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Both corporate and individual citizens are already groaning under the challenges of the pandemic. Some people are made jobless now and are unable to put food on their tables.

 

Adding these hikes is double jeopardy to corporate and human existence. I would have thought that the government would be sensitive to the problems people are going through at a time like this. If there are not ameliorating provisions, I think there would have been a better time to introduce the hikes.

 

Would you like to speak on the controversial CAMA Law especially now that the Federal Government says it is not targeted at church of God, even though the church in Nigeria is not at all comfortable with the law?

 

I might not be able to speak much to this issue of amendments to the CAMA law since I have not read the law. Nevertheless, relying on what I have read on the pages of newspapers, I will say that there are claims and counter claims as to what the law is and not.

 

Even among the religious leaders where there is so much agitation as to what the law is and not, there is no united view. The government is also saying that the law is not targeted at religious organisations, which has been the bone of contention. This is where adequate consultations through public opinion polls would have minimized concerns and misunderstanding of the law.

 

Let me say that every law has its lacuna and the law makers, executive arm and the judiciary would need to be sincere in testing the implementation of a law like this just like any other laws for responsive short-term amendment in the nearest future.

 

It is very possible that people hide under the loopholes that would exist in the law to foment unnecessary problems. If the law will not be intentional target at certain people in the execution of its provisions, I do not think there is much to worry about. If equity is the principle of the implementation of the law, then fears would be allayed. I will advise that the law should not be seen as sacrosanct yet until it is tested for possible amendments.

 

The problem with our laws is that that are not responsive and are archaic. When there are genuine outcries about any law, the different arms of government should not be overly rigid before making necessary amendments based on genuine reasons.

 

How has the just-lifted ban on physical gathering affected the church in Nigeria regarding members  response to congregational worshiping?

 

The ban I will say brought both positive and negative effects. Many churches that would not have thought of going live on social media explored the advantages of technology and social media to reach out to their members during the lockdown.

 

I also believe that if churches work on the positivity of cell system through f a m – ily worship that evolved d u r – ing the l o c k – down, it can lead to effective evangelism, spiritual and numerical growth of the church. However, physical worship is equally advantageous in the area of corporate worship which was lacking during the lockdown.

 

Obviously, members are not at the same level of spiritual maturity as some members are from homes where they may not have the opportunity of family worship.

 

This may have negative effect on the spiritual growth of some members. Some churches also experienced drop in income during the lockdown and closure of churches. But one thing I think we all would h a v e learnt is that change is the only constant thing in life.

 

What level of progress has the Bible Society of Nigeria made with the translation of the Epie and Ogbia New Testament Bibles?

 

I must start by giving God the glory for the speed and quality of translation of these two language projects. They are the fastest so far among all the translation projects of the Bible Society of Nigeria. We started the two projects in 2015 and I am glad to say that the New Testaments are ready for dedication come September 22 and 23, 2020.

 

The Old Testament translations have also reached advanced stages. We are trusting God that the complete Bible for the two languages would be ready for dedication within the next three years. These would be record breaking for the Bible Society of Nigeria. Our past translations have taken over 40 years on the average.

 

But we are talking about completing these two projects by God’s grace within 8 years if not less.

 

Is it possible that COVID-19 pandemic has introduced any form of setback in the area of actualising the Bible House and Hand written Bible projects of BSN?

 

I will say that the COVID- 19 pandemic has slowed down the speed of the Bible House building project. But as a Christian, I believe that all things work together for good for those who love God. The lockdown made it impossible to reach out to churches for support and the writing of the handwritten Bible project.

 

Nevertheless, we are back on track and trusting God to make all things right according to His timing.

 

What’s your counsel to Christians in these trying times and persecution of the church?

 

My counsel to Christians is not to give up their faith. This is a trial of our faith and we need to overcome it to be rewarded by God. No matter how difficult things might be, we should anchor our faith on Philippians 4:13. We can do all things through Christ who gives us the needed strength to overcome

 

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