Calling on governors to practice what they preach, he warned that devolving more powers to the states without devolving powers to the grassroots “would virtually turn all of us to slaves of the governors.”
“Sometimes the impression we get is that the de facto Speakers of the States Houses of Assembly are the governors, because the Assemblies always do their bidding. So at state level, there is only one and a half arms of government: the legislating executive and then a limping judiciary. Since generally, we are a very docile citizenry, our governors could help us by abrogating all those laws which have emasculated the LG system and allow it to work, so that our people could build up their capacity to engage with government at the local level.”
While acknowledging that certain things should leave the exclusive list to the concurrent list, the cleric called on the governors to use the enormous powers they already have “to work for the good of the people.”
To back his demands, Bassey said by the time Nigerians realised that there was indeed something to defend at the LG, they won’t allow the chairmen run away with all their loots.
He said, “At the state level, the governor may personalise all the state infrastructure and nothing will happen to him because he has immunity. But LG chairmen will not have immunity. Everywhere in the world, when we say citizens are powerful, that power begins at the local level.
“The pathway to Nigeria’s stability for me therefore remains a strong and well coordinated centre, strong and efficient mid-level state structure and a strong and effective grassroots level structure.”
Concerning Faith, he said, “As I mark this Silver Jubilee two things come to my mind. The first one concerns our faith. I pray that that we do not remain in our comfort zones and forget that Christianity was built on the blood of Martyrs. Someone challenged me sometime ago that while some other religions teach their faithful to sacrifice their lives and the lives of others for the sake of their beliefs, we have forgotten to teach our people to take risks, even losing their lives for the sake of the Gospel. That all we do now is present God as a solution giver.
“I pray for forgiveness if in anyway these 25 years, I and my colleagues have given any impression that being a Christian means only enjoying the good things of life. Of course as a Christian good things will come your way; the sin would be to not share.
“Being a Christian too does not mean suffering only; it means both the Cross and the Crown, the death and resurrection of the Christ. May God forgive all who preach as if prosperity is the only indication of salvation and who live their lives like the rich man in the Gospel who was oblivious of the suffering of Lazarus by his gate. I use this occasion to challenge all of us to open our hearts to the grace of God for a life of witness that would be transformative.”
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