It’s shameful state govts are hoarding relief materials, not disclosing allocations – Bishops

BY TIMOTHY AGBOR

Religious leaders in Osun State under the Ecumenical Conference of the Bishops of the Catholic, Anglican, African and Methodist Dioceses in Osogbo and President, Osun Baptist Conference have described as shameful the refusal by state governments to disclose the increased allocations they have been receiving from the Federal Government since petrol subsidy was removed.

They also lamented that some state governments have been diverting relief materials and money meant for the poor and repackaging then for other purposes, saying that, “diversion of such fund is tantamount to stealing from the poor and it is repulsive to God.”

This was disclosed in a Lenten press release jointly issued and signed by the Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Osogbo, Most Rev John Akin Oyejola; Anglican Bishop of Osun Diocese, Rev’d Dr Folusho O. Babatunji; Methodist Bishop of Osogbo Diocese, Rt Rev’d Dr Olu Akinola; African Church Bishop of Osun Diocese, Rt Rev’d Dr James O. Bamidele and President, Osun Baptist Conference, Rev Dr. Olubunmi Obalade.

The theme of press conference which was jointly addressed in Osogbo by the religious leaders is: “The Conversion of Heart and The Wellbeing of Our Nation.”

The statement which was read on behalf of the conference by the bishop, Catholic Diocese of Osogbo, Most Rev John Oyejola, noted that the poor and the vulnerable are still wallowing in abject poverty despite that their state governors have been receiving huge subsidy allocations and relief materials on their behalf.

“There has been since June 2023 a massive increment in the monthly Federal Allocation to all states. We must, however, not fail to note that this increment is not the result of any improvement or boom in the economy. It is majorly the money of subsidy which in previous funding arrangements the federal government directly availed the people to relief the cost of transportation, goods, and services.

“The subsidy on fuel constituted the major direct benefit that the common man especially the extremely poor get directly as relief from the common treasury. It is understandable that to protect this share of the poor from continually being preyed upon by marauding beasts among us, it has been reallocated to states to enable them design other means by which such relief would reach the citizens of their various states either in service delivery, critical infrastructural developments or programmes that would bring the most needed relief to the people in a sustainable manner.

Ecumenical conference
Bishops

“As God’s messengers, we wish to tap the conscience of our political leaders by reminding them and all their collaborators that the transformation of the subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (commonly called petrol) and on diesel into Federal Allocation to State and Local Governments simply implies entrusting of the property of the vulnerable and the poor to powerful trustees who are deemed to be more accessible to the poor. State government should keep in mind the strong spiritual implication of this trusteeship.

“The government in many states of the federation have been reluctant to disclose the new federal Allocations as well as other relief packages deployed to the state to relief the masses of the ongoing economic woes. It is shameful to note that even material reliefs earmarked by the federal government for the poor are dissolving into the thin air or are being rebranded with no credible information on their whereabouts and the intent for such in many states of the federation.

“It is totally inappropriate for the government to fail to disclose to the public about such allocation and the mode by which it shall reach the people. This tragic mystery which has shrouded the deployment of the reallocated subsidy and relief packages to various states in the country raises doubt as to whether the government is intent on acting with clear conscience before God in handling of the belongings of the poor in their custody. We therefore remind the leaders and all stakeholder that it is grave offense before God Almighty to ever deploy such funds for any other purpose than the good of the masses. Diversion of such fund is tantamount to stealing from the poor and it is repulsive to God,” they said.

Calling on the federal and state governments to be attentive to the sufferings of the poor, the leaders of the Orthodox Church advised political leaders not to wait until the maases start showing aggression.

“We call on government not to wait for aggression from the people before empathy would move them to do whatever is necessary to alleviate the difficulty citizens go through to survive. The growing validation of financial crimes especially internet fraud is not disconnected from the economic woes that have besieged many families. Many small businesses especially vendors of food items and other household utilities are folding up because many households are unable to pay debts the owe such businesses.

“The standard of life of our citizens has dropped abruptly by over 50% in the last one year because of the surge in inflation. For the majority who live in multidimensional poverty, it means not being able afford up two decent meals in a day. Many children now skip school for lack of transportation fees or inability of parents to provide fees. Numerous families hardly go for weekly religious exercises because of the inability to afford transportation. It is not strange any longer to see how many houses are left in darkness at night even when there is power supply. The reason is simple, many are no longer able to pay their bill for light not to talk of powering generator. The unaffordability of clean cooking fuel is driving many of our people to the crude means of cooking energy such as excessive use of charcoal and firewood which continue to encourage deforestation and desertification. The government must let the masses know that they are both aware and are disturbed by their situation and are as well working hard and honestly to relief the pains and misery,” the religious leaders stated.

Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *