Lagos State, Government said it has successfully saved N4.5 billion after stopping state sponsorship of pilgrimage, just as it claimed to have achieved an unprecedented level of religious cooperation, collaboration and participation in governance in Nigeria.
The state Commissioner for Home Affairs, Dr AbdulHakeem AbdulLateef, who announced this at the Ministerial Press briefing on the achievements of his ministry in the last one year on Monday in Lagos.
AbdulLateef said the feet was achieved by promoting prudence in public finance, improving the operations of Muslim and Christmas pilgrimages and strengthening State’s policy of peaceful co-existence and religious harmony.
He said Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode has recorded feats never accomplished by any other states.
He also revealed that in the year under review, the governor had approved the release of N25 million to the Nigerian Legion, Lagos Chapter to strengthen its operation and has permitted the engagement of 3,000 Legionnaires for deployments to all the secondary and primary schools in Lagos to ensure safety and security in schools environment, while creating jobs among the legionnaire.
“Still, on welfare package to the Nigerian Legion, the governor does not joke with the welfare of legionnaires, the orphans and other relations of our fallen heroes in the State.
“He has given lorry loads of rice to the widows, orphans and other dependants of the late-service men who sacrifice their lives in the preservation of sovereignty and unity of Fatherland,” the commissioner said.
Speaking on religious tolerance and novel achievements of Ambode through his Ministry in this area, the commissioner said “no one suffers religious discrimination in Lagos as citizens experience the best of religious freedom, practice and fraternization.”
“Lagos is the only state that gives effective operation to the tenets of the Constitution on religious freedom, by fully implementing the relevant section 42 of Nigerian Constitution.
“It is only in Lagos that Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) is functioning, as Gov. Ambode has inaugurated 798 Christian and Muslim members of the body, in a bid to continuously improve the current unprecedented level of peace and religious harmony being enjoyed in Lagos,” he said.
AbdulLateef stated further that,
In the atmosphere of religious crisis, he said the development would remain a problem and per-capital can, in fact, fall to the lowest ebb.
“Lagos has not recorded any religious crisis and will remain crisis-free, as long as Ambode’s initiative on peace and religious harmony subsists and the regular handshakes of Muslims and Christians prevail.”
On those blocking roads to observe prayers or convert roads to places of worship, the commissioner said the state government would not allow that because “even, prayers offered in such places are not acceptable to God”.
According to him, in situations where religious centres are having space constraints, they should find a solution that would not constitute a nuisance to the community.
He suggested that in such situation, religious organisations could adopt rotational praying times, either twice or more services at different times.
“The ministry is presently preparing a databank of worship centres across the state located the state to enable the state government to have reliable data of churches, mosques and their locations, with a view to better factor the interests of religious bodies in state policies.
Abdullateef clarified some issues relating to Land Use Charges as it affects religious organisations, saying that while churches and mosques would not pay Land Use Charge, but they would pay tenements on buildings that harbour churches or mosques.
“The Administration of Gov. Ambode will not support the closing of a road for religious worships.
“No one should obstruct public space, as this is not only dangerous to everyone, but it is also not allowed by religion.
By Our Correspondent