The Muslim Congress (TMC), a faith-based organisation has described as “inappropriate and unethical”, a gratification given to the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) by the Federal Government when the latter paid a visit to the Presidential Villa in Abuja recently
The organisation’s position is contained in a statement signed by its Amir (President) of the organisation, Dr Luqman AbdurRaheem, and made available to The Renaissance on Thursday in Lagos.
According to the Congress, it has become public knowledge, owing to news from the media that the CAN was given transportation money of N25 million by the Federal Government during its visit to President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja sometime in 2017.
“Were it not for the media reports of the allegations by the National Christian Elders’ Forum (NCEF), this issue might never get to the public domain.
“The action of the Federal Government by giving N25 million to the CAN delegation is inappropriate, unethical and runs contrary to the anti-corruption stance of the government.
“The FG should be seen as waging a total war against corruption in all its ramifications.
“While the government has the reputation for not tolerating stealing of government resources and is reputed to be doing all within its power to bring corrupt people to justice, it must not at the same time encourage corruption by other means such as transportation money, especially when the amount runs into tens of millions of naira.
“What means of transportation are they supposed to use such a humongous amount for? Even if they were all to return home by flight, they would still not need that amount of money,” the statement read in part.
According to AbdurRaheem, even though this a common practice, especially with the past administrations, a government that seeks to bring change to our political and social systems should have the courage to break away from the entrenched negative actions and forge a new direction to what is good and beautiful.
He stated that except the government seeks to curry favours from the Christian leaders that have been critical of its policies, especially regarding the security situation in the Middle Belt, the amount was way too much to be explained away as transportation money.
“The government needs to show the way in saying a final goodbye to inappropriate and unethical sharing of our commonwealth.
“This is a responsibility that must be discharged by virtue of the trust that the people have invested in bringing the administration to power.
“Could it also be that the questionable transportation money was meant to lure CAN into perpetual silence as against its present vociferous critical stance?
“The negative impacts of this action are many but only a few will suffice at the moment.
“One is that it will encourage other organisations or other religious bodies to embark on similar visits with the hope of collecting their own transportation money.
“Such a situation will lead to hypocrisy on the part of the people and also reduce the chances of giving frank and sincere advice to the government.”
TMC also pointed out that the amount given out was a drain on the resources of the nation and the taxpayers’ money.
“The government was only voted into power for accountable and judicious use of our resources.
“The said amount can build a primary health care centre, grade one or two roads and provide drinking water of borehole quality in one of our communities that is impassable, has no healthcare facility and where the people drink directly from the stream.
Such gratification, TMC noted, will impact negatively on the anti-corruption efforts of the government.
“It is not okay for the government to undo its strident efforts in the anti-corruption war as the perception of the government by the people is of utmost importance.
“The members of the CAN delegation that collected the money are also worthy of blame.
“They should not have been takers of the people’s money in a circumstance that is inappropriate except the purpose of their visit was to go and collect transportation money.
“The CAN delegation ought to have rejected the money as a way of giving moral support to the government to walk its talk in all aspects of the fight against corruption.
“The CAN delegation missed a very salient opportunity in distinguishing itself and reiterating that the government follows the path of probity and accountability,” it stated.
The Amir stated that the important issue to note was that everyone must discharge the responsibility of guiding the nation and its leaders towards following due process and ensuring that there is good governance through probity and accountability.
By Oluwashina Iyanda