President of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), Rev. Stephen Baba Panya, says insecurity has festered especially in the Northern parts of the country because those responsible are not being apprehended.
He called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to ensure the security agencies are held accountable even as he called on members of the Church to remain steadfast in prayers for those in captivity.
Panya spoke with newsmen in Lagos ahead of the commencement of ECWA Convention holding in the state from November 9 – 12.
The ECWA President also called on the President to make all Federal Government tertiary institutions tuition-free to ease the economic burden on Nigerians occasioned by the removal of fuel subsidy.
He expressed concerns over the persistent insecurity especially in the North, lamenting that thousands of his members are still in captivity.
He said, “The ECWA family continues to face challenges, ranging from the negative impact of the economic downturn, and the pain and sorrow occasioned by persistent insecurity to the heightened persecution of Christians, especially in the Middle Belt and northern states of the country. As one body, let us continue to uphold each other in prayers, assist one another, and stand together in view of the end-time terrible onslaught from the enemy against the church of God.
“In this regard, let us not give up interceding for the freedom of thousands of brethren currently in the captivity of Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists, bandits, and other evil groups. Let us continue to uphold these brethren, especially ECWA daughters such as Leah Sharibu, Alice Loksha Ngaddah, and Lilian Gyang, who have become the symbol of many that have been held captive for many years. We have also lost many Pastors and members due to the evil and wicked acts of these terrorists. Let us continue to pray for the comfort of our brethren whose family members were killed and churches that were burnt in Plateau, Southern Kaduna, and other places, and also, for God to bring this evil in our nation to an end.”
He pointed out that many victims of terrorism and violent extremism have been left without any support, sometimes on account of their faith.
ECWA called on President Tinubu to “work assiduously to unite the nation and ensure national cohesion and integration.”
“To actualize this, the administration must build bridges across all divides, promote inclusiveness, ensure equitable distribution of democracy dividends, abolish discriminatory policies and give every segment of Nigerian society a sense of belonging. This is why the 1999 Constitution made provision for the federal character principle,” he said.
The ECWA President also declared the support of the Church for the Minister of FCT, Nyesome Wike, while condemning what he called the divisive comments of prominent Islamic Scholar, Sheikh Ahmad Abubakar Gumi which he noted portended “serious danger for the corporate existence of Nigeria, and a negation of any effort to promote national peace, unity and harmony.”
On the call for tuition free tertiary education, he expressed surprise over the directive on federal universities to start remitting 40% of their internally generated revenue, saying the proceeds from removal of subsidy from premium motor spirit should be directed at subsidising education.
“Our honest position is that in view of the general hardship that has come upon Nigerians as a result of fuel subsidy removal, instead of that subsidy being given to a few corrupt element, one of the best ways to ensure the benefits spread to as many people as possible is to adequately take care of the lecturers and other workers of tertiary institutions and to make tuition free so that education can be affordable to every Nigerian,” he said.