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The critics are not to blame

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THRILLER FROM THE VILLA By Abdulrahman Abdulraheem

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In the midst of daunting socio- economic challenges and while we should expect our leaders to get busy with serious business of governance at this crucial time, the least distraction needed is a controversy over the renovation of an Anglican Church in the President's home town. From the time this needless uproar started, I am sure countless Churches, Mosques and even shrines have been constructed, reconstructed and renovated across the country with no noise. Why this hullabaloo over the renovation of St Stephen's Anglican Church in Otuoke?
Is it because its the President's home town or that a better handling of the matter would have saved us this agony? I think I will go for the latter. To start with, it is the considered opinion of this column that there is absolutely nothing wrong for a foreign construction company to renovate a Church in any part of Nigeria, even in the President's village. Afterrall, Otuoke, a small town in Ogbia local government area of Bayelsa state, is part and parcel of Nigeria and the company we are talking about here has benefited a lot from Nigeria. But what is required of the President is to stay out of it as much as possible even if to avoid this needless brouhaha.
Afterrall, the same result would have been achieved if Mr. President had chosen to remain in Abuja and allow the Anglican communion, Otuoke community leaders and the construction company to take charge of it. I don't want to believe that our President would desecrate the high office which he occupies to the extent of mentioning the dilapidated state of        of the Church to the Managing Director of Gitto Construzion Nig Ltd. But if he did, that is unaceptable.
The Presidency has come out to say that the 'gift' was not solicited and that the Church did not belong to the President but there is a little contradiction here. A statement issued by the Presidency  on Saturday 17th of March, 2012 actually said that the  Church belonged to the President. The President was even quoted to have bragged that he never spent his personal money on the house of worship while thanking the people that brought out the money.
Let's assume that the gift was not solicited and that it was the idea of CGC as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility, the President didn't need to attend any ceremony that concerns the renovation where his comments even suggested that he knew about the renovation from the beginning. The President may not even be as culpable as critics would want us to believe because in a typical show of sycophancy, someone close to the President may have mentioned the Church to CCG to renovate it as a way of thanking the President and seeking more favours from the powers that be. In this case, if the President hears about it and he doesn't have the moral courage to say no, he should just allow them to continue and look the other way, stay away from the inauguration and make sure the company receives no undue preferential treatment in contract awards.
One thing is, if the President had not been too involved in the whole Church affair, the good people of Otuoke would have been enjoying their new place of worship by now without having to endure an unnecessary and uncomplimentary  media attention.    The Presidency has a way of hitting back at critics especially the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) anytime they point out  the indiscretions of the present Federal Government but this column dare submit that if Dr. Jonathan had stayed back in Abuja and attend to pressing national  matters while allowing other stakeholders to carry on with the renovation ceremony, his detractors  would have little or no reasons to attack him and call for his impeachment
As stated earlier, there is nothing wrong yet if a government contractor  decides to renovate a place of worship in the President's village if that is their own definition of Corporate Social Responsibility  but something may be wrong if  the President's body language suggests that he has a hand in it. So, how are we sure this contractor will not break the rules, subvert due process and even fail to deliver on target to the detriment of Nigerians? How are we sure this contractor will not do all these and shortchange Nigerians and yet without appropriate sanctions from government? Over the years, what our leaders always lack is  good advisers.

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