The Presbyterian Church of Nigeria has blamed the federal government for the lingering strike by theAcademic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) which has paralysed activities in government universities for over one month.

In a communiqué issued at the end of the quarterly meeting of its General Assembly Executive Committee (GAEC) held in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, the Church said the refusal of the federal government to honour the agreement it signed with ASUU in 2009 was the main cause of the strike. It described the government’s action as an indication of its insincerity and lack of total commitment to the growth of education in the country.

The Church urged the Government to honour its agreement with ASUU as its refusal to do so was tantamount to a breach of contract.

In the communiqué jointlysigned by the Prelate of the church, The Most Rev. Prof. Emele Mba Uka and the Principal Clerk, The Rev. Ndukwe Nwachukwu Eme, the church condemned the jumbo pay package of Nigerian legislators which are reported to be the highestin the world at an averageof N30.6million basic annual salary per legislator.

The church described the pay package as outrageous and unrealistic in the face of rising poverty and the dearth of development projects in the nation. It called on the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), to review the salary structure downwards to make it realistic with the Nigerian situation.

The church also condemned the proposal by the National Assembly for life pensions for the Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Deputy Speaker.

The Church said that the proposal to place such political office holders on life pensions, like the jumbo salary structure the legislators are paid, were an indication of the insensitivity of the National Assembly members to the socio-economic situation in Nigeria. It urged the legislators to be more concerned with making laws that would uplift the living conditions of the masses of this nation rather than acts of selfish aggrandisement.

The communiqué described as unacceptable, the recent approval by the Senate of the amendment to the constitution which allows under-aged children to qualify for marriage in Nigeria. It said the provisions of the bill amounted to child abuse as it was a violation of the Child Rights Law.

On the political scene, the church noted with concern statements of threat and intimidation emanating from the political class on the issue of whether or not President Goodluck Jonathan should run for the Presidency in the 2015 general elections. The church warned that such statements, laden with ethnic and regional sentiments were capable of creating undue tension and divisive tendencies. It appealed to politicians to conduct their affairs with responsibility and decorum and avoid acts that could plunge the nation into a political crisis.

The church lamented the state of affairs in Nigeria where, despite the huge natural resources with which God has blessed the nation, the masses continued to live below poverty lines and suffer the effects of decrepit infrastructure, failing public healthcare, epileptic electricity supply and the falling standard of education as well as destabilising security challenges. The church reminded the government at all levels to be alive to its responsibility to remain transparent and accountable to the people at all times.

“Government should manage public funds in such a manner that would promote the general well-being of citizens and not to frustrate their God-given destinies.”

The communiqué also condemned the reported deportation of Nigerian citizens to Onitsha, Anambra State, by the Lagos state government under the excuse that the government wanted to rid Lagos streets of the menace of beggars and the mentally-challenged. The church stated that the deportation of Nigerians by any State was a violation of the constitutional right of citizens to be free to live unmolested in any part of the country.

It believed that the right approach to the menace caused by destitutes was to rehabilitate them and not to treat them as unwanted persons.

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