Sunday, September 27, 2015

Nigeria at 55: Gov. Okowa calls for prayers

Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta on Sunday called for prayers and show of commitment on the part of Nigerians to overcome the numerous challenges confronting the nation. The governor made the plea at the Interdenominational Thanksgiving Service at St. Peter’s Anglican Church, Asaba, to mark Nigeria’s 55th Independence anniversary on Oct. 1. Okowa said that every Nigerian had a role to play in rebuilding the country and developing it. “As it is in the Holy Bible, Prophet Nehemiah, an individual, made the choice to lead others to transform his nation,’’ he said. He urged Nigerians to pray more, do what was right and increase their prayers for those in authority. “Like Nehemiah, it takes a person to take that bold step to cause a change and you can be that person. “This country is facing serious challenges and it will take the collective effort of all to bring the needed change. “We, Deltans must go to God collectively in prayers for our development and that of our country,’’ Okowa said. He said that his administration would address the roads and drainage challenges residents of Asaba faced, adding that repairs would be done one at a time depending on the availability of funds. Okowa lamented the unpaid pensions owed to over 3,000 retirees by the state government which he put at about N33 billion. “With the present funding challenges, governments are struggling to pay their workers’ salaries and allowances with very little left to be channelled into projects and programmes. “Our state has a large workforce after Lagos and its monthly wage bills runs into about N7 billion,’’ he said. The governor said that issues relating to sponsorship of pilgrims would be addressed based on the economic realities on ground. Earlier, Rt. Rev. Msgr. Buchi Aninye, a Catholic Priest, who delivered the sermon, said more efforts were necessary on transparency, equity and justice in the distribution of the state’s resources. He urged the government to effect repairs of the roads and drains in Asaba, the state’s capital. “The plight of the pensioners who have yet to receive their benefits has become worrisome. “I urge our government to rethink its policy on sponsorship of Christians and Muslims to pilgrimages and to also take seriously the sanctioning of contractors that indulge in abandoned projects,’’ Aninye said.

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