CAMA Controversy: Catholic Bishops, opposition lawmakers, CUPP suggest ways out of quagmire

By Daniel Tyokua

Action points towards resolving the controversial Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), electricity tariff and fuel pump hike in the country, have been preferred with the trouble shooters advising government to strike down the controversial sections.

The advice were offered by the Emeritus Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, the incumbent, Ignatius Kaigama, the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) and opposition law makers.

Speaking during the maiden General Assembly of the Abuja Archdiocese at the weekend, Onaiyekan and Kaigama urged government to pull down the contentious sections to elicit the input of relevant stakeholders.

They expressed shock at the speed government and the National Assembly amended the Act without the input of religious leaders and other stakeholders, pointing out that government should first regulate its own activities, especially governance issues that have lots of issues bugging it.

The CUPP proposed clauses that should replace the irritating clauses.

Onaiyekan noted that before signing the new CAMA into law, both the government and the National Assembly should have sought the input of church leaders for a fair representation of the issues.

According to him, it would have been more appropriate had government focused more on regulating its own institutions and left the churches alone.

Onaiyekan said: “The government has enough job regulating its own institutions, which they are not regulating well. They have enough job regulating how public funds are being spent, but they are not doing that well. They should leave the churches alone.

“If they had involved the church leaders, we would have had ways of making our input, then all the troubles would have been avoided.

“I was told that the document is big and the issue that is disturbing people is one article or two. Let us pull out those ones and I am sure that should be no problem and it will be possible to remove those articles from the bill and let the bill continue its job.

“If you want to design something that has to deal with the activities of religious organizations, you should bring them in”.

On increased electricity tariff and fuel price hike, the Cardinal said that contrary to President Muhammadu Buhari’s promises to make life easier for Nigerians hiking fuel price and electricity tariff were not what Nigerians expect from his administration.

“We wouldn’t be complaining if the salaries were also increased. The problems come when you leave people with nothing to eat, and you increase prices of items that touch on the main subject matters.

Also, Archbishop Kaigama speaking in accord with Onaiyekan, added that with the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with other challenges, there was the need for Christians, especially, Catholic faithful, to renew their missionary impulse and sensitivity.

Kaigama advised them to shun the mentality where everyone is for himself or herself and cares only for those who are friends, family or from the same tribe, region, religion or political party.

The General Assembly with the theme: “Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja: Together in Evangelization”, was facilited by Archbishop Kaigama.

Meanwhile, CUPP in a statement on Sunday by its spokesperson, Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, said the group was collaborating with opposition lawmakers in the House of Representatives to strike down the offending portions of the amended CAMA.

Insisting the law was not in the interest of the nation, he said CUPP and the opposition have already “proposed new clauses to cure the grave defects of the Act, that has pitched government against religious Institutions”.
He named Hon. Kingsley Chinda (Rivers) as the arrow head of the House members collaborating with the CUPP, saying the “partnership is to ensure that the ruling APC does not continue to take undue advantage of its majority in the National Assembly to make laws that will breed suspicion, mistrust, division and even anarchy in the nation.

“By this move, the opposition coalition has also shown that it is not all about criticism, but that it also provides alternative and indeed better ideas to that which the present government can provide.
“The clause by clause proposal when merged with the opposition lawmakers work, presented on the floor of the Parliament, adopted by parliament and signed into law by the president will cure whatever mischief the government claims it wants to cure, but without causing such uproar as the present amendment has caused”.

He noted that religious institutions remain important institutions that provide moral compass for the people.

“A situation where religious institutions stand against the government or religious institutions suspect that government is against them or targeting them attack is unhealthy and must be nipped in the bud, he said.

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