The Archbishop Emeritus, Abuja Catholic Diocese, His Eminence, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, has advised the Federal Government to focus on better regulation of public treasuries and hands off the affairs of churches.
Onaiyekan gave the advice during the Maiden General Assembly by the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja over the weekend in Abuja, with the theme ‘Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja: Together in Evangelization.’
He argued that a proper incorporation of churches in the bill formulation of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020, would have averted the present outcry it has been generating all over the country.
Insisting that CAMA was useful and should not be completely thrown away, the respected clergyman called on Muslim leaders to join forces with their counterparts in the Christian faith, to ensure prompt removal of the disputed potion of the Act.
He said: “CAMA treats how government is to handle the management of funds from different organisations and I imagined a lot of things there that are very good that has been worked upon very carefully.
“It is a pity if that CAMA was also intended to deal with the churches; it is unfortunate that those who produced the bill did not think it wise to involve churches in the actual formulation of the bill because if they had involved the churches, we would have ways of making our input; all the present quarrels would have been avoided.
“It is just one article or two out of the whole big document that is the issue but that should not kill the country. Let us pull out that one article and let the bill continue its job for which it is intended to do. We have a democratic country, I believe they will understand.
“This is not only affecting Christians; it is affecting religious organisations and our Muslim brothers are equally affected. This is an area where we can work together to put forward a proposal. An amendment could be please remove that chapter.
“Don’t forget every religious organisation has its own laws and rules and it should be respected. The government has enough job regulating their own money and they are not regulating it well. They should leave us alone.”
The Cleric further noted that Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo’s advice that any one aggrieved with content of the Act should approach the National Assembly for an amendment, could be perceived as a call for negotiation. “I read the vice president’s official E-mail that his advice to the churches is to put together neatly, the areas to which they object to CAMA and build it up to an amendment to the bill which should be passed through the National Assembly.
“When the vice president speaks like this, my own feeling is that he is stretching out a hand of peace, inviting the church members to work towards negotiation with the government through the National Assembly.”
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