…Warns Property Owners Against Converting Residential Buildings To Religious Centres
…Registers 13,000 Religious Bodies In One Year, Urges Residents To Report Noise Pollution
The Lagos State Government saved a total of N4.5billion in the last three years as a result of the decision of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to stop the sponsorship of people for religious pilgrimages to Israel and Saudi Arabia, Commissioner for Home Affairs, Dr Abdulhakeem Abdullateef has said.
Speaking on Monday at the annual Ministerial Press Briefing to mark the third year in office of Governor Ambode’s administration held at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre in Alausa, Abdullateef said funds saved from the development had been diverted into the construction of roads and other amenities to make life easier for residents.
“You see, yearly in the past before the present administration came on board, the State Government spent an average of N1.5billion to sponsor people to pilgrimage free of charge. But since Governor Ambode decided to stop the sponsorship of pilgrimage, we have saved N4.5billion in the last three years and the Governor has not changed his mind with regard to sponsorship of pilgrimages.
“What the Governor has said and we have been doing is that the State Government will provide for the welfare of the pilgrims; support them with medical tips; support them with clerics who would guide them to ensure that they are focused on the spiritual objectives of the pilgrimage and not something else.
“So far, the funds saved from this have been deployed for the construction of roads and other amenities to make life easier for residents,” Abdullateef said.
While alluding to the fact that some property owners were now converting their residential buildings into religious centres in order to avoid paying the Land Use Charge, the Commissioner warned those indulging in such to desist, saying that it was important for all to operate within the ambit of the law.
He said: “Do not convert your residential premises to religious premises. Many do that for the sake of being protected from paying their Land Use Charge and that will not be tolerated. Whatever we want to do, let us keep ourselves within the ambit of the law.
“As for those who are combining their residences with mosque or church, we are not going to demolish but what we said is that all residential premises are subject to Land Use Charge and so when officials of government come, don’t claim there is a mosque on the grand floor.
Always know that as soon as your property is declared a residential block, you will pay Land Use Charge.”
The Commissioner said the State Government, through the Ministries of Home Affairs and Physical Planning, had also commenced moves to address the conversion of residential buildings to religious centres via engagement.
“It is a violation of the State regulations for residential buildings to be converted into religious centres. When a building is approved for a purpose, it is an aberration for you to now convert it into something else without the approval of the Ministry of Physical Planning.
“Recently, the Commissioner in the Ministry came to our Ministry and met with Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) to devise new means of engaging religious leaders so that they will not unnecessarily violate the State building regulations,” Abdullateef said.
On noise pollution, the Commissioner said the Ministry had been working in concert with the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) to address the menace especially through engagement with religious leaders.
“LASEPA is in charge of pollution generally but because we are very close with religious organizations, we work closely with LASEPA and so whenever there is any report of noise pollution by any religious body, just let us know in the Ministry of Home Affairs and we will deploy NIREC to address the situation immediately.
“What the Governor has done with NIREC is that it is not only about enforcement but engagement. When we engage them, we are able to sit down with them and through that we get a lot of result than just charging them to court or sealing their premises. We have worked effectively through NIREC to ensure that those ones who are creating nuisance in their environment are called to order and so whenever we have such cases; residents are enjoined to let us know in the Ministry,” the Commissioner said.
While reeling out achievements of the Ministry in the last one year, Abdullateef said through deliberate policies, the government was able to record high level of unprecedented peace and harmonious relationship amongst diverse groups, while a total of 13, 000 religious institutions were registered in the period under review, just as he urged others to register with government as it was at no cost to them.
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode has called on Nigerians to imbibe the spirit of tolerance, peaceful co-existence and sacrifice for one another, stating that development and growth can only occur in the nation when all tribes and tongue unite and speak with one voice.
Governor Ambode, in his Easter message signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Habib Aruna, said such fundamental values would go a long way in promoting and strengthening the foundation of love, peace and harmony in the country, adding that the season should serve as a reminder to the selflessness, love, sacrifice and tolerance of Jesus Christ throughout His earthly sojourn, his death and his resurrection.
Stressing the essence of the season, the Governor said Jesus exemplified the virtues of selflessness, love and tolerance during his period on earth, and thereby urged Christians to use the season as a period to reflect on their individual and collective roles towards promoting and sustaining that foundation of love, peace and harmony in the nation.
“We must therefore see this period as a time that presents us the viable opportunity to think about how we can help to steer our nation back on the road to peace, stability and prosperity, by working in the spirit of togetherness,” the Governor said.
He said there was no better time for the country to unite together and eschew bitterness along ethnic and religious lines, adding that no challenge is insurmountable where unity of purpose thrives.
“No doubt, Nigeria will surely make faster progress towards the achievement of the peaceful, united, strong, progressive and prosperous country that we all desire if, as a nation, we eschew all divisive, parochial, ethnic and religious sentiments and rivalries, and begin to live more harmoniously with one another, as Jesus Christ enjoined us to,” he said.
Governor Ambode commended Lagosians for their continued demonstration and promotion of mutual understanding and peaceful co-existence in spite of existing ethnic, cultural and religious diversities, saying that the cooperation of residents for government programmes and policies was responsible for the massive development across the State in the last 34 months.
While wishing all Lagosians a happy Easter celebration, Governor Ambode enjoined them to continue to support his administration to deliver more developmental projects that would make life more comfortable for them.
Let me on behalf of the government and people of Lagos State express deep appreciation to the Chairman, the executives and members of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Lagos State chapter for keeping faith with this annual programme aimed at seeking divine intervention in the affairs of our State. I believe this yearly congregation is one of the major reasons for the progress and prosperity our State has continuously witnessed. I have no doubt that today’s service will usher in the presence of God as we reverence him in intense words and prayers.
There is nothing prayers cannot do in the lives of people who look upon the Lord and surrender their affairs in His able hands. In the book of 1Thessalonian 5:17, we are commanded to pray without ceasing After all, Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ started with prayer and ended with prayer.
‘Humility in Service’, the theme of this Divine Service says it all. John 13:1-16 where the theme is taken from demonstrates Christ’s complete love for his disciples knowing fully well that he would be betrayed, denied and deserted for a time by them. It also showed the humility of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is to tell us that as believers, we must exemplify Christ-like behaviour by loving and caring for one another. Above all, as Christians and leaders, we must show humility in service because it is a privilege to be called upon to serve.
I commend the Ministers of God for standing in the gap continuously to pray for the peace, progress and development of Lagos State and by extension, our nation. Without doubt, the prayers of the saints have been keeping us together as a people, and more importantly, it is the reason for the prevailing peace and prosperity we are enjoying in Lagos State even in the period of economic recession. I have no doubts in my mind that as we cry unto God today for a better and promising future for Lagos State, He will surely listen to our cries.
I seize this opportunity to appreciate the Chairman of the Planning Committee, Baba Aladura, Elder (Dr.) Israel Akinadewo and his team for the success of today’s Divine Service.
I urge us as brothers and sisters in Christ to live an exemplary live, worthy of emulation. As a government, we will always count on your support and prayers because without these, nothing much can be achieved. All that we have done in the past 32 months is to provide leadership with innovative ideas and passion to ensure significant improvement in the living conditions of our people.
We give glory to God for all that He has enabled us to achieve so far and the great things we look forward to in the near and foreseeable future.
Once again, I thank the entire members of C.A.N, Lagos State chapter under the able leadership of Apostle (Prof.) Alexander Bamgbola for your prayers and goodwill.
Thank you and God bless you all.
Itesiwaju Ipinle Eko, lo je wa logun!!!
Governor of Lagos State,
17th February, 2018.
Wife of the governor of Lagos State, Mrs. Bolanle Ambode, has called on Nigerians to intensify prayers, for all challenges threatening the country to become a thing of the past.
She said this at the special prayer session for the state and the country, organized by the Fatima Charity Foundation, at the City Hall, Lagos Island.
Mrs. Ambode noted that though our country may be facing some challenges like many other countries, it is not beyond divine solution, as according to her, God will never close His ears to the supplication of His children.
According to her, ‘Today, our nation like others is faced with challenges which are multi-dimensional and also threatening the peaceful co-existence of the different nationalities that make up the entity called Nigeria.’
‘At a time like this, we need to unite in prayers for divine intervention. We need to pray to God to give our leaders the wisdom, the strength and the courage to find a lasting solution to the challenges facing the nation and the people’.
Commenting on the theme, “The Practice of Islam in Multi Religious Society”, the governor’s wife noted that our religious diversity, should serve to deepen our understanding and strengthen our social bond.
She said, “We must come to terms with the fact that, it is the will of God that we belong to different faiths. What is expected of us is to see ourselves as brothers and sisters and live together in peace, unity and harmony.
“We must show love to one another. We must be tolerant and be our brothers’ keeper. This, I believe is what every religion preaches and which we must strive to uphold at all times”.
Earlier in her welcome address, president of the foundation, Chief Bintu Fatima-Tinubu, disclosed that the annual prayer which is the 7th in the series, was organized primarily to commit the nation, leaders and the citizenry into the hands of God, convinced that tremendous progress could be made through spiritual guidance despite challenges and diversities.
She noted that the foundation had over the years shown tremendous commitment to national development, by organizing the annual prayer programme with different topics, towards solving national challenges.
She urged the people to continue complimenting the efforts of the government in building a better society, by advocating good morals among people and encouraging the youths to shun violence and toe the path of Godliness.
The chairman of the occasion, Senator Musliu Obanikoro, said the programme was timely considering current happenings around the nation and the world, stressing the need for peace, love and fear of God, while also commending the foundation for its philanthropic efforts.
Obanikoro enjoined religious clerics to continue to preach tolerance, peaceful co-existence and love, praying that God would hearken to the prayers offered.
Present at the programme were former deputy governor of Lagos state, Alhaja Sinatu Ojikutu, League of Imams from the five divisions, Baba Adinni of Lagos, white cap chiefs and other eminent personalities.