The Lagos Government has debunked claims of planning to commence paying salary to religious leaders in the state.
According to the Lagos Government in a press release signed by the Chief Press Secretary, Habib Aruna, the claim was totally untrue and misleading. The statement disclosed that the Commissioner for Home Affairs, Mr. Abdulateef Abdulhakeem, made the clarification while speaking on a television programme monitored in Lagos.
Abdulhakeem said: “The clear position is that the Lagos State Government is not intending to employ imams and pastors. There is no such plan and there is no willingness on our part to delve into a private realm.
“What exists in Lagos State is that there is a symbiotic relationship between the Lagos State Government and faith-based organizations and it is a mutually beneficial relationship which has contributed to the growth and development of the state,” Abdulhakeem said.
In the said report, Abdulhakeem was quoted as saying that the state government would soon place religious leaders on the state salary structure to encourage them to use their pulpits and the minbar (pulpits in the mosque) to the re-orientate citizenry to shun corruption and immorality.
“I must have been misunderstood or misquoted. We were at a forum where we were trying to encourage religious leaders to be advocates against corruption because religious leaders have millions of adherents and they enjoy the allegiance of millions of followers and we expect them to use the pulpit and the minibar to advocate for good governance and selflessness so that they can influence their members positively.”
Already, the commissioner said a structured approach had been put in place to relate with religious leaders in the state through the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council, which consists of people nominated by the Christian Association of Nigeria and the Muslim Community across the 57 local councils in the state.
“They meet regularly to interact on religious issues and Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has even further decentralized that, whereby over 700 of them were appointed, based on their nominations, and they are volunteers who are not paid anything. They come together to nip the religious crisis in the bud,” he said.