Thursday 22 July 2021

Nigeria No Longer At Ease, Catholic Bishops Lament


ADO-EKITI – Catholic Bishops have said that developments in the country show that justice, equity and fair play have clearly fallen apart and the country is no longer at ease. Following these, they noted that the very soul of Nigeria needs to be recovered.

These were contained in the communiqué issued at the end of Bishops of Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province, 2021 meeting, compris­ing Ibadan, Ilorin, Ondo, Oyo, Ek­iti and Osogbo dioceses on from July 19-20.

A statement made available to newsmen in Ado-Ekiti by the Catholic Bishop of Ekiti Diocese, Most Rev. Felix Ajakaye, said the communiqué was signed by Most Rev. ‘Leke Gabriel Abe­gunrin and Most Rev. John Akin Oyejola, the Chair­man and the Secretary, re­spectively. The meeting was held at the Domus Pacis Pastoral Institute, Igoba, Akure, Ondo State. 

Entitled, ‘Recovering the Soul of the Nigerian Nation’, the communiqué, which noted that “Nigeria seems to have lost its very soul because it is no longer a healthy entity”, admon­ished Nigerians to stand firm and not lose hope but continue to pray and work for a better nation.

The bishops also lament­ed that the alleged high lev­el of despondency in Nige­ria could make the people to lose hope and zeal for democracy.

Though the clergies be­moaned the alleged untidy political developments in the country, they, however, maintained that the situa­tion was redeemable if the people would return to the path of God.

“To all our fellow Nigeri­ans, we say, stand firm and never lose hope for God cannot be defeated.

“We call on Nigerians to continue to pray and work for a better nation for we have no other country than this. If we do not give up do­ing good and believing in God’s promise, we shall see better days”, the communi­qué noted.

They said the good health of any nation con­sists in its capacity to of­fer its citizens a territory where they can feel at home, feel secure and enjoy the basic necessities of life.

But they noted that this unfortunately is no longer the case in Nigeria, where armed conflicts, armed robbery, kidnapping for ransom, insurgency, ban­ditry and extra-judicial killing persist as the order of the day.

“When a nation loses its soul, its people lose the co­hesive elements of human relationship,” the commu­nique said.

“A nation that has lost its soul is characterised by inept, uncaring leadership which functions by selec­tive allocation of posts, privileges and resources and by selective application of justice. It is character­ised by leaders who, rather than care for the citizens of the country, simply exploit and denigrate them. Such a nation takes food out of the mouths of its own citizens and watches them starve. It deploys its scarce resourc­es to the advantage of the rich and powerful while of­fering mere crumbs to the poor and weak.

“A nation that has lost its soul therefore breeds a citi­zenry where nobody cares for anybody else. Nigeria exhibits all of these traits, no doubt. Its constitutive principles of justice, equi­ty and fair play have clearly fallen apart and the coun­try is no longer at ease. No doubt, the very soul of Nigeria needs to be recov­ered”, they noted.

The bishops said the ongoing controversy sur­rounding the proceedings of the National Assembly gives ample evidence of the theatre of the absurd which democratic repre­sentation has become in Nigeria.

“Be it on the electoral reform, electronic trans­mission of electoral re­sults, press freedom or the Petroleum Industrial Bill (PIB), the work of those who represent the people on the federal level in Nige­ria does not seem to bring much satisfaction to the people for whose interest they were allegedly elected. With the National Assem­bly at various occasions prioritising party and priv­ileges over people’s rights and interest, relief and progress continue to elude Nigerians.

“Simply put, those who claim to represent the peo­ple seem to have perfected the art of sabotaging the progress of their same people. Indeed, the time may have come for Nigeri­ans to no longer simply roll over and accept non-repre­sentative decisions of the Assembly but to challenge them by all legitimate means.

“Ongoing electoral re­forms give another op­portunity for reviving the hopes of the people and confidence in the nation’s democracy. An important part of electoral reform, which is often ignored, is the education of the people who participate in building democracy.

“Only participation in the political process and adherence to the rule of law offer an enduring means of authentic change but people must be helped to understand this fact. We urge the media and civil society groups to sustain this education agenda so that Nigeria can reap the full benefits therefrom. We also urge our people to reg­ister and obtain their vot­ers cards. Only this grants them the power to exercise their rights to determine who governs them from time to time. Our country will greatly benefit from this”, the bishops said.

Continuing, they said, “In the face of our cur­rent national crisis and encroaching chaos it is surprising that the Nigeri­an government continues to demonstrate a disturb­ing allergy for truth even when it is most evident. The recent effort by the presidency to malign the address of Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto Diocese, to the House For­eign Affairs Committee of the United States of Amer­ica Parliament/Assembly in Washington DC on the Nigerian situation on reli­gious freedom is laughable to say the least.

“Bishop Kukah, in his patriotic and frank pre­sentation called attention to some verifiable data and statistics about the Nigerian situation on that privileged internation­al platform. He spoke for authentic Christians and Muslims who are under persecution. No doubt, he intended to solicit the sup­port of that forum which many Nigerians believe holds the promise of some assistance and relief from our current national crises.

“The Federal Govern­ment, however, has char­acteristically gone up in arms against the person of Bishop Kukah and his purpose. It is commonly said that when there is a problem in a democracy, more democracy is needed to solve it. Sadly enough, our current Federal Gov­ernment does not seem to subscribe to this.

“Our sympathies go to the Nigerians who bear the brunt of Nigeria’s de­bilitating situation because of economic depression and hunger, armed rob­bery, banditry, kidnapping for ransom, unemployment and injustice. Many have died as has happened in Igangan in Oyo State and elsewhere while so many are still dying. May the de­parted souls rest in perfect peace and may those who are suffering at various lev­els find help and comfort.

“We call on all Nigeri­ans to do all they can to help one another even in these hard times and work more assiduously to cre­ate a better society. To help the downtrodden and op­pressed, it is not enough to provide relief materials. It is just as important to fight for justice and fairness and protect fundamental hu­man rights”, they said.

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