On Catholic bishops’ call for national restoration

The urgent need for the country to be rejuvenated has been justified. This position was made in a communique issued after a meeting of the Catholic Bishops of the Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province, held in Ibadan, Oyo state. The communique was themed, “Nigeria: In Desperate Need for Restoration” and was jointly signed by the Bishops’ Chairman, Most Rev. Dr. Gabriel Abegunrin, Archbishop of Ibadan Archdiocese and Secretary, Most Rev. Dr. John Oyejola, Bishop of Osogbo Diocese.

According to the prelates, the Catholic Bishops of Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province, comprising Ibadan Archdiocese, Ilorin, Ondo, Oyo, Ekiti and Osogbo dioceses, have deliberated at our first meeting for 2024 on issues of church and national interest, and noted that our dear country, Nigeria is fast becoming a hostile, killing field. The ship of the nation is foundering under the weight of pervasive insecurity, economic hardship due to hyperinflation and the collapse of the naira, cybercrime, high cost of food, lackadaisical governance and widespread corruption.  Day-to-day living is fast becoming an ordeal for millions of Nigerians because pervasive poverty, driven by the harsh environment, has driven many to desperation and suicide.

“It would be nothing short of hypocritical to put all the misery being suffered by Nigerians today down to change in world economy. The truth is that often Nigerians are simply left to their own devices and left at the mercy of the most cruel and aggressive criminals by inept and selfish political and civil leaders. In all this, governments often seem weak or altogether absent. Any remedy now is even already too late for many Nigerians, who have lost their lives to terrorists, hunger, kidnapping and sundry disasters. We decry the unfortunate events that have occurred recently, right at our doorsteps in our ecclesiastical province. We are shocked by the regrettable kidnapping and killing of monarchs and the kidnapping of teachers and school children.

“This spate of criminality is a brutal assault on our collective reverence for the traditional institution and decency. It signals the descent of our society into a Hobbesian state of nature, nasty, brutish and short, even here in the South-west. We also condole with the victims of the recent explosion in Bodija area at Ibadan. In all these, we pay tribute to the sacrifice of our soldiers and security agents, who risk their lives for our security, some of whom have gotten killed in the line of duty. We declare that the time to stop this spiraling violence and bloodshed is now, before it becomes irreversible, by repositioning our security agencies to make them more pre-emptive and proactive.  We admonish majority of our leaders, who talk and behave as if all is well to have a change of heart. There is cause for alarm when corruption runs riot in every sector with scant effort from government to arrest and prosecute its perpetrators”, the communique stated.

They made a case for the restructuring of our security apparatus and remove saboteurs where necessary so that they can collaborate and perform optimally because Nigerians deserve to know the truth about their leaders’ programmes, activities and whereabouts. Any country run on corruption and falsehood will crumble under the weight of self-inflicted evil. Time for positive change is running out. The church leaders called on the government to upgrade the ongoing ‘governance by palliatives’ to governance that promotes productivity, accountability and which provides essential infrastructure like power supply and jobs for the populace, saying it is better to teach people to fish than to give them fish from time to time, especially because Nigerians are among the most industrious people in the world. This would be an effective way to limit the ‘japa syndrome’, which is the forced exodus of our best brains from our shores.

“We call on church societies, other charity groups and our faithful in Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province to do more to provide employment and help the poor and indigent among us. The mission of charity is an essential part of the work of evangelisation and the church’s mandate. We note with dismay the increase in suicide and murders among Nigerians in recent times which demonstrates that the value placed on the sanctity of human life is diminishing. This is a recipe for disaster. Likewise, marriages and families are experiencing greater stress today due to economic, social and cultural challenges. We reiterate the sanctity and dignity of human life and we call on relevant authorities and religious organisations to promote the preservation of Christian marriage and family values”, the bishops added.No doubt, the bishops have highlighted what we need to do to restore the nation on the path of progress, peace and propriety. To make the desired difference, necessary mechanism must be put in place, both on the part of the leaders and the ruled to collaboratively ensure that Nigeria bounces back by addressing insecurity, economic hardship, cybercrime issues, high cost of food, widespread corruption, pervasive poverty, restructuring of our security apparatus, provision of essential infrastructure like power, creating more employment opportunities, and curbing brain drain, among others.

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