Catholic Bishops: We Are All Guilty, Responsible For Nigeria's Woes


…Want FG To Deploy Same Seriousness As Seen Against Ebola To Fighting Boko Haram

…Terrorism Taking Toll On South South – Uduaghan
SAN FRANCISCO, September 15, (THEWILL) - The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), Sunday, declared that all Nigerians, irrespective of social status, are guilty and responsible for the current situation in the country.

Speaking at the second plenary session of CBCN, hosted by the Warri Diocese of the Catholic Church in Effurun, Delta State, the president of the CBCN and Archbishop of Jos, Most Rev Ignatius Kaigama, said Nigerians must stop the 'culture of appropriation' as well as the mentality of insatiable greed and reckless misuse of the common patrimony found among those who manage the nation's resources.

Kiagama also denounced calls by some Nigerians for the dissolution of the country, noting that Nigeria stood a better chance at greatness as one nation than when it is fractionalised.

“Those who often call for the division of this nation may not have deeply and prayerfully considered the implications of the matter. There is no guarantee that things will become better if we all go our own ways.

“If despite all the blessings visited on this country for a whole century now, we are still finding it difficult to relate warmly with one another as Nigerians; intra-ethnic violence still common and infrastructural development to benefit especially the rural dwellers a mirage,' he said as he queried : 'Who tell the agitators that when we are factionalised into ethnic or multiple entities that we shall do any better.”

The cleric also charged the Federal Government to a potent solution to the worsening terrorism confronting the nation, just the way it attacked the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) and had virtually routed it out of Nigeria.

He said Catholic Bishops are worried about the continued spread of the Islamic sect, Boko Haram, as its activities continue unabated, especially in the North East of the country, noting that insurgency was growing at a rapid rate.

“We insist that the government confronts the issue of insurgency with the same seriousness as it is doing with the Ebola problem. It appears that rather than coming to an end, the activities of terrorists, especially in the North-east, are expanding and growing in sophistication and threatening to spread beyond there.

“We request the two umbrella bodies Jama'atu Nasril Islam, JNI and the Christain Association of Nigeria (CAN) to kindly do all they can without unhealthy religious bias to enhance religious harmony in Nigeria. They should avoid trading blames and over reacting on issues in defence of their religious constituencies, ” Kiagama said.

“We call on all to genuinely use the powerful weapon of prayers and charity, just as we ask Nigerians to be of good disposition towards one another and our political leaders to have the political will to do only what is noble, honourable and just for our nation.

“We must stop this 'culture of appropriation' among Nigerians as well as the mentality of insatiable greed and reckless misuse of our common patrimony found among those who manage our resources. We are all guilty and responsible for the situation of our country.

“We wish to reassure the government of our commitment in promoting the good of the nation and collaborating with civil and security officials to ensure peace and order.

'It was in this regard that we supported the proactive response of the government when the perilous Ebola Virus Disease broke up by adopting as temporary measure that our worshippers should limit physical contacts during worship and even encouraged the reception of the Holy Communion in the hand to prevent the spread of the disease and the loss of lives.

“We insist that the government confront the issue of insurgency with the same seriousness as it is during the Ebola problem. It appears that rather than coming to an end, the activities of terrorism, especially in the North-east are expanding and growing in sophistication and threatening to spread beyond there.'

According to him, reports from the Maiduguri and Yola Dioceses of the church confirmed that thousands of internally displaced people from the towns taken over by the insurgents are now taking refuge in different locations as refugees in their own country.

“I am certain that with collective goodwill, we could easily catapult our dear nation to the highest economic/social level thus ensuring a better life standard for all of us and thereby mitigating the humiliating poverty many Nigerians suffer in the midst of plenty,” he added.

Speaking in the same vein, the Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan , noted that the worsening terrorism in the North-eastern part of the country is now taking a toll on the socio-economic life of the whole country, particularly the South-South.

In his address, Uduaghan said that the Boko Haram scourge has gone beyond just a regional problem and therefore charged the Federal Government to devote the same level of seriousness it employed in curbing the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) to fighting the spread terrorism in the northern part of Nigeria.

Uduaghan said that the pressure of the activities of the Boko Haram terrorists have continued to force people in the north to flee their homes and communities, targeting southern states as only place of refuge, a development, which had already started suffocating the social and economic life of the places the fleeing northerners enter.

Uduaghan cited instances when he had received panic calls, to the effect that several lorry loads of northerners had arrived in the state, heightening fears that illegal arms and persons with criminal motives might have been flooding the state.

“The insecurity in the North-east is not a northern problem alone, it's a problem affecting the entire country. The phone calls I receive on a daily basis about the movement of people from the north to the south is very scary as people now move in trucks from the north to this part of the country. I only hope and pray that something is done as a matter of urgency to restore confidence in the people. But I can tell you that the government is doing its best to ensure that the issue of the insurgents in the North-east is a thing of the past,”the governor said.

The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Warri, Most Rev. John Afareha, who officially declared the conference opened, said in his homily that Nigerian leaders need to wage war against injustice, tracing injustice to when politicians fail to keep their electioneering campaigns promises as well as corruption which he said have given births to several challenges in the country.

While maintaining that there was need for Nigerians to remain faithful and undeterred in the face of various challenges, Afareha appealed to politicians to ensure that they conform with democratic norms as 2015 draws nearer.

The National president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, disclosed that if there was anything Christians need to do now is to speak with one voice.

He said the church irrespective of the denomination must set the stage for a united Nigeria, saying if the church can speak with one voice, it was capable of uniting against the corruption, greed and the activities of Boko Haram.

“If there was any time the church need to speak with one voice, it is now. The Christians need to speak with one voice. When the church speaks with one voice, we will be able to unite against corruption, greed and the activities of Boko Haram. The church must set the stage for a united Nigeria, 'Oritsejafor said.

The conference which took off with a special mass at the Sacred Heart Cathedral, Warri, in the morning terminated at the newly-built Bishop's Conference Centre in Effurun and was graced by dignitaries across the country, including the deputy governor of Delta State, Professor Amos Utuama (SAN), the CAN president , Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, the Olu of Warri, Ogiame Atuwase II and Senator Emmanuel Aguariavwodo, the Senator representing Delta Central District, among others.