…Insecurity, poverty, others driving Nigerians into despair, Bishops Obinna, Onuoha
…It’s sad that Nigerians now pay taxes, levies to terrorists, bandits —LAGOS CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP, ADEWALE MARTINS
By Chidi Nkwopara, Gabriel Olawale & Ibrahim Hassan-Wuyo, ABUJA
Catholic and Anglican Archbishops from across the country yesterday in their Easter messages decried the high level of insecurity in the country, with some calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to resign, having failed to protect lives and property, which they felt was the fundamental reason for the existence of government.
They include the Bishop, Diocese of Kaduna, Anglican Communion, Timothy Yahaya, the Bishop of Kaduna Catholic Archdiocese, Matthew Manoso Ndagoso, Catholic Archbishop of Sokoto Diocese, Rev. Fr. Matthew Hassan Kukah and Catholic Archbishop of Owerri Diocese and President of Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, CBCN, Most Rev Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji.
Others are the Catholic Archbishop Emeritus of Owerri Archdiocese, Most Rev. Anthony J. V. Obinna, Anglican Archbishop of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province, and Most Rev. David O. C. Onuoha, and Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Adewale Martins.
Efforts to reach the Presidency for comments as at press time last night proved abortive as calls put through the telephone lines of presidential spokespersons: Mr Femi Adesina and Mallam Garba Shehu, were not picked up. Text messages sent to their phones were also not replied to
In their homilies, the Bishop, Diocese of Kaduna, Anglican Communion, Timothy Yahaya, and the Bishop of Kaduna Catholic Archdiocese, Matthew Manoso Ndagoso, asked the President to resign, saying a similar call by the Northern Elders Forum, NEF, came at the appropriate time.
Resign now, Bishops Yahaya, Ndagogo tell Buhari
Bishop Yahaya said the right thing to do for a leader who could not deliver was to bow out of office.
“There is hope for Nigeria as a nation,” he said.
Similarly, Bishop Ndagoso said it was hard to disagree with the Northern elders’ position on the need for Buhari to resign from office over killings in the country.
He said the only thing the people got each time scores of Nigerians were killed, maimed, and abducted, were empty assurances and reassurances of security by political leaders
“My Easter message is that there is hope for every individual in this country, there is hope for Nigeria as a nation. I know what we are going through, it is a dangerous and perilous time. But I tell you the only tonic of tomorrow is hope.
“I don’t want to join issues with the Northern elders because I am not a politician. But the truth about leadership is that there is morality in leadership. If you cannot deliver as a leader in a civilized clime, the right thing and best thing to do is to bow out.
“But what gives me concern seriously is that I am not sure if the President knows that his name is going down in history as the President that is supervising the killing of his people, as a President who is the petroleum minister.
“Today in Kaduna, we don’t have petrol for how many months. As the President who is supervising the nation, ASUU has closed down universities, the future generation is bleak. As a President who supervises where you hear billions of naira being budgeted and you don’t see anything verifiable for it.
“So for me, I am not talking like a politician, I am talking as a citizen of this nation, I am talking with the voices of the masses, I talk with the reality on the ground.
“I don’t know those of you around Mr President, all you want to do is to rub his name from the glory of the future. I hope it is not the best thing you are doing because I don’t know if they are shielding you from the information.
“Look at the railway attack, our brothers and sisters are in captivity. And we are not hearing from Mr. President himself. The spokesman can speak for the President that the citizens of this country are in the hands of terrorists. Mr. President should sit up.
“Even if somebody is speaking for him, he is telling lies. At another clime, the President will not sleep, and heads will roll because somebody is responsible for the laxity that led to this train attack.
“For me, Mr President needs to do an x-ray of his leadership in the past seven years because by next month, he will be seven years fully on the saddle. Has he done very well? How much was Dollar when you took over power?
“How much was petrol when you took over power? How was insecurity when you took over power? Where was education when you took over power? Where was the name of Nigeria when you took over power?
“Today, we hear money being budgeted for a Turn Around Maintenance, TAM, of refineries, where are the refineries? And how do you want me to believe that corruption is being fought in Nigeria?”
Commenting on the state pardon granted former governors of Taraba and Plateau states, Jolly Nyame and Joshua Dariye respectively, the Anglican Bishop said: “Like Femi Falana said, somebody stole Indomie and you sent him to six months imprisonment and somebody stole billions of naira, you set him free.”
“Therefore, let’s go to our prisons and begin to apologise to the prisoners. You cannot set free those who stole the patrimony of the people and sent to prison to languish those who stole five thousand naira or one hundred thousand naira in this country.
“ Are you telling me that what is good for the goose is not good for the gander? Ate you telling me that it is an animal farm that we have in Nigeria?.
“As far I am concerned, I have said it before, Nigeria is at war, soldiers are being killed, citizens are being killed. If you take the statistics of the number of soldiers and police that are being killed, you will know that Nigeria is at war. Infrastructures are being attacked and vandalized.
“There should be a national emergency to recall ex-servicemen and recruit young men to fight insurgents if possible because desperate time needs desperate measures. Begin to train young people in all the 36 states.
“In a state where we have less than 50,000 soldiers, we are not ready for this war. Also, technology should be deployed. This is war, it is a very serious war. The fact that they were able to attack the airport, the train, I hope the Villa is safe.”
Continuing, Bishop Ndagoso said: “Given where we are right now, in terms of insecurity and the government’s handling of the situation thus far, it is hard for one to disagree with Bulama Bukarti’s assertion that ‘the Buhari government is incompetent, inept and careless, and the Northern Elders’ Forum, NEF, that ‘his leadership has proved spectacularly incapable of providing security over Nigerians.’
“Our predicament today, especially in the northwest region of our country and particularly in Kaduna State, is akin to that of the two runaway disciples with high hope, prior to 2015 that someone will rescue us from the grip of terrorists, bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers, cattle rustlers, marauding herders.
“All we get are empty assurances and reassurances of security by our political leaders each time scores of Nigerians are killed, maimed and abducted as witnessed recently in the mass killings and abductions in Agunu, Kagoro, Koron Tsohuwa area, attacks on Kaduna international airport, the Abuja-Kaduna bound train that led to the killing of eight people, injury of scores and the abduction of more than 150, the killings of our gallant soldiers and vigilantes in the notorious Birnin Gwari axis and most recently the Plateau, Benue and Taraba mass killings have left most Nigerians with little or no trust and confidence in those charged with the constitutional responsibility of securing their lives and property.
“To say the least, the seeming incompetence and the lack of political will to face the ever-increasing insecurity head-on has left most Nigerians in a state of quandary, to the extent that some members of the National Assembly and other well respected individual Nigerians are publicly calling for citizens to bear arms in order to defend themselves! Do we need any further signs of a failed state? Your guess is as good as mine.”
You’ve destroyed Nigeria, divided Nigerians, Kukah blasts Buhari
In his Easter message, the Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Sokoto, Matthew Kukah, said the present administration has not only destroyed the country but also divided Nigerians along ethnic and religious lines.
In the message, titled ‘To mend a broken nation: The Easter metaphor’, Kukah said every aspect of life in Nigeria had been destroyed while corruption was enthroned.
He said: “Our dear country, Nigeria, still totters and wobbles as we screech towards a dangerous and avoidable canyon of dry bones.
“One would be tempted to ask, what is there to say about our tragic situation today that has not been said? Who is there to speak that has not spoken? Like the friends of Job, we stare at an imponderable tragedy as the nation unravels from all sides. The government has slid into hibernation mode.
“It is hard to know whether the problem is that those in power do not hear, see, feel, know, or just don’t care. Either way, from this crossroad, we must make a choice, to go forward, turn left or right or return home. None of these choices is easy, yet, guided by the light of the risen Christ, we can reclaim our country from its impending slide to anarchy.
“The challenge of fixing this broken nation is enormous and, as I have said, requires joint efforts. With everything literally broken down, our country has become one big emergency national hospital with full occupancy.
“Our individual hearts are broken. Our family dreams are broken. Homes are broken. Churches, Mosques, and infrastructure are broken. Our educational system is broken. Our children’s lives and futures are broken. Our politics is broken. Our economy is broken. Our energy system is broken. Our security system is broken. Our roads and rails are broken. Only corruption is alive and well.”
He also faulted the amnesty granted to terrorists and former governors of Plateau State, Senator Joshua Dariye; and Taraba State, Rev Jolly Nyame.
“We need to start thinking of a Nigeria beyond banditry and kidnapping and the endless circles of violence that have engulfed our communities and nation. We cannot continue to pretend that there are no religious undertones to the violence in the name of God that has given our religions a bad name.
“The way out is for the state to enforce the secular status of the Nigerian state so as to give citizens the necessary freedoms from the shackles of semi-feudal confusion over the status of religion and the state in a plural democracy.
“We must be ready to embrace modernity and work out how to preserve our religions and cultures without turning religion into a tool for tyranny, exclusion, and oppression.
“I cannot be against a repentant sinner or criminals changing their ways. After all, the doors of forgiveness must always remain open. However, in this case, Nigerians have very little information as to the entire rehabilitation process. Have these terrorists felt the heat or have they seen the light or, is their repentance a mere strategic and tactical repositioning?
“So far, we have no evidence that these terrorists have been able to confront their victims, let alone seek to talk of seeking forgiveness from them. Something is wrong.
“We see these terrorists adorned in our national colours in their green and white kaftans, trousers, and looking like heroes of the state! Are we to assume that they have become acknowledged models for Nigerian youth? Perhaps, the next graduating set might be treated to presidential handshakes, receptions at the villa with full national colours!
The mindless massacre by unscrupulous terrorists was traumatic — Archbishop Ugorji
In his Easter message, the Catholic Archbishop-elect of Owerri Archdiocese and President of Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, CBCN, Most Rev. Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, said: “As a nation, we are celebrating Easter this year in a rather dismal atmosphere that breeds pessimism and despair.
“The growing insecurity of life and property in the country is compounded by the rising wave of the mindless massacre of innocent citizens by unscrupulous terrorists, causing bereavement, trauma and uncertainty.
“Economic hardship with soaring inflation continues to sweep across the nation like wildfire and seems to reduce millions of our countrymen and women to a life of wanton suffering and distress.
“The ongoing strike of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, is thwarting the academic ambitions of many Nigerian students. In some parts of the country, workers are owed arrears of salaries, while retired senior citizens eke out an existence without regular pensions.
“Many young people are deeply wounded and degraded by unemployment and poverty, a poverty that breeds crime and seeks relief in hard drugs.
“This horrible state of affairs is driving many compatriots to a feeling of cynicism as they gaze at a gloomy future that seems to promise them little or nothing.”
Taking a critical look at the forthcoming 2023 general elections, Archbishop Ugorji said: “As we draw closer to another period of general elections, which are often characterized by bloody conflicts, we urge everyone seeking electoral office to embrace the spirit of sportsmanship and not to see a political contest as a do-or-die affair.
“We also implore one and all to make a personal commitment to non-violence. This is because violence only breeds violence. The vicious cycle of violence results in utter destruction and is never a solution to any human problem.
“Accordingly, far from fighting and killing one another as a way of settling differences, we should hearken to those beautiful words of Isaiah: Beat your sword into plowshares (Isaiah 2:4). No more bitterness! No more killing!”
Insecurity, poverty, others driving Nigerians into despair, Bishops Obinna, Onuoha
Similarly, Catholic Archbishop Emeritus of Owerri Archdiocese, Most Rev. Anthony J. V. Obinna, and the Anglican Archbishop of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province, Most Rev. David O. C. Onuoha, decried the worsening state of insecurity and excruciating hardship in the country.
While Obinna said Nigeria had become a brutal, deadly dungeon, Onuoha lamented that the worsening state of insecurity, grinding poverty, unemployment, and senseless waste of human lives, had become a daily occurrence that is driving the people into despair.
Archbishop Onuoha, however, appealed to those who had taken it upon themselves, as merchants of death, to multiply sorrow in the society through mindless wasting of innocent lives, to align with God to protect life and not destroy it. He said: “We must use this occasion to pray that God will deliver Ala Igbo from self-destruction.
“Those who live to inflict maximum harm, pain, and suffering on their fellow men, through the promotion of policies that make it impossible for a greater number of Nigerians to live with dignity, as well as those who appropriate our common patrimony to themselves and families alone, should do well to act in a way that will ensure the spread of joy and happiness to all in the society.
“Death is one state of being that no other power can reverse. In the midst of fear, sorrow, pain, hardship and death that confront us every day in Nigeria, the message remains: You faithful saints, fresh courage take, the cloud you so much dread are rich with mercy and shall break with blessings on your head.”
For Archbishop Obinna, Nigerians appear doomed to death in the hands of fellow Nigerians, due to the tragic situation where warlords are having their way over official government security.
His words: “Nigeria has practically become a brutal and deadly dungeon that scares its own citizens at various levels and intimidates outsiders.
“The blind pursuit of power, wealth, and influence for selfish, clannish, group, ethnic, religious and imperial purposes, has unleashed a hatred in the nation that refuses national dialogue and opposes any sense of equity, justice and fairness.’’
Archbishop Obinna recalled that recently, certain patriotic Nigerians had raised their voices, crying and pleading for a change of heart, attitude, and policy in public life.
“But the speed-train of the political quest for power at all costs and narrow advantages is by-passing ideas and values that could begin to redeem deadly Nigeria.
“In the tragic situation, war-lords are having their way over official government security, with official government security colluding with the war-lords, or looking away while atrocities rage. ‘’Any security or safety that Nigerians have is only temporary. We all appear doomed to certain death in the hands of fellow Nigerians, sooner than later.”
It’s sad that Nigerians now pay taxes, levies to terrorists, bandits – Lagos Archbishop Adewale Martins
In his Easter message, the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Olawale Martins, lamented that the insecurity in the country has degenerated to the level Nigerians now pay taxes and other levies to terrorists, bandits and other criminals, failure of which their lives are terminated.
“Does it not surprise you that the government has abdicated its responsibilities to protect the lives and property of the people? Non-state actors, such as terrorists, bandits, and kidnappers are successfully enforcing payment of taxes and levies on innocent and struggling Nigerians when the government cannot even make people pay taxes. Life has become so short and brutish that no one is sure who is the next victim. Hunger has taken over the land because people cannot go to farms anymore and the government is displaying helplessness in protecting the people. However, in the midst of this despair, there is hope that God will reverse the situation for us all.’’
Archbishop Martins wondered why government exists when it cannot protect the lives of Nigerians and rekindle hope in their nation.
Let’s take on challenges facing Nigeria — Tinubu
National leader of All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has pleaded with Nigerians not to succumb to the challenges facing the country.
‘’Yes, challenges face us, but we also face them. And we shall face them down,’’ Tinubu said in his Easter message to Nigerians yesterday.
Continuing, he said: ‘’As Christians in Nigeria and the world over celebrate the joyous occasion, all people should take a precious moment to reflect on the profound meaning of the day.
‘’Easter speaks to a remarkable, triumphant rebirth after tremendous struggle and ordeal. It teaches a crucial lesson: In the contest of peace versus strife, good versus evil, and love versus hate, darkness may come and, for a time, seem to win. But ultimately, what is right and humane shall win.
‘’Jesus sacrificed himself for the well-being of others. For his goodness, he was ridiculed, tried, and convicted in the worst of ways. The wrongdoers thought they defeated him. ‘’They indeed were wrong. He overcome their cruelty to achieve that which he was brought into this world to achieve.”
He withstood so much to reach his destiny. In so doing, he brought forth a new faith that has been the fountain of spiritual uplift to billions of people for over two centuries.
‘’To the extent possible, we must try to emulate his morals and ethics in our personal and public lives. His devotion and selflessness, we must imitate.
‘’His sense of justice, we must reflect. Jesus’s compassion for all and his special love for the downcast and downtrodden, we must revere and honour in all that we do.
‘’This goes for each of us as individual Nigerians. It equally goes for us as a nation. Skeptics and critics have written us off. They say we have failed and can no longer be good. They are wrong because they do not know us. Yes, challenges face us, but we also face them. And we shall face them down.
‘’We take heart in the life and lessons of Jesus. The extent to which we learn these lessons is the extent that which Nigeria shall enjoy a rebirth and claim its greater triumph.
We have not and cannot falter. Our nation’s best still lies ahead.
‘’On this Easter, I join my Christian brothers and sisters in celebrating the example and teachings of Jesus. Let us reach out to one another as never before and, together, build our lives and this nation as never before.
‘’May God give us the wisdom and commitment to improving this land as He intended. May our service to Him and to mankind be of the compassion, peace, selflessness, and devotion to a higher purpose that Jesus demonstrated.
‘’Let us give the best of ourselves that we may achieve the reward of a better nation for all. Let us treat each other as God intended brothers and sisters to be. In the process, we shall build a better and more just society. Let the spirit of this special season live with and in us throughout the year.
‘’A happy and peaceful Easter to you all. May God bless you and your household. May He bless this nation that he has given us and give unto us the prudence and vision to construct this land as he intended it to be.’’