- Fulfill your electoral promises, oath of office – Archbishop Ugorji
- Prioritise healing of Nigerians – Bishop Kukah
- Cut cost of governance – Bishop Ajakaiye
In the wake of new era of administration across the country, Catholic Bishops of Nigeria have enjoined the latest President and State Governors to fulfill their electioneering promises, tackle the nation’s challenges and cut cost of governance. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) cautioned the new federal and state governments against failure to keep to their campaign promises, indicating that an extreme trust deficit hovers over government, following non implementation of the majority of these promises by successive administrations. Most Rev. Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, President, CBCN, made this assertion recently prior to the inauguration of the new administrations during a pastoral visit to St. Charles Catholic Parish, Okwu Ogbaku, Mbaitoli Local Government Area of Imo State. Archbishop Ugorji said, “There will be new administrations in some states of the federation and at the federal level. There is the need to remind all the incoming administrations that several unfulfilled electoral promises, over the years, have not only distanced the citizenry from government, but has also engineered large scale agony, doubt, agitation and unbridled suffering in the land.
“The outgoing administration told us that it would fight corruption, insecurity, as well as ensure rule of law, massive food production, good roads, improved public power supply, good health care facilities, massive youth employment and enhanced welfare for the people. “The pertinent questions that necessarily follow, are: How many of these promises were kept? How many court orders were religiously respected or flouted? Has corruption abated? “We urge all new administrations to be true to their electoral promises and oath of office. This will help to bring the people closer to government, restore confidence in government, improve people’s welfare, eliminate agitation and feeling of marginalization.” In same vein, Most Rev. Matthew Hassan Kukah, Bishop of Sokoto Diocese charged President Tinubu to prioritise the healing of Nigerians at the 2023 Presidential Inauguration Lecture held recently in Abuja. Stressing the need to heal the wounds in the citizenry, Most Rev. Kukah advised the President to identity the “scars, wounds and injuries,” that are still unresolved. Bishop Kukah said, “I want to say that first of all Nigeria must heal but we also must have the courage to identify the scar, wounds, and injuries. “The worst thing that can happen to us is to pretend that everything is okay because everything is not okay.” In his paper entitled, “Religious Tolerance and Inclusiveness”, the cleric bemoaned the traumatic situation of the country occasioned by multiplicity of religion and culture, “We have so many of our citizens who have lost their lives and a lot who are in captivity.
Managing diversity and differences is not about religious leaders coming together, it is about whether the state can create the kind of infrastructure that can help Nigerians move as citizens of their country.” Bishop Kukah tasked President Tinubu to address the country’s rate of extreme poverty, noting that over 133 million Nigerians are multi-dimensionally poor. In his words, “Right now, 133 million Nigerians are suffering from various levels of multidimensional poverty.” He blamed Nigeria’s socio-economic woes not on the country’s religion or ethnicity as many erroneously believe, but rather on the failure of leadership. He said Nigerians irrespective of their religion or ethnicity are confronted with similar socio-economic challenges. Poverty, he stressed, “knows no discrimination based on religion, tribe, or any other identity.” He stated, “Neither ethnicity nor religion poses a problem for the country. “Our suffering is not determined by our religious or ethnic affiliation; rather, it is a result of a malfunctioning country.” Speaking further, he said, “I have not observed that Muslims have access to electricity while others do not; nor have I witnessed a scenario where only Muslims have access to food while the rest of us go without.” “The challenge lies in making the country work for everyone, irrespective of their social standing,” he said, and lamented, “But right now, there is a way people feel because they are Christians or Muslims, there is a way people feel because they are women, the levels and categories of exclusion are so tremendous.”
Similarly, Most Rev. Felix Ajakaiye, Bishop of Ekiti Diocese, in his statement entitled, ‘A New Us Is Possible In Nigeria,’ asked President Tinubu to reduce cost of governance and implement transparent as well as people-oriented policies as part of strategies to save Nigeria’s economy. “I humbly urge President Bola Tinubu to reduce the high cost of governance at the federal level. “Let us start to put an end to the culture of waste in governance in Nigeria. For instance, what is the essence of having a Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity and another person as a Special Assistant on Media and Publicity? This old way must stop. Bishop Ajakaiye made this call in Ado-Ekiti recently at the dawn of a new era of government as he called on Nigerians to imbibe positive attitude towards building a new Nigeria and Nigerians. The Bishop of Ekiti Diocese charged President Tinubu to run an all-inclusive government irrespective of the political platform to mitigate political tension and mutual suspicion which are inimical to a nation’s progress. He advised the president to embrace politics of engagement rather than politics of intimidation as he also enjoined the political parties to be internally democratic to enhance peaceful existence and development of the nation’s democratic process.
Bishop Ajakaiye said, “We need to continue to emphasise internal democracy in all the political parties for real democracy to be an avenue of good governance in Nigeria. Independent candidacy is needed now more than ever before. I encourage the administration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to promote politics of engagement, not politics of intimidation. “Asiwaju Tinubu is to pray to God to guide him to be able to appoint the right people in the right places, and for him to do the right things at the right time. His own ‘Renewed Hope’ has to be meaningful, positive and concrete, but not like the outgoing President Buhari’s ‘Change’ mantra. “The administration of Asiwaju Tinubu should engage in people-oriented policies and it should not abandon the necessary ongoing projects of the outgone Buhari government. In looking for the right path to good governance, Asiwaju Tinubu needs to choose and decide to do things right for things to be right with him and his administration. “His must not be ‘business as usual’. His must be business unusual where the rule of law will be upheld for the benefit of all. I equally appeal to him not to allow The Presidency to be more powerful than the President. Nigerians would like to be hearing and see their President more than those he has appointed to the Presidency.” “A New Us Is Possible In Nigeria. A new me is possible. A new you is possible. This is my submission as a stubborn optimist, stubborn positivist, stubborn builder, and stubborn encourager. Let us be optimists against all odds. Let us value ourselves and our Nigeria for us to be valued and for the country to be valued. Always remember that you cannot give what you do not have. Value has a value only if its value is valued.”