…Asks FG to declare state of emergency
…Marks 62nd birthday
By Constaincia Uruakpa
The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins has tasked Nigerians to respect human life, as he urged them to recognize and appreciate the gift of life, which he noted is precious to God. Archbishop Martins, who gave the charge during his 62nd birthday celebration on June 1, 2021, at the Holy Cross Cathedral, Lagos, expressed sadness at the manner in which human life is being disrespected all over the country. While urging the people to give thanks to God, he asked them to also pray to God, to take control of the things in the country. He said: “Every human life is precious. Life in the womb, as fetus, in the infant, in the child, in the youth, life of adult in all their strength, life of the elderly in their vulnerability; all that is precious in the sight of God. I thank you all for giving testimony of the precious nature of human life in all stages, from the womb to the tomb. “That we give testimony to the precious nature of human life, is what makes us distressed, and very sad at the lack of respect for human life that we find so, so much in our country today.
As some are giving glory to God for how precious human life is, there are others, who are dealing with human life as if it was any other thing. In fact, one is tempted to suspend this kind of celebration, given the kind of things that is happening in our country today. But then, we can’t suspend it because when we give thanks, we ask the Lord to receive our thanks, and also to take control of the circumstances that worry us. And so, we celebrate, not minding the mindless disrespect for human life that we find in all parts of our country today; the North-east, the North-central, South-east, South-west, and everywhere; the attacks on villages, the destruction of properties, the killing of people everywhere. In the East, right now, we have so much disrespect for human life over there.” He urged the people to pray to God, to instill in the people causing havoc in the country, the spirit of respect for the human life, so they should realize that humans were created in the image and likeness of God. He said: “Let us pray to God to instill in people the respect for human life. Human life is precious.
Every human being is made in the image and likeness of God, and therefore, is important in the sight of God. Let us pray that human life will be respected more than ever before, particularly in our country, so that the glory that belongs to God that we see in every human being, might be thoroughly respected. Let us also pray for God’s intervention in the situation of the country, that all the challenges in the nation will be a thing of the past.” Speaking on the unity of the Trinity, the Archbishop said Nigerians need to continue to pray for their country, noting that one of the major issues with the country today, is the absence of the sort of unity that one expects of the nation that they love, and identify with. He said: “Last Sunday, the Church celebrated the feast of the Most Holy Trinity. One of the features of the Trinity is the unity of the Trinity; Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, united, distinct, but inseparable; each person distinct, but inseparable in fact.
And that gave us a clear indication of the kind of prayer that we need to continue to pray for our country because obviously, one of the major issues with our country today is the absence of the sort of unity that we expect of the nation that we all love, and love to continue to identify with. “There are so many disparaged voices that we are hearing in the nation. There are calls for seces sion that are growing louder and louder. There are calls for the complete rejection of the constitution we have now, in favour of the 1963 constitution. Some say we should go ahead and amend the constitution that we have now. There are so many issues that are facing the country today, first, in which in my own estimation, is insecurity that is the bane of our nation today. And I believe that if there was better hope on the security of this nation, many of the other issues that is affecting this nation, would be at least, more easily resolved. But because there is insecurity, disunity of the nation continues to find greater expression.” On the different views and complaints of people in the country, he said: “Of course, we face a problem of different categories of people having their own different kinds of complaints.
The Christians complain about the fact that they do not have significant representation in government. The farmers complain that their farms are being eaten up by the cattle of the herdsmen. We are constantly hearing complaints from herdsmen of how their Farms have been infiltrated, such that the kind of evil that we have ever heard about cattle rearers in the past is so very much with us now.” While noting that the insecurity being experienced all over was part of an age-long systemic problem with governance at the national level, Archbishop Martins called on the government, the President in particular, to put in more effort and commitment, in ensuring that they find a lasting solution to insecurity in the country. “So, in all of these, we need to ask the Federal Government, the president, in particular, as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, and the one who has the responsibility for security of the nation, to wake up to these problems that is gradually, bringing our country into a state of agony.
And we certainly need a lot more effort and a lot more commitment, to ensure that there is security in this our country. We hear different things in our country. In the East of our country, we have issues. In the North-east, in the North-west, in the North- central, the South-west, the South-south, there are issues. “We are worried by the incessant cases of kidnapping, murder of innocent people; including policemen, burning down of police stations, correctional facilities, and INEC offices. The Federal Government needs to declare a state of emergency on insecurity in the country. Such a move has become very necessary, in order to spare the country from the looming anarchy that is staring us in the face. Government at all levels must address the root cause of insecurity across the country, and bring the perpetrators and sponsors to book.
“Efforts to rid the country of kidnappers and bandits, should include constant dialogue between representatives of the security agencies and major stakeholders, such as religious leaders, traditional rulers, leaders of ethnic groups, civil society, and political parties. I believe that these are the things that we need to reflect upon, and talk about”, he said. The Archbishop further said “This is no time to play the blame game or to play politics through sectoral efforts. There must be collective effort through robust consultation with all stakeholders. “We all must come together to fight this hydra-headed monster of insecurity that is making life difficult for our people. So, we call upon the federal government to declare a state of emergency on insecurity and roll out practical actions, with time frame within which the situation will be brought under control.” He also urged Nigerians to take all the problems confronting the country to God in prayer. “I would say that apart from talking about them, we must bring all of them to God in prayer too because in the end, unless the Lord builds the house, the labourer labours in vain. So, we must have pointed attention to prayer, so that whatever efforts that are being made, will become fruitful.
And whatever efforts that are being made, will be made in such a way as to be able to solve the problem as it is”, he said. When asked his thoughts on CAN’s advice to members, to defend themselves following attacks on people in Plateau State, Archbishop Martins said: “The moral principle is that if a person is under attack, the person has a right to defend himself or herself with equal force with which he or she is being attacked. And so, in principle, every human being has a right to defend himself/herself, when he or she is under any form of attack. However, the practice of that is what needs to be thoroughly, thoroughly examined before we can put it to use. And I hope that as people express and use their right to defend themselves, we recognize that we cannot, and should not be the aggressor, rather, we should defend ourselves when the need arises, and with the means that are necessary, equal in force which that one is being attacked.
That is the general moral principle that we follow.” On the clamour for dialogue, and implementation of the 2014 confab, to solve issues in the country, the Archbishop said: “I think the 2014 confab was not made public, in the sense of there was no formal adoption of the reports of that confab. However, we know a lot of things that were in that confab; and many people actually, do think that that confab has elements that are necessary for overcoming the problems of today. However, it is certainly important, as in my own understanding that the fruits of that confab need to be reevaluated and seen again in the light of the present situation because a lot of water has passed under the bridge since that time. And in any case, what was done in 2014, obviously, in 2021 needs to be seen again, in order that it can be probably updated, or else, something else is done in regards to it.” On the massive borrowing by government, and the manner the money is expended, he said: “What economists tell us is that borrowing is a necessary thing, but, if it is used to provide infrastructural facilities that can be measured, that can be seen, and that is there for generations to come.
However, it is necessary also that government should do a lot more of filling up of its own expenses because I believe that if a lot of the expenses that are being carried out are better managed, even if we have to go borrowing, what we need to borrow, certainly cannot be in the range of what we are talking about now. Our government, as many have said, is rather expensive. The two houses of the National Assembly are gulping so much money. The executive itself is gulping so much money, with all the different kinds of aides and offices, agencies that are duplicated and multiplied. So, naturally, if these areas of wastage are being managed, and better controlled, I believe even if we need to borrow, certainly we will not be borrowing the much that we are borrowing at this point in time.” On the review or outright rejection of the 1999 constitution, he said: “A lot of people have identified so many loopholes in this constitution, and people have had so many doubts about the fact that the review is going to really satisfy the yearnings of the majority of Nigerians, at this point in time.
The way the National Assembly is configured, make many people to be concerned about whether we really can truly get a review that will satisfy the peoples of this nation. And so, to that extent, the National Assembly has the onus of proving that it is capable of doing a review that is in the position to satisfy the yearnings of Nigerians. Today, more than any other time, there is a call for the restructuring of Nigeria. Do we have a National Assembly that is willing and ready, and able to ensure that that is included in the constitution, as it is being reviewed? There are issues with regards to state police. We have a National Assembly that is willing to objectively look at that matter, and ensure that it gets the kind of position that is required in the constitution that is being reviewed at this point in time. So, there are so many, many issues that bother the minds of an average Nigerian. Including me of course, concerning the willingness and the readiness of our National Assembly to carry out what Nigerians are yearning for, at this point in time. So, we must continue to talk about it, we must continue to express our reservations for this matter, with the hope that somehow, the National Assembly will be able to listen, and do that which is right.
” The Prelate commiserated with the Federal Government and family of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, and other military officers that lost their lives in the air crash that occurred recently in the country. The Archbishop said the only way to honour the dead, is to strive harder, to overcome insecurity, and make the country a better place for citizens to live in. He appealed to the various ethnic groups agitating for self-determination to embrace dialogue and shun violence, so as to avoid causing more tension in the land, and continued hardship for the people. He called for government intervention, to help cushion the effect the hardship that Nigerians are passing through, occasioned by economic downturn. On the rising cost of food items in the market, Archbishop Martins tasked government to seek new ways of bringing an end to the herders/farmers clash, which is adversely affecting the planting and harvesting of agricultural products, especially in the southern part of the country. The Archbishop also called on well-meaning Nigerians, to be their brother’s keepers, by extending hands of charity to the less privileged, and the downtrodden