The dark clouds of violence have enveloped our land. Our country is in the firm grip of the grim reaper. In the last few years, the purveyors of this violence have taken over the land and placed our security forces on the defensive. Hitherto, the nation’s main challenge was how to contain the dreaded terrorist group, Boko Haram. Two years ago, the military announced that it had degraded Boko Haram and basked in the euphoria that Boko Haram was no longer holding Nigerian territory. But our joy was short lived as the story has progressively gotten far worse.
Today, almost the entire Northern states are in the grip of these purveyors of violence and death. In the last three years, we have witnessed the relentless attacks and ransacking of entire communities by bandits in states like Benue, Kebbi, Plateau, Kaduna, Katsina, Nasarawa, Niger, Sokoto, Zamfara. Thousands of lives have been lost to these bandits who have operated with relentless abandon. Taken together with the devastation of Boko Haram, Nigeria today ranks as not only the poverty capital of the world, but the most violent and unsafe place to be. With Covid-19, our situation has become even more precarious and perilous.
Since this tragedy came upon us, our Governors in the north have done their best, but as we know, this is still not good enough. All our communities still bear huge injuries and scars. We call on our Governors to remain relentless in seeking to end this tragedy with greater urgency, dedication and sincerity. There have been attempts at negotiations with these criminals by some Governors and in some cases, huge sums of money have been paid. Yet, sadly, the victims of these criminals remain trapped in camps as refugees, living and dying in poverty and disease. This is unacceptable. We appeal to the Governors to place the welfare of the victims of violence before these murderous criminals.
Unless they are defeated in an all-out war, all appeasement by way of endless payments of our money will only feed their armoury and strengthen their evil enterprise. To many Nigerians, the federal government has looked on in either helplessness or total lack of concern and care. All of this has taken its toll on the morale and confidence of the security agencies. We are hearing of young men abandoning the battle fields, some hundreds of soldiers are opting for early retirement from the service on grounds of loss of motivation. Nigeria has never been as rudderless as it is now. Amidst all of this, we need to turn our attention specifically to Southern Kaduna.
We, the Bishops of Kaduna Ecclesiastical Province; made up of Kaduna, Kano, Kontagora Minna, Sokoto and Zaria decided to schedule our meeting here in Kafanchan so that we can pray with you and extend our heartfelt condolences and stand firmly in solidarity with you. Like other Nigerians across the country, we have watched with deep sorrow and pain, the mindless slaughtering of hundreds of our innocent citizens in your different communities across our province and beyond. We have channeled our pain into prayers, believing that the merciful God will look up on us. Some of you may recall that we were here in Kafanchan in 2018 to express similar sentiments of prayer and sympathy with you.
During that occasion, we celebrated the Holy Mass with a large gathering at the Catholic Church, Gidan Waya. We then used the opportunity to visit and pray with some of your communities in the Kafanchan area. Similarly, last year, we were at Kajuru where we also celebrated the holy Mass at the Catholic Church, Kufana in Kajuru Local Government Area. In the course of that encounter, we also visited, prayed and condoled with the Ardo and the local Traditional ruler of Kajuru on December 9, 2019. Today, we are here on a similar visit of prayer and solidarity. The stories of these tragedies are already well known to us all. What is left for us is to see how we can rebuild our lives again because it is the greatest honour we can pay to those who have died. No amount of revenge, bitterness, calumny, hatred or name calling can bring back those who have lost their lives in these senseless and unnecessary blood lettings.
We are pained by the shame that these evil deeds have brought to our country and our people. We are pained by the image that we have presented to the rest of the world. We are pained by the trauma that has been inflicted on our collective psyche. We are pained by the culture of death that has made life so cheap for the most vulnerable in our society. We are pained by the fact that we are losing our common humanity. Over the years, our people have been woken up to these orgies of mindless slaughter by people who have totally lost the right to be called human beings not to talk of people who can claim to believe in God.
This is not who we are as Africans. This is not who we are as Nigerians. This is not who we are as people from Southern Kaduna. Over time, we have intermarried, loved, worked and celebrated our joys and shared our sorrows together across faith and tribe. We, your shepherds are calling on you to please pause, sheath your swords and to please end the senseless killings, not tomorrow but now. We call on you, men and women of various faiths to please know that God is not pleased with us. We call on you to know that the rest of the country is equally saddened by these happenings. Every day, the question is, when will it all end? The answer is not blowing in the wind. It is in us.
Most Rev. Matthew M. NDAGOSO Most Rev. John N. Niyirin, OSA Archbishop of Kaduna and Metropolitan Bishop of Kano and Secretary Kaduna Ecclesiastical Province