The Catholic Bishops of Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province have condemned the spate of insecurity and other problems confronting the Nigerian nation, as they called on the leaders in the country, to do all they can, to solve the problems, and restore normalcy in the land. The Bishops who made the call in a communiqué, jointly signed by Most Rev. ‘Leke Gabriel Abegunrin, Chairman; and Most Rev. John Akin Oyejola, Secretary, tagged, “Recovering the soul of the Nigerian nation”, issued at the end of their 2021meeting, held at the Domus Pacis Pastoral Institute, Igoba, Akure stated that steps must be taken to recover the lost soul of the country. According to the Bishops, when a nation loses its soul, its people lose the cohesive elements of human relationship. They added that such a nation is characterised by inept, uncaring leadership, which functions by selective allocation of posts, privileges, and resources and by selective application of justice.
Noting that Nigeria is no longer a healthy entity, the Bishops said that the good health of any nation consists in its capacity to offer its citizens a territory where they can feel at home, feel secure and enjoy the basic necessities of life. Speaking on the National Assembly members prioritizing party and privileges over people’s rights and interest, the Bishops noted that the work of those, who represent the people on the federal level in Nigeria, does not seem to bring much satisfaction to the people, for whose interest they were allegedly elected. “The ongoing controversy surrounding proceedings in the national assembly gives ample evidence of the theatre of the absurd, which democratic representation has become in Nigeria. Be it on the electoral reform, electronic transmission of electoral results, press freedom or the Petroleum Industrial Bill (PIB).” On high level of despondency in Nigeria, they noted that ongoing electoral reforms give another opportunity, for reviving the hopes of the people, and confidence in the nation’s democracy.
“An important part of electoral reform, which is often ignored, is the education of the people who participate in building democracy. Only participation in the political process and adherence to the rule of law offer an enduring means of authentic change, but people must be helped to understand this fact. We urge the media and civil society groups to sustain this education agenda so that Nigeria can reap the full benefits there from”, they said. The Bishops urged the people to register, and obtain their voters cards, adding that only this, grants them the power to exercise their rights to determine who governs them. On the recent effort by the Presidency to malign the address of Bishop Matthew Kukah of Sokoto Diocese, to the House Foreign Affairs Committee of the United States of America Parliament/Assembly in Washington DC, on the Nigerian situation on Religious Freedom, the Bishops said: “Bishop Kukah, in his patriotic and frank presentation called attention to some verifiable data and statistics about the Nigerian situation on that privileged international platform. He spoke for authentic Christians and Muslims who are under persecution.
No doubt, he intended to solicit the support of that forum which many Nigerians believe holds the promise of some assistance and relief from our current national crises. The Bishops expressed their sympathies for Nigerians, who bear the brunt of the country’s debilitating situation because of economic depression and hunger, unemployment, banditry, kidnapping, among other problems. “Many have died as has happened in Igangan in Oyo State, and elsewhere, while so many are still dying. We call on all Nigerians to do all they can to help one another, even in these hard times, and work more assiduously, to create a better society”, they said. Declaring that political and economic restructuring without moral revival is bound to fail, the Bishops said that Nigeria needs spiritual and moral revival, which will restore positive values, such as honesty, truthfulness, accountability, fear of God, among others, to their rightful place in the polity.
The Bishops felicitated with Most Rev. Felix Alaba Job, Bishop Emeritus of Ibadan Archdiocese, and Most Rev. Michael Olatunji Fagun, Bishop Emeritus of Ekiti Diocese who celebrated 50 years of episcopacy. While felicitating with Muslim faithful on the celebration of Id el Kabir, the Bishops urged Nigerians to work together for peace, as they make all necessary sacrifices, to build the nation on the strong pillars of fairness, justice, equity and the rule of law. Quoting the book of Jeremiah 23:5, the Bishops urged Nigerians, to stand firm, and never lose hope, adding that Nigerians should continue to pray and work for a better nation because they have no other country than Nigeria. “If we do not give up doing good, and believing in God’s promise, we shall see better days”, they said. Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province comprises Ibadan Archdiocese, Ilorin, Ondo, Oyo, Ekiti and Osogbo Dioceses.