The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, CBCN, has said that the federal government seems to be overwhelmed and unconcerned about the rate of insecurity as well as the worsening economy.
The Bishops described the development as disturbing, saying the future of the country looks bleak.
CBCN President, Archbishop Lucius Ugorji, spoke on Sunday at the opening session of the 2023 first plenary Assembly of the body in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
The theme of the event is ‘Citizens’ Participation in Good Governance in Nigeria’
According to him, despite assurances by the federal government that it is on top of the matter, insecurity continues to haunt the nation and economic conditions in the land keeps biting harder.
He said, “Insecurity has continued to haunt our nation. The Boko Haram militia, Fulani herdsmen, bandits and unknown gunmen have continued to unleash terror in different parts of the country.
“Nowhere seems safe: highways, homes and even the sacred precincts of worshipping centres. Some of our Church personnel have been victims of abduction and arson. Our people have continued to live in a gloomy atmosphere of fear and groan with anguished hearts.
“Our collapsing national economy worsens the ugly situation. While the value of the Naira continues to decline, the cost of basic commodities, including food items, continues to soar, with serious effects on the lives and livelihoods of our people.
“On account of long-persisting fuel scarcity, Nigerians spend endless hours in long queues under harsh weather conditions trying to buy fuel at exorbitant prices. The disastrous implementation of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) cash swap policy, which resulted in a cash crunch, has added to the ordeal, anger and frustration of the masses.
“On account of the hard-biting economic conditions, many of our brothers and sisters are pauperised and go to bed without food. Many of them are resorting to crime and begging to survive. This situation is further compounded by the growing debt burden that is mortgaging our future and the future of generations coming after us. The future of the country looks bleak.
“The government seems overwhelmed by the situation, despite its claim that it is on top of the matter.”
Ugorji, however, said all hope is not lost. According to him, “With the forthcoming general elections drawing close, people perceive a glimmer of light after a very long and dark tunnel.
“The untold and undeserved suffering to which Nigerians have been subjected over the years is a good preparation for us to vote wisely during the forthcoming general elections. The elections, if well conducted, can be a turning point in our political and economic history.
“We, therefore, urge all to play their roles maturely and creditably during the period of the general elections.”
The Catholic Bishops urged candidates vying for political offices to prove themselves to be decent, respectable, peaceful and honest Nigerians.
“Rather than engage in mud-slinging, acrimony, arson, buying and selling of votes, threats, intimidation and violence, they should focus on marketing their manifestoes as they campaign for votes. Political contests should never be perceived as battlefield encounters or do-or-die affairs.
“Any candidate who is prepared to shed blood or to spend huge sums of money to buy votes or to comprise INEC shows that he or she is seeking political office for pure self-aggrandisement. It stands to reason that no one, who wishes to render selfless service to the public for the common good, will spend huge sums of money to induce those he intends to serve unselfishly,” the clerics added.
While reminding the faithful of their civic and moral responsibility of voting during elections, they urged the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) to live above board as an independent and impartial umpire and ensure that their conduct in the electoral process is beyond reproach.
The Bishops pointed out that to enthrone good governance in the country, citizens had a key role to play through political participation, even when they are not involved in partisan politics.
Speaking also, the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Archbishop Daniel Okoh, urged Christians to play active roles in partisan politics.
According to him, by doing so, they will carry righteousness into governance
He said, “CAN at all levels has continued to encourage her members, particularly those that are called into political leadership to, as a matter of necessity, join political parties of their choice and ensure that the suffering of the masses occasioned by misgovernance due to incompetence, selfishness and wickedness are reversed when they are given any opportunity to serve.
“However, such opportunities will come if the government of the day opens the space and gives appointments by considering our diversity as a nation.
“Though we encourage Christians to join partisan politics, CAN as an organization remains non-partisan.”
Earlier, during the opening mass, the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, who delivered the homily, maintained that the Bishops would remain unambiguous in condemning the abuse of power and plundering of the country’s rich human and natural resources.
“While the Church remains non-partisan, she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice,” he said.