Catholic bishops have berated Nigerian leaders, saying they exploit and belittle their citizens instead of being servants and take care of them.
The bishops, under the aegis of Catholic Bishops of Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province, made their stance known in a communiqué at the end of their meeting in Akure, the Ondo State capital, which was held between July 19 and 20.
According to the communiqué, which was signed by the chairman of the province, Most Rev. Gabriel Abegunrin, and Secretary, Most Rev. John Oyejola, and made available to journalists on Wednesday, the senior catholic clerics said Nigeria has lost its soul in the sense that it is no longer a healthy entity.
The clerics stated that Nigeria is no longer safe to be called home, adding that Nigerians do not feel secure and enjoy the basic necessities of life and “bear the brunt of Nigeria’s debilitating situation because of economic depression and hunger, armed robbery, banditry, kidnapping for ransom, unemployment and injustice”.
The communiqué read: “A nation that has lost its soul is characterised by inept, uncaring leadership which functions by selective allocation of posts, privileges and resources and by selective application of justice.
“It is characterised by leaders who, rather than care for the citizens of the country, simply exploit and denigrate them. Such a nation takes food out of the mouths of its own citizens and watches them starve.
“Its constitutive principles of justice, equity and fair play have clearly fallen apart and the country is no longer at ease. No doubt, the very soul of Nigeria needs to be recovered.”
The bishops also reiterated the stance of one of their colleagues, Matthew Hassan Kukah, Bishop of Sokoto Catholic Diocese, who criticised President Muhammadu Buhari during his virtual address to the House Foreign Affairs Committee of the United States of America Congress for not promoting religious freedom in Nigeria.
The bishops said that Kukah “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 Federal Government, however, has characteristically gone up in arms against the person of Bishop Kukah and his purpose. It is commonly said that when there is a problem in a democracy, more democracy is needed to solve it. Sadly enough, our current Federal Government does not seem to subscribe to this”.
The bishops also criticised the National Assembly members for “prioritizing party and privileges over people’s rights”, especially during the consideration of the recently passed electoral act amendment bill and the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
The communique read: “Be it on the electoral reform, electronic transmission of election results, press freedom or the Petroleum Industrial Bill, the work of those who represent the people at the federal level in Nigeria does not seem to bring much satisfaction to the people for whose interest they were allegedly elected.
“The 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.
“Political and economic restructuring without moral revival is bound to fail. Nigeria needs spiritual and moral revival which will restore common positive values to their rightful place in our polity.
“These values include honesty, truthfulness, integrity, accountability and the fear of God. To this end, as leaders of the Church, we call for a revival of authentic catechesis at all levels in the Church,”