The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria on Sunday raised concerns over the cost of governance in Nigeria describing it as outrageous.
The organisation also stated that as litigants approach the Supreme Court to challenge the judgment of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, Nigeria stands on the “precipice of uncertainty”.
The President of the CBCN, Archbishop Lucius Ugorji, raised the concerns during the opening ceremony of the 2023 Second Plenary Assembly of the CBCN in Abuja.
He also appealed to the Economic Community of West African States and the African Union to resist the temptation of military intervention as a solution to the leadership crisis in some African countries (Niger and Gabon) that have recently experienced military coups.
“We appeal to the leadership of the ECOWAS and AU to resist the temptation of military intervention as a solution to the leadership crisis in some African countries that have recently experienced military coups. Rather they should continue to explore the more peaceful option of diplomatic negotiations.
“Such dialogues may require due attention to the root causes of the rising incidence of military intervention in African countries in recent times. While we denounce coups, we must, however, stated loud and clear that political leadership exists to promote the common good. Consequently, political leaders, who are incapable of fostering the welfare of their citizens or who work against their people’s interest and wellbeing, have no moral justification to continue in power, whether elected or not,” Ugorji said.
According to him, the conduct of the 2023 general elections fell short of people’s legitimate expectations and moral and legal standards.
He said, “It is no less outrageous that at a time when millions of Nigerians are not sure of their next meal, N40 billion was allocated to the members of the NASS for luxury cars, including bullet-proof vehicles for the leadership of the NASS, and a further N70 billion for furniture and repairs of the lawmaker’s office.
“By substantially increasing the cost of running government through the recent appointment of so many ministers and thereby having the largest Federal Executive Council since the inception of the Fourth Republic in 1999, the President gives the impression that he is disdainful and insensitive to the economic pain of the masses.
“As the economy sharply declines and the masses continue to suffer and die, the rate of crime increases. In the face of this dismal situation, we cannot get tired of urging the government to rise up to its primary responsibility of securing the lives and property of its citizens. The government should urgently check the proliferation of small arms and light weapons occasioned by the booming business of gunrunning, which fuels insecurity in our country. It does not make sense to disarm the populace while allowing armed criminals to freely terrorize unarmed citizens.
“We also appeal to the government to drastically cut down the high cost of running its affairs and to seriously address the ever-deepening poverty and growing youth unemployment among our people. This is because “idle minds are the devil’s workshop.”
The CBCN also denounced the mindless and reckless spilling of blood and destruction of property in the country by hardened criminals and some trigger-happy government security operatives.
Ugorji said, “Insecurity remains a major problem in our country. It is worsening in many communities as bandits, unknown gunmen, Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram militia terrorise the populace. Kidnapping for ransom continues to increase. Some of our communities have been completely taken over by criminals. As a result, many people in these communities have fled their homes, abandoning their farms, shops, businesses and other sources of livelihood.
“The throng of internally displaced people in our country is ever growing, with many children out of school, making them easy prey to human traffickers. This state of affairs has been compounded by the incessant sit-at-home orders in the South-East issued by non-state actors. Many have paid the supreme price for failing to adhere to such illegal orders.”
The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Diocese, Ignatius Kaigama in his homily during the plenary mass, called on Nigerians to foster peaceful coexistence and resist the temptation to engage in violence.
He also called on the government to caution religious leaders who make inflammatory statements in videos on social media.
The archbishop commended the wise decision to avoid engaging in a war with neighboring Niger.
While citing the history of endless bloodshed in the region, he called on ECOWAS to recognise the plight of the people and refrain from contributing to the stories of guns, bombs, and human casualties.
“It was wise that we did not embark on a war in neighbouring Niger. War is worse than HIV, Ebola, COVID-19 and Malaria put together. ECOWAS should realize that the people of this region have seen endless bloodshed. We should be able to win peace through dialogue without firing a shot”, Kaigama said.
There’s hope for Nigeria – CAN
The President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Archbishop Daniel Okoh, represented by its General Secretary, Prof. Samson Fatokun, expressed hope for the future of the country.
He said, “This plenary session is coming at a time when Nigerians are still going through excruciating pains arising from harsh economic policies, recklessness of past governments, banditry and kidnapping.
“Prices of basic necessities have skyrocketed beyond the reach of ordinary people, and there appears not to be any respite in sight. The living conditions of average Nigerian families today are better imagined than experienced.
“In addition, the new wave of military coups among our close neighbours and calls from certain quarters for military action against the coupists raise fears that living conditions may worsen in our country if that option is eventually taken by the Authority of the ECOWAS Heads of Government.
“In all these, I believe that God Almighty will use faith leaders to fix this country if we do not give up. Nigeria will be great again.”