Your Silence Is Disturbing, Nigerians Are Anguished – Catholic Bishops Tell Buhari

  • Time to rejig governance now

BY EDMOND ODOK, ABUJA – The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) says President Muhammadu Buhari is fast losing goodwill among most Nigerians as they currently face serious hardship due to the biting economic conditions.

According to the clergies, the sufferings by Nigerians are such that urgent measures must be taken to rejig governance if the Federal Government hopes to address the deteriorating security situation and total citizens’ despair in the country.

“Your Excellency, there is too much suffering in the country: poverty, hunger, insecurity, violence, fear… the list is endless. Our beloved country appears to be under siege. Many negative forces seem to be keeping a stranglehold on the population; especially the weaker and defenceless ones.

‘There is a feeling of hopelessness across the country. Our youths are restive and many of them have taken to hard drugs, cultism and other forms of violent crime, while many have become victims of human trafficking. The Nation is nervous”, they warned.

Also for the clerics, the President’s apparent jettisoning of the Federal Character principle in appointing individuals into some top and sensitive government positions, particularly heads of security agencies, continues to remain a serious blight against him in the minds and views of some Nigerians.

The Catholic Bishops told the President during their visit to Aso Rock Villa on Thursday that the administration’s goodwill has continued to ebb in the last three years over what many Nigerians consider as government’s inaction and seeming inability to decisively tackle the mounting security and economic challenges of the country.

In their statement, signed by its President, Most Rev Dr Ignatius Kaigama and Secretary, Most Rev Dr William Avenya, the clergies noted the high level of insecurity in the country, saying; “Your Excellency, needless to say that, as President, you are the Father of our dear country ­Nigeria. It is therefore pertinent that as loyal citizens as well as informed members of the society we come to you from time to time to express not only our willing cooperation with the government in working for the progress of our country, but also to share with you the feelings of the multitude of Nigerians at this moment.”

Maintaining their information about what Nigerians are going through is first-hand given their closeness and work with people at the grassroots, the Bishops further said; “There is no doubt that when you came into office, you had an enormous amount of the goodwill of Nigerians, since many saw you as a person of integrity who would be able to bring sanity into a system that was nearly crippled by endemic corruption. Nearly three years later, however one has the feeling that this good will is being fast depleted by some glaring failures of government which we have the moral responsibility to bring to your notice, else we would be failing in our duty as spiritual fathers and leaders.”

The clerics blamed the seeming waning goodwill of Mr President among Nigerians on the current security challenges across the country, saying; “We are still more saddened by the recent massacre of unarmed citizens by these terrorists in some communities n Benue, Adamawa, Kaduna and Taraba States which has caused national shock, grief and outcry. The silence of the federal government in the wake of these horrifying attacks is, to say the least, shocking. There is a feeling of helplessness among the people and the danger that some people may begin to take laws into their hands.”

“We therefore earnestly urge the government to take very seriously its primary responsibility of protecting the lives and property of its citizens and ensure that such ­mindless killings do reoccur. Herdsmen may be under pressure to save their livestock and economy but this is never to be done at the expense of other people’s lives and means of livelihood. We would like to add our voice to those of other well-meaning Nigerians who insist that a better alternative to open grazing should be sought rather than introducing ‘cattle colonies’ in the country. While thinking of how best to help cattle owners establish ranches, government should equally have plans to help the other farmers whose produce is essential for our survival as a nation”, the Bishops suggested.

The Clerics, who pledged the Church’s readiness to always complement the efforts of government at improving the lives of Nigerians, assured the President that; “We shall continue to support the effort of the government in nation-building.”

“As the voice of the voiceless, we shall therefore continue to highlight the plight of our people and play our prophetic role of sensitizing the government, thus promoting national unity and cohesion. As we encourage you to spare no effort to build a new Nigeria, we reassure you of our support and prayers for your success”, they said.

The Catholic Bishops and their host, President Buhari in Aso Villa, Abuja

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