Ibadan Bishops in Nigeria Ask Government to “return Catholic Schools”
CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 22 August 2016
The Catholic Bishops of Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province in Nigeria have criticized the education section of their country and called on the State Governments within their territory “to unconditionally return Catholic Schools.”
“Most people agree that concerted intervention is still needed in the education sector in Nigeria,” the Bishops state in a communique issued at the end of their second plenary assembly for 2016, which was held last week (August 15-16).
They advocate for a “massive structural upgrade” and justify the role of the Church saying, “We also need thorough and pervasive moral rehabilitation for government educational administrators, teachers, pupils and students.”
The Bishops add, “The people of Nigeria, especially the South West, have always cherished holistic education and they deserve the right to receive it from all who have the competence and goodwill to offer it.”
The Ecclesiastical Province of Ibadan brings together the the Archdiocese of Ibadan and the Dioceses of Ondo, Ekiti, Ilorin, Oyo and Osogbo.
The meeting, which took place at at the Ondo Diocesan Pastoral Centre Igoba, Akure, also called on President Muhammadu Buhari government to “put in place systemic and institutional anti-corruption policies and strategies.”
The Bishops argued that strategizing the ongoing anti-corruption campaign “will ensure that the campaign outlasts the current administration.”
The Bishops met to “prayerfully deliberated on issues of importance to” their local Church and their nation of Nigeria under the theme: “Be Merciful like the Creator.”
Below is the full text of the Ibadan Bishops’ Communique
Communique issued at the end of the Second Plenary Meeting of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province for 2016 held at the Ondo Diocesan Pastoral Centre Igoba, Akure from 15th-16th August, 2016.
Theme: Be Merciful Like the Creator
We, Catholic Bishops of Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province, comprising of the Archdiocese of Ibadan and the Dioceses of Ondo, Ekiti, Ilorin, Oyo and Osogbo, have held our Second Plenary Meeting for the year 2016 from January 18-19. Having prayerfully deliberated on issues of importance to our Church and country, we hereby issue the following communique:
1. Welcome to the new Bishop of Osogbo
We thank God for the appointment of Most Reverend John Akin Oyejola who has been ordained and installed Bishop in St. Benedict Cathedral at Osogbo on 30th June, 2016. We congratulate Bishop Oyejola, the Clergy, the Religious and the lay people of Osogbo Diocese for this historic event. We welcome him to our Conference and pray that his pastoral leadership will bring Osogbo Diocese to greater spiritual heights.
2. The Plenary Meeting of the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria
We are happy to welcome the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) for its Second Plenary Meeting in our Province from September 8 to 16, 2016. We appreciate the generosity of Most Reverend Jude Arogundade, the Clergy, Religious and Faithful of Ondo Diocese for accepting to host the Conference on behalf of Ibadan Province in the new Domus Pacis Diocesan Pastoral Centre, Igoba, Akure. The CBCN, the unifying organ of the Bishops of Nigeria, seeks to address issues of concern to the faithful in Nigeria and the entire nation as a whole. We pray for God’s protection over all who will come for the Conference and ask for God’s blessings over the proceedings of the meeting.
3. The anti-Corruption Campaign in Nigeria
We join the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria CBCN to commend the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari for the effort made so far in exposing corrupt practices and people in Nigeria. We confirm the need for this important campaign. We however ask the Federal Government, while exposing corrupt people, to also put in place systemic and institutional anti-corruption policies and strategies in the country. This will ensure that the campaign outlasts the current administration. We urge the State Governments and other tiers of government to join in this fight against corruption in order to bring it down to the grassroots and complement the effort of the Federal Government. We identify with the hard times which Nigerians are going through. We implore the government and employers at all levels to alleviate the situation by paying salaries and pension as a matter of justice. We call Nigerians to show solidarity to one another wherever necessary.
4. Enduring challenges in the Education Sector
Most people agree that concerted intervention is still needed in the education sector in Nigeria. With regard to this, all hands must be on deck to salvage the situation. In order to save the degenerate situation of the sector, our government needs to be more sincere in collaborating with partners and organizations which have a proven track record in the sector. Not only do we need massive structural upgrade we also need thorough and pervasive moral rehabilitation for government educational administrators, teachers, pupils and students. This latter area is where the Church is best suited to help. For the umpteenth time therefore, we call on the State Governments within our Province to unconditionally return Catholic Schools so that we can fully participate in restoring the integrity of the education sector. The people of Nigeria, especially the South West, have always cherished holistic education and they deserve the right to receive it from all who have the competence and goodwill to offer it.
5. The Sanctity of Life
Our country is generally passing through and unfortunate phase whereby human life is constantly undermined and even wasted. In spite of some commendable effort by the security agencies we are still constantly assaulted with news of needless deaths in our country from ethnic conflicts, so-called herdsmen/farmers clashes, armed robbery, kidnaping, traffic accidents, lynching and even now, suicide. We call on all Nigerians to please respect the sanctity of human life. God is the author of life and he alone has the right to take it. We equally denounce other policies and practices which undermine the sanctity of life. We condemn the recent move by the Minister for Education, Professor Isaac Adewole in collaboration with some foreign agencies to commit the Federal Government of Nigeria to increasing the culture of contraception and subsequently, abortion among our people. This is being done all in the name of providing better maternal health care and empowering our women. We see such moves as deceptive of our people and harmful to moral values and we ask Nigerians to reject them. Our youth and women today need stable power supply, potable water, good roads with better health and educational facilities and infrastructure more than they need contraception. Our country must therefore reject this relentless offer of anti-life incentives under the guise of foreign aid in order not to destroy our beautiful culture.
6. The forthcoming elections in Edo and Ondo States
As the elections in Edo and Ondo State draw near, we urge all who will contest the elections to commit themselves to nonviolence and fair play. Our country by now has some years of democratic experience and so must be seen to be gaining positively from that experience. We urge the electoral umpires to be truly independent and fair. Since democracy is fundamentally about people, we call on all our people also to stand up for what is good and beneficial to the common good. Let everyone vote according to their conscience and shun all forms of corrupt practices for the sake of our future and our dear country.
In conclusion we continue to invite all citizens of Nigeria to a true conversion of heart (Deut. 2:16-17; Micah 3). Our repentance and steadfastness will surely bring God’s mercy down upon us. The people of Nineveh escaped calamity because all the people repented from their wickedness. If all Nigerians could repent like the people of Nineveh, God will have mercy on us and restore our land.
Most Rev. Gabriel Abegunrin Most Rev. Felix Ajakaye
Archbishop of Ibadan Bishop of Ekiti