“The much expected change has been slowed down”: Catholic Bishops of Ibadan Province in Nigeria Decry
CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 09 February 2017
Catholic Bishops under the Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province in Nigeria have lamented the many challenges their country is experiencing under the nearly two-year old political leadership and called “on the government at all levels in Nigeria to continue to optimize strategies to bring about positive change in the nation.”
“There is a growing sense of desperation in the general populace that the much expected change has been slowed down,” the Bishops have stated in their communique released at the conclusion of their first plenary meeting for the year 2017.
The two-day meeting, which started on Monday, February 6 was held at the Jubilee Conference Centre at Oke-Ado in Ibadan.
Some of the challenges the Bishops highlighted include the “proliferation of false information, violent clashes, calls for the break-up of Nigeria and pervasive criminality.”
“It is necessary and urgent to restore the confidence of all Nigerians in the Nigerian nation,” the Church leaders stated in their communique titled “Restoring confidence in Nigeria.”
The Bishops have also condemned “the needless loss of life in the Southern Kaduna” and argued that this crisis seems to confirm the “impression that government is lackadaisical in responding to the needs of some sections of the nation.”
“This impression should not be allowed to take firm root,” the Church leaders continued, adding, “Government exists for all and must never be seen to favour any group or ignore the needs of another.”
Below is the full text of the Bishops’ communique
RESTORING CONFIDENCE IN NIGERIA
A COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF THE FIRST MEETING OF THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF IBADAN PROVINCE FOR 2017 HELD AT THE JUBILEE CONFERENCE CENTRE, OKE-ADO, IBADAN. Feb 6-7, 2017
We, the Catholic Bishops of Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province, after our first meeting for the year from Feb. 6-7, 2017, having prayed and deliberated over pertinent issues of Church and national interest, hereby issue the following communique:
1. THE CBCN PLENARY IN IBADAN PROVINCE
We thank God and take much pride in the successful hosting last September, of the Second Plenary Meeting of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) in Akure, Ondo Diocese, in September 2016. We express our special gratitude to the Bishop of Ondo Diocese Most Reverend Jude Arogundade, the Clergy, Religious and Faithful of the Diocese. We thank also the Governor of Ondo State, His Excellency, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, the government and the people of Ondo State for the enthusiastic welcome accorded the Conference. We pray that God may abundantly bless them and reward them adequately for their exceptional hospitality.
2. THE MARIAN YEAR
We wish to mobilize the Clergy, Religious and Lay Faithful of Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province to fully and fruitfully participate in the celebration of the next Marian Year holding from March to October, 2017. The main objective of the Marian Year is to commemorate the centenary of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima in Portugal in 1917. We urge that the opportunity be used to reiterate the messages of Fatima relating to the universal call to repentance and evangelization. It is necessary as well to reconfirm through catechesis, seminars, workshops, Bible study and similar activities, the presence and role of Mary as Mother of Jesus Christ, Mother of the Church and of all Christians. We urge all our people to fervently pray for thr success of the celebration
3. ORDER IN WORSHIP AND LITURGY
We restate our concern for divergent practices creeping into Catholic Worship and Liturgy in the Church, especially within our Province. Such practices are often introduced without consultation with or approval of competent Ecclesiastical Authority. We hereby remind Bishops to pay close attention and correct such anomalies. While our Liturgical Committee prepares measures to help regulate some of these issues we urge all our Priests, Religious, and other agents of evangelization to follow the rubrics and approved practices of the Church during worship and liturgical gatherings. This, by no means stifles creativity or inspiration but rather presents us all as loyal ministers of the faith and of the Universal Church. We also urge that in all celebrations in our Province, emphasis be placed on the use of the Yoruba language.
4. THE STATE OF THE NATION
It is difficult to deny that Nigeria is undergoing very serious challenges and problems at the moment. While many of our problems are not peculiar to Nigeria alone, it is true to say that we as government and people of Nigeria do not seem to know how to confront our challenges. After nearly two years of the current administration, Nigerians should no longer hear past administrations blamed for the woes of the present. Our present governments, especially at Federal and State levels, have had enough time to demonstrate the capability to bring about the changes promised to Nigerians. It is no longer news that Nigerians are truly suffering. Some of this can be understandable under a recession, however, there ought to be clear signs in national life by now that the government and people of our country are truly working to bring things under control. Regrettably there is not much evidence of this currently. Instead, there is a growing sense of desperation in the general populace that the much expected change has been slowed down. This unfortunate situation provokes general bad will manifested in the current proliferation of false information, violent clashes, calls for the break-up of Nigeria and pervasive criminality. It is necessary and urgent to restore the confidence of all Nigerians in the Nigerian nation.
We condemn the needless loss of life in the Southern Kaduna crisis which has confirmed an impression that government is lackadaisical in responding to the needs of some sections of the nation. This impression should not be allowed to take firm root. Government exists for all and must never be seen to favour any group or ignore the needs of another. We admonish the government to be more proactive in protecting the life and property of Nigerians. We appeal to all men and women of goodwill to succor the needy and all those affected by the crisis. We acknowledge the recent effort of the Federal government in providing a number of jobs and giving some welfare packages to some poor citizens of Nigeria. We urge the government to do more in this regard and ask State Governments to replicate this programme in the States.
We call on the government at all levels in Nigeria to continue to optimize strategies to bring about positive change in the nation. As things stand, much of the government’s strategies do not seem to be working well. The campaign against corruption seems to be losing steam as convictions are rare and the initial recovery of stolen funds has slowed down. The reform of the power sector is at a standstill with only some parts of Nigeria experiencing better or constant supply of electricity and road infrastructure is not improving much. Boko Haram insurgency, which seemed to be the nation’s main security concern, has been largely reduced its occasional attacks and the alleged Fulani herdsmen clashes with local communities seem to cancel out whatever gains can be celebrated in security. The freefall of the naira is another force tightening the noose around the neck of ordinary Nigerians, reducing their purchasing power and complicating their woes even further. So far, the effort of government to shore up this major issue can only be described as token and much more needs to be done in these different sectors.
We appreciate the sacrifice of our security agencies which have helped to keep Nigeria together so far. We pray for all who have died in various conflicts in Nigeria and for those who have paid the highest price in our defense of our country and condole with their families. In spite of the recent unfortunate bombing of the IDP camp where dozens of innocent people were killed, our soldiers and security agencies deserve our support and appreciation. It is our prayer that Nigeria will soon experience the peace for which we have always desired and prayed.
We call on the Nigerian government to be more forthcoming with information concerning government, its officials and policies in Nigeria. Public perception is essential in any democracy and it is important for the public to be adequately and correctly informed about important public personalities and issues. The fiasco that is currently going on about the state of health of President Muhammadu Buhari need not occur if information surrounding the matter had been better managed. There is certainly need to restore the confidence of the Nigerian public in the information outfit of the government.
We remain grateful to our Almighty and merciful God who has kept us and our country Nigeria in His love and care regardless of our woes and pains in different facets of life. Our faith in God as the source of all good things remains unshakeable and we believe firmly that our salvation can only come from obeying His commandments and doing His will in the Church and our nation. Let us all do more than criticize the state of things but work hard together to create a better society We invite all the faithful to fervently pray the rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary for peace and for better times in our families, in our nation and the world at large.
Most Rev. Gabriel Abegunrin Most Rev. John Oyejola