Clerics Lament Nation’s Growing Insecurity

The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria has lamented the “escalating insecurity situation in the country,” calling on governments at all levels to “stand up to their primary responsibility of safeguarding the lives and property of Nigerians.”

Speaking at its 2023 Annual Conference in Abuja, the CBCN noted that insecurity had remained a persisting problem as insurgents, herdsmen militia, bandits, and the so-called unknown gunmen had continued to unleash terror in different parts of the country, according to a statement on Sunday.

“Kidnapping for ransom has continued. Some of our communities have been completely taken over by criminals. The result is that many have fled their homes, and abandoned their farms, shops, businesses, and other sources of livelihood. The throng of internally displaced persons in our country is ever-growing, with many children out of school, making them easy prey to human traffickers,” CBCN lamented.

Contrary to claims by the Nigerian military recently that it has ended the sit-at-home saga in the South-East of Nigeria, the body of Bishops said insecurity in Nigeria had been compounded by the incessant sit-at-home orders in the South-East issued by non-state actors.

“Many have lost their lives for failing to adhere to such illegal directives,” it said.

The clerics condemned the killing of a young seminarian, Stephen Danladi of Kafanchan Diocese and all the other victims of such violence in all parts of the country as it condoled with all the bereaved and prayed for the eternal repose of the dead, the statement said.

“The Bishops called on governments at all levels to stand up to their primary responsibility of safeguarding the lives and property of Nigerians. ‘The blood of the innocent continues to cry out to God for vengeance like Abel’s (Cf Genesis 4:10),’” it added.

Addressing the state of the economy of the nation, the body of bishops said: “Our failing and worsening economy has continued to make living difficult and hard for our people. Nigerians have been subjected to a life of poverty, hunger, hardship, and suffering.

“The condition has been aggravated by the removal of fuel subsidy which has led to high costs of food items, transportation and meeting up with other essential needs. As if these are not enough, the hike in school fees has made it difficult for the children of the poor to continue their education.

“Based on past experience, we consider the resort to palliative measures as a treatment of the symptom rather than the cure for the disease. We, therefore, urge the government to address the fundamental defective structures that deepened inequality and poverty.

“We call on governments to provide the enabling environment for the creation of more jobs for our teeming unemployed youths. We equally encourage the government to put in place measures that will curb the persistence of theft of oil and other minerals. At the same time, we enjoin the government to radically review programmes aimed at alleviating the suffering of the Youths. We equally advise the youth not to resort to violence and crime as a substitute for hard work.”

The clerics also demanded that governments at all levels should cut the increasing cost of governance.

“We, therefore, demand that the governments cut the increasing cost of running government in our country and that the money saved be used to provide essential amenities and services,” they said.

Speaking on the contribution of religion to nation-building, the CBCN noted: “From the beginning of time, religion has contributed immensely to the building and sustaining of nations and empires. It has done this through socialisation processes, both formal and informal, societal integration and social control.

“Religion, as it were, brings to focus the inalienable place of God in human history. In Nigeria, we have three main religions: Christianity, Islam and African Traditional Religion. These religions have enjoyed mutual co-existence over time and agree on the sacredness of human life, moral uprightness, justice for all, especially for the poor and the vulnerable, respect for elders and those in authority, and many other common values.”

They, however, acknowledged that religion had had its share of negative impact on some nations, especially in multi-ethnic and diverse cultures, calling on Christians in Nigeria to change the narratives.

“We invite all Christians, and indeed all people of goodwill, to be salt of the earth (Cf. Matthew 5:13-16), in the quest for rebuilding our nation through political participation, contribution to sustainable development, promotion of the common good, social justice, the rule of law, and shunning primordial interests that inhibit peace and development of the society.

“One who has moral integrity does the right thing always, takes responsibility for his or her actions, treats others with respect, and is honest. These qualities are necessary for rebuilding a strong and cohesive society. Unfortunately, our country is in a serious deficit of moral rectitude which is demonstrated in increasing corruption, cyber-crime and other forms of criminality, blatant lies, and dishonesty.

“As Bishops, we are concerned that moral education is not given adequate attention in the families, schools, formation programmes and public institutions,” the statement added.