June 18, 2024
News Nigeria


By Padre Mike Nsikak Umoh

1. At the end of the 2nd plenary meeting in Abuja, of the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria for the year 2023, as expected, the bishops produced a communique, titled: RELIGION, CIVIC RESPONSIBILITY AND THE BUILDING OF A BETTER NIGERIA

2. Here is the gist of the document:

3. First, the 9-paragraphed communique has the following sub-headings: preamble; religion as an instrument for nation building; election and the role of the clergy in politics; some challenges facing the nation; rebuilding a new Nigeria in the spirit of synodality, the communique also touched on the need for the moral regeneration of Nigerians; need for a new and better democratic politics; news from the Church and the conclusion.

4. Having noted the venue and date of the plenary in the introductory paragraph, Chida Hotel and 7 to 15, 2023, respectively, the bishops acknowledged the important role religion plays in building and sustaining nations and empires. Conscious that religion is capable of both positive and negative impacts, the bishops called for the need to return religion to its true value in order to rebuild the nation, Nigeria.

5. On the 2023 general election, while the prelates congratulated the electorate, they faulted the actions of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and noted that though the elections have since been held, unfortunately, it is yet to be concluded since the process and results are still being challenged in the tribunals and courts. They called on the judges to be fair, just and credible in their judgements so as to restore the confidence in the electoral process. In the same vein, they strongly advocated for a reform whereby “all election petitions would be determined before the swearing-in and inauguration of new administrations.”

6. On the many challenges facing the country, the Chief Shepherds again harped on the unabating deplorable security situation in the nation with its adverse consequences on the life of the citizens. They condoled with all the bereaved as well as prayed for the deceased victims, and called on governments at all levels to take this primary duty seriously. Additionally, they reminded those in government that good governance and common good are the antidotes to the frustration that lead to coup d’etat, conflicts and violence.

7. Besides, the document also drew the attention of government, for the umpteenth time, to the failing and worsening economy which has caused great pain and hunger in the land. They took a swipe on the palliative initiatives of government as mostly insincere and ineffective. Thus, they challenged government to address the defective structures in the country that deepen inequality and poverty, and instead, provide enabling conducive environment for the youths and all Nigerians to thrive, and to curb persistent stealing of oil and mineral resources.

8. The bishops condemned the scandalous comfort and remuneration of elected leaders, and admonished governments to cut the increasing cost of governance.

9. On efforts towards rebuilding the nation, the bishops proposed the synodality model which is characterized by the skills of listening and respect for the dignity and rights of the human person, and has the power to foster unity.

10. Furthermore, the bishops commented on the increasing moral decadence in the nation. Thus, they called for restoration of moral education in families, schools, formation and public institutions through robust catechetical formation.

11. For a new and better democratic society, the prelates recommended a radical conversion among all politicians, while encouraging lay Catholics with talents in politics, not to shy away. However, they strongly condemned the Catholic clergy contending for political offices in the country, to avoid being sanctioned.

12. The document went further to highlight some key events that have taken place in the Church including the youth attendance at the World Youth Day in Lisbon, Portugal; the creation of new dioceses of Aguleri and Wukari dioceses and installation of new bishops; golden jubilee of Bishop Adelakun’s episcopacy; reassignment of the Apostolic Nuncio; and the death of Archbishop Joseph Ukpo.

13. While entrusting the country to the intercession of our Blessed Mother, as usual, the bishops concluded the document with a message of hope. They expressed the confidence that in spite of the present gloomy situation, a new Nigeria is still possible.


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