Catholic Bishops from Nigeria’s Lagos Ecclesiastical Province have decried the instability in the West African nation and said that the country is “sinking quickly”.
The Local Ordinaries of Lagos Archdiocese, Abeokuta, and Ijebu-Ode Dioceses say last year “was particularly trying for most Nigerians as a result of excruciating economic hardship, widespread insecurity, and an unprecedented rise in the level of poverty, all of which made access to the basic necessities of life a herculean task.”
“That the ship of our nation is sinking rapidly is no exaggeration. This is not the same country that was bequeathed to us by our founding fathers,” the Catholic Bishops say in their communiqué issued Wednesday, January 25.
In 2022, the Catholic Bishops say, Nigeria witnessed “an unprecedented rise in cases of insecurity across the country as a result of the activities of terrorists, bandits, and kidnappers who abduct and kill innocent Nigerians on a daily basis, even after collecting ransom for their victims.”
“Members of the clergy have not been spared these wicked and inhuman attacks. Many of our Priests have fallen victim of these attacks, and not a few have been killed in cold blood,” they say, adding that Christians in the country are facing one of their most challenging times since the attainment of independence in 1960.
The Catholic Bishops say Nigerians need to act and change their situation.
“We cannot remain unconcerned while things continue to get out of hand, or else we shall, sooner than later, no longer have a country to call our own,” they say in the statement signed by Archbishop Alfred Adewale Martins of Lagos Archdiocese and Bishop Francis Adesina of Ijebu-Ode Diocese.
They emphasize the need for change, saying, “No country can thrive in an atmosphere of chaos and anarchy. Certainly not Nigeria.”
For this reason, the Bishops call on the government of Nigeria “to rise to its statutory obligation to protect the life and property of Nigerians of all faiths and no faith, and give them a sense of belonging”.
They also appeal to Nigerians to join hands in rebuilding the nation.
“We can respond to this call for national rebirth by being the change that we desire, by making necessary adjustments to our daily activities to stand for the truth at all times. We should shun evil and all corrupt practices, and uphold whatever is just and edifying,” they say.
The Catholic Bishops in Lagos Ecclesiastical Province add, “It is time we began to say ‘No’ to all the vices that weigh us down as a people, and promote positive values in all spheres of our national life.”
They also urge Nigerians to remain optimistic, saying, “We strongly believe that our country Nigeria will be great again, despite the numerous challenges that we are currently facing.”
“We face the year 2023 with optimism and hope, urging Nigerians not to allow the challenges of the year just ended to weigh them down, but to remain focused and prayerful, as we work together for a better future for ourselves and generations to come.”