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Insecurity, Hardship: Catholic Bishops proffer lasting solutions

By Neta Nwosu


The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) has called on the Federal Government to take proactive steps to curtail the lingering security challenges, hunger and economic hardship currently ravaging the country.

The CBCN urged the government to promote social cohesion and good governance, create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive as well as tackle food insecurity to ensure the safety of farmers. In a Communique issued after its first 2024 plenary held recently at the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria Resource Centre, Durumi, Abuja, the prelates lamented the chronic insecurity and deteriorating livelihoods in Nigeria.

The Communique signed by CBCN’s President and Secretary, Most Rev. Lucius Ugorji, Archbishop of Owerri Archdiocese and Most Rev. Donatius Ogun OSA, Bishop of Uromi Diocese read, “We express strong solidarity with our people who are suffering in the seriously deteriorating situation of the nation, especially in the areas of security and economy. “Insecurity has attained yet a higher scale than we had ever seen before in the land. Insurgents, armed herdsmen, bandits, and the so-called unknown gunmen have continued to unleash terror in different parts of the country. “Kidnapping for ransom has reached homes and areas where in the past it was thought impossible.

The result is that many have fled their homes, abandoned their farms, shops, businesses and other sources of livelihood. The number of internally-displaced persons in our country is ever growing. “We are making yet another passionate appeal to Government to act immediately to stem the tide. The legitimacy of government depends on its capacity to protect life and property. “Our worsening economy has continued to make living hard and difficult for our people who have been subjected to a life of grinding poverty, continuing hunger and untold hardship. “The situation is worsened by the high unemployment rate in the country, which has further impoverished and degraded our citizens.”

The prelates, while noting the efforts of the Federal Government in addressing some of the key economic problems, remarked that some of the government’s recent policies “seem not to have been properly thought through and as such the outcomes seem to fall short of expectations”. They cited cases, “For instance, while the fuel subsidy removal was meant to help improve government’s revenue which has been the case across the three levels of government, the impact on Nigerians has been debilitating. “Similarly, we note that the decision to “float the Naira” has had unintended negative and harsh consequences.

In the light of this, we urge government to urgently address the increasing disaffection and restiveness spreading across the population, in order to avoid a descent into chaos and anarchy.” The Catholic Bishops after carefully reviewing the present social, economic, security and political situations in Nigeria proffered some solutions. The Communique read in parts, “In view of government’s effort to end insecurity, we recommend that the ongoing discussion about the creation of State Police be carefully studied. Furthermore, government ought to assess the impact of all other already existing security outfits in this regard.

 “Given the diminishing purchasing power of the Nigerian currency, and the capacity of agriculture to be the bedrock of our survival, we urge government to create the necessary and conducive environment that would enable our people to return to their farms. “We commend government’s decision to transfer some items, such as electricity and railways, from the exclusive list to the concurrent list. We urge that this be extended to such other areas of the economy like mining.

These measures, along with transparency and accountability in governance, are some of the factors that promote social cohesion.” They enjoined government at all levels to establish small scale industries in the rural areas to increase productivity and reduce unemployment, stressing that it would be helpful if such industries are agro based.” Continuing, the Bishops dissuaded government from intimidating the media, stressing that it plays a critical role in nation building. “They have the capacity to inform, enlighten and guide the government and citizens on important matters of governance, citizenship and patriotism. They also act as watchdogs for good governance. “Rather than seek to repress or intimidate the media, we call on government and other relevant authorities to help the media perform their role responsibly and optimally.

To this end, we recommend that the fundamental rights of media workers be respected. We equally advocate for the responsible use of the mainstream and social media by all,” CBCN stated. In the light of the Synod on Synodality, they called on the Federal government to encourage contributions of all segments and levels of the Nigerian community in governance. The Communique read in parts, “We enjoin government to open up to the contribution of all segments and levels of the Nigerian community, so that together we can face the emergency situation in which we now find ourselves. “It is no longer acceptable for our leaders to surround themselves only with their political supporters and cronies. The general elections and determination of petitions are now over.

It is time to run government for the common good. “The nation needs to leave all polarisations behind and come together in unity and cohesion. We have both the natural and human resources to get this done. But those now in political power owe the nation the duty to create the enabling environment for all capable Nigerians to participate in the task of national rebirth. Politicians who are not in power and all other Nigerians now should be ready to offer their positive contribution, beyond all political party affiliation and sensitivity.” The Catholic Bishops urged Nigerians to work for the betterment of the country and not lose hope despite the challenges bedevilling the country. “In spite of the challenges facing our nation, we cannot give up hope.

All is not lost. We have all it takes to rescue our nation. Our confidence is based on our trust in God and in our capability as a nation, with the grace of God in whom almost all Nigerians believe. Our prayers for Nigeria are not futile and should continue. Nevertheless, our trust in God must go hand in hand with our human efforts.” The prelates charged religious leaders to preach godliness and shun corruption in all forms, as they also enjoined the entire Nigerian elite to repent of their corrupt practices.

The CBCN said, “Religious leaders should promote sincere and genuine godliness and righteousness in their religious communities, upholding among their followership honesty and hard work and condemning corruption in all its forms, in both private and public life. “We equally call on the entire Nigerian elite, including professionals, business people, and financial operators, many of whom have for long benefited from the corrupt system to repent and change their attitude of greed and selfishness.

“Furthermore, civil servants and public office holders, who have not been running our public institutions with honesty and rectitude, need to change their ways. As the government demands additional sacrifice from the citizens, one expects to see a drastic cut in the cost of running government at all levels. “We urge all to have a sincere change of heart. Nonetheless, we call on government to prosecute crime and criminality wherever they are found. We commend those who have been trying to behave well against all odds and encourage them not to give up.”


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