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CBCN to Buhari: Do not allow ethnic, religious hegemony in Nigeria

THE Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) has urged government at all levels to shun ethnic or religious hegemony in Nigeria while ensuring religious and tribal equity, with no one religious favoured over another.

The CBCN stated this in a communique issued at the end of its plenary meeting held at the Divine Mercy Pastoral Centre, Agbamaya, Obada-Oko, Abeokuta, Ogun State.

The communiqué captioned, ‘Moving beyond precarious living in Nigeria’ was signed by the President and secretary of the association,  Augustine AKubeze and Camillus Umoh respectively.

“We urge especially the Federal Government, to ensure that it does not allow ethnic or religious hegemony to prevail in our multi-religious and secular state. No one religion should be favoured over another,” the CBCN said.

According to the document, the 10-day conference which held from September 11 to 20, was aimed at reflecting on issues affecting the Church and the Nigerian State.

Speaking on the need for national integration, the Catholic clergymen opined that much effort is required from both government and citizens to be co-opted into having a sense of belonging, irrespective of the nation’s heterogeneity in tribe, religion or political affiliation.

They however expressed displeasure on the state of the nation describing it as divided and in disarray following the outcomes of the 2019 election.

While calling for fairness, justice, and neutrality in relation to all religions and ethnic groups in the country, the CBCN members lamented that the absence of justice, would lead to lack of harmony, hysteria and poor development in the country.

“We, therefore, enjoin all Nigerians to see themselves as one united people and work for justice in order to ensure a peaceful and united nation,” the CBCN said.

In the Communique, the clergymen also expressed worry over the non-effect of religious practices on citizens especially on their moral, socio-economic and political lives.

“While praying for solutions to our problems, we must endeavour to be just in our dealings with others, work hard in fulfilling our duties, and collaborate with others in the social transformation of our country,” the paper said.

Stating its observation on Nigeria’s “derailing democracy”, the union said, “The qualities of accountability, transparency, independence of the judiciary, respect for fundamental rights, observance of the rule of law, and fair and credible electoral process, to mention only these, are still lacking”.

“We, therefore, urge all politicians, businessmen, religious leaders, public servants and indeed all citizens to live out the values of their faith for the common good,” the statement said.

The religious body, bemoaned the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other non-nationals in South Africa, leading to the lynching of Nigerians, lost of properties, inciting repatriation to the country.

They condemned “the unfortunate reprisals on perceived South African investments in some part of Nigeria, as two wrongs do not make a right!”.

The CBCN however, commended the South African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) for “being prophetic in their condemnation of the attacks and urging the government to take decisive steps to end them”.

“At the same time, we note that South Africa and Nigeria have come a long way in fraternal and diplomatic relations. We advise Nigerians living at home and abroad to be good and law-abiding,” the Catholic Union said.

On the state of insecurity ostensibly ravaging the country, the CBCN stated that there are still “instances of killings as a result of banditry, kidnapping, assassination, armed robbery, reckless use of force by security agencies and lynching” inciting an upsurge in the cases of suicide, even among our youths.

While they noted the efforts adopted by the government to halt insecurity in the country, the religious body underscored the need for more strategic efforts, while praying for the peaceful repose of the victims.

“We urge governments at all levels to provide the enabling environment that would make it possible for both the government and the private sector to create job opportunities for our teeming youth population,” the CBCN said.

They said, “This would certainly minimize the menace of insecurity in our land”.

“We continue to urge the government and security agencies to do all they can to secure the immediate release of Leah Sharibu, the remaining Chibok girls and all the other persons still in captivity,” they said.

The Catholic union stating the roles of the family in the society, said they are the foundation for the integration of virtues and values in their offspring, calling on parents take the lead in upholding the ideals of decency, discipline, honesty, and marital fidelity.

The CBCN further emphasized the need for peace and justice in the country, which would translate to sustainable development.

“We enjoin all Christians and people of goodwill to preach daily this message of justice and peace, and to live it out coherently”, because “Where there is no fair sharing of wealth and opportunities, there is bound to be crisis.”

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