State, Church in Nigeria to Collaborate for “holistic formation of human person”: Priests

Some members of the Nigeria Catholic Diocesan Priests' Association (NCDPA). Credit: Courtesy Photo

In order to achieve a “holistic formation of the human person”, the State and the Church need to collaborate, Catholic Priests in Nigeria have said. 

In a collective statement following the 33rd Annual General Meeting of members of the Clergy under the auspices of the Nigeria Catholic Diocesan Priests' Association (NCDPA), the value of the collaboration between the State and the Church is underscored.

“The Church and State collaborate to bring about the holistic formation of the human person. This could be achieved through the implementation of the aspects of our curriculum that are meant to inculcate virtue in learners,” NCDPA members have been quoted as saying in a news report.

In the October 30 news report published on the website of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), Diocesan Priests in Nigeria say “every Nigerian has a right to good education and should have unrestricted access to basic formal education namely, Primary and Secondary education.”

The role of ensuring “unrestricted access” to formal education is the responsibility of the State, NCDPA members say, and emphasize, “The state must assist the citizen in his or her effort to get a quality education.”


They explain in reference to the role of government to facilitate the provision of formal education to citizens of the West African nation, “The state, consistent with the principle of subsidiarity, is to fulfil this role, not by overbearing interventions in the education sector, but by providing an enabling environment for synergy for the family, voluntary agencies like the church, and other religious communities, and the corporate world in the task of ensuring that the average Nigerian gains access to good and quality education.”

The Catholic Diocesan Priests in Nigeria who met from October 25-29 at St. Leo's Catholic Church, Ikeja in Lagos Archdiocese went on to challenge the government to ensure that the welfare of teachers is guaranteed including being “meaningfully remunerated.”

Educationists in schools must be well equipped with sufficiently qualified and meaningfully remunerated teachers for the task of forming the students,” NCDPA members have been quoted as saying in the October news reported authored by Joseph Ishu.

The Catholic Diocesan Priests further “advocate that students have their preferred choices of subjects.”

They also urge parents whom they describe as the “first and primary educators” to “live up to their responsibility in the formation of their children.

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During their meeting that was organized under the theme, “The Foundational and Holistic Reorientation of the Nigerian Person: An Urgent Imperative for the Church and State,” NCDPA members deliberated on how Nigerians are perceived. 

“Although there are many reasons for great admiration of the Nigerian character or person, there are, however, ample reasons to be apprehensive about the Nigerian person,” the Catholic Priests remarked.

They explained, “Being a Nigerian today comes with a high cost which includes distrust, suspicion and rejection in many quarters occasioned by the prevalence of high-powered corruption, religionized nepotism, uninhibited banditry, police brutality, loss of hope in the Nigerian dream, and so on. These are causes of grave worries.”

Meanwhile, the Catholic Diocesan Priests in Nigeria resolved to continue with their ministry of proclaiming the Word of God preceded by preparation.

“Without equivocation, we resolve that we will intensify our passion for transforming lives through the Gospel, by feeding God’s people with well-prepared homilies and catechetical instructions,” they say in their collective statement signed by NCDPA National President and Secretary, Fr. Sylvester Onmoke and Fr. Francis Ikhianosime, respectively.


They further said, “We resolve too to keep reorienting our people, especially the youths, through quality education, formally and informally in our ministry.”

NCDPA members further resolved to “maintain their unalloyed loyalty to the Church, uphold their true Priestly identity and untiringly promote the unique fraternity of the Catholic Priesthood.”

They went on to encourage religious leaders in the West African nation to “be innovative in their ministry with the appropriate use of the new media for evangelization” and advised, “In the use of social media by all, caution, self-control, and moral discipline should be taken into cognizance.”

“All state institutions should stand up to their responsibilities of providing adequate security, making appointments devoid of nepotism and sentiments, to promote authentic patriotism as enshrined in the National anthem and the pledge,” the Catholic Diocesan Priests in Nigeria have been quoted as saying in the October 30 report.

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.