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We Must Work Hard to Resolve Our “life-threatening challenges”: Catholic Bishop in Nigeria

Bishop Godfrey Onah of Nigeria’s Nsukka Diocese. Credit: Nsukka Diocese

The Catholic Bishop of Nigeria’s Nsukka Diocese has underscored the need for all Nigerians to work toward resolving solve the nation’s “life-threatening challenges” by themselves.

Like the Biblical character Jonah who was enjoying sleep yet he had the solution to the violent storm that almost capsized the boat he was traveling in, Bishop Godfrey Igwebuike Onah queried if Nigerians are enjoying themselves.

“Jonah was the cause of the problem in the boat. He was deep asleep when others were seeking solutions. Could this be the case in Nigeria? That those who are responsible for the turmoil in the country are either sleeping or enjoying themselves?” Bishop Onah posed.

The Nigerian Bishop further posed, “Is it possible that we Church men and women are part of the problem in this country and we are sleeping? Are we asking ourselves how we have contributed to these life-threatening challenges, for instance, through our negligence?”

The Bishop who was giving his keynote address at the Annual National Conference of Directors of Religious Education (NADRE) on Wednesday, January 26 said it was expected that Nigerians would get lessons from the Nigerian Civil War (Nigeria-Biafra war) that threatened the country’s disintegration but “we don’t seem to be learning any lesson at all.”

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At the event whose theme was “Lord Do You Not Care that we Are Perishing, A Cry of the Nation the Face of Life-Threatening Challenges”, the Catholic Bishop highlighted bad governance and misuse of religion as the cause of most of the problems in the West African country, adding that the challenges have heightened in recent years.

Bad governance entails insecurity, corruption and the economy, the Nigerian Bishop said in his address at the January 26 event that was live streamed.

“The level of corruption that this country has reached now is such that not even the agencies that fight corruption, and their officials can present a clean hand that they are not corrupt,” he bemoaned.

He went on to highlight the increased levels of insecurity in the country saying, “In 2015 we were dealing with Boko Haram only but now we have an umbrella name that nobody is able to identify exactly who they are or we pretend we don't know who they are, bandits.”

To these bandits, the Local Ordinary of Nsukka Diocese said, “we have unknown gunmen who procure arms from specific places and persons, some get killed or arrested, therefore identified, but still, they remain unknown gunmen.”

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Alongside bad governance, Bishop Onah said, Nigerians are experiencing challenges that arise from the misuse of religion.

“The most degrading and degraded forms of religion are becoming very popular in Nigeria,” he said and explained that misleading faiths are cropping from Christianity, Islam and African Traditional Religion.

He said, “Christianity is a religion of service based on love, a religion based in the cross with hope; but we have manipulated (it with) prosperity seeking and money-making evangelism that are coming up.”

“Islam is supposed to be a religion of surrender to God that makes arms giving and charity obligatory but in place of this, we have a form of Islam that is fast spreading in this country, that is power drunk and violent jihadist,” the Nigerian Bishop further lamented, adding, “Many Muslim leaders are using Islam as an anchor for power. Not because they are believers.”

Further, Bishop Onah noted the African Traditional Religion, which is based on the laws of nature, harmony, balance and restitution to punish wrongdoers “has been replaced by fetish practices, produced by Nollywood to show that traditional religion only exists to destroy lives. Proponents of these religions are frustrated.”

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In the face of these problems, the Nigerian Catholic Bishop said that God has not abandoned Nigerians but He has equipped them spiritually and materially to be able to solve their challenges.  

“If you have noticed a problem around you, it is probably because God wants to use you for a solution. This is the cry of a loving God. to save His children,” the Bishop of Nsukka said January 26.