Keep Faith amid “formidable challenges, social contradictions” in Nigeria: Archbishop

Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama administers the Sacrament of Confirmation at Holy Cross Kuchigoro Catholic Parish of Nigeria’s Abuja Archdiocese on 11 December 2022. Credit: Abuja Archdiocese

The Catholic Archbishop of Nigeria’s Abuja Archdiocese has called on citizens to remain firm in their faith despite what he described as “formidable challenges and social contradictions” in the West African nation.

In his Sunday, December 11 homily at Holy Cross Kuchigoro Catholic Parish of Nigeria’s Abuja Archdiocese, Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama made reference to the message of the Gospel Reading on John the Baptist and called upon Nigerians to not lose hope as the Church marked “Gaudete Sunday” (Rejoice), the theme of the third Sunday of Advent that expresses the joy of anticipating Christmas celebration.

“As Nigerians a people of hope and resilience, ‘gaudete’ Sunday urges us to have joy, in spite of and in the midst of formidable challenges and social contradictions,” Archbishop Kaigama said.

He added, “We must continue to remain strong in faith that the sunrise of salvation is getting nearer, and Jesus, the source of our true peace and joy, is coming.”

For this reason, the Nigerian Archbishop said, “We are invited to be full of holy optimism.”


Making reference to the Sunday Readings, he said, “Our experiences of evil and social injustice, violence, kidnapping, terrorism, banditry, political hooliganism, inequality, corruption, unemployment, economic crisis, sickness, death, and a myriad of problems besetting us in Nigeria seem to contradict the good news we hear today.”

Archbishop Kaigama explained, “We find a great example of one who knew the meaning of patient suffering in the life of John the Baptist. John the Baptist had been arrested because he condemned King Herod for marrying his brother’s wife while he was still living.”

He added, “John the Baptist found joy in this role, of bringing the people to Christ. Though in prison, he experienced the joy of the heart.”

“The experience of John the Baptist shows that we can still experience inner joy and peace even when we suffer bodily,” the Nigerian Archbishop who has been at the helm of Abuja Archdiocese since November 2019 said.

He went on to say that the level of poverty, unemployment, and hunger in the country is taking away joy from many people’s hearts. 

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“Nothing therefore should be done to add to their joylessness,” the Catholic Church leader said.

In his homily, Archbishop Kaigama made reference to the December 6 decision of Nigeria’s Central Bank to limit the amount of money individuals and entities can withdraw weekly as ₦100,000 and ₦500,000, respectively.

“While there may be some merit in this policy, namely, that it will contribute significantly in curbing and curtailing the payment of ransom to kidnappers, bandits and other criminal financial activities, regulating vote buying and money laundering, addressing growing inflationary trend and stabilizing the value of the Naira, there are genuine fears that the new policy will cripple medium and small businesses,” he said,

The Catholic Church leader who started his Episcopal Ministry in April 1995 as Bishop of Nigeria’s Jalingo Diocese said added, “Authorities must always put measures in place to cushion the harsh effects of policies no matter how laudable the policies may be.”

“Most of our rural communities may not have the type of phones needed for electronic transactions,” Archbishop Kaigama further explained.


“This policy will also adversely affect agents of points of sale (POS) who facilitate transactions for small scale businesses,” he said, adding that “these POS agents get their cash from banks and the cash withdrawal limit inevitably makes it difficult for them to serve their customers efficiently.”

He continued, “This inconvenience also affects artisans who accept cash for their services.” 

“We understand that some corrupt Nigerians who have huge cash stashed away have resorted to purchasing and warehousing large quantities of foodstuffs, building materials, etc., with the heartless intent of benefitting from future price increments,” Archbishop Kaigama said.

He noted that “there is already a shortage of food items in some markets due to high demands that have also led to price surge.”

“This Christmas should be one of joyful exuberance rather than one of lamentation due to harsh economic factors,” Archbishop Kaigama said in his December 11 homily.

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Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.