“Leaders refuse to smell like their citizens”: Catholic Archbishop in Nigeria Fault Political Leaders for Standing Aloof

Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama of Nigeria’s Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja. Credit: Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja

Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama of Nigeria’s Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja has faulted political leaders in the West African nation for standing aloof from the citizens.

In his Sunday, April 21 homily at St. Monica, Sauka Ka Huta Pastoral Area of his Metropolitan See, Archbishop Kaigama said, “Pope Francis asks us priests to smell like the sheep. Our political leaders too must smell like their sheep (citizens)”

“Why we refuse to develop to greatness as a nation with all our huge economic and political potentials, is because leaders refuse to smell like their citizens, and there is the constant failure to apply resources honestly for the welfare of the people,” he emphasized. 

The Nigerian Catholic Archbishop said he found it unfortunate that resources meant for the common good are diverted to benefit few individuals.

Political leaders, he said, “even steal money they cannot finish in their lifetime! Imagine the amounts being mentioned to have been misappropriated by individual leaders! We have leaders, but most of them lack character.”


“They prefer to bear the smell of the very expensive perfumes bought in Dubai, Paris, New York, or London, than smell like their flock,” Archbishop Kaigama lamented on Good Shepherd Sunday, the annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations 2024 marked on the Fourth Sunday of Easter.

The Catholic Archbishop, who started his Episcopal Ministry in April 1995 as Bishop of Nigeria’s Jalingo Diocese decried political leaders’ selfishness, adding it has forced youths of Africa’s most populous nation to flee to other countries in search for greener pastures.

In their frequent visits abroad, Nigeria’s political leaders “see how there is regular electricity, potable water, trains, and buses running well, health insurance, pension schemes in place, the elderly well provided for and so, leaders do not need to steal while in service.” he said.

Unfortunately, Archbishop Kaigama laments, “our leaders would not just replicate these at home.”

Referring to Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross, the Nigerian Catholic Archbishop posed, “Will our leaders be ready to die for their flock? Rather, they prefer their flock to die for them.”

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“Whereas Jesus cares for the weak, heals the sick, bandages the wounded, brings back the stray, and seeks out the lost, our leaders, including spiritual leaders are busy diverting resources meant for the people,” he further laments.

He went on to challenge his compatriots to strive to emulate Jesus the Good Shepherd in their respective places in society. 

He said, “Each one of us is occupying one leadership position or the other. We are shepherds. We can find a good shepherd in every humble and God-fearing youth, in a devoted brother or sister, a good priest, a good friend, and every just and respectful police officer.”

“Wherever there is a caring doctor, a dedicated teacher, a good cook, cleaner, or gardener, there is a good shepherd,” the Local Ordinary of Abuja Archdiocese since November 2019 said.

Archbishop Kaigama appealed for prayers for the members of the Clergy likening them to medical doctors who, he said, treat patients and stand in need of treatment when they fall sick.


“We must remember that our priests who are shepherds need prayers, and we also need prayers for an increase in vocations,” he said in his April 21 homily.

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.