Despite Nigeria’s “superabundance of human, natural resources”, Many Live “below poverty line”: Catholic Bishop

Bishop Anselm Pendo Lawani of the country’s Catholic Diocese of Ilorin during the press conference to mark Nigeria’s Democracy Day on 11 June 2024. Credit: Nigeria Catholic Network

The West African nation of Nigeria is endowed with multiple resources, yet many citizens languish in poverty, Bishop Anselm Pendo Lawani of the country’s Catholic Diocese of Ilorin has lamented.

Speaking during a press conference organized to mark Nigeria’s Democracy Day on Tuesday, June 11, Bishop Lawani decried the continued upward price adjustment on basic commodities in the country, saying the government’s palliative measures to mitigate the impact of oil subsidy removal have not been helpful to ordinary Nigerians. 

Many Nigerians are “living below the poverty line amid the superabundance of human and natural resources the nation is blessed with,” he said, and added, “Prices of services and goods in the markets, including agricultural commodities, keep soaring in geometric progression.”

Many in Nigeria “are living in squalor and slums, unable to have three square meals a day,” the Nigerian Catholic Bishop further lamented in his address on the theme, “The Church and State Collaboration for Harmonious Living and for the Common Good.” 

“The incessant increase in the pump price of petrol, occasioned by the subsidy removal from petroleum products last year, has continued to impact other sectors adversely,” he added.


Bishop Lawani said he finds it “unfortunate that the current palliative measures have not significantly mitigated the effects of the subsidy removal policy.”

“The situation is indeed gruesome and painful even as governments at different levels continue to grapple with some recovery initiatives for the nation’s economy,” the 53-year-old Catholic Bishop, who was consecrated on February 2 said.

He went on to underscore the importance of resource management and good governance for the well-being of citizens in Africa’s most populous nation. 

He said, “When a nation’s resources are well managed and the people are skilfully governed, the citizens benefit in terms of their social well-being.”

“We hope that all of us, as good citizens, will collaborate with the government to realize the dream of a better Nigeria as we celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of uninterrupted democratic governance,” Bishop Lawani said during the June 11 conference.

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He added, “The government has the role of protecting life and property. As good citizens, we are to pay our taxes and be law-abiding.”

“While Nigeria has made some progress, significant challenges remain in areas such as security, healthcare, food provision, and education,” the Catholic Church leader further said. 

He urged politicians to “rise to the occasion and deliver on the collective vision of the citizens.”

The Local Ordinary of Ilorin also expressed the Church’s readiness to collaborate with the State to foster better understanding, unity, and cooperation among people of diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds.

“Everything is geared towards harmonious living and rapid socioeconomic development for the common good of all,” he said.


Reflecting on measures to address security challenges in Nigeria, Bishop Lawani said more needs to be done regarding intelligence gathering and surveillance.

“Citizens too must support security operatives by volunteering valuable information that is useful for preventive, rescuing, and restorative purposes,” the Nigeria Catholic Bishop added.

He advocated for “a workable approach that can better enhance security”, which he said “requires collaboration among government agencies, traditional and community leaders as well as other stakeholders including the Church.”

“Collaborative efforts on this will facilitate and promote sharing of information and experience towards suppressing potential security threats,” Bishop Lawani further said.

He also appealed to the government to “continually set up structures for the promotion of peaceful coexistence among all peoples.”

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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.