, 15 July, 2020 / 9:10 PM
Bishops in Nigeria’s Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province have expressed their concerns about the failure to deal with the challenges that have bedeviled their country over years including those related to insecurity, describing the challenges as “hydra-headed monsters, reappearing as often as they seem subdued.”
In their collective statement issued Tuesday, July 14 at the end of their two-day meeting, the Bishops call on the government and citizens to work together to reduce the “despair and tension that lead many of our people into criminality.”
“Nigeria is still plagued by a series of security challenges,” the Bishops of the six Church jurisdictions say and highlight “corruption, terrorism, kidnapping, banditry, terrorism, ethnic clashes, extra-judicial killings and more recently, rape.”
“Even as the government and the security agencies at different levels claim to grapple with these challenges, the problems all seem to be hydra-headed monsters, reappearing as often as they seem subdued,” the Bishops say.
The members of the Ecclesiastical Province that comprises the Archdiocese of Ibadan and the Dioceses of Ilorin, Ondo, Ekiti, Oyo and Osogbo add, “There is anxiety in the land. There is definitely anger, disillusionment and despondency in the land.”
The major cause of the insecurity is “the seeming unconquerable report of corruption in practically every facet of life especially at the highest levels of governance,” the Local Ordinaries say.
Transparency International ranked Nigeria as the 146th most corrupt country out of the 198 nations sampled globally.
“Nigeria cannot continue to operate a system that seems to be faulty and leaky and clearly needs to restructure its security apparatus and methods,” the Bishops caution in their collective statement co-signed by Archbishop Gabriel Abegunrin of Ibadan and Bishop John Oyejola of Osogbo.
They appeal to the Federal and State governments, institutions and individuals who mean well for Nigeria “to rally and work together to reduce the despair and tension that lead many of our people into criminality.”
“Nigeria ought to return to the ideal of federal balance in a multi-ethnic country and deal even-handedly with all,” the Bishops say.
They further call on “all who believe in God, especially Christians, to strive to do the right thing at all times and to be the light of the world by doing everything possible to fight corruption within their own spheres of influence, curbing the unnecessary loss of lives which has become a daily occurrence in Nigeria.”
They go on to denounce the upsurge of rape in Africa’s most populous country saying, “Rape is a reprehensible and horrific sign of moral decadence and decency deficiency in our society.”
“Since all are born of women, rape does not only hurt women, it is also the greatest form of self-degradation by the very perpetrators,” the Bishops say, adding that perpetrators of the crime deserve “the strictest corrective punishment and is a sin against God, the Creator of all.”
As a way forward, they recommended “good parenting” to put an end to rape and other crimes against women.
“With good parenting, the number of twisted individuals who find pleasure in raping, hurting and degrading women and girls will be reduced among us,” the six Prelates in Nigeria’s Ibadan Province say and continued, “Fathers must lay a good example for their children by how they themselves treat their mothers and wives because children may forget what we say but they never forget what they see us do.”
They advocate for targeted teaching that cultivates the value of respect and responsible behavior.
“We must all do more in teaching youths about honoring and respecting other persons, especially women. We must caution our youths against the fatal danger of drug abuse, pornography which provoke uncontrollable sexual urges.”
The Bishops also commend the government, medical personnel and individuals who have “acted to bring succor and comfort to our people” amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has infected 33,616 people in their country.
“The Coronavirus is real but available evidence shows that if we all cooperate to fight it by our adherence to the wearing of face masks, maintaining social/physical distance and constant sanitizing and washing of hands, we can drastically reduce its effects and conquer it,” the Bishops in Nigeria’s Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province say in their July 14 collective message.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa