“Do not be deceived by ethnic, religious jingoists,” Nigerian Prelate Cautions Youths

Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama with Catholic youth leaders in the Archdiocese of Abuja.
Credit: Archdiocese of Abuja/Facebook Page

The Archbishop of Nigeria’s Abuja Archdiocese has cautioned the youth under his pastoral care against giving room to antagonism on the basis of ethnicity and religion, including utterances that can foster divisions.

Addressing the Catholic youth leaders of Abuja Archdiocese over the weekend, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama highlighted some of the phrases, which if employed, can “pitch you against one another.”

“Do not be deceived by ethnic and religious jingoists. Have sound moral principles and firm faith, and work for what benefits humanity rather than parochial interests,” Archbishop Kaigama told the youth during the Saturday, November 14 meeting.

The Nigerian Archbishop added, “You must be aware that sentimental and divisive remarks such as ‘they are southerners with an agenda,’ ‘they have a northern religious motive’ and ‘this is against our religion,’ is what pitch you against one another to stop you from making an audacious and unanimous resolve to seek better life by ending corruption at both low and high levels.”

“When our national team wins an international football match, we all want to identify ourselves as Nigerians. When the position of Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) becomes available, we want a Nigerian to occupy it; we are proud that a Nobel Peace Prize winner is a Nigerian,” Archbishop Kaigama remarked.

He however regretted that “when there is imperative to transcend tribal chauvinism, religious short-sightedness and political abracadabra for national interests, our education and exposure seem to fail us.”

Making reference to the recent nationwide, youth-led protests against police brutality that were “disrupted by unscrupulous elements,” the Archbishop posed, “Do we have the capacity as Nigerians to begin something positive that cannot be hijacked or crippled by those who suffer a kind of social or political paranoia?”

The 62-year-old Archbishop continued to pose, “Is it possible to avoid introducing tribal sentiments, religious factors and the north/south dichotomy as we pursue the common good of this nation? Is it possible not to worry about who may feel offended and to engage in non-violent struggle for positive change beyond narrow boundaries or prejudices?”  

“When good initiatives are introduced by whoever or whatever group in the Church, we should not cripple them because of ethnic or geo-political reasons,” Archbishop Kaigama told the youth who were gathered at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral of Abuja Archdiocese, urging them not to “import” the mentality of ethnic prejudices into the Church.

He explained, “Our Catholic Church is a family that is universal and of apostolic origin. While we should struggle individually for daily bread and a better life, we must realize that what is of great importance is our unity, progress, the salvation of souls and how to qualify as citizens of heaven.”

In his address to the young people under his pastoral care, the Nigerian Archbishop bemoaned pervasive corruption in Africa’s most populous nation saying, “Whether as youths or elders, we are all in one way or another guilty of corrupt practices and we should seek purification and forgiveness from God.”

Nigerians spend “time conjugating the verb ‘to bribe’: I bribe, you bribe, he bribes, she bribes, we bribe, you (plural) bribe, they bribe,” Archbishop Kaigama observed, adding, “We seem to have developed a culture where it is normal to bribe or to know an influential person in order to be employed, promoted or even to have budgets approved.”

“Some university professors, besides their primary assignment, try to teach in three or four universities (for economic gains) and so lack the concentration to mentor students properly,” he pointed out.

The Archbishop continued highlighting examples of corruption in Nigeria saying, “Some traders put fake or defective articles underneath while deceiving the buyer by displaying nice ones on top; a mechanic may tell you he has replaced a new part in your car when he only polished the old one!”

“My dear youth, let us admit that what is wrong is wrong,” he said, calling on the young people not only to “point fingers of blame” but also “pray for leaders at all levels.”

“If children are abused, young girls are raped, palliatives for the poor are diverted, persons are kidnapped, and if sensitive political or security positions in the state or federal government are given not on merit but based on religious and tribal considerations, we still have a long and rough way to travel,” Archbishop Kaigama said.

He urged the youth to “amend your lives so that you will be the shining stars of Nigeria,” assuring them that the Church will always do what is possible to support them.  


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