Nigerian Bishop Decries Government's Misplaced Priorities amid COVID-19 Challenges

Bishop Godfrey Onah of Nigeria's Nsukka Diocese
Credit: Courtesy Photo

The Bishop of Nigeria’s Nsukka Diocese has faulted the government for what seems to be a back-and-forth engagement with bandits in the West African country at a time that other countries are fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his Sunday, February 21 homily at St. Theresa Cathedral of Nsukka Diocese, Bishop Godfrey Onah also expressed concerns about the laxity in the implementation of COVID-19 safety precautions. 

“Every country in the world is making plans about protecting its citizens through vaccination. The Nigerian government is busy protecting cows and governors are defending the rights of bandits to carry arms,” Bishop Onah said.

Bishop Onah added, “Whereas governments are curtailing their budgets in order to attack this disease, our own government is busy throwing bombs in Eastern Nigeria.”

“While other people are protecting children, our government is begging bandits to release hundreds of children who were taken from schools," the Nigerian Bishop said, making reference to multiple cases of school abductions in Africa’s most populous nation.  

In his February 21 homily, the Bishop further said that while citizens in other countries are tasking their governments to cushion them against COVID-19 challenges, some young men in Nigeria are fighting the government. 

The Prelate who has been at the helm of Nigeria’s Nsukka Diocese since he was ordained a Bishop in July 2013 called on the leadership and citizens of the West African nation to reform their ways. 

“The road we are walking on in this country is leading us to doom and destruction. We must all make an about-turn," the 64-year-old Nigerian Bishop said, adding that the people of God in Nigeria "have to withdraw from the road." 

In his message, the Bishop decried laxity in implementing COVID-19 safety measures issued by relevant authorities, including calls by Church leaders to adhere to health precautions. 

"In our markets, no precautions. We make some attempts in schools but if you walk through our universities, where you have no adults, no attempt is made to take these precautions," lamented Bishop Onah.

The Local Ordinary of Nigeria’s Nsukka Diocese urged Nigerians to heed to the Catholic Bishops' calls saying that it is the Bishops’ desire to have unrestricted public liturgical celebrations during Holy Week and Easter.

Nigeria’s government has imposed a lockdown and placed restrictions on gatherings since March 2020, to control the spread of the coronavirus.

The country has recorded at least 152,074 cases of COVID-19 including 1,839 fatalities and 128,619 recoveries. 

In his February 21 message, Bishop Onah called on the people of God in the West African country to "do everything not to contribute to the difficulties we are facing in Nigeria."

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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.

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