The government, Archbishop Akubeze stated, should also firmly assure the people in the country that such an incident as the kidnapping will not happen again.
Highlighting some of the notable experiences during his tenure as CBCN President, the Archbishop said the Conference of Bishops in Nigeria had exercised her prophetic role in speaking about the social conditions in the country.
“For the first time in the history of the Church in Nigeria, the entire Catholic Bishops led a peaceful protest march to call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to stop the killing of Nigerians,” he said, recalling the August 2020 event.
He added in reference to the peaceful protest, which the members of CBCN spearheaded, “For me this was important because we came out to protest not against a political party but against failure of Government to meet its constitutional role.”
He said that the Shepherds of the people of God in the country have spoken out against the injustices meted against Christians, North of the country.
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The Archbishop found it “heart-warming” that some Muslim leaders had been very vocal in condemning the injustices.
“I do not take pleasure in criticizing any Government in power. But I cannot be silent when the action or inaction of the Government endangers the lives of Nigerians. So, whenever, we speak because we feel that the moral hands of history will never forgive our generation for not speaking against the killing of innocent people,” he said.
He further recalled that Church leaders have, on numerous occasions, called for a change in state governance, speaking about the need to kick out leaders who are not working for the good of the people.
“I am glad that the President has come to the same conclusion we had long proposed, namely, bringing in new blood to effect radical change in the fight against terrorism in Nigeria,” the 64-year-old Nigerian Archbishop said.
He recalled his attempts to draw the world attention to the resilience of Nigerians in the face of their suffering as well as the need for the international community to speak and put pressure on the Federal Government to be more effective in fighting insurgency and other ills that bedevil the country.
The people of God in Africa’s most populous nation are tired of a dysfunctional government that is riddled with poverty, he said.
“Nigerians are seeing the increase in inflation, that does not match the increase in wages. They are seeing a naira that is growing weaker to the dollar. They are seeing depletion of our foreign reserve. They are seeing over reliance on crude oil,” the Archbishop said.
He added in reference to Nigerians, “They are tired of seeing politicians using ethnic and religious arguments to divert the attention of the people away from their lack of performance and to give them continuous cover without scrutiny.”
According to Archbishop Akubeze, the #EndSARS protest points to the reawakened collective consciousness of Nigerians to hold their leaders responsible for systemic failure of leadership in the country.
He also weighed in on issues such as abortion, euthanasia, ethnic cleansing, ethnic bigotry, cultural hegemony, among other vices, which he said go against the teachings of the Catholic Church.
He said that Church leaders in Nigeria are always keen to point out the vices, which he said, are against the African way of life.
“The Church in Nigeria has continued to speak against western pressure to impose a lifestyle that is completely incongruence with our human nature and with our culture as Africans, and more importantly with our Catholic faith,” Archbishop Akubeze told The Catholic Herald, the weekly publication of the Archdiocese of Lagos in Nigeria.
Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.