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“This is certainly not the Nigeria we used to know,” Catholic Bishop Bemoans Death Culture

Bishop Hilary Dachelem of Nigeria’s Bauchi Diocese addressing journalists at the St. John's Cathedral on 6 May 2021. Credit: Courtesy Photo

A Catholic Bishop in Nigeria has lamented over the continued lack of appreciation for human life in the West African nation saying the country’s value system has changed for the worst.

Addressing journalists Thursday, May 6, Bishop Hilary Dachelem of Nigeria’s Bauchi Diocese said that in the past, crime was “minimal” in the country.

“This is certainly not the Nigeria we used to know; we are facing a different Nigeria. The Nigeria we used to know was a free country and it was not as if there was no crime then but it was minimal and not at the alarming rate that it is now,” Bishop Dachelem said during the press conference at St. John’s Cathedral of Bauchi Diocese.

He recalled that in the past years in Nigeria, “There were pockets of issues but they were not too overwhelming. Those who were into crime and criminality were very insignificant compared to the entire number; but now, I don’t know if the majority of us are criminals, more or less.”

“In the former Nigeria we knew, you could go anywhere at any time; we had armed robberies but they weren’t as prevalent as what we have today, so much, that a governor is afraid of traveling, even a governor is attacked by bandits,” the Nigerian Bishop went on to say.

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Hinting to the attack on the governor of Nigeria’s Benue State in March, an incident that exposed the level of insecurity in the West African nation, Bishop Dachelem said, “If a governor who has all the paraphernalia of security at his disposal is also suffering from this, if we don’t do anything, we know that we are already heading for a doom.”

“Nigeria is indeed sick because it doesn’t carry the integrity of a federal nation; it doesn’t carry what a corporate nation should be. Nigeria is not okay, not what it should be, something is definitely wrong somewhere,” the 54-year-old Nigerian Bishop told journalists during the May 6 press conference at St. John's Cathedral Bauchi.

Nigeria has been experiencing insecurity since 2009 when Boko Haram insurgency began targeted attacks with the aim of turning the Africa’s most populous nation into an Islamic state.

Since then, the group, one of largest Islamist groups in Africa, has been orchestrating indiscriminate terrorist attacks on various targets including religious and political groups as well as civilians.

The insecurity situation in the country has further been complicated by the involvement of the predominantly Muslim Fulani herdsmen, also referred to as the Fulani Militia, who have been clashing frequently with Christian farmers over grazing land.

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Against this backdrop, Bishop Dachelem told journalists during the May 6 press conference that citizens of the West African nation seem to have grown into a “culture of death by becoming used to death.”

“People no longer appreciate life because we have not decided to explore the true values and expound the gains of life. We have not exploited the benefits of life and gradually, there is a paradigm shift from the culture of life to that of death,” the member of the Congregation of the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Claretians) said.

He continued, “If you develop an attitude that is unhealthy, that becomes a culture. Right now, there is an inverted approach about life, people have paradoxically moved from the culture of life to the culture of death”.

“If you open the television, people want to know ‘where is the place that people have been kidnapped, who and who have died? How many? Where?’ This is the anxiety that people are attacked because we have acculturated ourselves with the culture of death and it is sad” the Catholic Church leader said.

He added, “If we are comfortable with the culture of death, one day, we will kill everybody and all of us will wake up and there is no Nigeria.”

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The Local Ordinary of Nigeria’s Bauchi Diocese further said that Nigeria is a “nation that is collapsing, almost a nation in moribund with the way it is going.” 

In his view, 60 percent of the problems bedeviling Nigeria go to the leadership of the country because of its “incompetence, laissez-faire attitude, neglect, and levity.”

As a way forward, Bishop Dachelem called upon the Muhammadu Buhari-led government to “immediately engage the youth by addressing the high unemployment rate.”

“Agitations by various groups across the country should not be swept under the carpet but must be solved through dialogue,” the Nigerian Bishop said.