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Amid Leadership Challenges in Nigeria, “poor masses” Exploited: Catholic Archbishop

Archdiocese Ignatius Kaigama of Nigeria's Abuja Archdiocese. Credit: Archdiocese of Abuja

Nigeria’s “poor masses” are being exploited as the West African nation grapples with the issue of leadership, a Catholic Archbishop in the country has said.

In his Sunday, 18 March Homily during the 20th anniversary of St. Donald Catholic Karu Parish of Abuja Archdiocese, the Local Ordinary of the Nigerian Archdiocese faulted government officials of depriving people of the most basic needs for survival through corruption.

“Of the many challenges we face as a country, the challenge of leadership prevails. Persons who have been duly elected and saddled with the responsibilities of offering service to the teeming populace end up exploiting the poor masses,” Archdiocese Ignatius Kaigama said.

A section of the duly elected leaders, Archbishop Kaigama added, “have embezzled public funds meant to provide basic social amenities such as food, clothing, shelter, education, security, healthcare services and many others.”

Making reference to the First Reading, the Nigerian Archbishop said political actors in the West African nation who do not prioritize people’s wellbeing are involved in “exploiting and scattering the people.”

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“Prophet Jeremiah was dismayed by political leaders of the time who failed to cater for the people entrusted to their care, but were rather interested more in their personal comfort, thus, exploiting and scattering the people,” he said in reference to the First Reading.

He called upon the country’s leadership to, like Jesus in the Gospel Reading, show compassion saying, “Today, leaders are challenged to have the heart of Jesus; to exercise authority with fidelity and responsibility; like Jesus, to empty themselves of power and to empathize with the suffering of the people.”

Archbishop Kaigama expressed his concerns about the rising food prices in the country due to cases of attacks in various parts of the country.

The attacks, he noted, have led to low food production in the country because farming has been halted by banditry.

“The country is facing rising food prices and the fear that next year will be even more difficult as many farmers are unable to go to farm due to fear of attacks by bandits and kidnappers,” the Nigerian Archbishop said, and added, “Genuine leaders should be very concerned and take adequate proactive measures against hunger and starvation.”

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The Catholic Church leader further advised those at the helm of country to foster initiatives that bring people together saying, “Our elected leaders, like Jesus, should break down the barriers that once divided us; pull down the walls of hatred between the different ethnic and religious groups and promote unity, peace and genuine patriotism.”

Drawing inspiration from Jeremiah’s prophecy of a virtuous branch from the descendants of David fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ, Archbishop Kaigama expressed hope that Africa’s most populous nation will eventually see return to normalcy and peace.  

“In our case too, once there is life, there is hope. Even in such difficult times of political, social and economic crises, God promises to restore and heal our land,” the Nigerian Archbishop said during the Eucharistic celebration July 18.