Making reference to the instability in South Sudan following the civil strife that started in December 2013 and the encounter between Pope Francis and South Sudanese leaders in April 2019, the Nigerian Bishop narrated, “Two years ago, Pope Francis called the two leaders of South Sudan’s two ethnic groups that are majorly Christians to Rome. An eighty-something-year-old Pope went down on his knees and kissed their feet begging them to reconcile but they are still fighting.”
“Our problems will not be solved by Biafra, no matter what anybody thinks,” the Local Ordinary of Nsukka said, and added, “It is not rocket science. How many leaders of Boko Haram have they killed? The more they kill the more others arise. And we don’t seem to be learning from that experience.”
According to Bishop Onah, any leadership that produces only division is a failed leadership. Such leadership, he said, “should have the humility of accepting that it has tried and failed to solve the problem.”
He pointed to the dire situation in many parts of Nigeria, saying, “We have so many IDPs in our country. Refugees in their own country. People who can no longer sleep in their homes yet others have been selected to protect their security.”
He said that amidst suffering, people find it easy to accept anyone who comes with a promise to redeem them from oppression, “even if he is only a business man or woman.”
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The only solution to the people’s agitations, Bishop Onah said, is good governance, justice and fairness. This way, he added, nobody will feel excluded and nobody will feel that only a particular ethnic tribe is important.
He further said that failure to address the people’s agitations will give rise to many “radical and deadly” leaders claiming to represent those who feel left out.
Drawing inspiration from the Sunday Gospel Reading where Jesus is described as the Good Shepherd characterized with compassion, Bishop Onah went on to say that Nigeria needs a compassionate leader who has the people’s welfare at heart.
“We talk of a leader who is firm, but is he also compassionate? Is he worried about the people and their welfare? Without compassion, we can’t lead anybody,” the Nigerian Bishop emphasized.