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“Our country seems to have lost its very soul”: Bishops of Nigeria’s Ibadan Province

Map of Nigeria. Credit: Public Domain

The Catholic Bishops of Nigeria’s Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province have, in a collective statement, bemoaned the multiple crises in the West African nation saying the country “seems to have lost its very soul.”

In a Tuesday, July 20 statement shared with ACI Africa, the Local Ordinaries of the Archdiocese of Ibadan and the Dioceses of Ondo, Ilorin, Oyo, Osogbo and Ekiti highlight armed conflicts, kidnapping for ransom, robbery, insurgency, banditry and extra judicial killing as some of the crises and call on all Nigerians to continue praying for their country and working towards its recovery.

“Nigeria, our country, seems to have lost its very soul because it is no longer a healthy entity,” the Catholic Bishops say in the communiqué issued following their July 19-20 meeting held at the Domus Pacis Pastoral Institute, Igoba, Akure in Nigeria’s Ondo State.

A healthy nation is one that offers its citizens “a territory where they can feel at home, feel secure and enjoy the basic necessities of life”, they say, adding that unfortunately, Nigeria’s challenges “persist as the order of the day.”

“A nation that has lost its soul is characterized by inept, uncaring leadership which functions by selective allocation of posts, privileges and resources and by selective application of justice. It is characterized by leaders who, rather than care for the citizens of the country, simply exploit and denigrate them,” the Catholic Bishops say.

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An unhealthy nation, they add, “takes food out of the mouths of its own citizens and watches them starve (and) deploys its scarce resources to the advantage of the rich and powerful while offering mere crumbs to the poor and weak.”

“When a nation loses its soul, its people lose the cohesive elements of human relationship,” the Bishops further say, adding that a country with a lost soul “breeds a citizenry where nobody cares for anybody else.”

In their statement co-signed by the Chairman and Secretary of the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria’s Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province, Archbishop Gabriel ‘Leke Abegunrin and Bishop John Akin Oyejola respectively, the Church leaders regret that Nigeria exhibits all traits of a soulless country.

“Its (Nigeria’s) constitutive principles of justice, equity and fair play have clearly fallen apart and the country is no longer at ease. No doubt, the very soul of Nigeria needs to be recovered,” they say.

Amid the unfortunate state of affairs in Africa’s most populous nation, the Catholic Bishops say the ongoing electoral reforms give another opportunity to revive the hope and confidence of Nigerians in the nation’s democracy.

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They recommend that Nigerians receive civil education on how to participate in the democracy process saying, “only participation in the political process and adherence to the rule of law offer an enduring means of authentic change but people must be helped to understand this fact.”

“We urge the media and civil society groups to sustain this education agenda so that Nigeria can reap the full benefits there from,” they say.

The continue, “We also urge our people to register and obtain their voters cards. Only this grants them the power to exercise their rights to determine who governs them from time to time. Our country will greatly benefit from this.”

In their four-page statement, the Catholic Bishops also call on all Nigerians to “do all they can to help one another even in these hard times and work more assiduously to create a better society.”

“To help the downtrodden and oppressed, it is not enough to provide relief materials. It is just as important to fight for justice and fairness and protect fundamental human rights,” the Nigerian Bishops say in their nine-point communiqué shared with ACI Africa July 20.

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They advocate for the country’s “revival” saying, “Nigeria needs spiritual and moral revival which will restore common positive values to their rightful place in our polity.”

“As religious leaders, we declare that political and economic restructuring without moral revival is bound to fail,” the Catholic Bishops emphasize and call for “a revival of authentic catechesis at all levels in the Church.”

“Ongoing catechesis is the lifeblood of the Church,” they say, adding, “To shun it is to threaten the life and mission of the Church itself.”

The Catholic Bishops of Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province further urge their compatriots to “stand firm and never lose hope for God cannot be defeated.”

“We call on Nigerians to continue to pray and work for a better nation for we have no other country than this. If we do not give up doing good and believing in God’s promise, we shall see better days,” the Bishops say in their collective statement shared with ACI Africa. 

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