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Nigeria's Independence Anniversary “a mixed bag of praise and pain”: Catholic Bishop

Flag of Nigeria/ Credit: Shutterstock

The 61st independence anniversary of the West African nation of Nigeria is being observed with mixed feelings of “praise and pain”, a Nigerian Catholic Bishop has said.

In a message published by Catholic Focus Nigeria on Nigeria’s Independence Day, Friday, October 1, Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo says the feeling of pain is occasioned by the tribulations Nigerians experience while the joy rises from the fact that the country still has "a lot to cherish." 

"Nigeria at 61 is a mixed bag of praise and pain, delights and delusions. The glories of Nigeria belong to God, its failures, to us human beings. Praise be to the living God," Bishop Badejo says. 

The Nigerian Bishop adds that while the country’s failures "are very serious", the people of God in Africa's most populous nation "cannot despair, because God is involved in Nigeria." 

Nigeria is experiencing "gross ongoing abuse of people’s rights and social justice", the Bishop of Nigeria’s Oyo Diocese further says, adding that "a lot of determination" is needed to address the challenges bedeviling the country.  

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The West African nation has been experiencing insecurity since 2009 when Boko Haram insurgency began with the aim of turning the country into an Islamic State.

The insecurity has been worsened by the involvement of the predominantly Muslim Fulani herdsmen, also referred to as the Fulani Militia, who frequently clash with Christian farmers.

In his Independence Anniversary reflection, Bishop Badejo advocates for accountability saying, "As things stand in Nigeria, we must all work hard to be accountable ourselves and hold our leaders accountable."

He adds, "The gross ongoing abuse of people’s rights and social justice will require a lot of determination, work and political will to redress. Without it we cannot find the way."

The Local Ordinary of Oyo Diocese who doubles as the President of the Pan African Episcopal Committee for Social Communications (CEPACS) calls upon Nigerians to embrace "fair play and equity" in order to have peace. 

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"We must find the necessary courage to reward excellence and punish criminality," the Catholic Bishop who has been at the helm of Oyo Diocese since November 2009 further says.

Nigerians must "restructure our world view and archaic feudal mentality in order to see the light and truth that will lead us out of the current quagmire," he continues.

"There is still a lot to cherish and salvage in Nigeria, which can only be done through good leadership and uncompromising adherence to respect for human rights and the rule of law. None of this is beyond us as Nigerians,” the 60-year-old Bishop says.

“Happy Independence, Nigeria, let us arise and shine," Bishop Badejo says in his October 1 reflection. 

Meanwhile, in a message issued on the eve of the independence, Archbishop Alfred Adewale Martins of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos said the celebration of self-rule in the West African country is “a miracle of sorts.”

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“It is indeed a miracle of sorts that despite all these anomalies across the land, we are still here to mark this year’s independence,” Archbishop Adewale said. 

On the country’s 61st independence anniversary, the Catholic Archbishop further said, Nigerians “must thank God for the gift of life and for keeping the country together, despite the atrocities being committed by criminals of various descriptions.”