Catholic Nun in Nigeria Blames Country’s Woes on Illiteracy, Ignorance, Poverty

Sr. Clare Emeroum. Credit: ACI Africa

A Catholic Nun in Nigeria has said that the challenges the West African country is facing, including insecurity, can be addressed by eliminating illiteracy and ignorance especially among young people as well as poverty.

In an interview with ACI Africa on the sidelines of the fourth Plenary Assembly of the Regional Episcopal Conference of West Africa (RECOWA) in Abuja, Nigeria, Sr. Clare Emeroum highlighted poverty as one of the issues that forces most Nigerians into unethical behaviors, saying that a Nigerian who is poor can easily be lured into crime with little money.

“I think the aspect of illiteracy, ignorance and poverty is the cause of all these problems we are having in Nigeria,” Sr. Emeroum who is the Vicar of the Sisters Home Visitors of Mary (HVM) said during the May 7 interview.

The Nigerian Catholic Nun said that radicalization among Nigerians that capitalizes on poverty, illiteracy and ignorance can be countered by creating awareness and sensitizing the vulnerable groups through workshops and seminars.

She said that efforts to end the challenge should not just end at sensitization, but that there should be close monitoring and evaluation of the vulnerable groups that attend such gatherings with a deep heart of conversion.


Sr. Emeroum underlined the need to initiate change right from the grassroots and at individual level, saying that it is only through such initiatives that the change will spread into the larger society and everybody will be able to enjoy peace.

“We can only make a change from our own area (our vicinity), and if you make a change from your own area, it can spread to the wider society,” the Catholic Nun who serves as Secretary to the Secretary General and as National Coordinator, Opus Securitatis, under the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, the administrative headquarters of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) told ACI Africa. 

In the interview on the eve of the conclusion of RECOWA fourth Plenary Assembly that saw delegates deliberate on Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter on human fraternity, and social friendship, Fratelli Tutti, Sr. Emeroum shared her reflections on the 3 October 2020 Papal document.

The Catholic Nun at the helm of HVM said that the aspect of togetherness, unity, and brotherhood is what should be embraced by all religious groups.

“This brings out that idea of loving each other, and appreciating each other,” Sr. Emeroum said, adding that Jesus Himself prayed for a united church.

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She made reference to St. Theresa of the Child Jesus, also known as “The Little Flower of Jesus” who said that sharing love unconditionally is one way of doing little things in an extraordinary way.

“I want to bring out this, the little way we can show love to each other, the little ways we can share with each other, the little way we can give a smile to the other person, we try to make people feel comfortable where we are no matter the religion,” Sr. Emeroum said in the May 7 interview with ACI Africa.

She recalled some of the activities during the fourth RECOWA Plenary Assembly as manifestations of “the little ways we can share with each other”. 

The Nigerian Catholic Nun said, “We visited the mosque, showing that even though they are Muslims, they are still our brothers. We also visited the ecumenical Center and we met people having their wedding there; we danced to their music, showing that we are one.”

She went on to urge Nigerians to embrace peace even where they live and to foster love.


Speaking on education in Catholic schools, the HVM Vicar lauded the prowess shown in the sector and said that most people, even those who are not Catholics, prefer Catholic schools because of their quality.

“I think the Catholic church has been doing well in terms of education; if you go to Catholic schools, you will find Muslim students, because of the quality of education offered,” she said.

Sr. Emeroum cautioned the youth against blending with immorality even if the vice becomes dominant in the society. She underscored the need for the youth to remain focused even if immorality is promoted publicly.

She urged parents to play their role at home as primary catechists and provide appropriate formation for their children for the common good of the whole society.

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.