I Prefer to Weep and Pray for Nigeria “where darkness has descended”: Catholic Bishop

Bishop Godfrey Onah of Nigeria’s Nsukka Diocese. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Nsukka in Nigeria has expressed sadness concerning the evils happening in the West African nation, saying that he would prefer to lock himself up in the chapel to weep and pray for the country that is engulfed in darkness.

In his message circulated Monday, May 16, Bishop Godfrey Igwebuike Onah highlighted some of the misdeeds including the recent stoning to death of Deborah Yakubu and said that it is difficult “to preach love in Nigeria”.

“I prefer to lock myself up in my chapel before God alone to weep and to pray for my nation where darkness has descended,” Bishop Onah said.

The Nigerian Catholic Bishop said that he also wants to pray and to weep for the church not only in Nigeria but also in the whole world for the attacks that the people of God are being subjected to.

His prayers are also for the late Deborah who he says was betrayed by her own country, which she believed to be her home.


He said in reference to Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto Diocese, where the murder of  Deborah took place, “I would weep and pray for my brother and friend, Bishop Kukah, the world acclaimed voice of the voiceless who has now become soft target for those same voiceless people who see him as part of their problem rather than as part of a solution.”

In his message, Bishop Onah said that there is need to pray and weep for the murderers of Deborah because their action stem from what he referred to as a people “left uneducated and unemployed deliberately so that they can be manipulated, brainwashed, and instrumentalised for political ends by religious bigots and political egoists."

The Nigerian Catholic Bishop cautioned the leaders of the West African country against ambivalent condemnation of evil when the offender is one of them. He said that such partial condemnation has affected the country.

The Catholic Bishop who has been at the helm of Nsukka Diocese since his Episcopal Ordination in July 2013 said that the evils happening in the country make it hard for one to preach about love.

“How can you preach love in Nigeria? How can you preach love in a country where violence has become a rule? Where hatred and intolerance have become norms rather than exceptions? Where corruption has become a culture and a tradition? Where impunity has become law?” he said.

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Bishop Onah made reference to the recent fourth Plenary Assembly of the Regional Episcopal Conference of West Africa (RECOWA) held in Abuja, Nigeria in which the government urged Catholic Bishops to help calm insecurity in the country and said that Nigerians cannot be safe if the State is helpless.

“We are wondering how the presidency could publicly admit that they have lost control, that they have left the ground so free and the country is so lawless and so stateless that non-state actors now take over the entire country,” he said.

The Local Ordinary of Nsukka Diocese emphasized the challenge of preaching about love in the country, saying, “How can you preach love in a country where those who want to follow the rule of law are regarded by the rest as weak?”

He went on pose, “How can you preach love in a country that claims not to have a state religion but constantly places a religion in the unhealthy advantage of others? How can you preach love where people have collected what belongs to everybody and are doing with it whatever they please?”

“How can you preach love in a country where forgiveness is regarded as weakness? In the country where when you bring light, you are accused of exposing darkness? In a country where when you love you are seen as being stupid. I would have preferred to stay at home and weep and pray for this country but I can’t,” he said.


Speaking on the nature of education in Africa's most populous nation, Bishop Onah said that it is challenging to preach love to students when they are sitting at home while their parents have paid school fees.

He expressed his criticism for Nigeria’s ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC), saying that it is responsible for the woes of the students because of its failure to properly finance education for the wellbeing of both students and teachers.

He blamed the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) who he said has collaborated with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to install unqualified people in leadership positions because of money.

“All the electoral officers who installed the present ruling class in Nigeria are professors of our universities, members of ASUU,” Bishop Onah said in his message circulated May 16.

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.