“The Kaduna deadly train attack in March and the agonizing months the abducted passengers spent in the hands of armed men left us all traumatized,” he says, and adds, “The daring Kuje prison attack by Boko Haram and precipitated secessionist rallies left all of us begging for answers.”
Archbishop Kaigama says that the travel advisories that were issued against the West African country on the risk of travel to Nigeria and the subsequent arrest of suspected terrorists in October left the country “reeling in fear”.
He describes the situation in the South-East region of Nigeria as “volatile”, amid an imposed lockdown by militias that he says are making life in the region difficult.
The Nigerian Archbishop says that Nigeria has also grappled with a dwindling economy and the worst type of inflation that he says has had far-reaching consequences on people’s social life.
“Everyone, both those in government and the governed, suddenly all needed the grace of God to survive and outlive 2022. And yet we are here today just because God has brought us thus far,” Archbishop Kaigama says.
He adds, “Surrounded by so much bad news and associated with some of the worst scenarios, our people are in dire need of anything that can inspire some hope. Together – both people and government, we must sincerely work towards that change that brings hope.”
The Catholic Church leader who started his Episcopal Ministry in April 1995 as Bishop of Nigeria’s Jalingo Diocese calls on the Nigerian government to place people in the center of both politicking and governance.
Such people-centered approach, he says, can be done by ensuring safety and security, reconciling what he describes as fragmented parts of the nation, and providing an enabling environment for the country’s economy to thrive again “as a precondition for remedying the worsening problem of poverty and living crisis for most Nigerians.”
“While we acknowledge with delight the recent heightening of the tempo of the war against non-state actors and the encouraging results that have brought, we urge the authorities to sustain these measures and do everything imaginable to secure every part of the country and ensure an auspicious climate for the coming elections,” Archbishop Kaigama says in reference to Nigeria’s polls slated for February 25.
He urges authorities in Nigeria to give space to dialogue in ending violent conflict, saying, “No matter how much the use of arms has achieved, we must not forget that honest dialogue can also be a veritable tool for collectively building a Nigeria of our dreams that looks after all.”