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Feb 23, 2016


The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), has called for new positive initiatives on the part of all Nigerians, to put an end to the political, religious and socio-economic challenges facing the country. The call was contained in the communiqué issued by the conference at the end of the first plenary for the year 2016 and read by Bishop  Jonas Benson Okoye at the closing Mass, held at the Holy Cross Catholic Church, Gwarimpa, Abuja. The communiqué was signed by Archbishop. Ignatius Kaigama of Jos and Bishop William Avenya of  Gboko, president and secretary of the conference, respectively.


Speaking on the state of the nation, the bishops while commending the government for bringing the Boko Haram insurgency under control and addressing the issue of corruption in the public service, the Conference identified areas that need the serious attention of  the government and the people to restore normalcy in all facets of life in the country.


They also appreciated the security agencies for their roles in the fight against insurgency, prayed for the repose of the souls of the gallant soldiers who died fighting for their fatherland and commiserated with those who lost their loved ones.

On the Boko Haram insurgency, the Bishops declared: “We recognize the efforts of the Nigerian government, the Military and other Security Agencies in degrading Boko Haram Insurgency, especially in the North Eastern part of Nigeria.” They however noted: “Yet, there are strings of attacks in soft targets such as Internally Displaced Persons camps, markets and parks. We encourage the government and security agencies to do all they can to defeat insurgents and prevent further loss of lives. We pray for God’s mercy on all who have died in this war.”


They Bishops further stated: “We equally enjoin government and indeed all Nigerians, to seek alternative strategies towards ending terrorism and thus win them over to our communities. We commend the initiative of the Federal Government towards rehabilitation of the Boko Haram victims. We also urge the government not to lose sight of the destroyed properties of all affected groups including the religious bodies, and request that the composition of relevant committees would include religious leaders in the North East, who are already working hard in this regard. 


On the issue of corruption, the Bishops recalled the words of the Holy Father Pope Francis in his Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy and applauded the efforts of the government in fighting corruption. Their words: “In his Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, Misericordiae Vultus, Pope Francis says: ‘Corruption is a grave sin which cries out to heaven for vengeance, because it threatens the very foundation of personal and social life. It is a sinful hardening of the heart that replaces God with the illusion that money is a form of power’ (art. 19).”


They continued: “We therefore call on the government to use appropriate legal processes to thoroughly investigate the crimes of the past, transparently prosecute accused persons, and hold the guilty accountable in accordance with the laws of the land. Nonetheless, legal efforts are not enough. We enjoin all to seek positive and effective way forward through our common spiritual and religious values, namely, prayers and spiritual/moral rebirth as basis for repentance, reparation and reconciliation.”


Expressing concern on the glaring inequality in the society, the bishops stated: “We note with dismay the glaring inequality in our society. The poor who have equal rights to benefit from the wealth of the Nation have continued to experience lack of basic human needs. We need to diversify our economy and invest more in grassroots economic infrastructure that promote healthy small/medium scale industry and enterprise.”


They urged public office holders to ensure that resources meant for national development and common good are not diverted to private pockets noting that: “This indeed is the goal and end of social justice”. The bishops also expressed concern about  the intractable culture of conflicts and growing criminality in the society pointing out that: “We all have a responsibility to ensure that no member of the society suffers violence, marginalisation and deprivation.” They then called on individuals, communities and  groups to be more vigilant and be proactively involved in ending these crises.


About forty Archbishops and Bishops were present at the closing Mass. Also in attendance was the Vice President  Yemi Osibajo, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari, Dr Kayode Fayemi, Minister of Mineral Resources and Chief Jim Nwobodo, among other dignitaries from all walks of life; priests, religious and lay faithful from all parts of the Archdiocese.

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