Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
Nigeria’s Catholic Bishops, operating under the auspices of the Nigerian Catholic Bishops’ Conference (CBCN), urged the federal government to avoid the temptation to try to demonize or criminalize elements of the opposition or those calling for l independence of their region.
The bishops reaffirmed their opposition to any form of electoral system which would allow Nigerians’ votes to be disregarded.
The clerics also deplored that the level of insecurity in all regions of the country worries them a lot.
These views were contained in the speech delivered by CBCN President Archbishop Augustine Akubeze at the second plenary session held in Enugu on Sunday.
Speaking on calls for independence claimed by parts of the country, the bishops advised everyone to be calm and to exhaust a wide consultation.
Akabueze said: “The federal government as well as those who called for the independence of certain regions must be listened to. Everyone should avoid the temptation to demonize those who disagree with them.
“The first step to take is an open and unconditional dialogue with each group. Dialogue is always better than taking up arms. No one should call for the murder of servicemen, and no serviceman should intimidate Nigeria for their opinions. Freedom of expression and respect for the diversity of opinions must be respected.
He also said the right to self-determination should follow a civilized model and should not be demonized or criminalized, adding that the bishops called on “everyone to be calm and to exhaust full consultation.”
The bishops also commented on the security challenges facing the country and stressed that the appointments of new department heads have not produced the desired effect.
“Many of us bishops have had to bury our faithful dead due to attacks from insurgents, bandits, kidnappers, cultists, and those who died due to road accidents caused by bad roads. . Too many Nigerians are dying from preventable deaths, the federal government, state government and local government must take responsibility, ”the bishops said.
The Catholic bishops have also expressed their opposition to any form of electoral system that would not allow Nigerians’ votes to be disregarded.
The bishops said the world was moving towards a more digital administration system, adding that electoral reform in Nigeria must align with this change.
They sided with the electronic transmission of election results so that the rigging of elections at the various collection points becomes a thing of the past.
However, the Episcopal Conference reaffirmed that as long as priests are free to condemn any government policy that is not favorable to the people, no cleric should use his or her ecclesiastical position or property to promote what appears to be partisan politics. .
“Therefore, it is imperative that clerics avoid any form of political approval by using the ecclesiastical positions given to them. At the same time, it is not the practice of the church to identify unelected leaders through any form of prophetic visions, dreams, or revelations.
“Having said that, we must make it clear once again that no cleric is supposed to use his position or his ecclesiastical property to promote what appears to be partisan politics.
“The church strongly believes that all political parties have something or people who can lead. Therefore, it is imperative that clerics avoid any form of political endorsement by using the ecclesiastical positions assigned to them. At the same time, it is not the practice of the church to identify unelected leaders through some form of prophetic visions, dreams, or revelations.
“The church does not declare a particular candidate as the anointed political leader of God. The role of the clerics is to educate the people to choose leaders who will work for the good of mankind. We call on diocesan bishops to ensure that appropriate action is taken immediately when a priest or religious violates this traditional Catholic belief, ”CBCN said.
The bishops observed that Nigerians “endure high inflation, depreciation of the naira, increased poverty, food shortage due to the pastoralist / farmer crisis, insecurity of life and property, etc. insensitivity and lack of response from the federal government to the cries of many Nigerians in the area of economic revolution, structural development, through the eradication of corruption, avoiding selective sectoral appointments to important federal positions.