The Catholic Bishops of Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province has said the Buhari administration has failed to realize that the reason the country is still in crisis is because it sees every critic of its administration as an enemy, instead of paying attention and doing the right thing.
The bishops who released the joint statement in a communiqué after their meeting at the Domus Pacis Pastoral Institute, Igoba, Akure, on Wednesday, said everything the current government does, only seem to worsen the condition of the country, especially when it sees agitators as greater threats compared to those firing down military planes.
The communiqué which was made available through the Catholic Bishop of Ekiti, Most Rev Felix Ajakaye, and signed by the province chairman, Most Rev Gabriel Abegunrin and the secretary, Most Rev Akin Oyejola, also called on Nigerians to unite against leaders who sympathize with terrorists, while going up in arms against those who demand for accountability.
The communiqué reads, “Nigeria, our country, seems to have lost its very soul because it is no longer a healthy entity. The good health of any nation consists in its capacity to offer its citizens a territory where they can feel at home, feel secure and enjoy the basic necessities of life.
“This, unfortunately, is no longer the case in our dear country, Nigeria, where, armed conflicts, armed robbery, kidnapping for ransom, insurgency, banditry and extrajudicial killing persist as the order of the day. When a nation loses its soul, its people lose the cohesive elements of human relationships.
“A nation that has lost its soul is characterised by inept, uncaring leadership which functions by selective allocation of posts, privileges and resources and by selective application of justice. It is characterised by leaders who, rather than care for the citizens of the country, simply exploit and denigrate them.”
On the presidency’s response to Bishop Kukah, the bishops revealed that “Bishop Kukah, in his patriotic and frank presentation, called attention to some verifiable data and statistics about the Nigerian situation on that privileged international platform. He spoke for authentic Christians and Muslims who are under persecution. No doubt, he intended to solicit the support of that forum which many Nigerians believe holds the promise of some assistance and relief from our current national crises.
“The Federal Government however has characteristically gone up in arms against the person of Bishop Kukah and his purpose. It is commonly said that when there is a problem in a democracy, more democracy is needed to solve it. Sadly enough, our current federal government does not seem to subscribe to this.”
Reiterating the right of freedom of expression as stipulated in the constitution, the bishops said for the sake of the nation’s democracy must be protected and that the attempt by the National Assembly to amend the press council bill is aimed at gaging the media and it should be rejected by the citizens.
“We declare again, as we have done often in the past, that only the truth can set us free. Nigeria must allow this to happen! The attempt of the Nigerian National Assembly to silence the press and penalise journalists for merely doing their job is to be completely rejected. We hold that the freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, guaranteed by the constitution and cannot be alienated by any government least of all in a democracy.
“For the sake of our democracy, that right, exercised with responsibility, must be protected. We support Bishop Kukah in his effort to unveil the truth about the Nigerian situation in order to ameliorate things. We call on the Nigerian government to learn not to see criticism as an attack or a crime,” they said.
The clerics also berated the nation’s lawmakers saying they are abusing the people’s mandates by no longer representing their interests. He added that it is time for the people to begin holding their representatives accountable for ignoring those who got them there.
The bishop said,” With the national assembly at various occasions prioritizing party and privileges over people’s rights and interest, relief and progress continue to elude Nigerians. Simply put, those who claim to represent the people seem to have perfected the art of sabotaging the progress of their same people. Indeed, the time may have come for Nigerians to no longer simply roll over and accept non-representative decisions of the assembly but to challenge them by all legitimate means.”
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