John Cardinal Onaiyekan on Friday advised Nigerians to unite against divisive elements that he alleged were attempting to tear the country apart.
Onaiyekan, the Cardinal Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja, gave the advice in Makurdi at the requiem mass for Bishop Athanasius Usuh held at the IBB Square.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Usuh was the Bishop Emeritus of the Catholic diocese of Makurdi, Benue until some years ago.
The prelate said that it was important for the people to leverage on the good works of the late bishop in uniting the people of the North-Central Nigeria through evangelism and establishment of schools.
He said that Usuh’s episcopacy was characterised by selfless service to the people regardless of his health constraints.
The cardinal said the deceased bishop promoted peace and the unity among Nigerians through the services he rendered to the people under his apostolic care.
He appealed to Nigerians not to take for granted the prevailing peace in the country by renouncing all forms of religious fanaticism and exposing those promoting them.
He said the war against corruption was necessary and had to continue for peace to reign in the country.
“We must end all forms of religious pluralism and remove all that seems to tear us apart.”
Onaiyekan described Usuh as “a tireless apostle and a hero of the Christian faith”.
He said the late bishop emeritus presided over the largest diocese in the country then; stretching from Benue to the city gates of Abuja through the Eastern borders of Cameroon.
The cardinal said that it was through Usuh’s tireless efforts that the dioceses of Lafia, Otukpo, Gboko and Katsina-Ala were carved out of the territory handed to him by his predecessor, the late Bishop Donald Murray.
Onaiyekan reading from 2 Timothy 4:7 said of Usuh, “He fought a good fight, finished the race and remained faithful”.
NAN reports that the Apostolic Nuncio to Nigeria, Archbishop Augustine Kasujja, was the chief celebrant at the requiem mass where no fewer than 1,000 Catholic bishops and priests concelebrated.
They were joined by dignitaries of church and state to offer prayers for the repose of the soul of the bishop during the requiem mass.