…Says it’s naivety to sit back and be killed unjustly
…Blames injustice for social unrest, insecurity
…Adds: Govt not doing enough to protect Nigerians
…Calls for EFCC, ICPC reforms; insists corruption must give way for progress to come
…Urges FG to declare state of emergency on education
…Bemoans failures in health sector
By Henry Umoru and Luminous Jannamike – ABUJA
The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, has backed the calls by some eminent Nigerians for the people to defend themselves if the government fails to protect from herdsmen and bandits’ attacks.
To avert such an undesirable state of affairs, the Archbishop, however, called for dialogue, justice and reconciliation. Above all, he urged the government to do more to protect the people from criminal elements seeking death and destruction.
Kaigama spoke in Abuja at a press conference to mark his 62nd birthday celebration, weekend.
Moreover, the cleric blamed the social unrest and the insecurity affecting the nation on injustice.
“Killing human beings is criminal. It is a grievous sin and totally ungodly. It’s so sad the way we kill in this county. it does not portray the country in good light.
“So, I am sad that the killings have not stopped. I am not sure that enough is being done at all levels to bring these killings to a comprehensive stop.
“Unjust attacks call for self-defence. This is in line with theological principles. It is naivety to sit back and be killed, because you’re a man of peace.
“We don’t encourage attacking people for no just cause but you can defend yourself. Above all, we urge for dialogue and reconciliation.”
The Archbishop also expressed concern that the government is not sufficiently addressing corruption in the country.
He also called for reforms in anti-corruption agencies to enable them to perform optimally.
To clarify, Kaigama said, “The social cancer of corruption must give way for Nigeria to speed up her journey to join the league of developed nations.
“Well intentioned anti-corruption agencies like the ICPC and EFCC do not appear to have performed optimally, with the allegations of high-level corruption in the news. They can do better.
“If they are not serving the interests of Nigerians, are politicised, or under-utilised, advocacy for their scrapping can be done.
“We must find a way of addressing corruption; if these institutions are not serving Nigerians well, there should be a change if they are not fulfilling their mandate.
“The EFCC and ICPC should do their work with every objectivity and integrity. They should close their eyes and watch out for criminals in society.
“These bodies should follow anybody irrespective of party, tribe or religion. If they are doing this, nobody will have any issue with the bodies.
“They need to be objective, sincere and they need to be God-fearing; anyone employed to work in these organisations should fear God.”
On Social Welfare, the cleric said: “Nigeria is blessed with enormous natural and human resources. We should be very ready at critical times to provide and efficiently distribute palliative to the poor and the needy.
“Our politics must be further refined, to include high principles and values, and must become an offer of self to serve the people.”
Reacting to the state of education system, the Catholic Prelate of Abuja suggested that a state of emergency be declared on the education sector.
He said, “Certainly, that is what I am asking for. There has to be total overhauling of the educational system.
“We must give serious consideration to future of our young ones and we cannot emphasise any better that the government should consider education as fundamental to progress, to alleviating all social problems.
“Without good education that is holistic and that can shape the mind to be positive and to contribute selflessly to the good of society, we will have a wide population of young people who have no values.
“There should be drastic revolution and fundamental overhauling of the educational system in the country.’’
On Reopening of Schools
Kaigama said that COVID-19 pandemic had forced schools globally to switch to online learning.
So, he stressed that Nigeria must continue adjusting to global trends.
He said, “Education deserves a once of high priority, even though educating our students in the present circumstance will not be easy.
“It is good news that government is allowing the exit classes to resume and to sit for their final exams. But all precautionary measures against COVID-19 must be put in place.
“I believe strongly that the needed funds could come from the generous donations received, part sacrifice of salaries lavishly used by political parties before and during elections, recovered looted’ funds, etc.
“These could be used to improve or create structures for our students in public, private and faith based schools so that their academic life is not truncated.
“We cannot afford the adverse consequences of leaving our students idle for such an undetermined period of time.”
On Takeover of Mission Schools
Kaigama said it was highly offensive and provocative to the churches for the governments to takeover mission schools and even rename them.
He said, “I am upset that the government took away schools built by voluntary faith-based organizations. Does the governments lack resources to build its own schools that they must snatch from others?
“It is incomprehensible. So, the act of taking over the schools was unjust and unfair to the owners.
“As if that was not enough, the governments went ahead to rename them with names that have no relationship and bearing with the original owners of the school. That is highly offensive, provocative, and annoying to say the least.”
On Almajiri Menace
“The Almajiri can not just be left to wander the streets of Kano, Kaduna, Jos, and Abuja. They need to be transformed.
“The education system that send them away from home to wander on the streets with people who cannot mould and help them to grow is not right. Therefore the government should take control of it.
“These are our children and they are citizens of Nigeria. The governments need to stop them from roaming the streets aimlessly. There has to be provisions for them.”
Kaigama said the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the inadequacy of available medical facilities to cater for nationwide emergencies situations.
The Archbishop described the available health facilities as below standards, and said they deserved urgent upgrade.
“Ideally, well equipped and functional medical facilities should be available and accessible in all the 774 Local Government Areas of our nation.
“We must resolve, as a country, to make access to health care possible for all,” he said.
The Catholic cleric said the Church’s offer of its 425 health facilities to the federal government to support the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic is still valid.
However, he regretted that more than two months after Catholics made the offer, the federal government has not done much on use of the facilities.
Kaigama also disclosed that some representatives of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) held an online meeting with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo last week to get an update on the offer.
He said they reminded the vice-president that the offer was to minimise the problem of health care during the pandemic.
“We made it clear that they could equip the facilities, train our personnel so that they will be attentive to the need of people suffering from COVID-19.
“I want to say that the offer is still valid but I am not sure there is good use being made of our facilities that we have offered.
“They even identified a few facilities in Abuja, Kaduna and somewhere else. They said they were going to collaborate with us but so far, not much has happened,” the Archbishop said.
On Post-Pandemic Lessons
Kaigama said the COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity for people to repent of their sins and turn to God.
He also said COVID-19 has caused the people realise their lives are in ultimately in God’s hands.
The Archbishop said: “God is giving us a second chance to begin again. If we sincerely repent and turn to God, just as He forgave the people of Nineveh, He will forgive and heal us.
“We should not be blind to our personal sins and the sins of the world.
“Let us turn the positive experiences being garnered during this pandemic, like the sense of solidarity, selflessness and community into policy and practice and be our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.
“The all too familiar bad news about social maladies such as embezzlement of public funds, kidnapping, banditry, militancy unemployment, cybercrime, immortality, violence and killings are still with us.
“We must ask the question whether all these leave our youths with any decent future.
“We can certainly do something differently and positively for Nigeria and Nigerians. The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Let us all take that little but significant step forward.’’