By Luminous Jannamike
The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, CBCN, yesterday, asked President Muhammadu Buhari to listen to the cries of Nigerians over the security situation in the country.
CBCN President, Archbishop Augustine Akubeze, who stated this while speaking at the funeral of Emeritus Bishop of Orlu Diocese, the Most Revd. Gregory Ochiaga, said Buhari must not ignore the constructive criticism of religious leaders.
“We join our yokes to many courageous religious leaders, Catholics and non-Catholics who have spoken out against government’s performance in the area of insecurity in Nigeria.
“To the Federal Government of Nigeria, let it be known to you that openness to objective criticism is a sign of maturity. Many critics of government mean well for the government.
“There is no religious leader who will want the government to fail, neither is there any genuine religious leader who truly feels the pain of their people and keeps quiet when the life and property of the people are not secured.
“Government should listen to the cries of Nigerians and take them seriously when we cry for a secured life, when we ask for a good opportunity for every Nigerians, and when we ask for the inclusion of every part of the country in the governance of Nigeria and not just a minimalistic approach to fulfilling constitutional quotas of representation.
“As we speak and constructively criticise the Federal Government, we assure the government of our prayers and collaboration in seeking to build a nation where justice and peace reign, where prosperity for everyone is achieved,” he said.
According to him, those were the ideals Bishop Ochiaga worked and fought for.
He added: “Interestingly, Bishop Ochiaga was ordained a priest in the year of Nigeria’s Independence. I am sure that for the 60 years of his priesthood, he kept on praying for a better Nigeria.’’
He regretted the huge loss of life by Nigerians under the menace of insecurity across the country. “We know that the level of insecurity in the country has reached an all-time high. The Nigerian people are no longer safe.
“On a day-to-day basis, Nigerians are killed or maimed by bandits, cattle rustlers, Boko Haram, herdsmen, kidnappers and various criminal elements that our security agents have not been able to deal with,’’ Akubueze said. Earlier, members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria had offered fervent prayers for the repose of the soul of Bishop Ochiaga.