By Chidi Nkwopara
OWERRI.The Catholic Bishops of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province weekend, rose from an emergency meeting in Owerri, expressing deep worry that “every part of the country is bleeding”, as the level of insecurity escalates.
The six-point pastoral statement, titled “Nigeria on the brink of collapse: Groping for reliable security”, was signed by the Chairman and Secretary, Most Rev. Anthony J. V. Obinna, and Most Rev. Austin Echema, respectively, and made available to newsmen in Owerri.Part of the six-point pastoral statement read: “Large numbers of Nigerians are slaughtered daily, in different parts of our nation. Unarmed and defenceless citizens are sacked from their communities and compelled to struggle for survival in Internally Displaced People’s, IDPs, camps, with little or no hope of ever returning to their ancestral homes.”Kidnapping for ransom is now a routine on our highways, farmlands, forests and even in the sacred precincts of churches, homes and mosques.
Homes, institutions of learning, are invaded and school children taken hostage, are callously traumatized and even murdered.”While challenging the government to recommit itself to the constitutional responsibility of securing the fundamental and social rights of Nigerian citizens, the clerics however urged all to exercise self restraint and shun violence.”Similarly, we exhort security agents to refrain from stereotyping young people in our communities, as well as their indiscriminate arrest and unlawful detention.
This heightens tension and anxiety and leads to avoidable and unnecessary violence”, the clerics reasoned.Taking a hard look at the nation’s fragmentation, hardship and frustration, the Catholic Bishops said: “The politics of nepotism and exclusion, being executed by the present administration, is yielding sour fruits in hatred, distrust and fragmentation.”Nigerians are divided as never before.
Agitation for self-determination and restructuring, are growing louder by the day. The national economy has become very feeble and is crippled even more, by our ever rising debt profile.”While the value of our national currency continues to slide and inflation soars, the masses are no longer able to afford their basic needs. As a result, many deprived families are facing untold hardship.
They are afflicted daily by hunger, starvation and disease.”The Bishops also expressed fear that “Nigeria is on the brink of total collapse”, even as they stressed that the populace was almost losing total confidence in the government’s ability and willingness to secure their lives and properties.
The Bishops said: “Without apologies, many government security agents have become wickedly partisan, shielding and protecting those whom they favour, while abandoning and exposing to danger and death, those they dislike and hate.”Consequently, if this nation is ever to continue together as one, government needs to take urgent steps to regain the confidence of Nigerians, by providing reliable, equitable and up-to-date security.”Government should act with a deep sense of responsibility and urgency. It cannot continue to disappoint our people, in the face of this national calamity and outcry.”,