By Chidi Nkwopara
OWERRI—President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, CBCN, Most Rev. Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, has raised the alarm that Nigeria is bleeding and soaked in blood.
Ugorji made the lamentation yesterday in Owerri, while speaking at the golden jubilee celebration of the Apostolic Administrator of Owerri Archdiocese, Most Rev. Anthony J. V. Obinna.
His words: “Nigeria is bleeding. Our land is soaked in blood. From North to South, East to West, blood is flowing like a river. Nigerians now live in fear and anxiety, as a dark cloud of uncertainty hangs over the nation.
“Nowhere is secure. Our homes, our highways, our institutions of learning and even our sacred precincts of worship centres, are all unsafe. Why has our country become so insecure while we have a government charged with the responsibility of defending the lives and property of one and all?
“Why has life become so cheap and short in Nigeria? Why must people who slaughter unarmed and law-abiding citizens in our communities be allowed to go scot-free?
“As we celebrate here today (yesterday), my heart returns to the bloody scene at St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State, where many unarmed worshippers, including couples, women, little children and infants, were gruesomely murdered and many others brutally wounded on Pentecost Sunday.
“We continue to pray for the happy repose of the dead, the speedy recovery of the injured and the consolation of the bereaved. The killing of innocent worshippers is outrageous, sacrilegious, condemnable and totally unacceptable.”
In the cleric’s considered opinion: “It has become obvious that our country is under siege by Fulani militia, masquerading as herdsmen. A few weeks ago, it was the heartless killing of Deborah and the callous attack of churches in Sokoto.
“Recently, it was the kidnapping of the Prelate of the Methodist Church, Nigeria, who later disclosed that he and his two co-travellers, were abducted by armed Fulani, with the active connivance of the military. And last Sunday, the story was the bloody attack of the Church in Owo.”
Looking forward to the 2023 general elections, Archbishop Ugorji said: “We have watched with dismay, the recent cash-and-carry primaries in different political parties, primaries characterized by greed, graft, manipulation and exclusion.
“To say the least, what took place in some of those primaries, were disheartening and disgraceful. Given that genuine leadership is selfless service, involving enormous sacrifice, people who try to bribe their way to power must have ulterior and questionable motives.
“We must stand together to say no to money politics, terrorism, kidnapping and corruption in our country. One effective way of doing so is through exercising our franchise during general elections, by trooping out to vote.
“We must, therefore, shun apathy and indifference and stand together to elect only credible candidates with character, competence and capacity; candidates with proven records of achievements and who are known for putting the common good above their private and selfish interests.”
He therefore, urged Nigerians to ensure that they have their permanent voters card, in preparation for next year’s general elections, which he said, “is very crucial for the survival of this nation.”
Speaking also, Imo State Deputy Governor, Professor Placid Njoku, said that what is unique about Archbishop Obinna is that he is one man you cannot miss in a crowd.
His words: “He speaks truth to power and he has done this religiously and ceaselessly. Imo people, especially those in the corridors of power know that the fear of Archbishop Anthony J. V. Obinna, is the beginning of wisdom. He knows how to load meaning to words.”
Responding, Archbishop Obinna commended everyone that helped in making the celebration a huge success.
He said: “If there is anything you heard that I said or did, it was by the special grace of God. I am aware that I may not have satisfied the expectations of everyone, but please, keep praying for me.”