.Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Kaigama, Abuja

By Chidi Nkwopara, OWERRI

The Archbishop Emeritus of Abuja Catholic Archdiocese, His Eminence, John Cardinal Onaiyekon, has, after taking a critical look at the degree of insecurity in Nigeria, charged President Muhammadu Buhari and heads of security agencies in the country, to “brave it and tell the citizens why the nation’s security has virtually collapsed”.

The cleric, who made the demand in an exclusive chat with Vanguard in Owerri, also lamented that the situation is compounded by mindless deceit in the land.

His words: “It is obvious that there is a lot of deceit in the land. Things that should not happen, are happening and must be that truth is not being told, especially by our leaders.

“It is a collateral damage to our country’s image that people were worshipping in the church and certain people came with guns and explosives and mindlessly massacred them in cold blood. It shouldn’t happen but, in any case, since it happened, it means that there is something seriously wrong with the system.

“We have never seen this type of things before. Is this the country we grew up in? Is this the country of our collective dream? Something has definitely entered that has not been with us before. We expect the leaders to exposed and remove that thing.”

The Catholic cleric further lamented that “those who don’t want the truth, don’t want to hear it and even when we go ahead to tell the truth, they won’t even listen”.

Onaiyekon said: “Our politicians should stop playing games. Let them tell the truth at all times. In the instant cases of insecurity and mindless killing, banditry and kidnapping, facing us daily, Nigerians should ask our leader, President Muhammadu Buhari and heads of our security agencies, to tell the nation what is happening.

“We hear that the President sent messages of condolence to people in Owo. What do we need these condolence messages for? The President should stop sending these messages.

“The President should be active and on top of these ugly incidents in the land. He should have fished out the perpetrators of the damnable acts, within one week. That is the only condolence that will give us consolation.”

Answering another question, Cardinal Onaiyekon said: “Eye witnesses to what happened in Owo, Ogun State, claimed that the perpetrators were Fulani herdsmen, but our authorities don’t want to say it and don’t want to tell the truth.

“We have been hearing this. We have refused to believe it but, unfolding events have started making us begin to think that may be, there is some iota of truth in the stories making the rounds. We must tell ourselves the truth.

“Our politicians, both in the North and South, should tell the truth to ourselves, so that we can stop sacrificing innocent lives.”

On the forthcoming 2023 general elections, Onaiyekon said: “My view is that, if we continue the politics the way it has been played all along, the result will be exactly the same.

“If we continue with bad government, if we continue with killings and bad economy, our country will further degenerate. What it means is that the game must be changed. We can also change the players, where necessary.”

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