Catholic bishops blame government for tension in Nigeria

Catholic Bishops have blamed President Muhammadu Buhari for the tension in the country, saying realities on ground negated the promises he made in 2015 to ensure national integration and cohesion in his inauguration speech.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), in a communique at the end of their second plenary meeting in Jalingo, Taraba State, yesterday, said: “Our country is currently passing through tension, agitations and a general sense of hopelessness and dissatisfaction.”

In the communiqué signed by its President and Archbishop of Jos, Reverend Ignatius Ayau Kaigama and its Secretary, who is also the Bishop of Gboko, Reverend William A. Avenya, the clerics also demanded fair treatment from governors of the northern states, claiming that some of their dioceses were denied rights to own landed property.

“We demand fair treatment from the state governments in the North that deny some of our Dioceses rights to own landed property for mission work by their refusal to issue them Certificates of Occupancy (C of Os). People of different religions need to co-exist, communicate, and be allowed to freely practice their religions everywhere in this country, they said.

They argued that the dissatisfaction in the country was the result of injustice, inequity, corruption and impunity over the years. They said there were agitations in many parts of the country against the one-sidedness in appointments to key institutions and sensitive national offices, against marginalisation, and unfair distribution of resources and amenities, insisting that there were also alleged cases of selective application of the rule of law.

“In his inaugural speech as civilian President on May 29, 2015, the President sent out a message of hope and of his commitment to national integration and cohesion.

“He said having just a few minutes ago sworn on the Holy Book, I intend to keep my oath and serve as President to all Nigerians. I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody. A few people have privately voiced fears that on coming back to office I shall go after them. These fears are groundless. There will be no paying off old scores.

“More than two years later, the reality on ground and the verdict of most of our people across the nation – irrespective of religious affiliation, ethnic group or social status–point to the contrary.

“The inability of the government to address the inequitable situation in the country has provided breeding ground for violent reactions, protests and agitations, which exploit the grievances of different segments of the country,” the communiqué reads

The clerics lamented what they described as the continued havoc caused by armed herdsmen in various parts of our country, saying it “can no longer be treated as mere clashes between pastoralists and farmers.

“We demand that adequate and prompt action be taken and be clearly seen to have been taken to stop their onslaught,” they added.

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