OYO, NIGERIA -
The solution to the problems of Nigeria lies in the determination of all Nigerians to rise up positively against the challenges of violence and other vices that are currently prevalent in the country.
This assertion was made by the Catholic Bishops of Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province Conference, in the communiqué issued at the end of their statutory meeting held at the St Paul Pastoral Centre, Awe, near Oyo, between August 20 and 21, 2012.
In the communiqué signed by Archbishop Felix Alaba Job and Bishop Felix Ajakaye, President and Secretary, respectively, the bishops noted that violent and tragic deaths, bloodshed and destructions, robberies and ethnic clashes seem to have become the order of the day in the country. They stressed: `If Nigeria is to be saved from further decay, violence and bloodshed, Nigerians, before anyone else, must be in the frontline for finding solutions to the crisis through a recommitment to reconciliation and justice.`
The bishops while recommitting themselves to the work of dialogue, reconciliation, justice and peace, ` which define the fresh agenda for evangelization for the Church in Africa` urged the faithful to be conversant with the Pope`s Post Synodal Exhortation titled Africae Munus, noting that: `The issues raised in the theme are germane to the reality of Nigeria today, given our current, pervasive state of insecurity, violence and injustice.`
They regretted the country is on the brink of collapse pointing out that: `The tragic Boko Haram insurgence which continues to spread death, mayhem and destruction in Nigeria is merely the most visible manifestation of our country\`s burden of political chaos and confusion.`
They continued: `Added to our huge backlog of unresolved murders and intrigues, now are very serious allegations of corruption against eminent Nigerians and even government officials in the current administration at various levels up to the very top. Government has so far not only failed to seriously investigate and prosecute most of these allegations but is now seen by many to even be shielding certain individuals and interests from prosecution.`
The bishops remarked further that: `This fact greatly detracts from the credibility of the transformation agenda of the current administration and further demoralizes our fractious nation.`
They appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan and his administration `to shed the current toga of timidity and foot-dragging and courageously confront the monsters of corruption and insecurity as a panacea to unemployment, crime and despondency in the land. We ask Nigerians to fully support such a process with all the objectivity and sacrifice required.`
The bishops absolved religion from being a major problem of the Nigerian nation pointing out that without true religion, `the world would become a chaotic jungle, ruled only by man\`s bestial whims and caprices.` They called on all religious leaders and people, Christians and Muslims to save religion from ridicule by preaching justice, tolerance and dialogue to their adherents at every opportunity
They called on all Catholics to remain calm and committed to peaceful coexistence and mutual respect for all Nigerians irrespective of religion or class differences, noting the areas in which the Catholic Church has promoted mutual unity in all aspects of human endeavours to make life worth living for majority of Nigerians.
While calling on the faithful to make the best use of the Year of the Faith to enhance their life of spirituality and prayer, the bishops congratulated Ilorin Diocese for its centenary celebration of the Catholic faith in the diocese and its local ordinary for the two decades of his Episcopal ordination as a Catholic Bishop. They concluded: `As preachers of the Good News, we Bishops have no choice but to continue to believe in the possibility of a greater Nigeria freed from chaos, anarchy and doom. For this to happen, every Nigerian must have a change of heart and be honest about accommodating and respecting one another.`
The Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province comprises of Ibadan Archdiocese, Ilorin, Oshogbo, Oyo, Ekiti and Ondo dioceses.