Abuja (Agenzia Fides) - "We ask the Nigerian government to guarantee adequate security for people and their property. Where there is no peace, development cannot arise", said Fr. Benedict Ahamojie, in presenting the final document of the Pastoral Assembly of the Archdiocese of Abuja, which ended last weekend. Participants in the Assembly strongly condemned the recent massacres of civilians committed in various areas of Nigeria.
Last weekend alone at least ten civilians were killed in attacks on villages in northeastern Nigeria, local officials reported on Sept. 7. The attackers killed four residents, during their sleep on Sunday 6 September, of the village of Kurmari, 40 km from the regional capital Maiduguri. In another village on the outskirts of Maiduguri, also on Sunday, suspected jihadists burned three people alive and killed a fourth with knives.
More than 36,000 people have been killed in the violence since the insurrection of Boko Haram in 2009 in northeastern Nigeria, where more than two million people are still unable to return to their homes.
Fr. Benedict then launched an appeal to the government to undertake a path of collaboration with religious institutions in the educational and health fields. "The rampant pandemic due to Covid-19 has highlighted the deplorable state of the national education and health system", said the priest. "We ask the government to collaborate with religious institutions and organizations of religious inspiration that have shown great commitment and ability to provide quality education and health care at affordable prices to the vast majority of citizens".
The precarious state of public health is witnessed by the strike called by doctors in public hospitals in Nigeria to demand higher wages, better social coverage and better working conditions. Strikes in the hospital sector are frequent in Nigeria, whose health services suffer from a marked shortage of funds. A week-long strike was called in June to protest the inadequacy of the equipment provided to the staff responsible for dealing with Covid-19 cases. With over 200 million inhabitants, Nigeria has registered more than 55,000 cases of Covid-19, with 1,057 official victims". Covid-19 has increased the level of poverty.
We call on the government to take the necessary actions to reduce poverty", said His Exc. Mgr. R. Ignatius Ayau Kaigama, Archbishop of Abuja during his opening speech.
Fr. Benedict concluded by asking the faithful to intensify their prayers "for the senseless killings and corruption in Nigeria to end" and by making an appeal for volunteers to offer themselves as catechists to increase the work of evangelization in the Archdiocese. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 10/9/2020)