AFRICA/NIGERIA - Bishops warn of a split in the country

Wednesday, 24 February 2021 bishops   unity  

Abuja (Agenzia Fides) - "Nigeria is in danger of falling apart", warn the Nigerian bishops, who complain about the serious shortcomings of state institutions and, in particular, their inability to ensure security for all, creating a division between the various national groups that make up the federation.
"The clamour for self-defense is fast gaining ground. Many ethnic champions are loudly beating the drums of war, calling not only for greater autonomy but even for outright opting out of a nation in which they have lost all trust and sense of belonging. The calls for secession on an ethnic basis from many quarters should not be ignored or taken lightly", warn the Bishops in a statement signed by His Exc. Mgr. Augustine Obiora Akubeze, Archbishop of Benin City and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), and by His Exc. Mgr. Camillus Raymond Umoh, Bishop of Ikot Ekpene and Secretary of the CBCN.
The failure of the government, according to the bishops, is the cause of the discouragement of Nigerians with regard to unity: "Many have given up on the viability and even on the desirability of the Nigeria project as one united country. No wonder many non-state actors are filling the vacuum created by a palpable failure of government".
"TheFederal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari can no longer delay rising to its obligation to govern the nation; not according to ethnic and religious biases but along the lines of objective and positive principles of fairness, equity and, above all, justice", the statement stresses.
"We, of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, with members from all parts of Nigeria, are very highly disturbed about the present state of instability in the land", the statement continues. "We are raising this alarm because of our deep patriotic love for our nation, not for any sectional interests, be they political, ethnic or even religious", underline the Bishops.
"Despite the persistence of crises around us; assassinations, Covid 19, kidnappings, murders, banditry, armed robberies, we sincerely affirm our faith in the viability and desirability of the Nigeria Project, as one prosperous nation under God", the Bishops conclude. "But we are also convinced that building such a nation, especially in our present circumstances, comes at a cost. We are also convinced that the alternative of tearing ourselves apart, comes with a cost that is far higher than what it takes to keep ourselves together", concludes the message by launching an appeal to everyone to "make the necessary sacrifices that would enable us to manage our differences better and turn them into a positive rather than a negative force". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 24/2/2021)