AFRICA/NIGERIA - "Do not repress the demands of young people for justice and democracy", says the Archbishop of Abuja

Thursday, 17 June 2021 bishops   democracy   youth  

Abuja (Agenzia Fides) - "Do not repress young people with their reasonable requests". This is the appeal launched by His Exc. Mgr. Ignatius Ayau Kaigama, Archbishop of Abuja, in his homily on Sunday, June 13, in which he warned the federal government against "suppressing" the voices of the youth protesting against bad governance and insecurity in the West African country.
Young people in Nigeria marked the country’s annual Democracy Day, June 12 through street protests, saying democracy in the West African nation is under threat. The demonstrators cited multiple cases of insecurity, bad governance, and the recent Twitter ban, among other issues that seem to threaten democracy.
Police officers fired tear gas and arrested some of the young people who were participating in the demonstrations. On June 5, Nigerian authorities suspended Twitter after the service provider deleted a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari arguing that the Nigerian President had violated Twitter’s terms of service.
Suppressing the voices of the youth people, Archbishop Kaigama said, "or scaring them away is not a solution, but responding positively and creatively to those reasonable demands of theirs". Mgr. Kaigama expressed the hope that Nigerians will be able to "overcome hatred, stereotyping, sectional interests, and bigotry, divisive and manipulative tendencies. It is our prayer that Nigeria will mature beyond the polarization-based on religion and tribe, so as to be a shining light of social integration for Africa".
The Archbishop of Abuja then recalled that oil, in addition to being the country's main source of income, "constitutes the major source of conflict, injustice and marginalization". Furthermore, dependence on oil as Nigeria's main economic resource risks making the country unprepared for global energy and ecological developments. "There will be less demand for oil in the future and some countries are preparing to use electric vehicles or energy sources like solar and wind, a technological transformation that will render oil redundant,” Archbishop Kaigama observed, proposing animal husbandry and farming as alternative sources of revenue.
To foster animal husbandry and farming, the Nigerian Catholic Church leader called for an end to the “needless” antagonism between livestock keepers and crop farmers.
"Stop the needless hostility between farmers and herders, and rather invest heavily in modernizing these sectors which can help to reduce the number of unemployed youths on the streets,” the archbishop who will turn 63 next month said.
He challenged the unemployed youth in Nigeria to remain focused and “not allow the healthy seeds in them to die.”
“Keep dreaming positively and back it up by doing even petty jobs that will give you the dignity to eat from the labor of your hands. God will reward your patience". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 17/6/2021)