AFRICA/NIGERIA - Bishops: “Counter poverty with measures to combat insecurity and promote agriculture”

Friday, 23 February 2024 bishops   synod of bishops   kidnappings   economy  

Abuja (Agenzia Fides) - " The legitimacy of government depends on its capacity to protect life and property" emphasize the Nigerian Bishops in the final declaration of their first general assembly in 2024. The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) speaks out once again to recall the urgency of effective measures to address the serious insecurity affecting Nigeria due to jihadist attacks in the north, attacks by armed Fulani herdsmen in the center- North, the separatist unrest in the south and the scourge of kidnappings for extortion purposes throughout the country (see statement of the Dicastery for Evangelization on this subject, Fides 16/2/2024).
"In view of the government’s effort to end insecurity, we recommend that the ongoing discussion about the creation of State Police be carefully studied. Furthermore, the government ought to assess the impact of all other already existing security outfits in this regard", said the bishops.
There is currently a public debate in Nigeria about the creation of police units in the 36 States to complement the Federal Police, which is currently the only police force in the country, apart from a few voluntary organizations recognized in some states (see Fides 19/11/2022). While many Nigerians argue that the creation of the state police departments is long overdue, others fear that state governors could use them for their own power purposes. The Bishops also deplore the growing number of internally displaced people and the failure of economic measures to support the population (see statement by the President of the Nigerian Bishops' Conference, Archbishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji of Owerri, Fides 19/2/2024), which leads to increasing poverty and hardship. In this context, the Bishops' Conference also proposes measures to improve the agricultural sector and to create small businesses in rural areas in order to increase productivity and reduce unemployment.
"Given the diminishing purchasing power of the Nigerian currency, and the capacity of agriculture to be the bedrock of our survival, we urge the government to create the necessary and conducive environment that would enable our people to return to their farms. We enjoin the government at all levels to establish small-scale industries in rural areas to increase productivity and reduce unemployment. It would be helpful if such industries are agro-based." In keeping with the theme of the Assembly “Synod on Synodality: Areas of Concern for the Church in Nigeria”, the bishops stressed the importance of acting together and listening to one another to address the challenges facing the nation.
In particular, addressing the government, the CBCN invites it "to open up to the contribution of all segments and levels of the Nigerian community, so that together we can face the emergency situation in which we now find ourselves. It is no longer acceptable for our leaders to surround themselves only with their political supporters and cronies". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 23/2/2024)