Catholic Bishops in Nigeria have commended the Government of Nigeria, for signing the Petroleum Industry Act 2021 into law, but advised the government to address genuine concerns of the people regarding some clauses in the law.
“It is our hope that the implementation of the provisions of the law will truly serve the common good of the people”.
In a communique issued and signed by Most Rev. Augustine Obiora Akubueze, President of Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, (CBCN) at the end of their week-long event, the Bishops also decried the increasing insecurity and violence in Nigeria and called for respect for the sanctity of human life.
The Catholic Bishops regretted that except for the civil war, Nigeria has never witnessed the kind of widespread evil, wanton destruction and murderous bloodletting as it has witnessed in the recent past.
“Life has never been so cheap, nor has Nigeria ever been at the stage we are now. Deaths in the hands of kidnappers, killer herdsmen, bandits, terrorist groups have made Nigeria one of the most terrorized countries in the world.
“The abductions of school children present us with the prospects of a traumatized generation of young people.
“We recognize the efforts being made by Government to fight insecurity in the land. However, we stress that Government needs to show more strategic commitment and sincerity in this fight and take full responsibility for the present culture of violence and impunity in the country”.
“Furthermore, the government must be balanced and seen to be so in its response to the challenges of insecurity in every segment of the citizenry”.
Meanwhile, the Catholic Bishops called on all citizens to be law-abiding, vigilant, live by sound moral principles and, above all, obey the commandments of God.
“We continue to plead with all to shun violence and criminality. We urge government at all levels to provide the enabling environment that would make it possible for both the government and the private sector to create job opportunities for our teeming youth population. This would surely reduce the danger of insecurity and unrest in our land”. The Bishops noted.
The Catholic Bishops expressed gratitude to God that Nigeria still exists as one nation in spite of sundry agitations and struggles for self-determination.
“We observe that the agitations and tensions are as a result of bad governance, injustice, inequity, and unfairness in appointments and distribution of resources to parts of the country.
“We recognize the rights of peoples to self-determination, yet we emphasize that the exercise of such rights must be within the confines of the rule of law. We urge the government to ensure a just and fair trial of the arrested key players in the struggles.
“To mismanage these cases is to trigger off further avoidable unrest. We urge both government and citizens to work for a nation in which everyone and every part, irrespective of differences of tribe or religion or political affiliation, will have a sense of belonging.
The Catholic Bishops reiterated that the struggle for the soul of Nigeria, which is presently ongoing, will not be won by ethnic cleansing, nepotism, kidnapping and banditry, but by love, fairness, equity, common good and patriotism.
They, therefore, enjoined the government and all Nigerians to toe the path of justice and reconciliatory dialogue and see themselves as agents of peace and development in order to ensure a harmonious and united nation.
On electoral reforms, the Catholic Bishops were of the opinion that as a church, they are keenly interested in the political situation of Nigeria.
“Although the Church does not support any political party, she supports every government that prioritizes the welfare of the citizens. In the same way, the Church vehemently condemns government policies that do not promote development and the common good.
“We insist that there is an urgent need for a fair and credible electoral process, through which our political leaders emerge.
“We, therefore, state loud and clear that the recent voting by the National Assembly against electronic transmission of results of elections will create opening for further manipulation of electoral votes and lay the foundation for more conflicts in practices of future elections”.
They, therefore, called on the National Assembly to reconsider its position in the light of world best.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), was held at the Holy Ghost Cathedral, Ogui, Enugu, Enugu state from 19-27 August 2021.
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