Senior Catholic Prelates have condemned the recent increase in the price of petrol (premium motor spirit) and have asked President Muhammadu Buhari to reverse the latest increment in the price of petrol and electricity.
The Archbishops spoke during the First General Assembly of Abuja Archdiocese, held at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria, Pro-Cathedral over the Weekend.
Speaking, Archbishop Emeritus, His Eminence John Cardinal Onaiyekan, lamented that the price increase did not come with a boost in the average income of citizens.
Onaiyekan recalled that the government had previously assured Nigerians that it would make life better for them lamenting that the reverse was the case.
“Mr President, in the same breath, was telling us he was going to do all he can to make life easier for Nigerians and one of the things he can do is those increases.
“Let the Federal Government put the fuel price increase and electricity tariff increase in a wider context. We wouldn’t complain about the fuel price increase if the salaries also increased.
“The problem comes when you leave the people with nothing to eat. I don’t think the government is supposed to be doing that. They should find a way to make life liveable for Nigerians,” Onaiyekan said.
Similarly, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Abuja, Most Rev Ignatius Kaigama, asked President Buhari to give more attention to policies and programmes that would reduce poverty and hardship.
Said he: “With the current economic crisis occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a huge increase in poverty levels. “So, we call on the government to give priority to alleviating poverty and improving life situations among Nigerians.
“I can only beg on behalf of the poor and the needy that government should have mercy on us. We are at the grassroots and I meet people who are really poor and in need and with all these increases, it makes life more intolerable.
“As a priest, I can only pray that God will do something for the poor and the needy, but God doesn’t operate in a vacuum; He uses our leaders, the president, the governors and local government chairmen. I know they can do something. “Let them just look at the poor and the needy with the eyes of mercy and strategize. There is a way out, the government can help the masses.
“As a witness, people are in agony and are suffering. The government is their father; the government is their leader. Let them do something.”
Kaigama also called on Christian and Muslim leaders to join hands in advocating for a better life for all Nigerians.
“We must shun the mentality where everyone is for himself or herself and cares only for those who are friends, family or from the same tribe, region, religion or political party, to the extent that we subordinate the common good to selfish interests, and even consider others as outsiders, thus triggering the feelings in certain quarters of being neglected, abandoned or marginalised,” they said.
On the controversial section 839 (2) (11) of the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAMA Act (2020), the Senior Bishops said the provisions should either be corrected or expunged.