The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) has declared that the best way to guarantee security in Nigeria is through good governance.
The eminent clerics therefore appealed to Nigerian leaders to ensure that good governance is institutionalised and urged the citizens to vote for credible politicians at the 2023 general election.
Archbishop of Owerri and President of CBCN, Most Rev. Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, stated this at the opening session of the 2022 Second Plenary Assembly of the CBCN at the Sacred Heart Pastoral Centre, Orlu in Imo State.
The bishops lamented that Nigerians are passing through what might be deemed as the darkest chapter of the country’s history as a nation, adding that extreme poverty, soaring unemployment rate, spiraling inflation, a collapsing economy with an ever-increasing debt burden, and worsening insecurity have combined to complicate the plight of the average Nigerian, who appears condemned to a life of intolerable hardship and undeserved misery.
“The country has continued to bleed endlessly as a result of the ungodly activities of insurgents, bandits, militant herdsmen, unknown gunmen, kidnappers, and trigger-happy security agents. Nowhere seems safe anymore. Homes, farmlands, markets, highways, places of worship, and presbyteries have all been turned into kidnapping and killing fields,” they said.
The Catholic Bishops who lamented that innocent citizens are butchered with savagery and brazen impunity by criminals, who lack the sense of the sanctity of human life, said that when all is said and done, it must be stressed that the best way to guarantee security in a nation is through good governance that aims at the common good.
“Good governance generates peace, which is the bedrock of development, and which takes root when people’s dignity and rights are respected when there is the rule of law; when citizens are not excluded from political participation; when there is equitable distribution of national resources and people are free from hunger, poverty, and unemployment.
“It is, therefore, belabouring the obvious to observe that lack of good governance results in extreme poverty, unemployment, hardship, crime, and violent conflicts. In these difficult times, we cannot but stress that the first responsibility any government owes to its citizens is the security of their lives and property.
“Nigerians have the right to live in a secure and safe country. This is basic; every other thing flows from it. After the heavy annual budgets on security and after repeated assurances by the government that it is on top of the matter, our country is still plagued by insecurity.
“This is a shame. Government must wake up. Given that the government seems overwhelmed in securing us, we encourage dioceses to take adequate measures to beef up security in our parishes, presbyteries, and other Church Institutions. We also urge dioceses and all people of goodwill to take the upcoming 2023 general elections seriously,” the bishops said.
The Catholic Bishops, therefore, called on all Nigerians to brace up to share the values of good governance based on the common good, and use their votes to elect people of unassailable integrity, who have the character, competence, capacity, and track record to lead the nation out of the present economic doldrums.
They expressed disappointment that the rising insecurity and worsening economic situation in the country is resulting in migration and brain drain of professionals and skilled labourers leaving the country in thousands annually in search of safety and security, job opportunities, and a better standard of living abroad, especially in Europe, the United States and other African countries.
“No doubt, regular remittances from these migrants help to alleviate poverty among the households they left behind and impact positively on our national economy as a major source of inflow of foreign earnings. Be that as it may, professionals and skilled labourers, who would have helped in national development, are lost to the country. This is only one side of the story.
“The other side of the story, which is more of a national disgrace, consists of thousands of young men and women, who in search of greener pastures, embark on perilous journeys to Europe across the Sahara Desert. Along the way, some die and are buried in unmarked graves.
“Others are trafficked for slave labour, sexual exploitation, and organ harvesting. Many get drowned as they try to cross over the Mediterranean Sea with rickety and risky boats. Those who are lucky to make it to their final destinations end up in camps for asylum seekers, where they are at times subjected to subhuman conditions.
“Despite the collaborative efforts of the Police, Customs, Immigration, Network Against Child Trafficking Abuse and Labour (NACTAL), and National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIM) to tackle human trafficking in Nigeria, traffickers are having a field day. This despicable modern-day slavery is booming because it has become a lucrative business and also as a result of the high level of corruption underpinning it.
“Out of desperation to escape from extreme poverty and in the bid to support their poor families financially, some young girls, with the support of their parents, volunteer themselves to be trafficked for prostitution, without being aware of the level of exploitation and dehumanisation awaiting them,” the bishops said.