The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) on Friday called on the Federal Government to immediately convene a national conference to address issues bothering on restructuring and devolution of power.
The bishops also fear the country, with the current situation and growing insecurity has all the signs of a failed state, calling on the Federal Government to listen to voices of reason and be tolerant of criticism.
The President of CBCN, who is also the Archbishop of Benin City, Augustine Akubeze, made the position of the bishops known in a statement he issued on Friday.
He said: “In Nigeria, the Catholic Church wants the Federal Government to call for a meeting of all stakeholders to have a sincere discussion on the way forward.
“Such discussions must seek how to implement the much talked about restructuring and devolution of power down to the local government level.
“Let us continue to pray to God to grant the Federal Government and other state actors the wisdom and courage to bring peace and justice to every Nigerian.
“No government leader should watch the breakdown of law and order in Nigeria. It is our collective obligation to make Nigeria successful.
“As religious people, we entrust Nigeria to the hands of God and pray that we may respond to the voice of God calling us out of this crisis.”
Akubeze, who said that in every democracy, the welfare of the citizens was of great concern to the President, noted that from time to time, Presidents address the people and give an account of the state of affairs in the country, which he said was not happening in Nigeria.
“Presidents of countries grant interviews to the media who are the watchdogs of democracy. But in Nigeria, we hardly hear directly from our President.
“Most of the time, we hear from ‘he Presidency.’ Nigerians did not elect presidential media spokespersons. Nigerians do want to hear directly from their President and hear words that are matched with actions.
“To every religious leader, let us not use inflammatory words that distort the real message we are sending to this government.
“We must be united in the fight for our common destiny as a people. It must be clearly stated to the Federal Government that if they continue to ignore the constructive criticisms and recommendations of Nigerians from every sector, the country will collapse and become ungovernable.
“We are speedily getting there. Police stations are being burnt, our gallant military men and women are being killed, barracks are attacked, IDP camps are attacked, farmlands are invaded, youth unemployment is at its highest, private sectors are not giving enabling environment to thrive, and appointments to offices are not reflective of our diversities; the complaints are almost endless – could the sounds signalling a collapsing nation be louder than this?”
Continuing the cleric insisted that every Nigerian is a stakeholder in the affairs of the country, with the right to express themselves in a manner that does not incite people to violence or chaos whenever they perceive that the elected government is failing.
According to him, a Nigerian does not need to be a registered political party’s card-carrying member before speaking about the failing economy, the daily killings and kidnappings of students, older men and women; babies and infants; people being killed in IDP camps and even in their homes by insurgents.
“Every reasonable Nigerian is sick to the stomach to read or hear of a governor running from insurgents who want to kill him in the state where he is constitutionally the chief security officer.
“Nigerians are tired of hearing of bandits taking youths in the university and executing some of them, while others are kept to be used to bargain for ransom.
“The insecurity is leading to a daily loss of lives and properties in every part of the country. These facts are indisputable.
“A country where students are no longer safe in schools nor farmers safe in their farms does not have a future to look to”, Akubeze said.