ABEOKUTA – The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) has observed with dismay that the nation’s democracy is derailing, saying it lacks rule of law, respect for fundamental human rights and other qualities of good governance.
The conference also noted that qualities of accountability, transparency, independence of the judiciary, respect for fundamental rights, observance of the rule of law, as well as fair and credible electoral process had been lacking.
This was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of the CBCN’s second plenary meeting held at the Divine Mercy Pastoral Centre, Agbamaya, Obada-Oko, Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital at the weekend.
The communiqué, which had as its theme, “Moving Beyond Precarious Living In Nigeria”, was signed by Most Rev. Augustine Obiora Akubeze, the Archbishop of Benin City and Most Rev. Camillus Raymond Umoh, the Bishop of Ikot-Ekpene, CBCN President and Secretary, respectively.
The communiqué read: “We observe that our democracy is derailing from what it should be. We therefore urge all politicians, businessmen, religious leaders, public servants and indeed all citizens to live out the values of their faith for the common good.
“We thank God for making it possible for our country to continue to exist as a sovereign nation. Yet, much effort is required from both government and citizens in order to have a nation in which everyone and every part, irrespective of differences of tribe or religion or political affiliation, will have a sense of belonging.”
It added: “We note with dismay that many months after the general elections, many parts of our nation are still in disarray. The country is badly divided. This is evident in appointments to positions of national importance, sharing of resources, and distribution of social amenities.
“We urge, especially the Federal Government, to ensure that it does not allow ethnic or religious hegemony to prevail in our multi-religious and secular state. No one religion should be favoured over another.
“There should be fairness, justice and neutrality in relation to all religions and ethnic groups, for where there is no justice, there can be no peace, unity and development. We therefore enjoin all Nigerians to see themselves as one united people and work for justice in order to ensure a peaceful and united nation.
“The Nigerian state is much endowed with natural, human and spiritual resources. Sadly, political authorities have not been completely diligent in relating to these resources neither have they been fair and equitable in distributing them.
“Justice requires them to give everyone their due, from sharing of resources to caring for the human person. Where there is no fair sharing of wealth and opportunities, there is bound to be crisis. It is only when we have justice that we can have true peace and sustainable development.”
On the security of the nation, the CBCN said, “There are, unfortunately, still many instances of killings as a result of banditry, kidnapping, assassination, armed robbery, reckless use of force by security agencies and lynching. Lately, too, there is an upsurge in the cases of suicide, even among our youths.
“The clashes between herdsmen and communities, and the activities of Boko Haram insurgents have continued, in which many innocent people lose their lives. These make living in Nigeria very precarious. We recognize the efforts being made by the government to fight insecurity in the land. However, we emphasize that a lot more still needs to be done in this regard.”
The Bishops reiterated that without adequate security of lives and property, there can be no stability and enabling environment for meaningful development.