Catholic bishops yesterday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to do something urgently to correct a growing distrust among Nigerians on the sincerity and ability of his administration to tackle Boko Haram and end the regrettable killings and kidnappings going on in the country.
As a way out of the helpless security situation, the bishops urged the president to seek the intervention of the global community towards ending the activities of Boko Haram terrorists in the country.
They also urged the western media to beam more attention to the atrocities being committed in Nigeria by Boko Haram and other armed groups against Christians. While reading out the position of the CBCN, its president and the Archbishop of Benin, His Grace Augustine Akubueze, said that lack of significant action to prevent attacks and secure the release of those being held in captivity by Boko Haram is fast breeding distrust and lack of confidence in the Buhari-led administration, especially its ability to act decisively and without bias.
He said: “The guns of the terrorists do not know who is a member of PDP or APC, Mr. President Nigeria is a secular state act to reassure Nigerians that there is no agenda to islamise Nigeria or to give Islam and Muslims undue advantage over other religions and there adherents.
“Your silence is sowing and breeding seeds of mistrust and the longer it stays this way, the more you lose those who could have given you the benefit if doubt. As things stands now, it appears only a few Nigerians can defend you with reasons; only few Nigerians can argue that your silence is not an endorsement if the barbaric actions of the terrorists and criminals,” he said.
Akubueze said the bishops were embarking on a peaceful protest on behalf of over 50 million Catholics and over 100 million Christians in Nigeria against the brutal killings of innocent Nigerians by Boko Haram and terrorist herdsmen who are invading peoples’ farmlands forcefully.
While alleging insincerity against the federal government, the bishops said “government seems completely insensitive to the plight of Nigerians; a government that totally ignores the cries of those who elected it is set up for a fantastic failure”.
“Only recently we have seen that some of those in the presidency have discovered that they can no longer go to some places where they campaign before elections. They are being booed by those who once supported them because these Nigerians feel let down,” he said.
On demands for the sack of service chiefs the bishops urged President Buhari to heed the advice of the many well-meaning Nigerians, including members of the National Assembly.
The bishops had earlier marched through the streets of Abuja soaked with water from the rains that started just few minutes before the commencement of their rosary procession organised to mourn all those killed or wounded by Boko Haram terrorists and armed herdsmen in the country.
The procession which began at 3 p.m. saw the bishops march from the Christian Ecumenical Centre in Central Area, Abuja along with thousands of Catholic faithful and other priests.
The precession was led by Cardinal John Onayaikam, Archibishop Kaigama, Archibishop Akunueze, Bishop Hassan Kukah and other bishops.
The bishops prayed and marched through the headquarters of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Radio House, the Army headquarters and ended up at the Our Lady of Apostles Catholic Cathedral in Area 3 Garki, Abuja The procession was concluded with benediction at the church premises.
Earlier durimg his homily, the Catholic Archibishop of Abuja His Grace Archbishop Kaigama said that the federal government should not be apprehensive over the meeting of the Catholic Bishops in Abuja because the aim is to help find solutions to the problems confronting the country. He said that instead of being jittery or suspicious of the actions of the church, President Muhammadu Buhari should listen to words of advice from the bishops.
“Our country seems like that man who fell among armed robbers. We are battling with terrorists, cultists, criminals, kidnappers, economic saboteurs, unscrupulous political leaders, religious bigots and partisan traditional rulers.
“It seems everyone is just passing by, including those who shape our policies and into whose hands we have entrusted the economy, the security, the unity and stability, the present and the future of our children.
Vice President Yemi Osibanjo led the federal delegation that included Minister of Transport , Mr. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi and Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu to attend the opening mass.
The vice president however did not speak to journalists as he left the venue of the church service immediately it ended.
Imo State Governor Hope Uzodinma and other top government officials also attended the mass service at the St. Gabriel Chaplaincy, Durumi in Abuja.
Speaking on the agenda of the conference, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria and Archibishop of Benin Archdiocese, Akubueze said the church is worried about the pitiable state of affairs in the country and decided to meet in order to provide solutions and try and advise those in authority to prevent our nation from becoming a failed state.
For his part, Uzodinma who accompanied the vice president to the church service also spoke on the concerns about insecurity in the country. He described the scourge as a global problem of which Nigeria is having its fair share.
Amaechi who represented the vice president at the brief reception after the church service, said the priests should assist in the fight against corruption by rejecting politicians who have corruptly enriched themselves.
In apparent response to the charge by Archibishop Kaigama for government to develop rail transportation, Amaechi told the bishops that President Buhari has approved the construction of a rail line from Port Harcourt, Rivers state to Maiduguri in Borno State.