Catholic Bishops task Nigerian leaders on good governance

Ukamaka Okafor, Abuja

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Catholic Bishops in Nigeria have called on leaders at all levels to make good governance and the Common Good of the nation as their priority to foster peace and development in the country.

This was part of issues contained in a Communiqué issued at the end of the First Plenary Meeting of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

 As their annual tradition, this first plenary is preceded by the first week of Lent. The Communiqué therefore describes Lent as “a Season of new Beginnings.
The Holy Season of Lent affords us an added opportunity to pray, to fast and to enhance Christian charity. As we sincerely seek the face of God, let us be steadfast in cultivating those virtues of decency and moral uprightness that will enhance the peace, the unity and the well-being of the whole nation. With the Holy Father, Pope Francis, we pray that the Holy Season of Lent teach us again how to live as children of God, redeemed, led by the Holy Spirit and capable of acknowledging and obeying God’s law written in our hearts.”

The Communiqué further states that the Church in her Social Teaching describes the Common Good as the “sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfilment more fully and more easily. The pursuit of this good must be based on the respect for the sanctity and dignity of human life and the equality of all people. The Common Good presupposes respect for the human person and requires the social well-being and development of the group itself ”

It also stresses the need for good governance in Nigeria saying “Governance worth its name only possible where there is true justice, equality and peace. It demands virtues, such as, patience, modesty, moderation, charity and efforts to share. In governing, leaders have to focus on the Common Good and ensure that the people and their aspirations, both individual and collective, assume paramount importance.

“As a matter of justice not charity, political governance has to pay particular attention to the provision of basic amenities, making sound policies and showing concern for the underprivileged of the society who are often deprived of the opportunity to participate in their own development.

“We therefore enjoin government at all levels in Nigeria to put necessary structures of governance in place and enact appropriate laws that will produce such an environment. We equally insist that the democratic culture of the separation of powers and the independence of the Judiciary be respected.” 

On the State of the Nation, the Communiqué places more emphasis on the 2019 General Elections and Our Democracy “The 2019 General Elections have come and gone except in some areas where the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has scheduled supplementary elections for specified reasons. We commend our people for the patriotism and the maturity displayed, and the electorate who in some places came out en masse especially during the Presidential and National Assembly Elections to exercise their rights and perform their civic duties. We equally note the voter apathy that characterized the subsequent Governorship and State Houses of Assembly Elections. We believe that this apathy may not have been unconnected with among other things, the violence, malpractice and the unnecessary militarization of the process, all of which contributed to eroding the people’s confidence in the electoral process.

“We have taken note of those who have been declared winners, and commend the civility of those who rejected the results but have chosen to express their grievances through legitimate means under the law rather than through violence. Whatever the outcome, justice must be seen to have been done. We admonish whoever holds power at the end of the day to remember that power belongs to God and to Him alone. God demands strict accountability for how anyone takes power and uses it, for God cannot be deceived or challenged (Lk 16:2).

Towards a New Political Culture, it adds “We affirm that elections are an opportunity for people through the ballot to freely choose those who will serve them. We denounce the unfortunate incident of loss of lives and destruction of property, which is ongoing even now. We however, admonish that elections should not be turned into a battle between warriors fighting to capture power and conquer territory and people at all cost. We observe that many of the challenges that emerged during the electoral process were as a result of inadequate electoral laws, which made implementation problematic and at times offered lacunae for evil minded people to exploit the situation to their own advantage.

“Even where the rules were clear, they were not always adhered to. One of the reported phenomena during the elections was the crude and reckless use of money to buy votes; showing how desperate politicians and political parties are determined to get political power at all cost. Bad elections do not lead to good governance. We demand that the government acknowledge the inadequacies that characterized the 2019 elections and embark on a course for redress. We urge her to enact, endorse and implement laws and policies that will ensure free, fair and credible elections in the future.”

On Promoting Good Governance, Catholic Bishops of Nigeria give their full support as a Duty for All “we enjoin all Nigerians, leaders and the led, to abide by democratic principles such as respect for human life, human rights and the rule of law. We also encourage the electorate to ensure that those who hold public offices in our country are held accountable. We equally urge all Nigerians to eschew all forms of indiscipline and corruption and be resolute rather than lose hope in our struggle for a better future and nation.

The  body also condemns the Recent Killings in Kaduna and other States and  appealed to the President, in collaboration with the Governors of Kaduna State and other affected States to seriously take steps to arrest this drift before total anarchy and mayhem consume the entire nation.