Catholic Bishops urge government to reflect federal character in offices

Timothy Choji, Abuja


The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria CBCN has called on the current administration, under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari to up its responsibilities of protecting lives and property and also reflect federal character in all its appointments and allocation of resources as stipulated by the Nigerian constitution.

President of the Conference, Most Reverend Ignatius Kaigama made this call on Thursday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, soon after he led members of the CBCN on a courtesy visit to President Muhammadu Buhari.

“We earnestly urge the government to take very seriously its primary responsibility of protecting the lives and property of its citizens and ensure that mindless killings do not reoccur. Herdsmen may be under pressure to save their livestock and economy but this is never to be done at the expense of other people’s lives and means of livelihood.

We would like to add our voice to that of other well-meaning Nigerians who insist that a better alternative to open grazing should be sought rather than introducing “cattle colonies” in the country.

While thinking of how best to help cattle owners establish ranches, government should equally have plans to help the other farmers whose produce is essential for our survival as a nation. In a similar vein, daredevil kidnappers, who at present are having a field day, with a feeling of invincibility, must be made to understand that there is a government in this country.

Government should invest more in equipping our Police Force with modern high-tech devices that will help them track down and arrest these criminals and make them face the wrath of the law,” the Most Reverend stated.

 Kaigama also said: “The Federal Character Principle is enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria: “The government of the Federation or any of its and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or in any of its agencies.”

Disregard for this Principle in some federal government appointments as well as perceptible imbalance in the distribution of federal amenities has created the loss of a sense of belonging in many parts of the country, hence the constant cries of marginalization, agitation for secession and calls for restructuring.”

Assemblage of good hands

The Catholic Bishops also stated that the leadership of the President is comprised of intelligent and credible personalities that can help address the challenges facing the nation.

Again, Most Reverend Ignatius Kaigama said: “You can imagine this team of Ministers, the Secretary to Government and all other wonderful people working for the government. They are intelligent, they know Nigeria and they know what to do.

When they meet at the Executive Council, they know what to do, they have the Police, Military and all the needed intelligence but we are encouraging them to do the right thing. Let them do it right because we have fantastic resources. Nigeria should be a wonderful country because we have human and natural resources but misuse of these resources and bad governance makes us suffer.

I think the crop of people assembled by this present government have the capacity to do something better for Nigerians,” he affirmed.

Urgent Steps

Kaigama, who is also the Catholic Arch Bishop of Jos, said there was need for government to do something urgent to address the declining goodwill of Nigerians and the challenges confronting the nation.

“There is too much suffering in the country: poverty, hunger, insecurity, violence, fear… the list is endless. Our beloved country appears to be under siege. Many negative forces seem to be keeping a stranglehold on the population, especially the weaker and defenceless ones. 

There is a feeling of hopelessness across the country. Our youths are restive and many of them have taken to hard drugs, cultism and other forms of violent crime, while many have become victims of human trafficking. The Nation is nervous.

 “Just as we seem to be gradually emerging from the dark tunnel of an economic recession that caused untold hardship to families and individuals, violent attacks by unscrupulous persons, among whom are terrorists masquerading as herdsmen, have led to a near civil war situation in many parts of the country.

We are saddened that, repeatedly, innocent citizens in different communities across the nation are brutally attacked and their sources of livelihood mindlessly destroyed. Lives are wasted and property, worth billions of Naira, including places of worship schools, hospitals and business enterprises are torched and turned to ashes. 

We are still more saddened by the recent massacre of unarmed citizens by these terrorists in some communities in Benue, Adamawa, Kaduna and Taraba States which has caused national shock, grief and outcry. The silence of the federal government in the wake of these horrifying attacks is, to say the least, shocking. There is a feeling of helplessness among the people and the danger that some people may begin to take laws into their hands,” he stated.

Bishop Kaigama further applauded President Buhari for the kind of response he gave regarding all the issues the Bishops raised.

“We raised difficult issues and questions and to his credit, our President was very calm and he responded very well. We thought as a past Military leader,  he would react with some kind of Military ferocity but no, he was quite calm and tranquil in the manner he responded to all the issues, which were touching at the nerves of his government but by the grace of God he was able to explain what he is doing and what he felt people did not understand as well as what he had done behind the scene, which we did not know about, at least he got to say that clearly and we were well enlightened,” he said.

Kaigama appealed to the Christian faithful to respect constituted authority and resort to the law, even when they are threatened and their properties destroyed, as he urged the government to protect the people at all times and give them the assurance that they are safe at all times.