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Catholic Bishops Slam Buhari For Performance

Catholic cleric John Cardinal Onaiyekan yesterday lashed out at the Muhammadu Buhari's Federal Government over performance.

But two government officials disagreed with the man of God. Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Boss Mustapha agreed that there were challenges, which he said the government was tackling.

Besides, Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed said Nigeria is in safe hands, with President Muhammadu Buhari in the driver’s seat.

The Metropolitan Catholic Archbishop of Abuja said Nigerians deserved better governance.

Cardinal Onaiyekan, in a homily delivered at the opening Mass of the first 2018 plenary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), said the nation had slipped to the verge of misery.

The clergyman said in the last three years, Nigerians had been hearing a lot about change, but got little of it.

In Cardinal Onaiyekan’s view, any change in human affairs must necessarily start with a change of heart.

But Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Boss Mustapha who represented President Muhammadu Buhari, said the government had done its best to address the issues affecting Nigerians.

Mustapha said the CBCN was the only Christian platform that gave the president a listening ear prior to the 2015 presidential election.

Mustapha added that the president believed that the CBCN is a strategic partner in building the nation and noted that it has a lot to offer the nation.

“And for that reason, he remains eternally grateful. And I remember at that engagement, they asked very pertinent questions – direct, bullets to the face. And he provided answers. And because of that reason, he believes that the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria is a strategic partner in the enterprise of growing the Nigeria nation and he believes that they have a lot to offer,” Mustapha said.

He cited the recent visit of the Catholic bishops to the president and said he was giving the issues they raised priority attention.

He said the government was on its toes, addressing security challenges. Perpetrators of violent crimes will be made to face the law as the Federal Government is taking measures to stem the tide of insecurity, Boss said.

Cardinal Onaiyekan said: ”We do well therefore to remind ourselves of our need for repentance in the way we think, in the things that we do, in our entire attitude to life in ourselves and in our relations with all our neighbours. But this is not only for us who are Christians and Catholics. It is for all men and women of our nation in this era of general confusion and near chaos, anarchy and doom.

“Yes, our nation is in a state of uncertainty and confusion. A few things are going well in the society and the economy for which we thank God and congratulate our leaders. They tell us that they are doing their best. But a lot still needs to be done and too many problems have been left to fester. Our nation surely deserves far better than it is now getting in terms of good governance, social justice and peace and minimum of well being for our people,” Cardinal Onaiyekan said.

He recalled that the Buhari administration came into power three years ago with a promise to change Nigeria for better in all aspects, adding that having tried the two major political parties and found neither of them up to the nation’s expectation, the nation is on the verge of despair.

The former President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) said so far the government had spent so much time and energy demonising its predecessor that it seemed to have forgotten its promise of a better life for Nigerians.

“It has, unfortunately, allowed the initial massive goodwill it enjoyed to be depleted, almost to non-existence. It is no wonder that many Nigerians are looking for a new political organisation that can truly bring about genuine change for the better. Having tried our two major political parties and found none of them up to our expectation, the nation is on the verge of despair,” Cardinal Onaiyekan added.

He said irrespective of the situation, Nigerians must not allow despair and frustration to overwhelm them.

“Another election is fast approaching. We must seize this God-given opportunity to radically change things around. We should no longer allow politics to remain business as usual in the hands of the same gang of speculators and opportunists. We must change the rule of the game, not the faces of the players.

“Politics is not for miserable people seeking a way out of poverty, nor for selfish business people looking for an easy way to maximise profit by manipulating the system in their favour. Less still is it for the corruptly rich-seeking refuge from just accountability. Rather, it is for altruistic men and women with the talent, conviction and desire to contribute to making our nation a better home for all of us.

“We must therefore recover the genuine sense of politics as a noble vocation to serve the common good. Nigerians should stop complaining and get involved in the often rough arena of politics. It is only then that a new kind of politics as service to the people will emerge and real change for the better will be achieved.

The President of the CBCN, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama, told the congregation that the Church’s sermon was not borne out of ill-will, but because the Church wants things to be good for the nation and that when the Church preaches, it is telling the government to go and re-strategise.

Rev. Kaigama said the Church was not speaking in a disrespectful way, or because it wants to attack or demonise or bring down anybody.

“We want to inspire you, let you know like John the Baptist, to go and tell authority that this is what is needed, this is what we at the grassroots are saying. When you take it like that, you will even do better.

“But when you take it with a negative mind, you say, ‘oh, these people hate us, the Catholic Church don’t like us, they attack us all the time’. For God’s sake, if you listen to us, to all we have been saying, our communiqu├ęs from 1960 to date have been dealing with social issues and how to improve Nigeria,” Rev. Kaigama said.