His Grace Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, has urged the Federal Government to free Nigerians, particularly the youth, from the country’s current harsh economic realities.
Many young people, he claimed, were desperate for greener pastures in other countries.
Kaigama, who spoke on Saturday at the priestly ordination of 12 Catholic Deacons in Abuja, said the government’s failure to respond positively to the demands of striking University lecturers had resulted in millions of youths being idle on the streets.
“It should concern us greatly that, as a result of bad politics and bad governance, our young people, discouraged and crippled by socioeconomic conditions at home, are desperately seeking greener pastures in countries where our resources as the so-called “giant of Africa” may be ten times greater than theirs.”
“We have millions of idle youths, some on the streets and some at home, as a result of the government’s refusal to allow them to return to school by positively responding to ASUU demands, and some because their schools have become unsafe.”
“More than sixty years after independence, and despite being blessed with so much oil wealth, many rural and even urban dwellers continue to face a lack of potable water, good and safe roads, modern agricultural tools, and today, everyone is feeling the harsh impact of the high cost of fuel, etc.”
“Even though smaller countries around us have better access to electricity, our supply is erratic.” Politics is being used by leaders for self-preservation rather than for good governance and better socioeconomic conditions. They use religious politics when it suits them.
“We make a mistake when some of us prioritize private religious practices over national interests or the common good, allowing religious distrust, suspicion, and stereotypes to dominate, and refusing to see fellow Nigerians as neighbors to be loved and cherished.”
Kaigama stated that the life of a priest is one of giving rather than receiving, and he urged newly ordained Catholic clerics to support the nation’s fight against spiritual, moral, and social vices.
While alluding to Prophet Jeremiah’s call, the Catholic Archbishop tasked religious leaders to speak out hard truths that others would rather ignore to those in power, at a time when Judah’s social and political situation was deteriorating.
“Today, like Prophet Jeremiah, the priest’s task in Nigeria is to urgently pull down and destroy not well-built physical structures, but unhealthy habits rooted in our tribal, political, and religious subconscious, which manifest as poisonous prejudices or violent actions.”
“By the grace of God, this priestly action, combined with our leaders’ sincere political will, will lead us to a national consciousness of being one people and one nation.”
“If we only use religion to build strong relationships with one another and with God, we will be able to conduct politics without bitterness, malice, or violence; we will have an equitable distribution of resources, and appointments to influential positions will be made with greater sensitivity and balance.”
“This is how we can achieve the much-needed national consciousness and cohesion,” he said, “when merit dictates national policies or choices rather than who you know, what tribe you come from, or what religion you practice.”
The cleric, on the other hand, condemned the temptation to blame religion for Nigeria’s problems, emphasizing that empirical evidence shows that religious institutions have greatly aided the nation through educational, medical, and social projects.
“We, Nigerian religious leaders, must work together to inspire our people in what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable,” he said.