At the funeral of the Most Revd. Gregory Ochiaga, Emeritus Bishop of Orlu Diocese, who died on 29th December, the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, Archbishop Augustine Akubeze called on President Muhammadu Buhari to heed the call of religious leaders and deal with the growing violence in the West African country.
“We join our yokes to many courageous religious leaders, Catholics, and non-Catholics who have spoken out against government performance in the area of insecurity in Nigeria.
“There is no religious leader who will want the Government to fail, neither is there any genuine religious leader who truly feels the pain of their people will keep quiet when the life and property of the people are not secured.
“The Government should listen to the cries of Nigerians and take Nigerians seriously when we cry for a secured life, when we ask for a good opportunity for every Nigerians, and when we ask for the inclusion of every part of the country in the governance of Nigeria and not just a minimalistic approach to fulfilling constitutional quotas of representation.
“As we speak and constructively criticise the Federal Government, we assure the Government of our prayers and collaboration in seeking to build a nation where justice and peace reign. Where prosperity for everyone is achieved,” he said.
“We know that the level of insecurity in the country has reached an all-time high. The Nigerian people are no longer safe. “On a day-to-day basis, Nigerians are killed or maimed by bandits, cattle rustlers, Boko haram [responsible for the death of an estimated 1700 Nigerians in the first half of 2019 alone], herdsmen, kidnappers and various criminal elements that our security agents have not been able to deal with.”
President Buhari, who came to power on a mandate of strengthening Nigeria’s security forces and ending the endemic insurgency in 2015, has made much of these commitments during his re-election in 2019. As public trust in the government continues to decline, there is little to comfort the country’s embattled people.