EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde
By Emmanuel Ugwu
The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) has challenged President Goodluck Jonathan to take decisive action in the anti-corruption war if he wants to be taken seriously and regain the confidence of Nigerians.
The Bishops insisted that “fighting corruption demands courage and sincerity” which they asked Jonathan to demonstrate.
The challenge was part of a 10-point communiqué entitled “Promoting Authentic Development in Nigeria” issued at the end of the week-long second plenary meeting of the CBCN held at the Bishop Anthony Nwedo Pastoral Centre, Umuahia, Abia State.
“We challenge the President and the leadership of this nation to address with greater courage forthrightness and political will the problem of corruption,” the Bishops said in their communiqué presented by the Bishop of Ekiti, Most Rev Felix Ajakaye during the closing mass at Mater Dei Cathedral.
To this end, they “strongly appealed” to Jonathan and his administration “to enforce due process and the rule of law in public administration” pointing out that the Federal Government and public officials have greater responsibility in the war against corruption.
“To eradicate corruption, greater responsibility falls on those in public life whose acts of public administration ought to be regulated by due process and the rule of law. To regain the trust of citizens demands a certain definite firmness on the part of government in pursuing sound and clear objectives, along with disinterested application of justice,” they told said.
In the communiqué signed by the President of CBCN, Most Rev Ignatius Kaigama, Archbishop of Jos, and the secretary, Most Rev Alfred Adewale Martins, Archbishop of Lagos, frowned at the way the Federal Government has been treating the war against corruption with kid grove.
“Serious allegations of corruptions have been levelled at some top government officials and other Nigerians. Very little however, has been done to thoroughly investigate and prosecute the culprits,” the bishops lamented, adding, “those who have been indicted have either escaped from custody or been granted indefinite bail, or have been set free.”
Taking a swipe at the government over its handling of the mind-boggling fuel subsidy scam, the CBCN insisted that Nigerians “have the right to receive comprehensive report on the management of fuel subsidy along with appropriate application of justice on the criminals” irrespective of their status in the society.
While acknowledging appreciable progress in the power sector reform and the efforts to improve infrastructure in some states, the Catholic Bishops said that “lip service is paid to fundamental issues such as youth employment, job creation, quality education that is affordable, etc, with little or no action to redeem election promises”.
“This situation compromises the credibility of the current transformation agenda of government,” they warned.
On the security threat by Boko Haram Islamic fundamentalists the CBCN expressed gratitude to God that that despite the tension and strife in the country, “we remain one united country”. However they urged governments at all levels and the various security agencies “to wake up to their duty to protect and defend the life and dignity of everybody before things get out of hand.
“In the face of sustained attacks on Christians and churches in Northern Nigeria, we insist that our patient response is not borne out of cowardice, but of universal Christ-like love, religious maturity and genuine patriotism. We fear that in the face of continued unprovoked onslaught, Christians might resort to legitimate self-defence,” the CBCN warned.
The body of Catholic Bishops called for good governance as “Nigeria cannot become a safe, secure and united nation without good governance, (which) entails active and critical participation of the citizenry in the formulation of policies and in their implementation”.