Catholic Bishops ask Nigerians to be patient with president
Tobi Soniyi and Paul Obi in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has again said his administration will deal decisively and expeditiously with attacks on communities across the country by armed herdsmen.
A statement issued in Abuja by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said Buhari reaffirmed his commitment to check the excesses of the herdsmen during a meeting with members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) late last Monday.
“Against the background of reports of continued attacks on communities across the country by armed herdsmen, Buhari late last Monday in Abuja restated his administration’s resolve to deal decisively and expeditiously with the matter,” Adesina said.
According to him, Buhari confirmed that heads of national security agencies had been ordered to take all necessary action to apprehend and expose those behind the heinous attacks.
“We are determined to secure all Nigerians and I have told the Inspector-General of Police (IG) and other security agencies, in very strong terms, to deal decisively with the attackers,” the president said.
The president expressed his personal condolences to the Catholic Bishop of Enugu, the people of Ukpabi Nimbo and all other communities that have suffered fatalities and other losses from the recent attacks.
Speaking on other national issues, the president assured the bishops that he was acting with deliberation and moving methodically to implement his change agenda for the good of the country.
“We need to rebuild our institutions methodically, we need to change the way we do things.
“In the last 10 years, crude oil sold for more that $100 per barrel, but Nigeria did not save. That is why we have found ourselves where we are today,” Buhari told the Catholic bishops, led by Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, the Archbishop of Jos.
The president assured them that his administration was working very hard to fulfill all the promises it had made to Nigerians, adding that his greatest motivating factor was the desire to bring positive change to Nigeria.
On behalf of the bishops, Most Rev. Kaigama expressed the solidarity of the CBCN with the president.
“We are willing to collaborate with you and your administration, in which we see hope for a greater Nigeria,” he told the president.
The bishops pledged continued prayers for Nigeria and the government, expressing their conviction that current hardships were temporary, and Nigeria would soon overcome its present difficulties.
Answering questions from journalists after the meeting, CBCN’s President, Kaigama, said Nigerians cannot continue to live under the grip of fear of attacks perpetuated by Fulani herdsmen across the country.
He appealed to Nigerians to be patient with Buhari, saying the president was working hard to make life easier for the people.
The cleric said: “The catholic bishops in Nigeria have come to the villa to greet the president. We had a warm and cordial meeting. We heard the president talk with passion about how to make this county better and to mobilise all Nigerians to selflessly put in their best.
“We assured the president of our prayers, moral support and our desire to cooperate. In Catholic church, whether it is education, healthcare or social services, we have done quite a lot over the years.
“With the willing disposition of the president and his attitude of embracing everyone, we felt we should spell out some areas of closer collaboration.
“We found him a sincere man with great sense of dedication. He wants the best of this nation. We also want the best for this nation.
“He agrees that not everyone is working as he expects. There are some who are clogs in the wheel of progress. We are praying and hoping that such people will see that Nigeria is greater than all of us, that we should develop patriotic disposition and our aspiration should be to put this country first.”
He expressed the hope that if everyone worked in accordance with the president’s plan criminalities and other anti-social behaviour would give way.
“We have every hope. We only need to be a little more patient,” Kaigama said.
The clergyman said Buhari explained to them the difficulties, challenges, bottlenecks that he faces.
He said: “We understood him fully. We equally call on Nigerians to give the president a chance. He is sincere, he is dedicated, he is committed and together, we shall make on wonderful progress.”
The bishops called on the government to support their projects. He said: “Area of education is our strong point in Catholic church. We build character and if that is defective, you can never have a well functioning nation.
“We feel that when the citizens are well educated, then there is hope for Nigeria. Our schools need to be supported. We work as faith-based organisations, we run schools and hospitals to help the people.
“Sometimes, government treats us as if we are dealing with Nigerians who are from other countries.
“Sometimes, we are slammed with levies in schools and hospitals instead for government giving us help and supporting us to do more to the people, they demand so much from our institutions and even impose levies on students and other people who make use of our facilities.
“We are asking the president to kindly help. We also asked that in schools, there should be provisions for moral education and spiritual services. There should be places for worships.”
Kaigama expressed support for the fight against corruption, saying: ”Since 1960, the Catholic bishops have been talking against corruption, telling people to avoid it. It is a cancer, it is dangerous, it is a sickness and it is a social disease.
“We have assured the president that we are 100 per cent with him in his fight against corruption.
“With corruption, we can’t progress. With corruption, everything goes wrong, immorality takes over, retrogression takes place.
“So corruption is a huge obstacle that has to be dismantled. “