- Return to CAN after five yearsÂ
By Paul Obi in Abuja
The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) yesterday at its first assembly in the year said three years after the inception of the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, the administration has forgotten the many promises it made to Nigerians.
The bishops who commenced their conference at the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN), Durumi, Abuja, with the theme; â€˜Entrepreneurship Awareness: The Role of the Church,â€™ maintained that the prevailing economic hardship, unemployment, strife and insecurity in the country present a precarious situation and a time bomb for Nigeria.
In the homily, presented by the Archbishop of Abuja Metropolitan See, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, the bishops said: â€œYes, our country is in a state of uncertainty and confusion. A few things are going well. 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.
â€œOur nation surely deserves far better than it is now getting in terms of good governance, social justice and peace and minimum of well-being of our people.â€
According to Onaiyekan, â€œOur present government came into power three years ago with a promise to change Nigeria for the better in all aspects.
â€œSo far, government has spent so much time and energy demonising its predecessor that it seems to have forgotten its promises of a better life for Nigerians.
â€œIt 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.
â€œWhatever we do, we must notÂ allow despair and frustration to overwhelm us. Our problems are well within our ability to confront and resolve,â€ they stated.
The bishops also cautioned Nigerians to be proactive in the forthcoming 2019 general election.
â€œAnother 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.
â€œWe 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.â€
On his part, CBCN President and Archbishop of Jos, Ignatius Kaigama, called on the federal government to see the Catholic Church as partner in bettering the society.
Kaigama said youths and women empowerments, welfare of prisoners were a priority to the church, and promised to remain sensitive to the plight of the poor and the socially deprived in the society.
â€œThis we do quietly and in accordance with the gospel standards that we should not blow our trumpets while doing good and so we try to avoid publicity in the media except when necessary.
â€œWe offer social services to millions of people throughout the cuntry based on our gospel conviction that it is better to light a candle than cursing the darkness,â€™â€™ he said
Kaigama whose two term tenure comes to an end with this session, commended the bishops for their support throughout his tenure as the CBCN, President.
Speaking, PresidentÂ Buhari who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha said: â€œIt is my sincere hope and belief that you will collectively continue to join forces to promote peace, safety and unity across the country.
â€œThe federal government will make sure that the perpetrators of violent attacks in the country will be made to pay the price and face the wrath of the law.
â€The federal government is taking steps and measures to stem the tide of series of security breaches in some parts of the country. I firmly believe in the relevance and importance of the church in shaping the society through inculcating norms, values and moral principles in the society.â€ he stated.
The President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Samson Ayokunle, also tasked the federal government unemployment so as to curb criminal activities among the youth in the country.
Ayokunle further charged the government to put an end through the security agencies, the menace of the Boko Haram and Fulani Herdsmen all over Nigeria.
Also, the Prelate of Methodist Church Nigeria, Dr Samuel Kanu-Uche, stated that the church prefers ranches to be built by individuals who have ownership of the cattle as a business venture in their host communities.
He observed that Methodist Church was not advocating grazing fields neither was it advocating cattle colonies for any special group of people but advocating for the equity and justice for all Nigerians.
Meanwhile, the rank of CAN has received a boost as the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) returned to the body after five years of walking out of the national Christian umbrella body in the country over some irreconcilable differences with the leadership.
The Special Assistant to the CAN President on Media and Communications, Pastor Bayo Oladeji, in a statement yesterday,Â said the reconciliation is a commendable effort of the current leadership of CAN.
Oladeji said Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria had in a letter dated September 24, 2012, and signed by the President of the Catholics Bishopsâ€™ Conference of Nigeria (CBNC), Most Rev Ignatius Kaigama, and addressed to the then CAN President, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, announced its withdrawal from the organisation.
CAN was formed in 1976 by five Christian blocs in the country-the Christian Council of Nigeria (CCN); the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN); the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria/Christian Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN/CPFN); Organisation of African Instituted Churches (OAIC); Tarayar Ekklesiyoyin Kristi of Nigeria or The Fellowship of the Churches of Christ in Nigeria (TEKAN)/ Evangelical Church of Winning All (ECWA).
He however, stated that since the emergence of his eminence, Rev. Samson Olasupo Ayokunle, as the CAN President, he has been working hard behind the scene to ensure the return of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria to the fold.
Ayodeji said Kagama had led the leadership of CBNC to the CAN national secretariat last year where in a meeting with Ayokunleâ€™s team they addressed the identified grey areas while Kagama disclosed the readiness of the Catholic to work with the new leadership.
He said history was made last Thursday and Friday with the appearance of the CSN delegation led byÂ Rev Fr. Cornelius Afebu Omonokhua who represented Most Rev Kagama at the expanded National Executive Committee meeting for the amendment of the constitution of CAN and the quarterly meeting of the association.
Ayokunle could not hide his joy on the new development when he was reacting to their return.