The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) has given the Buhari administration a scathing review and called on the administration to do more to address problems like insecurity and the weak economy, among other issues.
The call was made in a communiqué that the organization released following its Second Plenary meeting at Orlu, close to Owerri.
Both the Secretary/Bishop of Uromi, Most Rev. Donatus Ogun, and the President of the CBCN and Archbishop of Owerri, Most Rev. Lucius Ugorji, signed the statement.
The bishops said that the government had failed to uphold its security obligations.
“We observe that even when suspects have been arrested, there is not even diligent prosecution of the culprits of these nefarious acts, leaving the citizenry helpless and despairing,” they said.
The clergy pointed out that “Owing to mismanagement and a failing economy with an ever increasing debt burden, there is poverty and hunger in our land, in spite of our huge human and natural resources.”
The Catholics urged the federal government to swiftly establish a truce with the lecturers on strike as a result of the Academic Staff Union of Universities’ ongoing industrial action.
“We renew our call on the Federal Government and ASUU to find a quicker and better way of resolving the matters under contention so that public universities will reopen.”
The clerics urged Nigerians to participate more actively in the 2023 elections, especially young people.
“We call on all our citizens and institutions to work towards responsible political behaviour and informed choices.
“In consonance with the principles of the Social Teaching of the Church, our people should be made aware of the duty to be both good leaders and followers.
“Only when the people are enlightened to take cognisance of their duties to the nation and their rights in it can they escape the servitude of political manipulation and ignorance in their electoral habits,” they said.
They applauded President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly for passing and enacting the Electoral Bill 2022.
“We acknowledge the President’s commitment to ensuring a level-playing ground for all candidates in the elections.
“Furthermore, we commend the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for its innovations, especially in the area of technology, to ensure free, fair and credible elections.
“We, however, enjoin the commission to ensure that this technology is transparently deployed, to increase the confidence of the people in the electoral process,” the group advised.
“We, therefore, renew our call on all our faithful, laity and clergy alike, to come out en masse to vote for people of unassailable integrity.”
They urged Nigerians, regardless of party, religion, or ethnicity, to support candidates with high moral character, ability, and experience to guide the country out of its current socio-political and economic rut.
They pointed out that the country’s current position may be improved by making the appropriate political decisions.
The group also praised Pope Francis for ordaining His Eminence, Cardinal Peter Okpaleke, Bishop of Ekwulobia Diocese, as a new Cardinal.
For Nigeria to make the correct decisions, they urged its citizens to turn to God in prayer and fasting.
“We call on our citizens to continue fasting and prayers to prepare for smooth and peaceful elections.
“In campaigning and canvassing for votes, we urge politicians to eschew the politics of bitterness, divisiveness and religious bigotry.
“If we succeed in doing these things, we shall indeed cross the threshold into a new dawn in our country,” they noted.