In a statement on Tuesday jointly signed by the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), Archbishop Augustine Akubueze and the Secretary, Most Rev. Camillus Raymond Umoh in Abuja, the Bishops said the country had remained together thus far by the grace of God, but expressed displeasure that the survival of Nigeria was hanging on a precipice at the moment.
According to the Bishops, “the country is falling apart due to seriously rising insecurity clearly evident in the widespread loss of lives and property triggered by the increasing number of bandits, Boko Haram, killer herdsmen and other criminal elements across the country.”
The statement reads in parts:
“The clamour for self-defense is fast gaining ground. Many ethnic champions are loudly beating the drums of war, calling not only for greater autonomy but even for outright opting out of a nation in which they have lost all trust and sense of belonging.
“The calls for secession on an ethnic basis from many quarters should not be ignored or taken lightly.
“Many have given up on the viability and even on the desirability of the Nigeria project as one united country.
“No wonder many non-state actors are filling the vacuum created by a palpable failure of government.
“The Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari can no longer delay rising to its obligation to govern the nation; not according to ethnic and religious biases but along the lines of objective and positive principles of fairness, equity and, above all, justice.
“It is not too much for Nigerians to demand from Mr President sincerity both in the public and private domain. There are no more excuses.
“We, of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), with members from all parts of Nigeria, are very highly disturbed about the present state of instability in the land.
“This must not be allowed to continue to fester and degenerate. We are raising this alarm because of our deep patriotic love for our nation, not for any sectional interests, be they political, ethnic or even religious.
“Despite the persistence of crises around us, assassinations, Covid 19, kidnappings, murders, banditry, armed robberies, we sincerely affirm our faith in the viability and desirability of the Nigeria Project, as one prosperous nation under God.
“But we are also convinced that building such a nation, especially in our present circumstances, comes at a cost.
“We are also convinced that the alternative of tearing ourselves apart, comes with a cost that is far higher than what it takes to keep ourselves together.
“We must be ready to seek a common purpose with sincerity of mind. As individuals and as groups, we ought to be ready to make the necessary sacrifices that would enable us to manage our differences better and turn them into a positive, rather than a negative force.
“Governments at different levels ought to lead the way.”