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Nigeria on brink of collapse, Catholic bishops warn

By Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze (Abuja) Saxone Akhaine (Kaduna) and Njadvara Musa (Maiduguri)
25 February 2021   |   3:04 am
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) has warned that the country is on the brink of collapse, considering ongoing security and other crises in the country

• Zulum confirms 10 deaths in Maiduguri attack
• Clerics asks Buhari to provide leadership now

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) has warned that the country is on the brink of collapse, considering ongoing security and other crises in the country

The warning came yesterday as bandits killed 18 in Kaduna and Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State confirmed the killing of 10 residents in the Boko Haram terrorists’ attack on Maiduguri Tuesday. CBCN stressed the need for Nigerians, “who believe in one united nation under God” to save the country from destruction.

In a statement jointly issued by its President, Archbishop Augustine Akubueze, and Secretary, Most Rev. Camillus Raymond Umoh, in Abuja, the bishops noted that the survival of the nation was at stake, as evident in widespread insecurity, loss of lives and property.

The statement noted that time was running out as clamour for self-defence was fast gaining ground. It also observed that many ethnic champions were beating the drums of war, calling not only for greater autonomy but separation from the nation, in which they have lost all trust and sense of belonging.

Calls for secession on an ethnic basis from many quarters, it warned, should not be ignored or taken lightly as many had given up on Nigeria as a united country.

The statement read: “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.”

The CBCN President asked government to create room for dialogue with groups and individuals and be open and receptive to criticism. Akabueze stressed that President Buhari could no longer delay rising to the obligation to govern the nation, not according to ethnic and religious biases but along the lines of objective and positive leadership.

He said: “We, of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, 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, murder, 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.”

According to him, the body is convinced that the alternative of “tearing ourselves apart,” comes with a cost that is far higher than what it takes to live 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 necessary sacrifices that will 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. We need to have the courage to admit that there is a lot wrong with our nation. It is our patriotic duty to point this out, with all objectivity and sincerity. The rule of law has too often been disregarded, giving way to widespread impunity, leading to a progressive break down of good order,” he added.

ON the killings and arson in Kaduna, the state Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, said in a statement that soft targets across Igabi and Chikun local government areas were attacked by bandits.

“Many of the houses in the community were burnt down, along with storehouses and barns. About 20 cows were rustled and a number of poultry slaughtered and carted away.

“Some residents were abducted, and cattle rustled during the attack. An unspecified number of injured victims are receiving treatment in hospital. The attacks on these soft targets at Anaba and Barinje villages in Igabi and Chikun LGAs respectively, followed the killing of several armed bandits via targeted air operations,” he said.

COMMENTING on the Maiduguri attack, Zulum said the terrorists, who attacked from the Kaileri/Costain(WU1) axis fired Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs) by 6.15p.m. into Gwange and Adam Kolo communities of the metropolis.

He said: “Last night’s rocket shots were fired from Kaleri, an outskirt of Maiduguri and the grenades hit Gwange and Adam Kolo communities, killing 10 people on the spot.

He said most of the deaths occurred in the Gwange community, located east of the metropolis. Zulum spoke yesterday during visits to the State Specialist Hospital and the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH). He directed the Ministry of Health to foot all victims’ hospital bills.“It’s a very sad moment for the people and government of Borno State for 10 people to die with hospitalisation of 60 residents,” he said.