By Kizito Nonso Umennadi
The Catholic Bishops of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province held an emergency meeting in Owerri expressing deep concerns and worries towards every part of the country.The country’s crises gets worst daily,it’s boiling and bleeding as the level of insecurity escalates on more. The Bishops spoke on Sunday, April 9th, 2021, the day one police personnel was shot and wounded in the leg as gunmen yet to be identified attacked Mike Okiro police station, near Ubani Ibeku Main Market, Umuahia.
This equally came as many communities in Awka North Local Government Area of Anambra State have witnessed increased attacks by suspected armed Fulani herdsmen operating in their forests and farmlands. This is even as residents of Onitsha are currently in a palpable fear, as a truck fully loaded with cartons of live bullets fell into a ditch and spilled its contents all around the ever busy commercial city.
Rising from the meeting, the Catholic Bishops in a six point pastoral statement titled ‘Nigeria On The Brink Of Collapse :Groping For Reliable Security ‘, and signed by the chairman and secretary, Most Rev Anthony J. V. Obinna, and Most Rev Austin Echema, respectively, stated that, ‘large numbers of Nigerians are slaughtered daily in different parts of the country’, while ‘unarmed and defenceless citizens are sacked from their communities and forced to struggle for survival in Internally Displaced People’s (IDPs) camps, with little or no hope of ever returning to their native lands.
The Bishops lamented that ‘kidnapping for ransom is now a routine on our higways, farmlands, forests and even in the precints of churches, homes and mosques. Homes and institutions of learning are invaded and school children taken hostage are callously traumatised and even murdered in cold blood While challenging the government to re-commit itself to the constitutional responsibility of securing the fundamental and social rights of Nigerian citizens, the clerics urged all to exercise restraint and shun violence: ‘Similarly, we exhort security agents to refrain from stereotyping young people in our communities as well as their indiscriminate arrest and unlawful detention as this heightens tension and anxiety and leads to avoidable and unnecessary violence,they noted.
Taking a hard at the nation’s spiraling fragmentation, hardship and frustration the Bishops said, ‘the politics of nepotism and exclusion being executed by the present administration is yielding sour fruits in hatred, distrust and fragmentation. They noted that Nigerians are now divided as never before. Agitation for self self -determination and restructuring are growing louder by the day.
The national economy has become very feeble and is crippled even more by our ever rising debt profile. They went on to state that, ‘while the value of our national currency continues to slide and inflation soars, the masses are no longer able to afford their basic needs of life’. As a result of this, many deprived families are facing untold hardship, afflicted daily by hunger, starvation and disease while the country is on a brink of total collapse.
Again, without apologies, many government security agents have become wickedly partisan, shielding and protecting those whom they favour while abandoning and exposing to danger and death those they dislike and hate.
Finally, the Bishops noted that if Nigeria is ever to continue as one then government needs to take urgent and critical steps to regain the confidence of Nigerians by providing reliable equitable and up to speed security while acting with a deep sense of responsibility and urgency without disappointing the people of the country, in the face of this life threatening National Calamity and outcry.