. . . Urges More Love for Humanity, Care for the Environment
By Chioma Ndife
The Auxiliary Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Awka, His Lordship Most Rev. Jonas Benson Okoye, has said that 2020 will herald hope if every individual develops the mindset of getting things done in the right way.
He said that getting things right was the only ultimate method of lifting the economy and creating a better environment and atmosphere for peaceful co-existence.
Bishop Okoye stated this in an exclusive interview with Fides while disclosing his stand, projections and expectations in the face of socioeconomic, cultural and political challenges in Nigeria. He advocated for all individuals to get back to the drawing table and work out modalities of how to put things right, saying everyone had something to contribute in order to make Nigeria better again.
'2020 can never get better if we do nothing. For this year to herald hope, everyone must develop this mindset of doing things the right way. Getting things right will stabilize our economy, help us to create a better environment and atmosphere of peaceful co-existence. Let's all get back to the drawing board and work out modalities of how to get things right. Getting things right should be the collective goal of all of us, especially in our country, Nigeria. The political and religious leaders cannot do it all.
'Inasmuch as they have greater responsibility in repositioning things, everyone has something to do, no matter the position of such a person. Let us all do our part from our positions, no matter how little the position is. The truth of the matter is that we need to start somewhere,' Bishop Okoye said.
He stressed the need for every Nigerian to develop more love, care, and concern for the person next door, saying that such a habit would help to douse the tension mostly written on the faces of Nigerians. He regretted that lack of love and concern among people towards their follow human beings had deprived Nigerians of a robust economy.
He said that hatred among people from the different ethnic groups in Nigeria had brought about destruction of human life and property, saying that such had robbed the nation intellectual contributions and economic development which the dead could have brought to the nation.
He stressed the need for people to purge their hearts of hate and develop the spirit of love, which, he said, settled all bitterness and rancor.
'It is important we all love more, care more and show more concern to whoever we come across, irrespective of one's religion, tribe, political affiliation and social clan. The level of tension and stress written on people's faces will be erased permanently if everyone starts loving and caring more. Our economy degraded to this current level due to lack of love and concern. It disheartens that some nations that were fed by Nigeria in the 50s and 60s have better and more robust economy than us. Hatred has robbed us intellectually and physically, so many intellectually sound persons have been killed in different unrests that happened in this country and property worth billions of naira which were capable of building up the economy, destroyed. It is important we heal ourselves of hatred for a better life in 2020,' Bishop Okoye stated.
On the environment, Bishop Okoye identified air pollution, water pollution, desertification, industrial waste, oil spillage, deforestation, soil degradation, flood and erosion and climate change, as some of the main environmental problems in Nigeria. He regretted that environmental pollution in Nigeria was a human-made problem and called on people to do everything possible to reduce its harmful effects and improve the state of environment.
He beckoned on the government to pay more attention and control the industrial sector in order to defend not only the rights of business but also the right for people to breathe freely within a healthy environment. He identified trees as the lungs of the planet and called for more trees to be planted for a cleaner air.
He noted that it was important for people to keep to the 3R rule: reduce, reuse and recycle, saying that reusing and remodeling things would save budget and give second life to goods, as well save natural resources. He advocated for forest reservation in a bid to save some animals from going into extinction and called for the adoption of more friendly methods of waste disposal, saying that keeping a natural balance was the main task and means to avoid irreversible destruction.
Politically, Bishop Okoye said a lot needed to be done to redefine the political scene of the nation and maintained that adopting more diplomatic measures would help to solve the agitations and protests that had erupted from IPOB, Afenifere and Oduduwa groups in the nation over the last 5 years. He charged political leaders to pay more attention to the demands of the groups and come up with a blueprint for an all-inclusive government.
He also called for co-operation among people saying that lack of it would place the existence of the nation in jeopardy.
He expressed optimism that 2020 would affect Nigerians positively but said people should do things in accordance with their social and financial wills to avoid some unavoidable stress which come all in the name of meeting up to some level. He charged the youths to develop skills and engage themselves in ventures that would benefit the nation.