Nigerian Bishops Warn of National ‘Collapse’ from Government Negligence

Nichole Sobecki/AFP/Getty Images
Nichole Sobecki/AFP/Getty Images

Nigeria’s Catholic Bishops have urged President Muhammadu Buhari to stand up and take the reins of the country, which suffers an ongoing economic and security crisis, Vatican News reported Monday.

The bishops accuse Buhari of unwillingness to listen to constructive criticism in the government of the country, and of spreading false rumors of coup plots to deflect attention from his administration’s failures.

“Every Nigerian is a stakeholder in the affairs of the country,” said Benin City Archbishop Augustine Obiora Akubeze, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria. “Every Nigerian has the right to express themselves in a manner that does not incite people to violence or chaos whenever they perceive that the elected government is failing.”

“A Nigerian does not need to be a registered political party card-carrying member before speaking about the failing economy, the daily killings and kidnappings of students, older men and women; babies and infants; people being killed in IDP camps and even in their homes by insurgents,” Archbishop Akubeze added in an open letter to the government and people of Nigeria, dated May 6.

“Nigerians are tired of hearing of bandits taking youths in the university and executing some of them, while others are kept to be used to bargain for ransom,” he said.

Instead of addressing Nigeria’s grave problems, President Buhari has preferred to interpret constructive criticism as evidence of plans for a hostile takeover, the archbishop warned.

“In the midst of all these, the presidency recently stated that some religious leaders and some Nigerian politicians are plotting to destabilize the country,” he wrote. “The spokesperson for the Nigeria army noted that there is no plan by the military to take over democratically elected persons.”

“While we reject any call for the destabilization of Nigeria or military takeover,” he continued, “we nonetheless say to the federal government of Nigeria, led by President Muhammadu Buhari, there is no need to focus your energy, time and resources in any form of propaganda against religious leaders who disagree with your performance.”

“There is no need to spend so much of your time trying to blackmail anyone who criticizes your government,” he added. “We speak out because we do not want Nigeria to collapse. We are not speaking out for the APC government to fail. We are speaking out so that Nigeria will not fail.”

Speaking for the Church in Nigeria, Archbishop Akubeze called for a national security summit to collectively draft solutions to the nation’s woes.

“APC government must learn to listen to every Nigerian, both political actors in other parties and non-political actors in Nigeria and the diaspora,” he said. “It is not out of place to call for a security summit in whatever form it may take as long as it leads to the unity, peace, justice, progress and protection of Nigerians.”

“The federal government must be transparent with every Nigerian in the struggle to revive our economy, industrialize our nation, objectively deal with corruption and significantly reduce the high level of insecurity and unemployment,” Akubeze said.

“It must be clearly stated to the federal government that if they continue to ignore the constructive criticisms and recommendations of Nigerians from every sector, the country will collapse and become ungovernable,” he insisted.

Elected as president of Nigeria in 2015, Buhari is currently serving his second and last term in office, slated to end in 2023.

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