Catholic Bishops call for more intense prayers for Nigeria

By: Chidinma Ewunonu-Aluko 

The Catholic Bishops of Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province, comprising Ibadan Archdiocese, Ilorin, Ondo, Oyo, Ekiti and Osogbo Dioceses have called on Nigerians to intensify their prayers for the country.

The Bishops made the call on Wednesday in a communique they issued after their meeting in Ibadan.

The communique given to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ibadan was signed by the Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province Chairman, Most. Rev. Gabriel Abegunrin and the secretary, Most Rev. John Oyejola.

The bishops who remarked that the country was in desperate need of restoration called for more intense prayers, adding that the Pope Francis declared a jubilee of prayer which had begun.

They urged Nigerians to pray that the country might reap the fruits of hope in God and experience abiding peace that would usher in a better future for all and sundry.

The bishops urged Nigerians to hope in God's love which never failed and allow His promises of a better future to inspire them.

"Let us understand that hardship develops perseverance, and perseverance develops a tested character, something that gives us hope, and a hope which will not let us down. (Rom. 5: 3-5) 

"If however, we experience challenges and tragedies, we must look inwards and retrace our steps as necessary, even as we keep up hope in God’s promise.
 
"Our dear country is fast becoming a hostile, killing field. The ship of the nation is foundering under the weight of pervasive insecurity, economic hardship due to hyperinflation and the collapse of the naira, cybercrime, high cost of food, lackadaisical governance and widespread corruption.  

"Day-to-day living is fast becoming an ordeal for millions of Nigerians because pervasive poverty, driven by the harsh environment has driven many to desperation and even suicide.  

"We plead for urgent action from all our leaders to save the Nigeria ship from sinking. The much-vaunted renewed hope is turning to utter desperation in many places and there is not much time left," they stated.

The bishops decried the regrettable kidnapping and killing of two monarchs, the Elesun of Esun Ekiti, Oba David Babatunde Ogunsakin and the Olumojo of Imojo Ekiti, Oba Samuel Olusola in Ekiti State and the kidnapping of teachers and school children in the same State. 

While condoling with the families and victims of the incessant attacks, they remarked that it  signaled the descent of our society into a hobesian state of nature, nasty, brutish and short. 

"We declare that the time to stop this spiralling violence and bloodshed is now, before it becomes irreversible, by repositioning our security agencies to make them more pre-emptive and proactive.  

"Things are not under control when continuously, Nigerians get maimed, kidnapped and killed daily on our roads and even in their homes. 

"There is need to restructure our security apparatus and remove saboteurs where necessary so that they can collaborate and perform optimally. 

"Disaster is imminent when people die of hunger and the living have to steal or scrounge for food in order to survive. Elected officers are elected not to make excuses about problems but to change things for better," they said.

The Clerics enjoined Nigerians(both the leaders and led) to always be their 'brother's keeper' and love one another as Jesus instructed in the Bible.

They also urged those in authority and all privileged people not to relent in their efforts to work for positive transformation in Nigeria. 

"Government must upgrade the ongoing “governance by palliatives” to governance that promotes productivity, accountability and which provides essential infrastructure like power supply and jobs for the populace. 

"It is better to teach people to fish than to give them fish from time to time, especially because Nigerians are among the most industrious people in the world. 

"This will be an effective way to limit the “japa syndrome,” which is the forced exodus of our best brains from our shores to greener pastures," they stated.

They called on Justice Development and Peace Commissions, Caritas, church societies, other Charity groups in Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province to do more to provide employment and help the poor and indigent among them. 

 They noted with dismay the increase in suicide and murders among Nigerians in recent times which demonstrated that the value placed on the sanctity of human life was diminishing. 

They reiterated the sanctity and dignity of human life and called on relevant authorities and religious organisations to promote the preservation of Christian marriage and family values.  

"We therefore strongly recommend that every family, married couples, young people and church groups buy and study the two-volume catechetical summary on human life, marriage and family from our Conference. 
 
"We rejoice and thank Almighty God that a new Bishop has been added to our Ecclesiastical Conference. 

"We congratulate and welcome Most Reverend Anselm Lawani who was ordained and installed Bishop of the Diocese of Ilorin at St. Joseph Catholic Cathedral, Ilorin on February 2, 2024.

"We congratulate the Clergy, Religious and Laity of the diocese of Ilorin and pray that God empowers and inspires the new Bishop and make him a good shepherd for the flock of God in that Diocese," they stated. (NAN)

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