It was a roll call of who is who as Catholic bishops in Nigeria converged in Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital for the second plenary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria.
Among the dignitaries at the event were Governors of Ogun state, Dapo Abiodun, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti state and Solomon Lanlong of Plateau state as well as Deputy Governor of Osun state, Olugboyega Alabi, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen.
Also present were royal fathers from within and outside the state, including the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo among other top notch of the Catholic Church in Nigeria.
The conference which had in attendance all the Catholic bishops in Nigeria in Abeokuta, addressed the state of the nation among other pertinent issues affecting the Catholic Church and the country at large.
In his keynote address, the National President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, Archbishop Augustine Akubeze, decried the lopsided appointments of President Muhammadu Buhari as they promote division in the nation.
He lamented the state of the country’s security, saying that the spate of killings in the country deserves urgent attention by the government, adding that “every part of Nigeria does have competent people who are patriots and deserved to serve in very important federal positions.
“The lack of diversity by this government at the federal level should be reviewed with the aim of assuring every Nigerian that appointments to positions of importance are not based on the number of people who voted for you from those areas.
“The President is the President of every Nigerian and he has the same obligation to those who voted for him as well as those who did not vote for him. He uses the taxes of people who voted for him and those who did not vote for him. Nigerians reject a minimalistic approach to these issues.
“We have heard the government say that they have fulfilled the constitutional requirements of appointments; at least a minister from each state. This is a minimalistic approach that does not fulfil the spirit of total integration of every Nigerian.
“All federal agencies should have directors and staff that reflect the diversity in our land; no federal agency should be dominated by one ethnic group or one religious group,” the bishop stated.
While speaking on the insecurity in the country, he added that “we have urged the government to stop celebrating the few instances of what they call successes by stating that the terrorists have been technically defeated.
“Nigerians do not want to have a debate on the meaning of the word defeated; we are just interested in living our lives peacefully without any fear of being kidnapped for ransom or being driven from our home land.
“We just want to live and care for our families; we want to be able to move freely in the country. Every government that fails to protect the constitutional right of her citizens has failed.
“If the leaders of a country cannot ensure peace and security, they have no business using tax -payers money to provide security for themselves and their families while the rest Nigerians are dying daily.”
However, Chairperson of the conference, Prof. Catherine Eromosele lamented the continuous hostage of Leah Sharibu among other kidnapped victims who have spent over 1, 980 days in the custody of Boko Haram, calling on the bishops to keep the matter alive.
She also appealed to the Catholic clerics to urge the federal government to do all possible to ensure the release of all hostages without further delay.
“The provocative assault on Catholic churches among others by Boko Haram insurgents is a matter of great concern to us, the lay faithful, bewildered as the appropriate cause of action to take in the circumstance, particularly, that they have the potential to end sectarian conflicts in Nigeria.
“However, the continued captivity of some Chibok girls who are largely Christians for 1, 980 days running and of Leah Sharibu in captivity for her unwillingness to renounce her Christian faith, remain a sore point and a deep pain in us as women and as mothers.
“I trust that the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria will keep this matter alive and will urge government to do all that is possible to secure their release without further delay,” Prof Eromosole added.