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In Easter messages, bishops seek changes from Nigerian government


A family is pictured in a 2018 photo sitting near a damaged home after an attack by suspected members of the Islamist Boko Haram insurgency in Bulabulin, Nigeria. Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto criticized the Nigerian government for investing millions of dollars in rehabilitating Boko Haram's so-called repentant members and ignoring rehabilitation for victims. (CNS photo/Kolawole Adewale, Reuters)


By Peter Ajayi Dada

Catholic News Service


        LAGOS, Nigeria (CNS) - Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto criticized the Nigerian government for investing millions of dollars in rehabilitating Boko Haram's so-called repentant members in the belief that they would turn over a new leaf. He said the public had not heard anything about a rehabilitation program for the thousands of Nigerian schoolchildren who had been victims of abduction.

        Bishop Kukah was one of several Nigerian bishops who used their Easter homilies April 3-4 to call for change in the country.

        He said Boko Haram insurgents had waged war against their country, murdered thousands of citizens, destroyed infrastructure and rendered entire families permanently displaced and dislocated.

        "Why should rehabilitating the perpetrator be more important than bringing succor to the victims?" he asked, noting that families of kidnapping and murder victims were left to deal on their own.

        "They cry alone, bury their loved ones alone," he said.

        A critical deficit of empathy on the side of the government makes healing almost impossible for the victims, he said. "Left unaddressed, the traumatic effect of their horrors will haunt them for a long time."

        The bishop pointed out that the next generation of parents, military generals, top security men and women, governors, senators and ministers would come from today's pool of traumatized children.

        Bishop Godfrey Onah of Nsukka also spoke of government spending, saying that budgeting millions of dollars "for security and for buying sophisticated ammunition will not solve the problems unless we seek the face of God by reconciling and forgiving one another."

        Bishop Onah said the COVID-19 pandemic had proved to the world that God is in full control and that technology is human and can fail at anytime.

        In his Easter homily at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral in Abuja, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama urged Nigerians to pray for an end to corruption and other social vices. He stressed that genuine prayer must include praying for one's enemies and that Nigerians must have a large heart to be able to love and forgive one another without preconditions and to treat all with dignity, even if they differ from one another.

        The archbishop said the polarization of Nigerians, either along religious or tribal lines, and the overemphasis on their differences have had far-reaching negative consequences that had permeated and manifested in almost every facet of their lives.

        Bishop Felix Ajakaye of Ekiti said Jesus came to show mankind how to be humble in serving God in humanity.

        "It is unfortunate that in Nigeria today, many of the politicians engage in dirty politics," he said, advising politicians to follow Christ's example.

        Similarly, Bishop Emmanuel Badejo of Oyo recalled that Jesus laid down his life for the world: "Love is the most powerful tool with which to create a better world.''

        In Kaduna, Archbishop Matthew Man-Oso Ndagoso advised the faithful and Nigerians to get the COVID-19 vaccination when it is made available by the government.

        He cited the Vatican Commission for COVID-19 and said it is a moral responsibility incumbent on all to avail themselves of the certified vaccines in solidarity with the most vulnerable.

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