Pope Francis has
declared his ambition to visit South Sudan two years after a planned 2017 trip
was cancelled because of the civil war in the world’s youngest country.
News gathered the Pope during a meeting with South Sudanese President
SalvaKiir on Saturday, expressed his desire to visit the country.
the wish to ascertain the conditions for a possible visit to South Sudan,” a
Vatican statement said.
that he wanted to make the trip as “a sign of closeness to the population and
of encouragement for the peace process”.
South Sudan, which became independent in 2011, descended into civil war in
December 2013 when a dispute between Kiir and his sacked deputy RiekMachar
sparked fighting, often along ethnic lines.
400,000 people have been killed, and more than a third of the country’s 12
million people uprooted by the civil war – a conflict punctuated by multiple
rounds of mediation followed by renewed bloodshed.
September, Kiir, who is Catholic, and Machar, a Presbyterian, signed a peace
deal calling on the two main rival factions to assemble, screen and train their
respective forces and unify them into a national army before the formation of a
unity government in May.
days ago, the Brussels-based International Crisis Group said in a report that
the six-month-old peace deal risked collapse because none of these steps has
occurred, just two months before the deadline.
half of the population of South Sudan is Christian, while Sudan is
Catholic Church leaders in the country said they had expected the pope would
visit the capital, Juba, in the autumn of that year. The tentative plans were
scrapped because of security concerns.
trip was to have lasted only one day for security reasons and the pope was to
have flown in after spending a night in another African country.
A Communiqué issued at the end of
the First Plenary Meeting of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN)
at the Resource Centre, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN), Durumi, Abuja,
10 – 16 March 2019
Catholic Bishops of Nigeria, held our First Plenary Meeting for the year at the
Resource Centre, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN), Durumi, Abuja, 10 – 16
March 2019. Having prayerfully reflected on issues affecting the Church and our
Country, we now issue this Communiqué.
2. LENT, A SEASON OF NEW BEGINNINGS
Season of Lent affords us an added opportunity to pray, to fast and to enhance
Christian charity. As we sincerely seek the face of God, let us be steadfast in
cultivating those virtues of decency and moral uprightness that will enhance
the peace, the unity and the well-being of the whole nation. With the Holy
Father, Pope Francis, we pray that the Holy Season of Lent teach us again how
to live as children of God, redeemed, led by the Holy Spirit and capable of
acknowledging and obeying God’s law written in our hearts.
3. GOVERNANCE AND THE COMMON GOOD
Church in her Social Teaching describes the Common Good as the “sum total of
social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to
reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily”. The pursuit of this good
must be based on the respect for the sanctity and dignity of human life and the
equality of all people. The Common Good presupposes respect for the human
person and requires the social well-being and development of the group itself.
Governance worth its name is only possible where there is true justice,
equality and peace. It demands virtues, such as, patience, modesty, moderation,
charity and efforts to share. In governing, leaders have to focus on the Common
Good and ensure that the people and their aspirations, both individual and
collective, assume paramount importance. As a matter of justice not charity,
political governance has to pay particular attention to the provision of basic
amenities, making sound policies and showing concern for the underprivileged of
the society who are often deprived of the opportunity to participate in their
own development. We therefore enjoin government at all levels in Nigeria to put
necessary structures of governance in place and enact appropriate laws that
will produce such an environment. We equally insist that the democratic culture
of the separation of powers and the independence of the Judiciary be respected.
4. THE CHURCH AS VANGUARD OF GOOD GOVERNANCE
centuries, the Church has been an advocate of good governance for the Common Good.
To this end, we call on all dioceses to promote the Social Teaching of the
Church, to simplify and to translate it into concrete actions and to use it for
an effective socio-political formation of all the people. Special attention
must be paid to young people and families so that the values espoused in
Catholic Social Teaching would be inculcated early into children and young
because moral authority is crucial for good governance and transparent
accountability, we as a Church commit ourselves to exercise authority based on
sound Christian moral principles, truly inspired by the example of Christ and
guided by His compassion.
5. STATE OF THE NATION
General Elections and Our Democracy
General Elections have come and gone except in some areas where the Independent
National Electoral Commission (INEC) has scheduled supplementary elections for
specified reasons. We commend our people for the patriotism and the maturity
displayed, and the electorate who in some places came out en masse especially
during the Presidential and National Assembly Elections to exercise their
rights and perform their civic duties. We equally note the voter apathy that
characterized the subsequent Governorship and State Houses of Assembly Elections.
We believe that this apathy may not have been unconnected with among other
things, the violence, malpractice and the unnecessary militarization of the
process, all of which contributed to eroding the people’s confidence in the
electoral process. We have taken note of those who have been declared winners,
and commend the civility of those who rejected the results but have chosen to
express their grievances through legitimate means under the law rather than
through violence. Whatever the outcome, justice must be seen to have been done.
We admonish whoever holds power at the end of the day to remember that power
belongs to God and to Him alone. God demands strict accountability for how
anyone takes power and uses it, for God cannot be deceived or challenged (Lk
Towards a New Political Culture
that elections are an opportunity for people through the ballot to freely
choose those who will serve them. We denounce the unfortunate incident of loss
of lives and destruction of property, which is ongoing even now. We however,
admonish that elections should not be turned into a battle between warriors
fighting to capture power and conquer territory and people at all cost. We
observe that many of the challenges that emerged during the electoral process
were as a result of inadequate electoral laws, which made implementation
problematic and at times offered lacunae for evil minded people to exploit the
situation to their own advantage. Even where the rules were clear, they were
not always adhered to. One of the reported phenomena during the elections was
the crude and reckless use of money to buy votes; showing how desperate
politicians and political parties are determined to get political power at all
cost. Bad elections do not lead to good governance. We demand that the
government acknowledge the inadequacies that characterized the 2019 elections
and embark on a course for redress. We urge her to enact, endorse and implement
laws and policies that will ensure free, fair and credible elections in the future.
Promoting Good Governance: a Duty
all Nigerians, leaders and the led, to abide by democratic principles such as
respect for human life, human rights and the rule of law. We also encourage the
electorate to ensure that those who hold public offices in our country are held
accountable. We equally urge all Nigerians to eschew all forms of indiscipline
and corruption and be resolute rather than lose hope in our struggle for a
better future and nation.
RECENT KILLINGS IN KADUNA AND OTHER
received with deep sorrow, the tragic news of the resurgence of further
horrific killings in some parts of Kaduna State, Taraba, Benue, Kogi, Edo,
Rivers, Zamfara, Adamawa and other states. Against the backdrop of the violence
and bloodshed that characterized the last elections, we are pained that the
culture of death is becoming embedded into our daily lives. This persistent
devaluation of human life and property poses an existential threat to our
personal survival and that of our nation. How can government continue to appear
helpless in the face of such shameful tragedy? We strongly appeal to the
President, in collaboration with the Governors of Kaduna State and other
affected States to seriously take steps to arrest this drift before total
anarchy and mayhem consume the entire nation.
EVENTS IN THE CHURCH
Events in the Local Church
grateful to God and to the Holy Father, Pope Francis, for appointing Most Rev.
Ignatius AyauKaigama, formerly, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Jos as the
Coadjutor Archbishop of Abuja. Archbishop Kaigama remains the Apostolic
Administrator of Jos. We congratulate His Eminence, John Cardinal Onaiyekan for
this new development. We felicitate with Most Rev. Albert AyindeFasina on his
happy retirement as Bishop of Ijebu-Ode Diocese. We wish Bishop Fasina a
rewarding retirement. We thank God and the Holy Father for the appointment of
Rt. Rev. Msgr. Francis Adesina to the Episcopal See of Ijebu-Ode. His Episcopal
Ordination comes up on the 25 April 2019. The Catholic Bishops of Nigeria
continue to thank God and the Holy Father for the appointment of Rt. Rev. Msgr.
Patrick Eluke as the Auxiliary Bishop of Port Harcourt Diocese. We rejoice with
His Lordship, Most. Rev. Camillus Etokudoh and the entire Christ’s faithful of
Port Harcourt Diocese. The Episcopal ordination of Msgr. Eluke comes up on the
9 May 2019. We recall the happy occasion of the Centenary Celebration of the
arrival of the Catholic faith in Kano. We equally thank God for the Golden
Jubilee celebrations of the Canonical Erection of the Dioceses of Ilorin and
Ijebu-Ode. We pray for the continued growth of the faith in these dioceses.
Events in the Universal Church
that the World Youth Day was celebrated in Panama in January 2019 with many
Nigerian youths, bishops and priests participating. We pray that the entire
Church in Nigeria continue to lead and encourage the youths to imitate our
Mother, Mary, in seeking, discerning and doing the will of God. On another
note, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, organized a summit of all the Presidents
of Conferences of Bishops on the theme: “Protection of Minors against Sexual
Abuse”. As part of our duty of governance as Shepherds of the flock of Christ,
we commit ourselves anew to ensuring that minors and vulnerable adults are safe
from sexual abuse and offenders are duly prosecuted and given appropriate
happy to announce the 3rd Plenary Assembly of the Regional Episcopal
Conferences of West Africa (RECOWA-CERAO), with the theme: “The New
Evangelization and the Promotion of Integral Human Development in the Church,
Family of God in West Africa”. The Assembly takes place in Ouagadougou, Burkina
Faso, 13 – 20 May 2019. We equally rejoice with The Symposium of Episcopal
Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), which concludes the yearlong
celebration of its Golden Jubilee between 21 and 29 July 2019 in Kampala,
Uganda. The theme of the celebration is “Church-Family of God in Africa, Celebrate
your Jubilee! Proclaim Jesus Christ your Saviour”. May the Jubilee
enhance the proclamation of the good news all over the African continent and
bring the joy of salvation to the entire people of God.
8. CONCLUSION: BE PRAYERFUL, BE HOPEFUL, REMAIN FOCUSED
God for keeping us together as a nation. As a people we must be prayerful,
hopeful and focused as we journey through another four years in our political
history. St. Paul admonishes us: “the night is far gone and the day is close at
hand, let us cast the works of darkness and put on the armour of light” (Rom
13:12-13). Strengthened by this biblical injunction, let us rededicate
ourselves to the power of God’s word in prayer. Our intensive prayer
inflames our hearts in faith and keeps our hope alive. We must continue to pray
to God to help us rediscover our common humanity, cultivate respect for one
another, enthrone transparency and accountability in the use of our common
patrimony and imbibe apostolic charity towards the poor and the vulnerable in
the Church and society.
Almighty and Merciful God through the intercession of our Mother, Mary, Queen
and Patroness of Nigeria lead us along the way of truth, love and peace, Amen.
Most Rev. Augustine Obiora
of Benin City
Most Rev.Camillus Raymond UMOH
Bishop of Ikot-Ekpene
parish priest of St. Cyprian Catholic Church, Oko-Oba, Agege, Rev. Fr.
Augustine Nnemeka, has said it is wrong for members of the Catholic Church to
go for In Vitro Fertilisation in order to have children.
cleric spoke on Saturday during a seminar on marriage and family life,
organised by the Catholic Men Organisation(CMO) also noted that impotence was
enough ground to dissolve a marriage.
seminar, themed, ‘Understanding Catholic Marriage and Upholding the Family,’
was held on the church’s premises.
to questions at the seminar, Fr. Nnemeka, said that impotence and impediments
could make the church annul a marriage.Noting that an impotent man was not
qualified for marriage, he urged all intending couples to carry out adequate
medical tests before consummating their unions.
he said, “The church does not support it. It has to be natural. When we defined
marriage, we said it is for the good of the spouses and procreation. And I
simplified it by calling it love-sharing and life-giving. The outcome of
love-sharing is life-giving.
are some that have done it (IVF) and paid millions without results, because it
is not even automatic. The church, however, does not permit all these genetic
engineering. I believe saying this will help members who did not know it is
wrong to change their mind in case they are thinking of it.”
appealed to parents not to mount pressure on their children, thereby forcing
them into marriages they are unprepared for.
cleric told our correspondent that there was the need for constant
enlightenment of couples to build stable homes and a strong society.
Chairman of CMO in the parish, ChidiEkenedo, who also spoke at the seminar said
many marriages are collapsing due to impatience.
that marriages are facing a lot of challenges in Nigeria and a lot of factors
are responsible, which could be economic, social, financial, spiritual or
material. Some marriages are facing pressures and tensions and breaking down.
decided to put this seminar together to encourage couples and intending couples
to be patient and adhere to the teachings of the church on marriage. We want
them to know the importance of commitment and effective verbal communication in
marriage,” he added.
First City Monument Bank (FCMB)
has introduced another value-added initiative called
SheVentures for women-owned Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs).
The initiative will provide enhanced support
to existing and upcoming women-owned SMEs through access to
finance, training and mentoring to boost their business in
a sustainable manner. This initiative is the FCMB Women in
Business Unit, and was launched at an impressive
ceremony on March 7, 2019 in Lagos as part of the Bank’s activities
to celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day under the
theme Balancing for Better. At the ceremony, some women SME operators
received loans ranging from N500,000.00 to N5,000,000.00.
In a statement, FCMB explained that
SheVentures is anchored on a unique selling proposition of ‘’Be You’’,
which connotes confidence, independence and the courage required by women to
fulfil their aspirations. It is
designed to engage, inspire and equip potential and
existing women entrepreneurs to take bold steps that would launch
their business to greater heights.
SheVentures comes with several
cutting-edge features and benefits for women-owned SMEs. One of
such is the zero-interest rate for an initial period of three months.
In addition, FCMB will organise free training and
mentoring programmes for 80 women entrepreneurs every
quarter, out of which 40 of them will access this loan.
This means that by the end of the year, the Financial
institution would have mentored 320 women and 160 of
them would receive the Bank’s support.
At the launch ceremony, the Managing
Director of FCMB, Mr. Adam Nuru, said the Bank strongly believes in
the power of entrepreneurship. He added that the contribution of
women to economic development cannot be understated, noting
that over 30% of businesses owned globally are either female
owned or managed as women establishbusinesses at a much faster rate
than men, thereby making significant contributions to job creation
and economic growth.
According to him, ‘’the platform we have created through SheVentures
proposition is both a community and a channel to bring the best of
opportunities, growth and fulfilment to women entrepreneurs. This
would inspire and enable them to go the extra mile
to contribute significantly to national development. While our primary
objective is to encourage many women to venture into business, we
are doing this in an exciting and highly rewarding manner for our
customers in line with our new core values of Execution, Professionalism,
Innovation and Customer-focus’’.
The Managing Director emphasized, ‘’as an SME focused financial
institution, we are always committed to leveraging our position in the
industry to accelerate the achievement of the United Nation’s Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs) especially that which aims to improve
gender equality and promote women empowerment”.
Also speaking, the Executive Director,
Business Development of FCMB, Mrs. Bukola Smith, said the
Bank recognises and appreciates the noble effort of women
entrepreneurs in the areas of job and wealth creation, poverty reduction,
empowerment and the overall development of Nigeria.
She explained that, ‘’SheVentures proposition is as much a statement of substance as it
is one of intent. We are passionate about supporting women in business.
The offerings of the proposition especially the zero-interest rate, training,
mentoring, networking and insurance cover, are tailored to offer
sustainable benefits and increase productivity and the contributions
of women-owned SMEs. A total of forty women have qualified and will be
accessing the zero interest loan. We will disburse A total of N83 million to
these women ranging from N500,000 to N5million. We have no doubt this will
further help to unravel and unleash the true potential of women in
Mrs. Smith added, ‘’we have also put in place, structures and processes to ensure
transparent selection of the beneficiaries. We will hopefully increase the
number on a yearly basis and will keep enriching the other value-added services
to cater for challenges women face in their businesses”.
Beneficiaries of the FCMB zero interest loan
under the SheVentures proposition, commended the Bank for
providing a valuable and impactful platform that creates opportunities for
the realisation of business aspirations.
In her comment, the Chief Executive
of Richman Fishers & Company Limited, Mrs. Adetayo John-Fishers whose
firm received a facility of N3million, stated, ‘’FCMB is indeed a partner in progress. I did
not expect it. The loan given to me would go a long way to
enable my business expand and grow in terms of income as well as
capacity to employ more staff. With this loan, I will achieve my planned
production increase and subsequently ramp up supply to my customers’’.
In the same vein, the Managing Director
of Bimmy Bridal & Events Limited, Mrs. Adebimpe Atoyebi-Adejumi said,
‘’I am very excited to benefit from
this support by FCMB. The N2million facility would definitely
improve my business. Thank you FCMB for providing the
Reports show that women make up 49.2% of
Nigeria’s adult population. However, only 42.6% of them have access to formal
financial services. Moreover, 42.7% of Nigerian women are business owners out
of which only 2% have access to capital and loans to grow their businesses. It
is also reported that an estimated 7 million businesses will be set-up by
Nigerian women in the year 2021 with the potential to create 8.9 million jobs
and unlocking N19.7 billion in terms of revenue for the country.
With a clear
understanding of its market and environment, FCMB is well positioned to
continue to create value by delivering exceptional services, while enhancing
the growth and achievement of the personal and business aspirations of its
By way of paired comparison, Imo and Ogun
states shared a lot of similarities in the just concluded governorship
elections. But they also have their dissimilarities. They stand out as the two
states incumbent governors fell out with the national leadership of their party
in the choice of the governorship candidates.
During the primaries of the All Progressives
Congress APC, both governors, Rochas Okorocha and Ibikunle Amosun had their
preferred candidates for the governorship position. The national leadership of
the party preferred otherwise and went ahead to offer its ticket to candidates
of the party’s choice to the dissatisfaction of the governors. But they still
left both governors with the senatorial tickets of the party.
Not satisfied with the development, the
governors opted to still push their preferred candidates through the platforms
of some other relatively unknown political parties basking on the political
structures they had established in their respective states. So it was that
while Okorocha opted for Action Alliance, AA with his son-in-law Uche Nwosu as
the candidate, Amosun went for the Allied Peoples Movement where his preferred
candidate Adekunle Akinlade flew the flag of the party.
The governors pursued their senatorial
ambitions through the platform of the APC while at the same time working
against the candidates of their party at the governorship level. But whereas
Amosun emerged successful in the senatorial election, Okorocha’s election was
enmeshed in serious controversy. The returning officer had while declaring the
result in favour of Okorocha, said he was doing so under duress and to save his
Apparently acting along this line, INEC said
it would not offer Certificates of Return to any candidate where results were
announced under duress. It made good this decision by excluding Okorocha from
the list of successful senatorial candidates to receive that certificate. But
Amosun’s was devoid of controversy. It is not certain the final position INEC
will take in relation to Okorocha’s case. But one thing that appears certain is
that there are still thorns strewn on his way to the National Assembly.
The governorship elections have come and
gone. While Amosun’s candidate lost to the candidate of the APC, both the APC
candidate and that of Okorocha lost to the Peoples Democratic Party PDP in Imo
State. For keen watchers of political events in the state, the turn of events
should not be surprising.
Okorocha came into the saddle after he
defeated the incumbent regime of Ikedi Ohakim who had fallen out of favour with
people of the state. He had a very popular mandate such that expectations were
high that he would take the state to higher heights. This feeling was fuelled
by some of the philanthropic ventures he was involved in before he became the
governor. The expectation was that if he could touch many lives in his private
capacity, he would definitely do more when he has the resources of the state at
But this expectation was to turn out a pipe
dream. He soon began to incrementally squander the goodwill that brought him to
power through very unpopular policies and scant regard to due process. He was even quoted to have queried the
efficacy of due process in the business of governance. He displayed an uncommon
disdain for elite involvement in governance accusing leaders who came around
him of a hidden desire to share government money.
Okorocha became so loud, boasting that he was
going to retire all known political leaders in the state except himself and
made good this promise by relegating the elite and people of substance to the
back seat, always preferring to surround himself with yes-men for whom the lure
of the stomach was the prime motivation. He began to create a new class of
leadership with questionable credentials, always preferring those who will do
his bidding without questioning.
With such a mindset, Imo State was brought
down to its knees. His new class of leaders basking on the euphoria of their
newly unmerited status displayed an uncanny disdain for those who cared to
question the slide to the precipice into which the state was inevitably headed.
Every sector of governance: the education system, the civil service, social
infrastructure and the health care delivery system were so assaulted and
desecrated that it will take years to bring them back to form. Even in the area
of some of the projects he attributes to his credit, poor quality work and an
abysmally poor standard of performance combine to erase whatever credit he
might wish to ascribe to his regime.
His regime became a catalogue of woes as
workers were owed salaries; pensions and gratuities running to several months
stood in arrears. But he found comfort in praise singing and cronyism. His
became a regime of what has now been aptly described as government of Okorocha
for himself and members of his immediate family. He was so blinded by the
trappings and arrogance of power that his became a verity of Lord Acton’s maxim
that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Apparently because of the enormous resources
at his disposal and his connection with the federal government, he thought he
could bulldoze his way to become a maximum ruler in the state whose words must
be obeyed at all costs. It was very common to hear him rehearsing how he single-handedly
built the APC in the southeast, the insults he received in the process and how
that should qualify him for special attention.
All this was designed to run down his people
by creating the false impression that he is the only one that can be trusted
and entrusted with higher offices by the powers that be. So it was that he
could not find any other person suitable to hand over power except his
son-in-law despite extant understanding that power should rotate among the
three senatorial zones of the state. Curiously, Okorocha who has been
positioning to run for the presidency on the grounds that power will shift to
the southeast in 2023 scorned the same principles in his state. Despite
protestations and tension created by the idea of having three governors from
the same zone for 24 years, he was bent on bulldozing his way at all cost.
But respite came the way of the state when
his party denied his anointed candidate the governorship ticket. He failed to
see the handwriting on the wall. Not even the strident campaigns mounted
against him by the national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole was enough
for him to do a rethink. Oshiomhole had during the flag-off of the campaign
rally of the APC in Imo lambasted Okorocha accusing him of sundry misdeeds including
running the government of the state as a family business. In saner climes, that
was all that was needed to vote out Okorocha or any of his surrogates from any
He trudged on accusing Oshiomhole of being an
ingrate for turning round to work against him after he had helped him to secure
the office of the national chairman of the party. Before Oshiomhole, he also
had issues with John Oyegun, the immediate past national chairman of the party.
And when Oyegun left he boasted that all the wrongs he allegedly wrought
against him especially in the conduct of the primaries of the party will be
redressed by Oshiomhole.
It was a matter of time. Soon, he again fell
out with his supposed rescuer. Curiously Okorocha was blinded by the lust for
power to decipher the handwriting on the wall. He talked to himself, listened
to himself and could not come to terms with the reality that he was in a deep
mess. Imo people resented him, resented all that he represents even as he went
around with the noxious obsession that he was the best thing that had happened
to the state.
But the people of the state spoke very
unequivocally in their choice of the PDP candidate, Emeka Ihedioha as their
preferred governor despite Okorocha’s sundry strategies and devious subterfuge
to procure victory by all means. The verdict of the Imo people is clear. It is
a verdict against running government as a family business; a verdict against
poor leadership and a verdict for credible alternative and power rotation. It
is a verdict of the will power of the electorate and that verdict must be
It is a bold statement that Okorocha, who
defeated an incumbent in 2011with practically nothing, could not install his
preferred candidate in 2019 with everything at his disposal. Such is the
verdict of history and he should give peace a chance!