Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins, The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, has faulted the country’s leadership for not doing enough to address the underlying issues fanning insecurity and disunity in the country.
In his 60th Independence anniversary message to Nigerians on Saturday, September 26, tagged ‘Not Yet Uhuru For Nigeria At 60’, the cleric who called for thanks to God for not having the nation divide despite numerous challenges, lamented that successive leadership has not done well to foster a deep sense of patriotism and unity amongst the various nationalities that make up the country.
He noted that it was shameful that 60 years after gaining independence from the British, the country was yet to get its acts together; we still lack the quality leadership needed to guide the country in the path of peaceful coexistence, economic prosperity and security of life and property.
He stated in the statement signed by the Director of Social Communications, Rev. Fr. Anthony Godonu,”We thank God that we are alive to mark the Diamond Jubilee of our country’s independence. We are an independent country still searching for how to become a nation where no one is oppressed, and everyone feels a sense of belonging.
“In spite of all odds we have survived for 60 years and so we must thank God and praise the resilience of Nigerians. However, this year of our Diamond Jubilee has turned out to be one of the most challenging for most Nigerians.
“We were still battling with the effects of insecurities in the land when COVID-19 struck and made life impossible for those who lost their jobs and sources of livelihood. To make life even more impossible, there was an increase in the rate of VAT only to be followed by the imposition of stamp duty on house rent and Certificates of Occupancy.”
Continuing the Archbishop called on civil groups, concerned individuals and groups to take steps in addressing the situation and bring respite to affected Nigerians.
He thereby stated, “The dust raised by that had hardly settled when we were slapped with an increase in electricity tariffs which was followed a couple of weeks later by an increase in the pump price of petrol.
“Life is becoming harder and harder for the majority of Nigerians and the government needs to take radical steps to ease the burdens they are carrying. Everyone, led by Civil Society Organisations and NGOs and the Labour movement, needs to do something in their areas of competences in order to bring the suffering of people home to the government.
“If people must bear the burdens of the day, the government must also show good faith by cutting down on the cost of governance.”
The Archbishop also reiterated his call for a major restructuring of the country along the path of true federalism in order to give the various ethnic groups sense of belonging.
He as well called on all citizens to pray for the nation and rulers to free the nation of oppression and disunity.
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The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins, has said that the country’s leadership has not done enough to address the underlying issues fanning insecurity and disunity in the country.
In his 60th Independence anniversary message to Nigerians signed by the Director of Social Communications, Rev. Fr. Anthony Godonu, Archbishop Martins, while acknowledging the need for all to thank God for keeping the country as one despite her numerous challenges, regretted that not enough has been done in practical terms by successive leadership to foster a deep sense of patriotism and oneness amongst the various nationalities that make up country.
He said it was shameful that 60 years after gaining independence from the British, the country was yet to get its acts together; we still lack the quality leadership needed to guide the country in the path of peaceful coexistence, economic prosperity and security of life and property.
Hear him: “We thank God that we are alive to mark the Diamond Jubilee of our country’s independence. We are an independent country still searching for how to become a nation where no one is oppressed, and everyone feels a sense of belonging. In spite of all odds we have survived for 60 years and so we must thank God and praise the resilience of Nigerians. However, this year of our Diamond Jubilee has turned out to be one of the most challenging for most Nigerians. We were still battling with the effects of insecurities in the land when COVID-19 struck and made life impossible for those who lost their jobs and sources of livelihood. To make life even more impossible, there was an increase in the rate of VAT only to be followed by the imposition of stamp duty on house rent and Certificates of Occupancy. The dust raised by that had hardly settled when we were slapped with an increase in electricity tariffs which was followed a couple of weeks later by an increase in the pump price of petrol.
Life is becoming harder and harder for majority of Nigerians and government needs to take radical steps to ease the burdens they are carrying. Everyone, led by Civil Society Organisations and NGOs and the Labour movement, needs to do something in their areas of competences in order to bring the suffering of people home to government. If people must bear the burdens of the day, government must also show good faith by cutting down on the cost of governance.”
The Archbishop also reiterated his call for a major restructuring of the country along the path of true federalism in order to give the various ethnic nationalities a sense of belonging.
The Archbishop continued: “The landmark celebration of 60 years should make us reflect on the reality of our existence as a country. A cursory reflection shows that we are far below where we ought to be if we take into consideration the human and natural resources with which the country is blessed. It would seem that the structure of our country that was distorted with the advent of the military into governance has remained the obstacle to our growth.
Selfishness and lack of regard for common good that covers all the different nationalities that make up our country has made it impossible for us to be the Federal Republic that we were meant to be at independence.
It Is necessary to continue to harp on the need to return to the original concept of Nigeria as a Federation that recognises the uniqueness of the federating units and gives each its right to govern aspects of its life while we remain one country, united in our diversities.
The current structure, as many have rightly pointed out, has given too much power to the centre that the states and local governments have been reduced to appendages that
go cap in hand to Abuja to seek for their survival from the Federal Government. We must return to a true federalism in order to become the nation that we want to be.”
According to him, agitations for self-determination as being promoted by some groups would continue to grow as long as the nation’s leadership continue to pay lip-service to the genuine needs and desires of the people. The Archbishop said: “Nigerians are indeed a special breed of people blessed by God. That is why we excel in almost all spheres of human endeavors at the international level. What we need here at home is an enabling environment that would bring out the best in us. As it is, our best is yet to come.”
In conclusion, Archbishop Martins called on all citizens to pray for our country and her rulers that we may overcome the present challenges and remain a united country where no person is oppressed and all are proud to serve our sovereign Motherland.
by Joshua J. McElwee
Editor’s note: This story was updated Sept. 25 to include details about Cardinal Angelo Becciu’s press conference following his resignation.
Vatican City — One of the highest-ranking cardinals in the Catholic Church resigned his Vatican post unexpectedly Sept. 24, with the city-state giving no explanation for the dismissal.
In a surprise bulletin late in Rome, the Vatican said Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu had both left his position as head of office responsible for overseeing Catholic sainthood causes and renounced “the rights connected to the cardinalate.”
Photo: Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu is pictured during a Mass marking the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican June 29, 2015. (CNS/Paul Haring)
The bulletin gave no further details, but it is extremely rare for a cardinal to make such a move. The last cardinal to so renounce the rights of the cardinalate was Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who had been accused of inappropriate sexual relationships with other men.
Becciu had been serving as the head of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints since August 2018. He had previously served in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, in a role often described as akin to the pope’s chief of staff.
In that previous role, Becciu had been rumored to be connected to a controversial deal in which the Vatican invested in a development project in London.
Vatican police have been investigating the deal for months. In October 2019 they conducted a highly unusual raid of the Secretariat of State’s offices, collecting documents and electronic devices suspected to be connected to the deal.
The Vatican’s terse Sept. 24 statement said only that Pope Francis had accepted Becciu’s resignation from office and the rights of the cardinalate. It appears to indicate that Becciu remains a cardinal in title only, and would be unable to participate in any future conclaves.
The Vatican press office did not respond to a request for more information on the reasons behind Becciu’s resignations or for clarity on his status as a cardinal.
In a press conference Sept. 25, Becciu said he had resigned after a “surreal” meeting with Francis in the early evening of Sept. 24. Becciu said the pope had accused him of embezzlement, nepotism and financial malpractice.
The cardinal denied any wrongdoing, but said: “I will never betray the pope and am ready to give my life for him.”
Several Italian outlets reported Sept. 25 that Becciu had been accused of using Vatican funds while he was in his position at the Secretariat of State to support a Caritas project run by his brother in their home diocese on the Italian island of Sardinia.
Becciu told reporters that he had sent 100,000 euro ($116,000) to Caritas in the diocese of Ozieri, but that it was done to support projects helping those experiencing unemployment.
Becciu also acknowledged that the Italian bishops’ conference had previously sent 300,000 euro ($350,000) to support the same project.
“I was white in the face,” the cardinal said about his meeting with the pope. “Certainly it was not a good moment.”
Becciu said the pope had told him, ” ‘I no longer have trust in you.’ ”
Becciu has previously denied any allegations of impropriety in the London property deal, which has been described by Italian media as an opportunity to make a profit on upgrading office spaces into luxury apartments.
“An investment was made on a building,” the cardinal said in February. “It was a good and opportune occasion, which many people envy us for today.”
Becciu had previously been a Vatican diplomat, serving as the city-state’s ambassador to Angola under Pope John Paul II and as its ambassador to Cuba under Pope Benedict XVI. The future cardinal began serving in his role at the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, where he was Substitute for General Affairs, in 2011.
Francis named Becciu to the saints congregation in May 2018, and made him a cardinal in June 2018. In his role at the saints office, Becciu oversaw the canonizations of a number of prominent figures, including martyred Salvadoran Archbishop Óscar Romero.
[Joshua J. McElwee is NCR Vatican correspondent. His email address is email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @joshjmac.]
The people of Ideato North and South of Imo State have been promised of better dividends of democracy in the Shared Prosperity Government of Governor Hope Uzodimma.
It was on a day the high and mighty from Ideato Nation paid a solidarity visit to Governor Uzodimma at the government House Owerri to present to him a catalogue of needs, not just as their in-law, but one they described as “part and parcel of them.”
They said former Governor Rochas Okorocha who is their kinsman, neglected them and their needs despite being in power for eight years and that they are confident Governor Uzodimma will completely wipe out their tears.
Led by their Apex Leader, Chief Tony Ezenna, Chairman of Orange Drugs Limited and key traditional rulers from the area, the people said they were not only excited about the emergence of Uzodimma as Governor of Imo State, but regret that the administration of former Governor Okorocha did nothing to improve their lot.
Addressing the visitors, the Governor who did not reserve any part of him to show that he is one of them, explained that God did not make mistakes in bringing him on board the leadership of Imo State, and that what the Ideato Nation were not able to get from past administrations God could use him to actualize it.
Governor Uzodimma acknowledged that he is conversant with their problems as enumerated by them and at such will, after proper government assessment and procedures, tackle the problems head on. He informed the audience that satisfying their yearnings as part of Imo people he would be justifying the confidence reposed in him by them.
He specifically commended the lawmakers representing Ideato North and Ideato South in the Imo State House of Assembly, Hon. Arthur Egwim and Hon. Johnson Duru for their positive contributions in the House, as well as the Interim Management Committee Chairmen of Ideato North, Gloria Uche Mbadiwe and Ideato South, Chukwuma Ikeakafor their doggedness in the administration of the two Local Governments Areas that will lead to their development.
The Governor thanked the traditional rulers led by the Chairman of Ideato North and South Council of Ndi Eze, HRH. Eze Gerald Ezeiheakaibeya of Umuma- Isiaku Autonomous Community for their efforts towards peace and progress in their various communities.
Governor Uzodimma assured them that the current government of All Progressive Congress (APC) is working towards making all Imo people happy of which Ideato Nation will not be left out.
In their written address signed by Chief Ezenna, he described Governor Uzodimma as the “Governor whom we are well pleased,” and congratulated him on his well deserved election.
Chief Ezenna appreciated the Governor for finding some of the Ideato Nation’s sons and daughters worthy to be appointed into various offices in his administration, noting that they have never been so favoured.
According to Ezenna, the major reasons for their visit was to relate to him some of their teething problems and needs which they believe the Governor will passionately look into and help them solve.
These needs include but not limited to the bad state of: Orlu-Akokwa to Uga Road which is the major road connecting them as a constituency with the rest of Imo State and the Ntueke-Isiekenesi-Dikenafai Road which they described as a death trap.
Also, they informed the Governor that Ideato North and South have been in complete darkness as a result of power outage for about 12 years now, and pleaded with him to extend the on-going power distribution from Egbu to Nwaorieubi via Banana junction to Ideato.
Lastly, they asked for the establishment of a functional General Hospital in Ideato to compliment the services of Urualla Mission Hospital.
Caption: Governor Hope Uzodimma (c) Deputy Governor, Prof Placid Njoku (6th left), Chief Tony Ezenna (6th right), Secretary to Government of Imo State, Chief Cosmos Iwu (5th left), Hon Arthur Egim, Ideato North (5th right) Hon Johnson Duru, Ideato South (4th left) and Traditional Rulers from Ideato Nation when they paid a courtesy visit to the Governor at the Government House, Owerri.
In their various contributions, the two lawmakers for Ideato North and South pledged their continued support to the programmes and policies of the Governor.
The two Chairmen of Ideato North and South appealed to the Governor to passionately look at the request of their people especially as it concerns electricity and come to their aid.
On their part, the traditional rulers reassured the Governor of their prayers, continued support and loyalty, and readiness at all times to mobilize Ideato men and women to support his programmes and activities, and appealed with him to critically look at their presentations and save them from the present quagmire they find themselves.
Present at the visit were the Deputy Governor, Prof. Placid Njoku, the Secretary to the State Government, Chief Cosmas Iwu, the Chief of State Government House, Barr. Nnamdi Anyaehieand other members of the Imo State Executive Council.
CPS/Media Adviser to the Governor, Imo State
September 25, 2020