On February 23, 2021, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria issued We Must Pull back from the Brink of Collapse, a letter to the “People of Goodwill in Nigeria.” The Bishops acknowledged the ongoing crisis in the country and warned of a “looming collapse” and failure of the “Nigerian project” if things do not change. In the letter the Bishops’ address the “serious insecurity […] loss of lives and property” and the unwillingness for those in power to act to remedy the situation. Leaders must set the example to “seek a common purpose” and exercise their “political will.”
“I commend the Nigerian Catholic Bishops Conference for taking this step and calling the government to account for the current crisis in Nigeria by their inaction” said Rev. Nelson Adjei-Bediako, SMA, Executive Director of the Africa Faith and Justice Network (AFJN). “The Africa Faith and Justice Network strongly urges the Bishops’ Conference to lead by example and follow this statement with concrete actions; actions that can be an example for their flock.”
Ethnic tensions continue to grow in Nigeria as people, faced with insecurity due to government inaction, are turning towards groups and factions with which they identify themselves for protection, thus undermining the Nigerian nation. Noting this, the Bishops’ called on the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to “no longer delay rising to [the] obligation to govern the nation; not according to ethnic and religious biases but along the lines of objective and positive principles of fairness, equity and, above all, justice.” The “basic values and principles” to preserve the nation include “mutual respect for and acceptance of our diversities, a deep sense of justice for every person, equity, solidarity and inclusiveness.”
“Time and again, history has taught us that division of any kind hinders the progress of democracy especially in Africa. The Nigerian government has a duty to protect its people and, like the Bishops’ say in their letter, ethnic and religious divisions should not be the basis for change, but rather ‘objective and positive principles’ that will benefit all” continued Fr. Adjei-Bediako.
The AFJN’s Women’s Empowerment Project has been working in the country for several years. Their work on educating the population and government about the issue of human trafficking and other forms of violence against women and children helped in the creation of a Law Against Human Trafficking in Edo State, Nigeria and the establishment of mechanism for implementing the Child Rights in Enugu State. The people were eager to mobilize from a grassroots level and engaged their government leaders facilitating this change. This is just one example that democracy is possible in Nigeria, if the leaders are willing to lead and engage with the people in dialogue.
“It isn’t enough for the Bishops’ to just issue this letter. The Bishops’ need to be the ones who are acting, in a transparent way for people to see and learn from their example. AFJN Washington DC and AFJN Nigeria strongly encourage the Bishops’ to offer to facilitate the discussions to arrive at true peace especially in the strongly insecure areas of the country that are on the brink of war” said Sr. Eucharia Madueke, SNDdeN the AFJN Women’s Empowerment Project Coordinator.
Available for Interview:
Rev. Nelson Adjei-Bediako, SMA
Sr. Eucharia Madueke, SNDdeN
Back to Press Releases & Statements