John Cardinal Onaiyekan, former President, Christian Association of Nigeria, has said that politics was “not for miserable people seeking a way to get out of poverty”.
Onaiyekan said: “Nigerians should stop complaining and get involved in politics because it is a serious task that will salvage the nation and give the youths hope for the future.
“It should not be left for miserable people seeking a way out of poverty or for selfish individuals desperate to manipulate the system in their favour.”
His views were conveyed in a Homily at the opening plenary of the four-day annual conference of Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, currently holding at the St. Gabriel Chaplaincy, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Abuja.
The theme of the conference is: “Entrepreneurship Awareness: What the Church Can Do’’.
He said: “Politics is for altruistic men and women with talent, conviction and desire to contribute to making our nation a better home for all.”
He urged Nigerians to see politics as a noble vocation targeted at serving the common good.
Onaiyekan said: “Nigerians should get involved in the rough arena of politics. It is only then that a new kind of politics will emerge and real change will be achieved.’’
He said that the Lenten period was an opportunity to reflect, repent and rededicate lives to doing things well and in the right way.
He said: “We should abandon our selfish interests that are tearing us apart. Our religious and ethnic diversities are God-given.
“We must all put our hearts, hands and minds together to build the nation of our dream. It is possible. We can and we shall do it with the grace of God.’’
In his speech, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, Archbishop of Jos and President, CBCN, said that the Bishops would elect new officials and inaugurate them at the closing mass of the plenary meeting.
He promised that the election would be free, fair and transparent, and assured Nigerians that the Catholic Church would continue to render social services through schools and hospitals.
Kaigama said: “Youth and women empowerment, welfare of prisoners and other measures aimed at a better life for the poor will remain the priority of the Church.
“We do this quietly and in accordance with the gospel standards that we should not blow our trumpets while doing good; so, we try to avoid publicity in the media except when necessary.
“We offer social services to millions of people throughout the nation based on our gospel conviction that it is better to light a candle than cursing the darkness.’’
He appealed to Catholics in senior government positions or in private businesses to always identify with the aspirations of the Church, especially its programmes aimed at helping the poor.
Kaigama also called on the Catholic Church to remain united and focused toward tackling challenges facing it.