Catholic Bishops of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province have called for total vigilance from the citizenry, in the face of growing insecurity in Nigeria.
The clerics made the call in a communiqué they issued after their second plenary meeting held at the Bishop’s House, Okigwe.
The communiqué, which was signed by the Chairman and Secretary, Archbishop Anthony J.V. Obinna and Most Rev. Augustine T. Ukwuoma, respectively, centred on a number of national issues, including security, education and the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Bearing in mind that no economic or educational endeavour can thrive in a volatile and unsafe environment, the security and safety of the nation at large and Igboland in particular, deserve special attention”, the clerics said.
They also expressed worry that recent and frequent cases of ravaging armed hoodlums, displacement and unlawful occupation of farmlands of indigenes by marauding herdsmen, are causes for serious concern.
“Kidnapping, banditry, armed robbery, incessant killings, which have continued unabated, cast serious doubts on the willingness and capability of our security outfits to rise up to their constitutional responsibilities”, the Catholic Bishops said.
While calling on the governors of Imo and the Abia States, as the chief security officers in their respective states, “to protect the lives of our people, their homes and their lands”, the clerics, however, urged the people to “rise up in prayer to God in vigilance and in legitimate self-defense, for the right to life, to our homes and to our lands, is God-given”.
Taking a critical at the ravaging coronavirus, the bishops said that nothing in recent memory has shaken the world like the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Amidst the unprecedented panic, tension and confusion provoked by the Covid-19 pandemic, and in the face of the resurgent insecurity in our land and across the nation, we have every reason to thank God, who has kept us alive by his mercy”, the Bishops said.
It was their considered opinion that contrary to the opinions and actions of those who would like to make light of the danger of this pandemic, the Bishops strongly reaffirmed that COVID-19 is real, stressing that government on their part, should rise up to their responsibility of ensuring adequate provisions of basic amenities like running water.
Their plea: “Particular attention should be paid to improving our poor healthcare facilities, making provision for more testing centres with affordable services and enough personal protective equipment, for our healthcare workers.”
On the effect of the pandemic on education, the Bishop’s said: “The pandemic has also impacted negatively on our educational system. Our schools at all levels have been closed for months. With everybody at home, there has been an increase in domestic violence, abuses and all sorts of crimes.
“The inadequacy of our educational system and formation, have been laid bare. Some climes have tried to bridge the gap through online education. Unfortunately, we lack the basic infrastructure to cue in, except in a handful of places and schools.
“But this is too few, too selective and too expensive to provide for an integral human forum, which is the goal of education. This is a challenge for all stakeholders in education. The billions of Naira embezzled regularly, could be gainfully used in meeting these challenges.”