In Christmas messages, Nigerian bishops echo frustrations of their people

LAGOS, Nigeria (CNS) — Addressing political, social and economic concerns in their Christmas messages, Nigerian bishops urged their people to stay strong in hope but also warned the country’s politicians to change their ways.

Bishop Paulinus Ezeokafor of Awka, delivering a Christmas homily in his cathedral, said part of Nigeria’s problem is that political leaders get elected and then never leave.

“Some leaders have overstayed their usefulness,” the bishop said. “It is part of corruption if you refuse to leave office when it’s due for you to do so.”

Bishop Ezeokafor also insisted the country needed to dedicate more resources to education and should recognize that many young Nigerians have the talent and new ideas that the country needs.

Referring to ongoing protests against the country’s infamous Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), the bishop said, “If we don’t treat our youths well now and allow them to determine their future, #EndSARS is one thing; the next will be #EndBigMen,” a reference to the country’s powerful political and business leaders.

“When a revolution starts, it doesn’t end so easily,” the bishop said.

He and several others also used their Christmas homilies to condemn the lack of security in the country and, especially, the ongoing wave of kidnappings, even of children and of church personnel.

In his Christmas message, which has drawn the ire of several groups of the Nigerian president’s supporters, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto said President Muhammadu Buhari had sacrificed the dreams of Nigerians on the altar of nepotism by allegedly pursuing the interests of his friends and family in northern Nigeria.

Nigeria is a rudderless country where the citizens travel in a boat devoid of captain or crew and without any maps and destination in sight, Bishop Kukah wrote in his Christmas message, titled, “A Nation in Search of Vindication.”

“President Buhari deliberately sacrificed the dreams of those who voted for him for what seemed like a program to stratify and institutionalize northern hegemony by reducing others in public life to second-class status,” the bishop wrote. “He has pursued this self-defeating and alienating policy at the expense of greater national cohesion.”

Archbishop Alfred Adewale Martins of Lagos took a different approach, urging Nigerians not to allow the difficulties, tragedies and sorrows experienced in 2020 to weigh them down.

Tough times do not last, but tough people with faith and trust in God do, he said.

“The onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic and the widespread insecurity notwithstanding, being alive alone to witness another Christmas is a sign that we are victors,” the archbishop said. “We must embrace this yuletide with the positive attitude of victors, knowing very well that we have a hope that the future will be better for us as individuals, as families and as a nation.”

At the same time, he called on Nigeria’s leaders to keep on the front burner the concerns of the nation’s young people, particularly the concerns that led to the #EndSARS protests in October.


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