The voice of Archbishop Anthony Muheria of Kenya’s Nyeri Archdiocese resounds in the wilderness, “Cost of living in Kenya “totally unbearable”, Government Unconcerned” while that of Archbishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) screams “Nigeria “stands on the brink of anarchy”. An indication that almost all African countries are suffering the same fate. The unfortunate situation is that most of our leaders ranging from the East, West, North, and southern parts of Africa seem unconcerned about the plight of their fellow citizens whom they govern.

The Correspondent of RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA who is covering the current plenary of the Nigerian bishops gathered that Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria, is on the verge of disorder and lawlessness, with agents of destruction and death recording success as the government’s efforts to secure the safety of citizens proving “fruitless”, the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) has said.

In his opening address for the First 2024 CBCN Plenary Assembly on Sunday, February 18, Archbishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji urged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led government to be proactive and “take urgent steps” to secure Nigerians’ lives and property.

“No matter how one looks at it, the government’s reform efforts to rejig the security architecture of our country have woefully failed to plug the many loopholes in the system,” Archbishop Ugorji said during the CBCN gathering at the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) Resource Centre, Durumi Abuja.

He faulted the West African nation’s government for remaining “non-proactive and ineffective in checking oil theft, kidnapping, and senseless bloodshed across the country.”

The Nigerian Catholic Archbishop highlighted last year’s Christmas attacks that left over 200 Christians in Nigeria’s Plateau State dead as well as “the rising incidents of kidnapping across the country” as illustrations of “how fruitless the government’s reform efforts have been in securing its citizens.”

“In the face of increasing violent crimes, the country stands on the brink of anarchy,” he said during the February 18 gathering of Catholic Bishops in Nigeria.

He went on to challenge the Nigerian government to “take urgent steps to rise to its primary responsibility of securing the lives and property of its citizens.”

“The government does not need to reinvent the wheel since it can easily learn from what other nations do to provide adequate security for its citizens. There cannot be any meaningful development in any country without adequate security,” he further said.

The CBCN President emphasized the need to create employment for citizens, especially the youth, as one way of addressing security challenges in the country. He said, “It will be belaboring the obvious to state that security in our country will remain a tall dream if mass unemployment exists among our youths.”

In his 16-point address to Nigeria’s Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, Priests, women, and men Religious and the Laity during which he touched on the various aspects of “the present state”, Archbishop Ugorji highlighted other challenges bedeviling the people of God in Nigeria.

“If we cast a cursory glance at the present state of our nation, we are inclined to conclude that this seems to be the worst of times for our country in the areas of security and the economy,” he said.

Besides the challenge of “persistent insecurity”, which he said has been characterized by “an upsurge in kidnapping for ransom and increasing incidents of senseless bloodshed across the nation”, brutal murders on highways, homes, “and even in the sacred precincts of places of worship” as well as loss of “ancestral lands to armed invaders and land-grabbers,” Archbishop Ugorji decried the challenge of corruption.

He said, “We must also be frank to admit that the government’s efforts to fight corruption in the country have remained prostrate, and as a result, Nigeria is rated as one of the most corrupt nations in the world.”

As a way forward, the CBCN President said, “The crusade against corruption needs to be more proactive. Adequate checks and balances need to be implemented in our public financial management to prevent dishonest and greedy public servants from stealing public money with ease and impunity.”

“A financial management and accounting system that allows fraudulent government officials to loot huge sums of money from public coffers without detection needs total overhauling,” he further said.

The 72-year-old Nigerian Catholic Archbishop, who started his Episcopal Ministry in July 1990 as Bishop of Nigeria’s Umuahia Diocese recognized efforts undertaken by the country’s Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (EFCC) “to recover billions of Naira from corrupt government officials”.

However, he said, EFCC “has failed to win most of its cases before the Court of Justice due to poor investigation and presentation of corruption cases.

“Until our anti-corruption institutions can successfully prosecute and jail corrupt government officials, corruption will continue to thrive in our country,” Archbishop Ugorji said during his February 18 address.

He also spoke about the economic challenges an average Nigerian has to grapple with and faulted the government for being unconcerned about the plight of the citizens through decisions such as fuel subsidy removal and foreign exchange market unification.

He said, “The reform agenda of the present government has added to the plight of Nigerians. With the withdrawal of fuel subsidies and the unification of the foreign exchange market, there has been a sharp increase in the pump price of petroleum products and a steep decline in the value of the Naira.”

“Indeed, there is a free fall of the national currency. High spiraling inflation has made it difficult for the average Nigerian to access basic commodities, including food items and medication,” Archbishop Ugorji lamented.

He continued, “As a result of the government’s reform agenda, millions of Nigerians have been reduced to a life of grinding poverty, wanton suffering, and untold hardship as never before in our national history. In a bid to survive, an increasing number of the poor have resorted to begging.”

The Local Ordinary of Nigeria’s Owerri Archdiocese since his installation in June 2022 further said, “With more than 80 million Nigerians living under the poverty line of less than two dollars a day, our country, according to the recent disclosure of the World Bank, is the world’s second-largest poor population after India.”

“While many impoverished Nigerians continue to suffer and die as a result of the hardship caused by the government’s economic reforms, the president has continued to urge the populace to make even more and more sacrifices with the assurance that brighter days lay ahead,” he further lamented.

The Nigerian Catholic Church leader ended his address on what he described as “a note of joy and hope”, acknowledging “the steady growth of the Church in Nigeria, leading to the creation of new Dioceses and the appointment of new Bishops”.

He entrusted the First 2024 CBCN Plenary Assembly and its deliberations “to the powerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of the Apostles.”