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Nigerian Catholics wants office of 1st lady scrapped

Catholic Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Ibadan comprising of Ibadan, Ondo, Ekiti, Ilorin, Osogbo and Oyo dioceses in South West Nigeria have called on President Goodluck Jonathan to scrap the office of the 1st lady at all levels, saying it is un constitutional and an avenue for siphoning public funds.

The text of the Catholics statement is reproduced below:

We the Catholic Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Ibadan comprising of Ibadan, Ondo, Ekiti, Ilorin, Osogbo and Oyo dioceses thank God the Almighty, Father of all graces and goodness for the success of our second meeting of the year 2010 which was held on August 17, 2010 at the Ondo Diocesan Chancery in Akure, Ondo State.

We thank Almighty God who has continued to sustain our country Nigeria in spite of the uncertainties of our politics and economy.

We congratulate the Bishop of Ondo Diocese, Most Reverend Francis Folorunso Alonge, the Clergy, Religious and Laity of the diocese on the historic ordination of the Coadjutor Bishop Most Reverend Jude Ayodeji Arogundade which took place on May 6, 2010.

We felicitate with the new Bishop and together pray that his election bring about abundant spiritual growth in Ondo diocese and in the Nigerian Catholic Church at large.

The Concluded Year for Priests

The recently concluded Year for Priests has done a lot of good in refocusing the priests and the people of God on the importance of the faithfulness of priests and the faithfulness of Christ. We thank God for the initiative of the Holy Father in instituting the Year.

We call on all Priests religious and people to sustain the spiritual gains of the Year for Priests and be more committed to the evangelization of our nation.

The 2011 National Elections

We congratulate President Goodluck Jonathan on the appointment of a new Chairman, Professor Atahiru Jega, for the Independent National Electoral Commission and for the money which has been approved for the exercise.

However many important issues which could compromise successful elections remain unsettled. The electoral reforms promised by the present administration on its assumption office are yet to be realised and even the very time table of the exercise is not definite. With only a few months left before the year 2011, we demand that the INEC live up to its responsibilities, give a clear timetable and prepare a credible voter’s register early enough for the elections. This will give all Nigerians sufficient time and opportunity to exercise their rights as citizens.

We call on all Nigerians to participate fully in the electoral process and to political candidates and parties to eschew all forms of violence, kidnappings, assassinations and fraud in order to carve out a new direction for our dear country.

Cash and Carry Politics

Recent revelations have confirmed what many Nigerians have said in the past, that there is simply too much money allocated to political positions and office holders in Nigeria. Some of those who claim to serve Nigerians have often been shown to be nothing but selfish and greedy money mongers.

It is surely a sin and a scandal that in Nigeria where many eat daily from dung heaps, where workers and retirees have not been paid their entitlements for several months, parliamentarians earn much more money than the Presidents of some Western countries and are still demanding more.

Such tendencies, if unchecked will surely aggravate the current dangerous level of violent crime, fraud and insecurity in the country. A free-and-fair-election can hardly be conducted in such an environment. It is imperative that President Jonathan somehow redress this outrageous imbalance before Nigerians run out of patience

Deplorable Infrastructure

We decry for the umpteenth time the state of infrastructure, especially power supply and road network system all over the country, while our leaders acquire new jets at a huge cost to the nation.

We sympathise with many Nigerians who lose precious lives and property on our dangerous roads and who endure the crippling effects of a moribund power supply.

We warn that the seeming docility of Nigerians in the face of these anomalies not be taken for granted by government as seems to be the case. We call on government at all levels in the name of God to live up to their duties and save Nigerians further pain and agony in this regard.

The War against Corruption

For many Nigerians today it is difficult to believe that the anti-corruption campaign still exists. We condemn the recent rehabilitation on national and state levels of personalities who had earlier been listed for prosecution or removed from office for corruption even by government and its agencies.

We implore President Jonathan to restore some credibility to the campaign by taking decisive measures to reduce corruption in the country. He will do well to scrap the unconstitutional “first lady office” through which money is wastefully and illegally allocated right from national to local government and ward levels.

The Situation in Oyo State

We observe with great concern the situation in Oyo State where teachers have been on strike and their salaries withheld for several months. As a result, Junior Secondary School examinations could not be taken by students in the state. This has further harmed the educational crisis in the state and the country at large.

Many parents have turned to borrowing and begging to make ends meet while many youth have turned to robbery, drugs, street trading and other social vices. We strongly appeal to both parties to find a quick solution to this impasse. We emphasize that it is the overriding responsibility of government to make sacrifices for the well being of its citizens.

The Catholic Television of Nigeria Project

The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria has initiated a 24 hour satellite Catholic Television Project in collaboration with the African Independent Television, AIT. It will come into operation by January 2011. The purpose of this project is to provide standard, genuine and wholesome religious programming with a Nigerian perspective for Nigerians and Catholics everywhere.

In the meantime AIT now broadcasts a daily catholic meditation at 5.45am, and Holy Mass every Sunday at 8.00am. We urge all Catholics and Nigerians to support and patronize these initiatives which are bound to help sanitize our society. More information will be provided subsequently.

Only the Truth Can Help Us

We reaffirm the call of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria after its last February meeting in Abuja that all Nigerians must make a commitment to truth and honesty in order to redeem our country. We must all act with courage and forthrightness to reinstate integrity in all that we do in order to invite God’s favour upon ourselves.

Conclusion

In conclusion we thank all well-meaning Nigerians who have worked for the growth and development of our country. We urge them continue to do their best for this nation, not to lose heart but to work with firm faith and hope in God for a better future.

We call on all to continue the prayer for Nigerians in Distress with unshakeable faith in God for whom nothing is impossible.

May Mary the Mother of Good Counsel intercede for our leaders and people and help us to choose the path of truth at all times May God bless us and illumine us with his Spirit as we move towards the next elections in Nigeria Amen

Communiqué issued by the Catholic Bishops of the Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province at the end of their meeting held at the Ondo diocesan chancery, Ondo State

Signed by, Archbishop F. A. Job, Most Rev. Gabriel Abegunrin President, Secretary Archbishop of Ibadan Archdiocese Bishop of Osogbo.