On the 1st of March 2020, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria CBCN carried out a peaceful protest against the killings of Nigerian citizens. The peaceful protest was the second action the Catholic Bishops carried out as a National Conference during this Lenten period. We remember that a few days before the beginning of Lent, the bishops asked Catholics, both within the country and in the diaspora, to dress in black on Ash Wednesday to mourn all our murdered compatriots. Though the initiative was largely observed, it was not as significant as the Bishop’s protest.
And even though the Bishops have been generally speaking against corruption and insecurity in the nation, their action has always been too mild to draw any significant attention. And even at that, it has always been only a few Bishops who really speak out, and on certain occasions, when they are directly or indirectly touched by those ugly incidents.
However, historically speaking, the Bishops have always tried to be involved. A good example is the prayer against Bribery and Corruption instituted by the Bishops in 1998 during the barbaric military regime of General Sani Abacha. Yet with the recent sporadic killings and kidnappings in the nation, the Bishops have come to understand that no one is safe in Nigeria. It has become so dangerous with the rapid escalation of Boko Haram and headmen attacks that no one understands with accuracy who is actually the target of these rogues. This is why the Bishops decided to awaken our nation’s leadership from their slumber.
And to make it more significant, the Bishop started their 2020 plenary session with this protest. At the end of their peaceful protest end, Archbishop Augustine Obiora Akubeze, delivered a powerful speech. Here are the important facts you need to remember about his speech.
1. The Protest of the Bishops
Unlike other peaceful protests that were organized by Nigerian Catholics in the past, this one was the Bishops own protest. The circumstances speak a lot. It was scheduled to take place while the Bishops were on their first 2020 plane ray session. The Archbishop himself stated “we the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria and with significant support (and not together with) of priests, consecrated persons and our beloved lay faithful embark on a peaceful protest against the high level of insecurity in every part of Nigeria.”
2. 2. A protest against the Killing of all Nigerians
3. 3. Protest to task the Government to own up to her failures
The present government seduced Nigerians with their progressive manifestos as against pseudo democratic manifestos we have always seen in the past. The president claimed to have an answer to everything retarding our progress as a Nation.
But after a full mandate, it became certain that the regime misunderstood about the country. All their promises seem to have been better thought than executed. And ashamed to own up to their failure, they have resorted to sophism. They play on words just to dissimulate their failure. And in his remarks, the Archbishop reminded the regime that what Nigerians want is action, not speeches. He clarified that facts on the ground proved all their claims to be entirely wrong. He then urged the government to own up to its weakness and, if possible, ask for external aid to tackle our security and corruption problems.
4. A protest to remind the Government of her vows to the entire nation
One thing that has always been reproached to the present Nigerian president is either being consciously sectarian or ignoring its existence. On individual levels, many Bishops have condemned it in the past, but this is the first time the CBCN is condemning it as a body. They made the condemnation as their prophetic role.
“We pray daily for the Government you lead to bring Nigerians together and make every Nigerian feel that they are equal in the country irrespective of their ethnic or religious background.”