Tinubu’s economic reforms’ve inflicted more pains on Nigerians –Catholic Bishops

Catholic Bishops under the umbrella of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), have accused President Bola Tinubu of championing socioeconomic reforms that have visited unprecedented hardship, pains and poverty on Nigerians. They said the situation has caused increased frustration and unfettered crime in the country.

The bishops stressed that as religious leaders who are closer to the people, they feel and see the level of suffering in the country, lamenting that families could barely feed because of high cost of food, as well as several other deprivations.

The clerics insisted that many communities across the country had been taken over completely by criminals,

“As a result, families have lost their ancestral lands to armed invaders and land grabbers; social and economic lives of communities have been paralyses due to insecurity; schools have been shut down, and children can no longer continue their education; farmers are unable to access their farms out of fear of either losing their lives or being kidnapped; businesses have closed down; while many displaced families have no sources of livelihood, and are daily afflicted by hunger and starvation,” they stated.

The CBCN President, Most Rev. Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, highlighted these challenges and more in a speech delivered at the opening session of the 2024 first plenary assembly of the bishops held at the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria Resource Centre, Durumi, Abuja, yesterday.

He said: “Evidently, the reform agenda of President Tinubu 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 steady decline in the value of the Naira.

“High spiraling inflation has made it difficult for the average Nigerian to access basic commodities, including food items and medication. 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 poor people have resorted to begging, with more than 80 million Nigerians living under the poverty line of less than two dollars a day.”

He said the Catholic Bishops were, however, unhappy that 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 Nigerians to make even more sacrifices with the assurance that brighter days are ahead.

The cleric acknowledged the fact that government was working on fixing the already “battered” economy and security architecture. “If we have to be very frank with ourselves and not wallow in self-delusion, we must admit that we are faced with a case where therapy is worse than the disease. The government’s reform agenda is turning out to be counterproductive. Despite the government’s efforts to boost our economy, our nation has continued to sink economically deeper into a bottomless pit.

“In withdrawing the fuel subsidies, the government assured Nigerians it would save a lot of money to be injected into other national development sectors. Rather than give evidence of money so far saved from the withdrawal of subsidies for which Nigerians are being afflicted with untold hardship, all we hear is the government’s accumulation of more foreign debts to balance its budgetary deficit, thereby mortgaging the future of our nation and generations yet unborn.

“We must also be frank to admit that the government’s efforts to fight corruption have remained prostrate, and as a result, Nigeria is rated as one of the most corrupt nations in the world. 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 freely loot huge sums of money from the public coffers, needs total overhauling. Though the ICPC and the EFCC have recovered billions of Naira from corrupt government officials, it 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 Nigeria. So, the government should 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. It goes without saying that there cannot be any meaningful development in any country without adequate security. It will amount to be-laboring the obvious to state that security in our country will remain a tall dream if mass unemployment exists among our youths.”

President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Archbishop Daniel Okoh, in his remarks, appreciated the contributions of the Catholic Bishops to the growth and development of the Body of Christ, and Nigeria, in general.

He also appreciated the theme of the conference, “Synod on Synodality: Focusing on Areas of Concern for the Church in Nigeria,” describing it as timely, considering the conversations in the Catholic Church for the purpose of learning and growth.

He said: “The focus on widening the space of conversation, walking together, talking to, and listening to one another, and to the Spirit of God as you carry out the great commission given by our Lord, Jesus Christ in Matthew 28:18-20, no doubt, makes the Church more inclusive.

“I am aware that in such conversations, challenges and even unexpected challenges come up, but we, your brethren, pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit during such times. I believe that this conference will make the church in Nigeria more united, stronger and more impactful in the work of evangelism.”

Meanwhile, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator George Akume, in his remarks, described Catholic Church as an indispensable pillar of faith, stability, and progress in Nigeria.

He noted that throughout history, the Catholic Church has played a pivotal role in shaping the moral fabric of Nigerian society, and nurturing Christian leaders across all fields and sectors whose principles are deeply rooted in Christianity.

“The Catholic Church remains a beacon of wisdom, providing guidance and solace to countless individuals. The Federal Government regards the Catholic Church as a cherished partner, recognizing its invaluable contributions to nation’s well-being.”

He, however, informed the Catholic Bishops that President Tinubu’s administration inherited a daunting economic landscape, which necessitated decisive action to alter nation’s downward trajectory. “With unwavering dedication, we are striving towards a prosperous, healthy, and globally competitive Nigeria.

“However, we must remain steadfast, renew our faith in God’s provision and protection. We must remain resolute, renew our faith in God’s providence and walk in love as we support one another.

“The government is steadfast in its resolve to enhance security, bolster the economy, and create opportunities for all Nigerians. We acknowledge the various hardships affecting nations across the world precipitated and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, including the escalating cost of living crisis.

“However, we draw strength from our collective hope and diligent efforts of the government, private sector, religious organizations and others, trusting that through God’s grace, better days lie ahead,” he said.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top