YOUTH PROTESTS: A Call To Genuine National Renewal

By Most Rev. Dr. Ignatius Kaigama.

 

From the moment of political independence, Nigeria appeared set to attain very great political heights, social integration and economic viability. We started well, but for sixty years now, it appears Nigeria has wallowed from one crisis to another, pursued misdirected economic policies and reaped sour political fruits.

There was a time when students received pocket money from the Government; jobs were available before the completion of school. One gained admission to school based on merit and recruitment into the army, police, and other paramilitary bodies was also largely based on merit.

Those noble Nigerian political leaders who fought for our independence put the people first, and their interests were subordinated to those of the people. There was more careful planning, infrastructural development and maintenance.

Roads, even when not tarred, were maintained regularly. Even in rural areas, one went to hospital and came back with different packages of medicine. Pensioners did not have to queue up for long months. It was not paradise, but there was a country that could really be said to be the giant of Africa on the march.

Teachers, doctors, pharmacists, engineers among others, came to work in Nigeria from Asia, Europe and other African countries. The foreign exchange rate of our national currency was fantastic. The “Ghana must go” protests showed how Nigeria as a local economic power was like a magnet that attracted people from everywhere.

We thought that Nigeria was on the march to emerge as one of the greatest nations, but greed, the quest for selfish power, narrow ethnic interests and worst of all, exaggerated religious sensitivity began to polarize us.

The chasm between the north and south and Christians and Muslims became disturbingly wider. Trust, merit, patriotism, honesty and hard work, all began crumbling. The country started degenerating and sometimes appeared to be on the brink of collapse.

Since the civil war, followed by various forms of violence rooted in religious or ethnic sentiments, Nigeria has not remained the same. As a consequence of this, women and young people suffer greatly. Some young people, fed with the produce of corrupt earnings, lack role models at home and sometimes at school. Is it any wonder that in some cases even with the help of their parents and teachers some children today cheat to pass exams, while others engage in cultism, etc?

Over the years, as if by progression, life started becoming miserable. There is no safety on the roads, people everywhere complain of hunger, unable to meet basic needs. For water, you provide your borehole; for electricity you buy your generator; for security, you find your “mai gadi”, for school, you pay to enroll children in private schools; for medical care, you go to private hospitals or clinics and pay through the nose.

YOUTH PROTESTS: A Call To Genuine National Renewal
    Most Rv. Dr. Ignatius Kaigama; Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja

    Social insurance for young people has been lacking, just as for pensioners who have worked nearly all their life in service of the country. Ex-prisoners are not well rehabilitated, teenagers are troubled by a bleak future, and youths run away from the country to travel abroad legally or illegally, in search of greener pastures.

    Some of them are trafficked, while some go on voluntary prostitution, with some dying in the Sahara desert, in Libyan jails or in the Mediterranean Sea.

    As a Catholic priest for almost forty years, I feel that many people prefer to see me as a social worker. Day in, day out, requests flow in for basic needs: school fees, hospital bills, food, house rent, etc. Letters, e-mails, text messages and calls received are largely about requests to meet the needs for basic survival.

    Transferred from Jos to Abuja as Archbishop, my troubles have doubled. Some of my acquaintances in need from different parts of Nigeria who before now, did not text or call me, believe that I have made it “big” as the Archbishop of Abuja, and they so very kindly leave their bank account details after describing their woes and how “you are the last hope.”

    Some feel that in my new position in Abuja, I have the resources to meet their demands or to talk to influential men or women on their behalf for jobs, contracts or other favours. Some, I think, believe that I have regular breakfast with President Buhari every morning! Since they cannot go or write to government or talk to their representatives in the National Assembly they turn round to ask, “What is the Church doing?”

    Even when palliatives during the Covid-19 lockdown were not getting to them, instead of confronting government, some would ask “What is the Church doing?” I tried to explain that the Church was not established as an alternative government to provide food, education, health care or to look after all the needs of the poor, the prisoners and the sick.

    In doing our corporal works of mercy we only watch out for those suffering social deprivation and assist them to complement government efforts. Somehow, because there seems to be a perpetual social lack, the impression has been formed that the Church must be in the forefront of providing social services, by reaching out to the poor and marginalized. Yet, no support is given to the Church by the Government. In some cases, the Government even wants to tax Churches despite the humanitarian services being rendered!

    Our communiqués since the 1960s, published into a book by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) are a testimony of the concern of the Catholic Bishops not only with spiritual and pastoral welfare, but also with the integral progress and happiness of all Nigerians.

    The younger generations even tend to blame the Church for not doing much for the youths, but they forget to take their demands to Senators and other elected officials who receive mouth- watering and humongous salaries and other privileges, when the basic pay for an ordinary worker is thirty thousand Naira per month, nearly the cost of a bag of rice! In order words, a man or woman works for only a bag of rice in one month! Yet, we wonder why there is agitation or violence at many levels.

    Now the youths feeling tired, crushed, desperate, frustrated, demoralized are asking: stop brutality; provide good governance; remove the monster of corruption; make life more bearable and reasonable. They are crying out for a new Nigeria. A new Nigeria is not impossible. The youth protest is like the proverbial gadfly stinging us to wakefulness as religious, traditional and political leaders.

    The youths must realize however that due to prolonged greed and corruption in the country, we have mostly been infested with the virus of greed and corruption. This includes some leaders in places of worship, roadside mechanics, traders, office clerks and even the youths themselves.

    A secretary in a government office hides your employment file until you give a good tip. It is no longer news that contract sums are deliberately inflated to enable the awarders of the contract get their big share.

    Needless to say that this seriously affects the quality of services provided. Our leaders seem to be always on a borrowing spree, and having borrowed, they don’t use the funds judiciously and fruitfully, thereby seriously jeopardizing/mortgaging the future well-being and all-round prospects of present and future generations.

    Because there is a time for everything, time has come for genuine introspection, critical self-analysis and inner purification. Nigerians in public office or in private life; on the streets, employed or unemployed; in the classrooms or market, must always think of the good of other Nigerians and the common good that binds us all.

    The scriptures advise us to do whatever we do with honesty, noble motives and intentions and to do them in the name of God. Whatever good we can do, we should do it now, for we pass through this world only once. We should learn to live simple life styles. Through this, there will be enough to go round and very few will be in dire need.

    Truth must however be told. Things are not well. Something urgently and effectively must be done by the authorities. Dialogue is the way forward, a national conversation. People scream about disproportionate appointments in favour of some groups based on ethnic and religious grounds.

    Others worry that some tribes lord it over others, resulting in constant violence. There is inequitable distribution of our resources and the thwarting of democratic process through electoral rigging. Today, the immoral buying and selling of votes openly during elections goes on without qualms of conscience.

    Nothing seems to get done without monetary inducement. Many young people complain that today if interviews for employment opportunities are advertised it is a mere formality because the jobs or positions would have already been assigned well in advance to influential government officials or rich business personalities or to the highest bidders.

    All of us are guilty about what has happened to Nigeria and Nigerians, but we can work at it together. As long as there is life, there is hope. Pointing the finger of blame will not solve the problem.

    The decay in which we find ourselves started decades ago. We can work at it with serenity, truthfulness, equity and justice. We cannot go on like this with brothers killing brothers and strangely celebrating it as an “achievement.”

    Militant herdsmen, bandits, religious fanatics, kidnappers and corrupt Nigerians, especially among the political class, add to our litany of woes. We seem to be our worst enemies. This reduces the quality of life for Nigerians. The need to talk openly, sincerely and to act in a positive and concrete manner is now!

    *Most Rev. Dr. Ignatius Kaigama is the Archbishop of The Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja in Nigeria

     

     

    Disclaimer: “The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of  Most Rev. Dr. Ignatius Kaigama and do not necessarily reflect those of The World Satellite. The World Satellite will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article.”

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    #ENDSARS PROTESTS: President Muhammadu Buhari's Broadcast Not Soothing Enough-: Says HURIWA 

    Thu Oct 22 , 2020
    368 By HURIWA.   The Prominent Civil Rights Advocacy group-: HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has dismissed Thursday night’s 7pm national broadcast of President Muhammadu Buhari as not soothing enough and amounted to open threats to the aggrieved members of the youthful public just as the speech sounded […]
    HURIWA Wants Nigerian President To Take Steps To Cleanse NPF Or Else: A prominent Civil Rights Advocacy group-: HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has warned that targeted attacks of police operatives and facilities all across the Country may escalate unless the President Muhammadu Buhari genuinely, patriotically and statesmanly take verifiable, concrete, transparent and law based steps to clean up the Augean stable that the Nigerian Police Force has since metamorphosed into. The Rights group said it was not in any way providing justification or endorsement of the coordinated attacks against facilities of the Nigerian Police Force by aggrieved citizens, but that it was worried that it is still business as usual at the top echelons of the Nigerian Police Force and the Central government as there is no deliberate effort to reform, reorganize, restructure and recalibrate the rotten institution of the Nigerian Police Force so the members and officers are forced to comply with the global best practices and adhere by the tenets and letters of the Constitution and the Nigerian Police Force Act of 2020. The Rights group recalled some of the following targeted attacks in many parts of Nigeria thus: "March 3, 2021 unidentified gunmen in the early hours of Wednesday killed two police officers in Cross River State, Nigeria’s South-south, bringing to six the number of officers killed in the last six days in the state. Four police officers were killed recently, on February 25, in Calabar, by some gunmen. The police spokesperson, Irene Ugbo, who confirmed the latest killing, said the attack occurred in Obubra, in the central part of Cross River State. “We lost two of our policemen, one is being hospitalised,” said Ms Ugbo, a deputy superintendent of police. On Tuesday February 23 2021 At least two police officers were killed when armed men invaded a police station in Aba, Abia State. “An Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) and a Police Corporal were killed in the attack. On 19 February 2021 there was pandemonium in Effurn, near Warri, as gunmen again, killed a mobile policeman along the Airport Road and carted away his gun. “Another mobile policeman on escort duty was killed last week in a Church at Otor-Ogor near Ughelli and his rifle taken away. Details of the Effurun incident was still sketchy at press time, but when contacted, the Delta State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Onome Onovwakpoyeya, confirmed the killing of the police officer. “On Feb 22, 2021 unknown gunmen suspected to be cultists attacked a checkpoint manned by a Police detachment of the Quick Response Squad (QRS) in Akwa Ibom, killing one Police Inspector, while others escaped in hails of bullets. “On February 6, two policemen were said to have lost their lives and scores injured when suspected bandits attacked Umulowo police division in Obowo local government area of Imo state. January 10, 2021 Gunmen on Friday night attacked a police station in Ebonyi State, killing three police officers. Two others sustained bullet wounds in the attack on Onueke Police Station in Ezza South Local Government Area of the state". The Rights group said in a statement by the National Coordinator; Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director; Miss Zainab Yusuf that the Nigerian President has also compounded the spectacular public image FIASCO of the Nigerian Police Force by his recent wholly unconstitutional and illegal extension of the tenure of the office of the Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu even after he has reached the retirement age as specified by the newly amended NIGERIA POLICE ACT 2020 which the President Muhammadu Buhari personally signed into law. The Rights group said the message passed by the unlawful decision of the President in the tenure extension of the IGP which violates an extant law is that the institution of the Nigerian Police Force can as well remain as filthy, unpopular, undisciplined and the members could remain as unprofessional as most NIGERIANS perceived the Nigerian Police Force to be. HURIWA said the genesis of the attacks on the police is the general perception that there is a lack of political will to effectively resolve the dwindling state of discipline and professionalism amongst the members and officers of the Nigerian Police Force who are seen as persons who derive joy in the use of torture and extrajudicial killings of civilians. The Rights group said there is the urgency of the now for the Nigerian Police Force to be restructured fundamentally and all the bad eggs weeded off the police force making use of the recommendations to be determined by the different investigative panels on police brutality known as #ENDSARS PANELS. The Rights group however expressed regret that the police hierarchy seems lethargic and unperturbed about the proceedings of the judicial panels and has not compelled the indicted police operatives accused of extralegal execution of the citizens to appear before the various panels. HURIWA said the members of the public have been pushed to the walls by the systemic and systematic lack of professionalism and discipline within the Nigerian Police Force and made worst by the open defecation by President Muhammadu Buhari on top of the extant Nigerian Police Force Act by granting tenure extension illegally to a lacklustre IGP who has thoroughly undermined and compromised the National Security of Nigeria by failing to restore discipline and professionalism in the Police Force. The Rights group said the President Muhammadu Buhari must be put under pressure to begin to respect and enforce the Nigerian Police Force Act of 2020 because of the many good innovations within the body of the law. HURIWA recalled that the Section 4 of the New Act has extended the duties of the Nigeria Police beyond detection and prevention of crimes and protection of rights, lives and properties, maintenance of public safety, law and order; and the enforcement of laws and regulations to include collaborating with agencies to provide assistance to persons in distress, victims of road accidents, fire disasters, earthquakes, and flood, facilitating the free passage and movement on the highways, roads, and streets open to the public and adoption community partnership. The Nigeria Police Force also now has the duty to vet and approve the registration of private detective schools and private investigation outfits. The Rights group said the new Police Act as interpreted by legal experts has been upgraded to ensure that the Nigeria Police Force promotes and protects the fundamental human rights of persons as provided for by the Constitution, the African Charter on Human and Peoples Right, and other international legal instruments on human rights, The Police Force is forthwith expected to collaborate with relevant agencies to provide legal services to accused person where necessary [12]. HURIWA cited interpretations of some of the provisions as made by respected legal experts thus: "In order to further achieve this, the new Act requires that every Police Division must be assigned a police officer who is qualified to practice as a legal practitioner whose responsibility will be to promote human rights compliance by the officers of the Division". HURIWA said it was imperative that President Muhammadu Buhari returns to the path of respect for the law by appointing a competent officer to take o re the functions of the IGP since legally the person masquerading as the IGP use violator in the face of the law and the Rights group reminds the President that the Grand Norm of Nigeria provides in Section 214 of 1999 constitution stated thus: "214.-(1) there shall be a police Force for Nigeria, which shall be known as the Nigeria Police Force, and subject to the provisions of this section no other police force shall be established for the Federation or any part thereof. (2) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution – (a) The Nigeria Police Force shall be organised and administered in accordance with such provisions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly; (b) The members of the Nigeria Police Force shall have such powers and duties as may be conferred upon them by law; (c) The National Assembly may make provisions for branches of the Nigeria police Force forming part of the armed forces of the Federation or for the protection of harbours, waterways, railways and air fields. (3) The President or such other Minister of the Government of the Federation as he may authorise in that behalf may give to the Inspector-General of Police such lawful directions with respect to the maintenance and securing of public safety and public order as he may consider necessary, and the Inspector-General of Police shall comply with those directions or cause them to be complied with."

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