English Africa Service – Vatican City.
The week-long meeting took place in the capital, Abuja, at the Resource Centre, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN), Durumi. The pastoral communique made available to Vatican News wants the government to prioritise the establishment of democratic structures.
“We, therefore, enjoin government at all levels in Nigeria to put necessary structures of governance in place and enact appropriate laws that will produce such an environment. We equally insist that the democratic culture of the separation of powers and the independence of the Judiciary be respected,” reads the document signed, on behalf of other Bishops, by the CBCN President Archbishop Augustine Akubeze of the Archdiocese of the Benin City. The Episcopal Conference’ Secretary, Bishop Camillus Umoh of the Diocese of Ikot Ekpene also co-signed the document.
Good governance issues matter
As one of Africa’s largest economies as well as the most populous country on the continent, Nigeria has struggled with governance issues, widespread violence, and general insecurity. The country has just emerged from a general election held last month. President Muhammadu Buhari of the ruling All Progressives Congress was re-elected for the next four years.
What happens in Nigeria does set the tone in Africa either culturally or politically. The Bishops want the country to take its place as a beacon of good governance and democracy.
“We equally note the voter apathy that characterised the subsequent Governorship and State Houses of Assembly Elections….We believe that this apathy may not have been unconnected with among other things, the violence, malpractice and the unnecessary militarisation of the process, all of which contributed to eroding the people’s confidence in the electoral process,” said the Bishops.
Towards a New Political Culture
The Bishops, therefore, demand new electoral laws that will be adhered to by all. Bad elections, they say, hinder good governance.
“One of the reported phenomena during the elections was the crude and reckless use of money to buy votes; showing how desperate politicians and political parties are determined to get political power at all cost. Bad elections do not lead to good governance. We demand that the government acknowledge the inadequacies that characterised the 2019 elections and embark on a course for redress. We urge her to enact, endorse and implement laws and policies that will ensure free, fair and credible elections in the future,” said the Bishops.
Dioceses must promote Catholic Social Teaching
According to the Bishops, “For centuries, the Church has been an advocate of good governance for the Common Good. To this end, we call on all dioceses to promote the Social Teaching of the Church, to simplify and to translate it into concrete actions and to use it for an effective socio-political formation of all the people. Special attention must be paid to young people and families so that the values espoused in Catholic Social Teaching would be inculcated early into children and young people,” the Bishops affirm
Bishops pledge to uphold high standards
In the communique, the Bishops pledge to do all they can to live by the high standards that they advocate.
“However, because moral authority is crucial for good governance and transparent accountability, we as a Church commit ourselves to exercise authority based on sound Christian moral principles, truly inspired by the example of Christ and guided by His compassion,” affirm the Bishops.