COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF THE 14TH ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF THE DIOCESAN COORDINATORS OF THE JUSTICE, DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE/CARITAS NIGERIA HELD AT THE SACRED HEART PASTORAL CENTRE OF THE CATHOLIC ARCHDIOCESE OF JOS, PLATEAU STATE, FROM JULY 20TH – 25TH, 2009.
We, the Provincial and Diocesan Coordinators and Secretaries of Justice, Development & Peace/Caritas Nigeria, held our Annual General Meeting for the year 2009 between the 20th of July, 2009, to the 25th of July, 2009 at the Sacred Heart Pastoral Centre, Jos, Plateau State, to prayerfully reflect on our mission in the country and deliberate on some social issues affecting the well-being of our citizenry and the state of our nation regarding peace, stability and progress. We issue the following Communiqué
Gratitude to God
We give glory to the Almighty God for the successful deliberation at this year’s AGM and for his many blessings on the Church in Nigeria and the continued existence of our great nation as one indivisible entity.
SIGNS OF HOPE:
We give thanks to God for the ten years of uninterrupted civilian administration in our country in spite of the circumstantial and questionable situation of our democratic system of governance during this period. While commending both leaders and the people for this seeming success so far, we call on all stakeholders to continue to explore all avenues that will ensure genuine and sustainable democracy to thrive in our country.
We commend the governors of some states in the country for their efforts at bringing the dividends of democracy to the door steps of the people through the implementation of people oriented programmes. We call on other state governors to imbibe this gesture to ensure even development of our great country in a conducive political atmosphere. We also call on other political office holders to see politics as a service to the people and not a right and therefore be accountable to the people who voted them into office.
We commend the effort of the government in setting up panels and allowing the probing of past and present public office holders with a view to ensuring probity and accountability in public service. We however urge that this should be a holistic exercise and there should be no sacred cows in this perspective.
We also commend our Judiciary for its boldness in bringing about justice to the oppressed as exemplified in its recent pronouncements in respect of some election petitions in some states of the federation. As the last hope of the people, we urge the judiciary not to relent in its efforts to ensure equity and justice in all ramifications.
In the same vain, we appreciate the present administration for its pursuit of respect for the rule of law. This however must be pursued with all sincerity so that the confidence of the people renewed by this effort might not be dampened.
We give glory to God for the return of peace to the city of Jos and its environs after the unfortunate political crisis of last November which metamorphosed into a religious crisis and resulted in the loss of many lives and properties worth millions of Naira. While we congratulate the government, political and religious leaders and the people of Jos for the quick return of normalcy, we urge them all to continue to see every Nigerian in the image of God and allow peace and love to reign supreme in our hearts and transcend our ethnic, social and religious differences
We commend the attention given by the present federal administration to our roads and the energy sector and the huge investments being made to get these serve their functions and purposes. We however hope that these huge investments will be justified by the desired and promised results and will not be business as usual.
Also, we commend President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and his administration for the amnesty given to the Niger Delta militants with a view of bringing the much desired peace to the Delta region of the country. We however urge that repentant militants will be allowed and supported to have A SECOND CHANCE for a normal useful life thereby reducing the fear entertained by them. Furthermore, the genuine grievances of the Niger Delta people should be given immediate attention through rapid development and provision of essential infrastructures and facilities. .
We commend the resilience, courage and faith of Nigerians amidst the difficulties and confusion of every day experience. This has enhanced the seeming stability we enjoy.
We recognize the many yearning gaps yet to be filled by our political leaders in redeeming the worrisome situation our nation is facing. We therefore call the attention of our leaders to the following social issues threatening the life, happiness and freedom of our people as well as the stability of our country.
The insecurity of life and property in all parts of the country continues to be a cause for worry. Armed robbery has become a daily menu as most Nigerians sleep with only one eye closed on daily basis. Kidnapping by militants and destruction of essential public, facilities even outside the Niger Delta area, has continued unabated thus making investors and visitors to see every part of Nigeria as a ‘No go Area’. Police road blocks have continued to be unofficial toll gates where lives of ‘uncooperative’ road users are wasted by trigger happy police officers without respect for dignity of life.
We call on our leaders to not only give priority attention to security but put in place practical measures that will meaningfully address the issues raised above and others. It is time for us to put an end to rampart robbery attacks in the cities and villages, militant activities in the creeks, the horror of kidnapping and deadly community cultism and clashes that have in the recent past wiped out communities.
After the ceding of the Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon by courtesy of the World Court in The Hague, it is unfortunate that displaced Nigerians, as a result of this political misfortune are yet to be properly resettled in spite of the orchestrated promises of the government. This is injustice in all ramifications. We therefore call on the respective arms of government responsible for this service to find immediate solution to the predicament of these Nigerians who were victims of apolitical judgment over their fatherland.
Also the continued demolition of structures and other sources of livelihood of Nigerians without adequate compensation in Abuja and other capital cities, in the name of infrastructural development is worrisome and injustice considering the determination and dedication of Nigerians to making the best use of available opportunities to keep body and soul together. While ruminating over the above predicaments of majority of Nigerians the continued concentration of the wealth of the nation in the hands of a privileged few in both public and private sectors portends great danger to the future of this great country and a dangerous factor for the widening of the gap between the rich and the poor. These issues have to be properly addressed.
INCESSANT STRIKE ACTIONS
We observe with nostalgia the recent strike actions in the education and health sectors of the country. This is very worrisome when one considers the fallen standard and lack of proper direction for the education sector in the country since the take-over of schools by government during the military era. Students and pupils stay at home for many months because of incessant strikes in our schools, colleges and universities. The adverse effects of staying at home by our university students and students of other institutions of learning during these avoidable strikes on the future of our children and nation are immeasurable.
With regards to the situation in the health sector, good comprehensive health services in the country have become a privilege instead of rights. These strikes actions can only worsen the situation as the majority of Nigerians are the unfortunate victims.
We therefore call for prompt actions on the part of government to resolve the crisis in this essential services sector in the interest of the masses. Good education and sound health are principal factors that facilitate the growth and development of a nation.
In the same vein, while we see strike action as a legitimate right of workers, we call on the labour leaders and Nigerian workers to exercise restraint in the demand for their rights noting that Nigerian masses are often the victims of these avoidable actions.
The issue of human trafficking is still in vogue in spite of the spirited efforts of relevant government agencies in collaboration Non Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) to put an end to it. We urge all agencies not to relent in their laudable efforts to protect the integrity of the human person in this respect.
We also want to call the attention of the governments to the continuous exodus of our able bodied and vulnerable young boys and girls from the villages to the cities, neighbouring countries and overseas in search of greener pastures. In the process, these innocent youths become victims of wicked and selfish business cartels who lure them into prostitution and drug pushing abroad. We call on our leaders to put an end to this drifting to guarantee the future of our great country.
ELECTORAL REFORM AND FUTURE ELECTIONS
In spite of our celebration of 10 years of uninterrupted civilian administration, our democratic process is still nothing to write about. Our elections have always been clouded by rigging, violence and manipulations of election results and this has cast a big question on the way we practice democracy in Nigeria.
The attempt of the present administration to end this social malaise through an electoral reform is indeed a right step in the right direction. In continuation of this laudable process, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua has presented some bills to the National Assembly. While we see this as a commendable effort, we urge a true, quick and sincere process that will overhaul our electoral system. A process which will produce credible candidates at the end of elections and minimize the number of electoral petitions in our country must be vigorously pursued by all concerned. This will bring about a true and sustainable democracy and win Nigeria respect in the comity of nations.
BUDGET IMPLEMENTATION AND ACCOUNTABILITY
Recently, the House of Representatives threatened to impeach the president as a result of his inability to fully implement the 2009 Appropriation Act. Budgets are plans to guide the government in its efforts to deliver on policies it is set to achieve. It is therefore pertinent that a good budget be written and carefully executed. This will place Nigeria on the path of economic recovery. Governments at all levels must consequently and genuinely implement plans set out to make life meaningful for our people.
The Constitution of Nigeria grants power to the people. Elected government officials must therefore see themselves as servants of the people and be accountable to them. They must also judiciously cherish the trust reposed in them and act rightly at all times.
We are most grateful to God for His presence during these days of the meeting and we thank the Archdiocese of Jos for the enabling environment for our deliberations. Our gratitude also goes to our partners who have continuously supported our cause in the service of humanity. We hope that one day Nigeria, our dear country will become the Nigeria of our collective dreams.
We continue to entrust our country to the patronage of our Blessed Mother Mary and pray that we continue to possess the necessary zeal to carry our mission in the JDP/Caritas Nigeria, while seeing the human person as the focus of the social teachings of the Church.
Fr. Peter Babangida Audu
Director, Church and Society & Secretary
Justice, Development and Peace/Caritas Nigeria
Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN)
Sr. ElmaMary Ekewuba, DC
Chairperson, Communique Committe
JDP/Caritas Coordinator, Port Harcourt
July 25, 2009.