National Assembly not working for Nigeria’s progress, say Catholic bishops

Peter Dada, Akure

Catholic bishops of Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province have alleged that the current members of the National Assembly have not given legislation that would move the country forward.

The clerics frowned at the current spate of insecurity across Nigeria, saying the country was no longer at ease. They also condemned the alleged action of the senate on the press regulation bill.

This was contained in a communique issued at the end of a meeting of the bishops held at the Domus Pacis Pastoral Institute, Akure, the Ondo State capital.

The communique was issued by Archbishop Gabriel Abegunrin and Bishop John Oyejola, the chairman and secretary of the ecclesiastical province respectively.

The Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province, comprises Ibadan Catholic Archdiocese, Ilorin, Ondo, Oyo, Ekiti and Osogbo Dioceses.

In the communique, the clerics said the country needed spiritual and moral revival which will restore “common positive values to their rightful place in our polity. These values include honesty, truthfulness, integrity, accountability and the fear of God.”

The communique read, “The ongoing controversy surrounding the proceedings of the National Assembly gives ample evidence of the theatre of the absurd which democratic representation has become in Nigeria. Be it on the electoral reform, electronic transmission of electoral results, press freedom or the Petroleum Industrial Bill, the work of those who represent the people on the federal level in Nigeria does not seem to bring much satisfaction to the people for whose interest they were allegedly elected.

“With the National Assembly at various occasions prioritizing party and privileges over people’s rights and interest, relief and progress continue to elude Nigerians. Simply put, those who claim to represent the people seem to have perfected the art of sabotaging the progress of the same people.

“We declare again, as we have done often in the past, that only the truth can set us free. Nigeria must allow this to happen! The attempt of the Nigerian National Assembly to silence the press and penalise journalists for merely doing their job is to be completely rejected. We hold that the freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, guaranteed by the constitution and cannot be alienated by any government least of all in a democracy.

The bishops urged the media and civil society groups in the country to continue educating the people “so that Nigeria can reap the full benefits therefrom.” They also admonished the people to register and obtain their voter’s cards to enable them to exercise their rights in choosing who governs them from time to time.

“For the sake of our democracy, that right, exercised with responsibility, must be protected. We support Bishop Kukah in his effort to unveil the truth about the Nigerian situation in order to ameliorate things. We call on the Nigerian government to learn not to see criticism as an attack or a crime,” the clerics urged.