Catholic News Service of Nigeria – Lagos
The Archbishop made the call recently as Nigeria commemorated its Diamond Jubilee of independence from British colonial rule. The Archbishop also said that the year of the country’s Diamond Jubilee, 2020, has been the most challenging for all Nigerians due to COVID-19 and the high cost of living.
We all need to be on a path to peaceful coexistence
Addressing himself to the state of the nation, Archbishop Martins noted that “not enough has been done in practical terms by successive (Nigerian) leaders to foster a deep sense of patriotism and oneness among the various nationalities that make up the country.” He said that it was shameful that sixty years after gaining independence from the British, the country was yet to get its act together. “We still lack quality leadership needed to guide the country on the path of peaceful coexistence, economic prosperity and security of life and property,” said the prelate of Lagos.
Military governments distorted the growth of the country
Archbishop Martins advocated that the Diamond Jubilee year be used, by all, to reflect soberly on the reality and challenges facing Nigeria.
“A cursory reflection shows that we are far below where we ought to be if we take into consideration the human and natural resources with which the country is blessed.” He added, “The advent of the military into governance has remained an obstacle to the growth of the nation.“
Federal states reduced to begging from central govt
Archbishop Martins pointed out that in its current structure, governance in Nigeria gives too much power to the centre. At the same time, the states and local governments have been reduced to appendages that go cap in hand to Abuja to seek for their survival from the Federal Government. “We must return to true federalism in order to become the nation that we want to be,” he said.
Selfishness and disregard for the common good have made it impossible for the Federal Republic to function as it was meant to at independence, declared the Archbishop. He appealed for selfless leadership and patriotism.
The Grace of God has kept us together
Notwithstanding challenges, Archbishop Martins attributed the fact that the country has held together, for the past 60 years, to the grace of God and the resilience of its people. The people, said the Archbishop, have persevered under successive government leaders that have not had the best interests of the nation at heart.
“We thank God that we are alive to mark the Diamond Jubilee of our country’s independence. We are an independent country still searching for how to become a nation, where no one is oppressed, and everyone feels a sense of belonging. In spite of all odds, we have survived for 60 years, and so we must thank God and praise the resilience of Nigerians. However, this year of our Diamond Jubilee has turned out to be one of the most challenging for most Nigerians,” said the Archbishop as he alluded to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic hardships.
Archbishop Martins noted that the country was still battling with the effects of insecurity in the country when COVID-19 struck and made life impossible for ordinary Nigerians. He called on the Government to ease the burdens on the people in the face of rising prices for food and essential commodities.