Nigerians want total, not technical defeat of terrorists – Catholic bishops tell Buhari

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The president of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), Most Rev. Augustine Akubeze, has told the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government that Nigerians expect him to address the security challenges in the country headlong.

Speaking at the opening of the second plenary of the Catholic CBCN Nigeria held in Abeokuta, Ogun State, yesterday, Akubeze said the citizens are not interested in the government often repeated explanation that the “terrorists have been technically defeated.”

New Telegraph quotes the cleric as saying that the federal government had been slow or failed to promptly respond to the prevailing security challenges.

He submitted that any government that fails to protect the constitutional rights of her citizens had failed.

Akubeze said if Nigerian leaders cannot guarantee peace and security, they have no business using taxpayers’ money to provide security for themselves and their families while the rest of the citizens kept dying.

“At various times, we have called on the government to deal seriously with the issues of insecurity in the land. We have urged the government to stop celebrating the few instances of what they call success by stating that the terrorists have been technically defeated.

“Nigerians do not want to have a debate on the meaning of the word ‘defeated.’ We are just interested in living our lives peacefully without any fear of being kidnapped for ransom or being driven from our home land.

“Nigerians do not want to be faced with the daily tasks of looking for security persons to escort them to their farms. Nigerians do not want to be afraid when they go to the market to sell or buy; or when they go to the church or mosque to pray.

“We are not asking the government for too much. We want to be able to move freely in the country. Every government that fails to protect the constitutional rights of her citizens has failed. The government, if it does not respond rapidly to change the situation for good, is gradually losing legitimacy.

“If the leaders of a country cannot ensure peace and security, they have no business using taxpayers’ money to provide security for themselves and their families while the rest of Nigerians are dying daily,” he said.

In addition, Akubeze called on the president to urgently review his appointments at the federal level which he said lack diversity and does not fulfill the spirit of total integration.

He described as “minimalistic” Buhari’s approach to the issue of diversity in federal appointments.

He said no federal agency in the country should be dominated by one ethnic or religious group.

He pointed out that as president, Buhari has same obligation to those who voted for him and those who did not vote for him.

“The lack of diversity in the appointments by this government at the federal level should be reviewed with the aim of assuring every Nigerian that appointments to positions of importance are not based on the number of people who voted for you from those areas.

“The president is the president of every Nigerian. He has the same obligation to those who voted for him as well as those who did not vote for him. He uses the taxes from people who voted for him and those who did not vote for him. Therefore, equity is expected in appointment of persons to federal agencies.

“Nigerians reject a minimalistic approach to this issue. We have heard the government say that they have fulfilled the constitutional requirement of appointment at least a minister from each state. This is a minimalistic approach and does not fulfill the spirit of total integration of every Nigerian.

“All federal agencies should have directors and staff that reflect the diversity in our land. No federal agency should be dominated by one ethnic group or one religious group. Nigeria belongs to every one of us.

“We must not establish cultural hegemony or a religious hegemony in a constitutional secular state like Nigeria. If we allow it, I can assure you that it is a recipe for disaster,” he added.

Dignitaries at the event included the governor of Ogun State, Mr. Dapo Abiodun, Kayode Fayemi and Simon Lalong of Ogun, Ekiti and Plateau states respectively and the deputy governor of Osun State, Mr. Olugboyega Alabi.

Also in attendance were the minister of transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi; minister of women affairs, Mrs. Pauline Tallen; Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate in Lagos State, Mr. Jimi Agabje; an economist, Prof. Pat Utomi; the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, and Most Rev. Antonio Filipazzi, who represented Pope Francis.

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