The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, has backed the calls by some eminent Nigerians for people to defend themselves, if government failed to protect them from herdsmen and bandits’ attacks.

To avert such an undesirable state of affairs, the Archbishop, however, called for dialogue, justice and reconciliation.

Above all, he urged the government to do more to protect the people from criminal elements seeking death and destruction.
Kaigama, who spoke in Abuja at a press conference to mark his 62nd birthday celebration over the weekend, blamed the social unrest and the insecurity affecting the nation on injustice. “Killing human beings is criminal.

It is a grievous sin and totally ungodly. It’s so sad the way we kill in this county. It does not portray the country in good light. “I am sad that the killings have not stopped. I am not sure enough is being done at all levels to bring these killings to a comprehensive stop.

“Unjust attacks call for self-defence. This is in line with theological principles. It is naivety to sit back and be killed because you’re a man of peace.

“We don’t encourage attacking people for no just cause but you can defend yourself. Above all, we urge dialogue and reconciliation.”
On corruption

The Archbishop also expressed concern that the government was not sufficiently addressing corruption in the country, and called for reforms in anti-corruption agencies to enable them perform optimally.

He said: “The social cancer of corruption must give way for Nigeria to speed up her journey to join the league of developed nations.

“Well intentioned anti-corruption agencies, such as ICPC and EFCC, do not appear to have performed optimally, with the allegations of high-level corruption in the news. They can do better.

“We must find a way of addressing corruption. If these institutions are not serving Nigerians well, there should be a change if they are not fulfilling their mandate.”

On social welfare, the cleric said: “Nigeria is blessed with enormous natural and human resources. We should be very ready at critical times to provide and efficiently distribute palliatives to the poor and the needy.”

On education

Speaking on the state of education system, the Catholic prelate of Abuja suggested that a state of emergency be declared on the education sector.

He said: ‘’Certainly, that is what I am asking for. There has to be total overhauling of the educational system.

“We must give serious consideration to future of our young ones and we cannot emphasise any better that the government should consider education as fundamental to progress, to alleviating all social problems.

“There should be drastic revolution and fundamental overhauling of the educational system in the country.”

On schools reopening, Kaigama said the COVID-19 pandemic had forced schools globally to switch to online learning. He said Nigeria must continue adjusting to global trends, noting: “Education deserves a once of high priority, even though educating our students in the present circumstance will not be easy. “It is good news that government is allowing the exit classes to resume and to sit for their final exams. But all precautionary measures against COVID-19 must be put in place”.

“I believe strongly that the needed funds could come from the generous donations received, part sacrifice of salaries lavishly used by political parties before and during elections, recovered looted’ funds, etc.

“These could be used to improve or create structures for our students in public, private and faith-based schools so that their academic life is not truncated. “We cannot afford the adverse consequences of leaving our students idle for such an undetermined period of time.”