MOST REV. GABRIEL Abegunrin has expressed his grouse against the federal government handling of the mayhem unleashed by the Fulani herders on some states in the North.

Most Rev. Abegunrin said the long silence of President Muhammadu Buhari over the killings and his endorsement for a second term by some governors a day after the burial of the victims of the genocide in Benue did not show him as the father to all Nigerians.

The archbishop was a guest on Impact Business Radio 92.5FM, Tuesday 23 January, where he discussed the role of religious leaders in nation building and some burning national issues.

Urging President Buhari to be more sensitive to the plight of Nigerians, Archbishop Abegunrin, who chaired the Federal Government Committee on Ife-Modakeke Crisis in 2000, observed that the hardship currently being witnessed in the country was causing tension among Nigerians.

On the recent killing of 73 people in Benue, the prelate said that it was ridiculous for some people to take human lives because of cattle, adding that after God, it is man who is next in rank. 

He said what happened were brutal killings and not clashes as reported. He urged the federal government to stop the killings in several states and do justice to the aggrieved.

Nigeria was more peaceful in the past, though there were few churches and mosques, he said. “Those days, there was peace, love, fraternity, but now security is no more, despite the fact that we have churches and mosques everywhere.” The prelate bemoaned how religion has been corrupted as churches now preach prosperity, rather than holiness.

He encouraged people to be diligent in their work and not be misled by false miracle workers. Our God only blesses people who work. If you don’t work, what do you want God to bless? he asked.

Archbishop Abegunrin said religious leaders “who romance with the politicians do so for money.”

“During campaigns, some religious leaders say that they see vision but, most times, this is done for pecuniary benefits. Some pastors praying for those in power also do that because of what they will get,” he said.

The archbishop stated that no Catholic bishop took part in the six-million- dollar bribe saga. Collecting such money during the elections in 2015, according to him, meant participating in evil and “we all can see the consequences today.”

He also condemned the use of bodyguards by religious leaders, saying such leaders should put their trust in God, as they preach to their followers.  “If you have not done what is not right, you should not be afraid. If you move around with security, how do you want people you lead to believe you when you say they should trust God for their protection? What example are you giving by that?” he asked.

All hope is not lost, the prelate said. He praised the media for increasing people’s awareness of what goes on in the society. “It is not just about exposing the ills of those in government, but more importantly letting people know the right values to imbibe,” he said.

Those in the media, according to him, are doing the work pastors or Imams do, by making sacrifices to ensure that the rest of the society is enlightened.

The archbishop did not agree with people who said that Nigeria was a cursed country because “God does not curse anyone; it is the work of our hands that brings down a curse or blessing.”

He then advised the federal government to embrace the idea of restructuring in order to balance things.

“Presently, it is obvious that there is imbalance in our system of governance. We must sit down to discuss how best to go on together.

“Some ethnic groups just believe that they have to be in power. Unless they are there, they can’t receive their rights and that is why we have to restructure to see that everyone has a fair chance of benefitting from our national endowments.

“Those in government must also be considerate. They may come from a particular tribe, but by occupying the public office, they now belong to everyone and they must behave as such,” the prelate said.

Archbishop Abegunrin, however, canvassed for the restructuring of minds and changing of attitudes before the restructuring of the nation. Religion, for him, could be a tool for national integration by helping to restructure people’s consciences.

Citing how some Catholic youths went around Ibadan metropolis to sweep and clean the city, the archbishop said that churches, mosques and communities must be interested in the formation of our youths. There must be concrete plans on ground to develop the young ones as leaders of tomorrow, he said.


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