Nigerian Bishops Decry Corruption on All Levels

Call for Conversion as National Solution

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KAFANCHAN, Nigeria, SEPT. 17, 2009 ( The Nigerian bishops are denouncing corruption wherever it is found, from gas station attendants to stockbrokers, preachers to students, and are calling for conversion to heal the nation.

This was affirmed in a communiqué from the Nigerian bishops’ conference in which they presented their conclusions of the plenary meeting that took place Sept. 7-12 in Kafanchan.

The statement, signed by the conference president, Archbishop Felix Job, and the secretary, Bishop Alfred Martins, noted, “Our country continues to suffer under the weight of corruption, and our people live in fear because of insecurity of life and property.”

It affirmed, “The evil of corruption has made of us an impoverished people inhabiting a land of immense riches.”

The bishops decried the “collapse of infrastructure” due to “huge sums of money” allocated for the public ending up “in the pockets of a few.”

This places the economy in “turmoil,” they observed, and “millions of young Nigerians cannot be gainfully employed.”

The prelates continued: “Many of such young people end up on the payroll of people who arm them to be political thugs, kidnappers, or armed robbers.

“Many others are used even by state and local governments in this country to extort money from Nigerians such that travelling from one local government area to another has become a nightmare. Corruption breeds poverty, poverty breeds insecurity and greater poverty.”

High and low

Although there are “millions of honest and hardworking” Nigerians, the bishops stated, “we also know that corruption is not only at the higher levels of public life.”

They explained: “It is not only found among the big men and women in government, it is also found at the lower levels of our life: from the filling station attendant who tampers with the dispensing machines, the messenger or clerk who hides files, the stockbroker who manipulates the markets, the policeman or woman who extorts money from the citizen, the banker who defrauds shareholders and customers of his bank, the judge who fiddles with justice, the lawyer who sells out his client, the politician who rigs elections, the teacher who solicits favours from students, the student who cheats while writing an examination, the religious leader or preacher who manipulates the people in the place of worship for his own purpose, the farmer or seller of farm produce who hides rotten foodstuffs under fresh ones, the hawker in traffic who runs away with your change.”

The statement identified the “absence of right relationship between us and God, and the absence of right relationship amongst ourselves” as the root of this national distress.

It added, “Sin has made us into a nation of sick and wounded people,” and thus “conversion must be personal and collective.”

The bishops affirmed that “the human heart must become the sanctuary of the Spirit of God so that the human person can be recreated in the image of the Son of God.”

“Then shall we be just to God and to our neighbor; then shall peace and justice reign amongst us in our land,” they added.

The statement also dealt with the national situation in the Niger Delta, a recent education strike and its effect on students, and the need for fair elections in 2011.

It denounced the pervasive violence in the northern states, including the recent attack perpetrated by the Boko Haram sect that killed some 2000 people.

The prelates expressed enthusiasm for the upcoming Synod of Bishops, which will take place next month in Rome and will focus on “The Church in Africa in Service to Reconciliation, Justice and Peace.”

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