President Muhammadu Buhari met with the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria on Thursday in Aso Rock. The Bishops under the auspices of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria told Buhari that he is rapidly losing the goodwill he massively enjoyed due to monumental failures of his public policies.
Their address at the visit, copies of which were made available to journalists, was jointly signed by the CBCN President and Archbishop of Jos, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama; and the Secretary who is also the Bishop of Gboko, Most Rev. William Avenya.
The address read in part, “There is no doubt that when you came into office, you had an enormous amount of the goodwill of Nigerians since many saw you as a person of integrity who would be able to bring sanity into a system that was nearly crippled by endemic corruption.
“Nearly three years later, however, one has the feeling that this goodwill is being fast depleted by some glaring failures of government which we have the moral responsibility to bring to your notice, else we would be failing in our duty as spiritual fathers and leaders.”
The bishops were dismayed at the level of suffering and deprivation in the country which was fast leading millions of his countrymen into despair.
They went further to say “Our beloved country appears to be under siege. Many negative forces seem to be keeping a stranglehold on the population, especially the weaker and defenceless ones.
“There is a feeling of hopelessness across the country. Our youths are restive and many of them have taken to hard drugs, cultism and other forms of violent crime, while many have become victims of human trafficking. The nation is nervous.
“Just as we seem to be gradually emerging from the dark tunnel of an economic recession that caused untold hardship to families and individuals, violent attacks by unscrupulous persons, among whom are terrorists masquerading as herdsmen, have led to a near civil war situation in many parts of the country.
“We are saddened that, repeatedly, innocent citizens in different communities across the nation are brutally attacked and their sources of livelihood mindlessly destroyed. Lives are wasted and property, worth billions of naira, including places of worship schools, hospitals and business enterprises are torched and turned to ashes.”
Buhari responded by saying it was unfair to say he was doing nothing about the killings.
“The impression created that I was sitting in an air-conditioned office and home enjoying myself while these things happened is dishonest.
“At every step, I have tried to foresee these problems because I have the experience as a former military officer who commanded three out of the four divisions of the Nigerian Army, in Lagos, Ibadan and Jos.
“I am quite aware of the problems we have and I am doing my best to get the law enforcement agencies to be on the alert.”
The President explained that the cattle colony policy proposed by the Federal Government in response to the clashes between herdsmen and farmers was not meant to colonise any part of the country.
He said government’s intention was to create grazing locations for cattle rearers.
He regretted that the step had been misconstrued as another form of colonisation.
Buhari lamented that the well-thought-0ut out policy of the Federal Government, which was conceived after wide consultations with stakeholders, had been largely misunderstood by a section of the public.