From Vikky Uba, Abuja
Emeritus Archbishop of Abuja Catholic Archdiocese, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, has advocated national dialogue as a means to put an end to the current security crisis threatening the unity and development of Nigeria.
Cardinal Onaiyekan made the call on Thursday, while addressing pressmen at a meeting with Catholic Action and Catholic Political stakeholders in Abuja, to discuss national issues, with a view to finding lasting solutions.
He said: “National dialogue should be a continuous thing. If we can solve our problems by dialogue, why do we need to take up arms. Nobody gains from war. The problems of the society will not be solved by war. It will only be escalated.”
The Archbishop also called on the government to support the creation of other forms of dialogue platforms, outside of the National Assembly, where Nigerians can voice their views, stating that the National Assembly cannot be solely relied upon to carry the interest of Nigerians.
“The National Assembly is supposed to be a place where representatives of Nigeria gather to discuss. The only thing is that we have reached a stage where the National Assembly is not performing their duties and we have to create other forums to dialogue. It will be wonderful if the government supported the idea to create other forums for Nigerians to meet together and air their opinions.
“We are all complaining that the government has failed, of course it will fail because the foundation is faulty. We do not have to continue that way, we can improve. That is why we are meeting so we can do things as it should be done”, he said.
Similarly, Cardinal Onaiyekan urged all Nigerians to participate in government, as it is the right of every citizen and a way for them to contribute their quota to the society.
“You have to contribute to governance, whether by advice, obeying laws, criticizing bad laws, etc, which was why, when we criticize government, we are only using our right,” he said.
Also speaking to pressmen at the meeting, the Deputy Governor of Edo State, Phillip Shaibu, charged youths in the country to shun religious fanaticism and focus more on the sentiments that unite the country.
He said: “Religion is supposed to help us to be better and not to destroy souls. Every religious person knows that one of God’s commandments says thou shall not kill and if God’s commandment says you shall not kill and you kill in the name of religion, you should know that you are going to hell.
“I know that a lot things are wrong presently but we need to make them right. This is the time religion can play a role in correcting those things that are wrong in the country”.
Shaibu also stressed the need for Catholic politicians to use the social doctrines of the Catholic Church as a guide in the running of the affairs of the nation.
“Our doctrines are key to resolving the issues we are facing in the country. If we can be quality Catholics, we will affect more lives and change a lot of things. We should be able to reflect our doctrines in whatever we do as politicians in our various offices to make Nigeria a better place.
“I am very convinced that Nigeria will remain indivisible. God has a purpose for this country and nobody or group can derail that destiny,” he said.