By Jet Stanley Madu
The Catholic Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos, His Grace, and Most Reverend Adewale Martins has charged the Buhari/Osibanjo-led government to make good its promise to adequately rehabilitate the 21 secured Chibok school girls.
He spoke recently at the Holy Family Catholic Church where he declared open, the 38th National Convention of the Ladies of Saint Mulumba (LSM). Daily Sun cornered him to let out his feelings on some current happenings in the country.
Was the Catholic Church looking in the direction of the pockets of violence now consuming the globe in declaring 2016 as a Year of Mercy?
Well, in the first instance, it is an initiative of the Holy Father that we should spend this whole year reflecting on the theme of mercy. First of all, to appropriate the mercy of God that is available to us. To arouse in us, the desire not only to receive the mercy, but, also to be dispensers of mercy to other people, such that the world is so much in need of forgiveness of one another, of tolerating one another. So that this year, there will be an opportunity for us to put into practice and to reflect on the theme of mercy.
Speaking in terms of tolerance and with regards to the level of violence that has characterized the world lately, what’s your advice on how to achieve global peace?
Well, part of the matter is that God is one. God loves all people because we’re all made in His image and likeness. And because we’re made in His image and likeness, we all derive from Him, our being and all that we are. Of course, unfortunately, I don’t know if to say unfortunately, people stand and worship God in different ways. But, nevertheless, this ought not to create any trouble, such that we begin to kill ourselves and begin to create undue tension all over the world.
God that we worship knows how to relate with us as in the different versions as we find ourselves. Therefore, there is no need for us to fight in the name of God.
God is able to take care of His own honour and integrity. Let nobody claim to be protecting the integrity of God. And therefore, use that as an excuse for killing other people, for causing stress and distress to other people. God simply does not need any human being to defend Him.
Twenty-one Chibok girls have been released, many more are still in Sambisa and other forest, and how soon are you expecting the rest of the girls. And do you have a word on government’s pledge to rehabilitate the freed girls?
In the first instance, it is even completely inhuman to hold any person against his or her will. Apart from being inhuman, it is even against the international Law, or even the Laws of different nations to hold anybody against his or her will.
To now hold them in the name of religion as a bargaining plea, as a bargaining chip, or to hold them in custody for any kind of cause at all is certainly against the Will of God. It’s against natural right, it’s against human right. And so, one can only appeal that those who are holding those girls should recognize the fact that they are committing not only sin against God, but also, crime against humanity.
And they need to let the rest of the girls go without any sort of conditions attached to it. Because they have been plucked out from their school at such a tender age and put through that kind of a trauma for nearly two years now, if not more. And certainly, it’s almost destroying their future. But, of course, our government has been making effort over the years and thank God the efforts are beginning to bear fruit now –first of all, in the sense that the territorial activities that Boko Haram was pursuing are mostly contained now. One can only ask that the government should continue to use stick and carrot approach in order to get the other girls released.
And of course, the ones that have been released, we need to ensure that we take good care of them. I heard the Vice President making a pledge on behalf of government that they will ensure that they’re taken care of, in terms of psychological rehabilitation and in terms of preparing them for the future. I hope that that promise will not evaporate with the present euphoria that is surrounding this release. I hope that government will actually put in place, procedure by which those girls can be followed up and something can truly be done for them in order to rehabilitate them and help them to overcome the trauma that they have gone through at this moment.
And talking in terms of mercy, government has shown mercy to most disgruntled people who are agitating for one thing or the other in the various regions by granting amnesty. What’s your advice to this category of persons against criminality?
To talk about mercy and amnesty is good. But, we know that justice and mercy, they’re two attributes of God that go together. So, government should look at the aspect of justice also as well as aspect of mercy in dealing with matter. Of course, giving amnesty is a good thing. It has its own values. But, at the same time, it should be done in such a way that it doesn’t create a sense of license for others who want to get into this kind of business of creating problems for the whole nation.
And so, between mercies, there should be consideration of justice and truth. And truth also being part of the considerations in this whole matter. However, this is not to condemn the process of amnesty. It has its values. But, conditions and factors need to be put in place.
A look at the swing of the corruption pendulum to judges, what will be the attendant perception on Nigeria’s already battered image in the international eye?
The church does not condemn anybody; the role of the church is to identify problems that are there in the country. And there is no doubt that corruption is one of the problems of the country. It doesn’t engage in the whole process of accusation, rather addresses issues as we see it arise in the country. And of course, in the process of addressing issue, any one that is involved is also included.
So, whether it is within the church, it is within the military or the judges or anybody, everyone is supposed to look beyond material gain and do that which is right.
And of course, we know that corruption is not only about material gains alone. But also, attitudes –attitude to your work, attitude to that which is right. If one does not do his work, but rather prefers to spend the time doing other things, that’s an aspect of corruption. So, we can only tell ourselves as a nation, telling one another that anything that does not do the country proud, anything that does not bear testimony to the faith that we profess, all of these are obviously, not acceptable to God and certainly not good for the good of mankind.
What insights do you wish to give to government on addressing challenges in some areas that catch your attention, which affect Nigerians negatively?
When I read the gospel of Luke 12: 54-59, my mind went to the fact that in many parts of the world today, when people notice that it is going to rain, their hearts jump into their mouths. Their hearts jump into their mouths for various kinds of reasons. Because of the kinds of difficulties that come as a result of rain.
In Lagos here, many houses get flooded with water whenever it rains. I don’t know whether it happens in any other part of the country. And thanks to God it is ordinary flood sometimes that does not take lives.
In some places, when the rain is coming, they’re afraid because it becomes hurricane Andrew and hurricane Matthew and hurricane -all kinds of name. That is the kind of trouble, the kind of things that happen when we hear about rain, or the wether says about this, that or the next one.
In the places where people are wise, they take time not only to watch the signs and to watch the weather forecast, they also ensure that they build drainage, so that when the water comes, it will not flood their houses. The places where people are wise, they ensure that they do not block the drains with all the refuse from their houses, with all the pure water sachets and all the pure water bottles.