By Neta Nwosu and Jet Stanley Madu
The Catholic Archbishop of the Metropolitan Sea of Lagos, His Grace, Adewale Martins, in this interview said owing to failure in governance and good leadership, Nigerians have become like sheep without shepherd, declaring that the country has lost sense of direction.
You likened Nigerians to sheep without a shepherd, how do you mean?
We look at it from the point of view that in Nigeria today, everybody is taking care of his own security. Every individual is taking care of the water he needs; even, working out how to find food to put on his table. As it were, even education, many people are left with their own devices because the government whose responsibility it is, over the years, has adjudicated their responsibility. And they have been paying lip service to the things that government is supposed to provide to its people. It is in that sense that we can look at ourselves as sheep without a shepherd.
Everybody is taking care of himself. At best, a group of people take care of themselves where they have those community development associations. So, we’re talking here about failure in governance; failure in providing leadership in such a way as to take care of the welfare of the people. So, at federal level, at state level, at local government level, these things replicate themselves. And they constitute a lot of concern. And that is why you find out that in these days, people are into all kinds of their own personal devices.
Some go into ritual killing in order to make out something. But, this does not justify someone going into ritual killing or stealing. But, at least, we find out that the situation helps to aggravate people into extreme positions such as that. So, this is what I was referring to. And of course, I was referring to it like a call upon government at all levels to take responsibility and ensure that our people are given their due as those who voted them into power.
Priests and the religious leaders have suddenly become targets for kidnapping. What can be done to ensure more safety for our priests and the religious leaders?
Unfortunately, we’re beginning to hear more and more of such abductions. But, we have to put things in true perspective. There are also others who are being abducted -different categories of people, even including soldiers, policemen, including all manners of people.
So, it is a serious security issue that we have in our country which needs to be addressed better than they’re doing at the moment. Of course, the Scriptures say touch not my anointed and do no harm to my prophet. So, when people touch the priest or any of the clergy, obviously, it whips off in us a sense of horror. It should really because it certainly goes against everything that is good and right and just. But, to put it in the context of the whole nation, security is almost completely broken down. Maybe that’s an exaggeration. But, the security situation needs lot more attention than it is being given to it at the present, including taking care of the needs of the people. If many have jobs and they have responsibilities, I’m sure that not many would wish to indulge in such, except those who are probably lazy and do not want to work. So, this is the way I see it.
There are allegations of corruption against this administration. But they say the administration is trying to cover up. Others say the president is sleeping. What can be done to wake him up from slumber?
One thing that we must say is this, that whoever wants to come to equity must come with clean hands. So, if government, led by the President, has as one of its objectives fighting corruption, then, it needs to really be seen to be taking action on those who are found to be corrupt in his government. But, just as we expect, that in any other circumstance, people who are alleged to be corrupt, the allegation needs to be thoroughly established.
And the judgment needs to be thoroughly given as such. And the adequate justice needs to be given. Just as it’s expected in every circumstance, it also points to what we find in government as well, the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary.
But, of course, we have found out that there are some whom allegations are made against, at least, a particular one about whom there was a committee set up to look into the issue. Yet, up till today, we have not received any public statement on that matter. This kind of situation only goes to give people the feeling that there’s a cover-up. But, I hope indeed that the President and his team are not covering up anything. That they’re going through the proper investigation channel. And whatever result there is, is made clear to the whole nation.
As it is, the onus is on the President to prove to us that indeed he’s not covering up on any allegation of corruption that is found within his government. I cannot say that he is covering up or not. But, I know he has the responsibility to make it clear to everybody that there is no cover-up. And that justice is given as is required. This is a matter of integrity. And I think our President obviously needs to pay attention.
Can you expatiate on what you mean by Nigeria is a nation in need of restoration?
There is no doubt that our country, Nigeria is in need of healing, spiritually, socially, politically and morally. The nation as a whole and most individuals have lost tract of the path to truth and godliness and have been toeing the path that leads to doom and destruction.
We are like sheep without shepherd. Our people are hungry in the midst of much meat and thirsty in amidst springs of clean water. Innocent people are being killed every day through ritual killings, the Boko Haram bombings, Fulani herdsmen attack, armed robberies and road accidents due to bad roads: and many more are roaming the streets aimlessly with no particular destination. The economy of the nation is yet to find steady growth; there are agitations all over the nation calling for change in the mode of governance.
These sorts of things happen only when a nation has lost its sense of direction and many of its people are aligning themselves to forces of evil. But, I have good news for all my fellow countrymen. There is light at the end of the tunnel. But, the prayers of God’s children in this last one year will not be in vain. Our daily recitation of the Rosary and novenas to Mary and the saints are not efforts in futility.
God is faithful and listens to the prayers of His children. He will surely restore the glory of this nation and bring to shame all those who have consistently worked to hold us in perpetual bondage. Our assurance that God will restore the glory of the nation requires that we also rededicate ourselves to living lives of righteousness, shun sin and embrace the truth. The glory of this nation shall surely be restored.
The Social Media has become veritable channel for peddling fake miracles and a divisive tool. What is the church doing to combat this trend?
Obviously, some of them are really, truly ridiculous. All those things that you see on social media are truly ridiculous. And many times, you find out that they’re like publicity stunt more than any serious thing. And unfortunately, that is the bad side so to say of the social network. That people can also use it for purposes that are out rightly fraudulent and exploitative.
Sadly too, they use it for hate-speech and all of those. These are the bad sides of it. However, it is also used for good things. So, we can also on our part, help to put to proper perspective the bad publicity about social media.
Lately, we put together what we call the Catholic Agora; that is supposed to be creating an online medium which Catholics can use in talking about their faith; in bringing others to know what they’re thinking, and in chatting among themselves. That is an initiative that is being developed by the Archdiocese. And so, we recognise the value of the social media. We recognize how much good it can do if used properly.
But of course, we also want to warn people to be careful to know that it is not everything that you see or hear online that is the truth. Lots and lots and lots of fraudulent people are out there. Let me give you this example. We were at the Catholic Bishops Conference not long ago, and our President gave a speech -speech that was really wonderful.
But before the end of the day, the speech had been really twisted and turned around and being circulated such that people were making all kinds of comments. The man was so very upset that they had twisted everything that he said. And it was going around like that. And people were literarily being disrespectful and abusing him. It’s there but, we’ll do the best that we can by constantly telling our people to beware, and not take everything on face value.
The nation and the Marian Year celebrations what benefit?
Today as our country is passing through very traumatic times, we are convinced that anything our Blessed Mother asks of her son on our behalf will be positively granted to her. She helped to bring an end to 1st World War which ravaged much of humanity. We witnessed the breaking down of communism in Russia, Poland and several parts of Eastern bloc through her intercessions and apparitions, call to repentance and praying of the rosary.
As she did in Portugal in 1917, we also hope to experience our Lady’s intercession in our state and country to put an end to the war, hunger and strife that was ravaging that country at that time. Also, we hope her immaculate heart will triumph in our lives and all our affairs as a state and country at these trying times. When the people of God gather in prayers, God does great things among them and we are assured that people will hear testimony to the miracles and wonders that come with this celebration.
We recall that the first Marian Congress was celebrated in Lagos in 1954. During the ceremony, Lagos and Nigeria as a whole was consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary as she requested to be done for Russia at Fatima in 1917. The event was widely celebrated by all and sundry; Christians, Muslims and people of other religions participated in that event.
The seed for obtaining our independence from the British government which was granted to us effortlessly in 1960 could be attributed to this same consecration which occurred six years earlier.