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Catholic Bishops urge govt to tackle corruption, violence, poverty

Catholic Bishops on Sunday decried the high-level corruption in Nigeria and asked the government to improve the economy and address poverty to stem its tide.


The Bishops also noted the mindless bloodletting and kidnapping in Imo State, which has had no peace in recent times.


President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, Most Rev. Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, lamented the high level of corruption in the country while delivering a sermon, yesterday, at a thanksgiving Mass, held at Maria Assumpta Cathedral, Owerri, in honour of the 2024 Armed Forces Remembrance Day and Governor Hope Uzodimma’s re-election.


He said: “Corruption is a worrisome vice in our public life. It has gone beyond scale and measure. Corruption is a very complex reality involving moral rottenness, defilement, and loss of integrity.


“It spans a very wide spectrum, ranging from bribery, embezzlement, inflation of bills, abuse of office, nepotism to the looting of public property, cultism, impersonation, false declaration, examination malpractice, alteration of date of birth, ghost worker syndrome, quackery, and manipulation.


“Corruption is corrosive, polluting, debasing, and infectious. Already contaminated, the lives of most of our people, young and old, are deeply steeped in corruption.


“Corruption is one of the major reasons millions of our people have been reduced to a life of grinding poverty, undeserved misery, and wanton suffering.


“In the war against corruption, we should, however, not lose sight that this vice has many dimensions. It is an economic problem, which could be minimized by the improvement of the economy.


“This is because some people take to corruption in other to support many of their dependants; among whom are those who have completed their education and could normally cater for themselves should they have gainful employment.


“Accordingly, while the government enacts laws to eliminate bribery and corruption, concrete and concerted efforts should be made to improve the working conditions of workers, create more jobs, equip youths with job market-driven skills, and provide for the spiritual and moral enlightenment of our people, especially the young ones in school.”


On the Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration, Ugorji said there was a need to remember those who lost their lives in various wars and armed conflicts, stressing that they were fighting to preserve the lives of others.


He said: “They are most deserving of our respect and esteem for their patriotism, gallantry and spirit of sacrifice.


“It is a very noble cause to lay down one’s life for the good of others in one’s nation or other nations. While we applaud them for their unselfish love, let us not forget the families they left behind to mourn them.


“Many of the families of these fallen heroes are under severe hardship and depend on the wider society for the alleviation of their sufferings.


“Nigeria used to be a haven of peace and a home of the hospitality industry that attracted people from far and near.


“Unfortunately, recent years bequeath us the horrifying memories of bloody conflicts, mindless blood spilling, and countless numbers of kidnappings in the state.


“Although there are no reports of bloody attacks or kidnapping during the last Christmas season, the dawn of a new year prompts the question of whether the new year would be one of peace and a renewed sense of brotherhood in our communities and state.


“It is difficult to foresee what this new year has in store for us. I, therefore, appeal to all behind the terror in the state, to give peace a chance.”


Archbishop Ugorji also identified “media war and crusade of calumny” as other problems that have done “incalculable and irreplaceable damage to the state”.


He said: “I call for an end to the media war and the crusade of calumny that has ravaged Imo State for years.


“Incalculable and irreplaceable damage has been done to people’s reputation through mindless mudslinging exercise to the embarrassment of Imolites, home and abroad.


“The protracted media war has presented a distorted image of Imo State to the outside world, generated immense tension, and injected a lot of bad blood in public life in the state.


“It has deepened animosity, distrust, and suspicion among politicians in the state, to the detriment of unity, peace, and progress.


“We shall not ignore the fact that no one can mudsling, without soiling his hands. I call on those engaged in the media war and crusade of calumny, to give peace a chance.”

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