In the face of grave security concerns across the country, the Bishop of Benin Archdiocese of the Catholic Church, Augustine Akubeze has upbraided the Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government over seeming loss of control in securing the country.
He also expressed discomfiture at the apparent intolerance of criticism by the government. In his homily during a thanksgiving mass to mark the 80th birthday of the first civilian governor of Edo State and immediate past national chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, John Odigie-Oyegun at St. Paul Catholic Church, Benin-City, Akubeze stated unequivocally that “many Nigerians are not happy about the state of insecurity in our country”, stressing that a government cannot claim to be legitimately presiding over the country when it has no control over the activities of those terrorising Nigerians.
In his words, “across the county, there are constant fears among the citizens. A government that wants to grow must be ready to be criticised and listen to the citizens. Many Nigerians rightly feel the government is not listening to them. The loss of lives must never be politicized”. Asserting that peace comes from justice, Akubeze admonished that “anyone who wants peace must work for justice”. He posited that the country’s political leaders must work for justice for every Nigerian irrespective of political parties, irrespective of ethnic extraction, irrespective of religious creed.
Akubeze opined that “justice brings peace. Nations only develop when there is peace. If we want Nigeria to develop, we must work for justice so that we can have peace”.
On the feud between the incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki and his predecessor, Adams Oshiomhole, the Catholic priest averred that rather than raging bickering, “the people of Edo State are interested in the dividends of democracy. They want good roads, portable water, job opportunities. They want security of lives and properties, opportunity for everyone to develop his potentials. We want to call on Oshiomhole and Obaseki to discuss ways to move Edo forward”. He expressed concern that political conflict within the same party erodes the hard-earned credibility of Edo people. Akubeze believed that Edo State had gotten opportunity to produce national political leaders and “we must ensure that the rest of the nation see us as capable of providing the nation with national leaders” stressing that God willing, one day a president of the Nigeria would come from Edo State.
Saluting the “courage, audacity and goodwill” of the celebrant, the reverend father acknowledged his humility, noting how he sits with members to screen people who have come to ask for assistance. According to Akubeze, Oyegun’s “position has never made him inaccessible to anyone. He is one of the most easily accessed highly-placed politicians. He does not ignore a person. He respects both the poor and the rich”. Underscoring the need to thank God always, the Catholic Bishop said “we must learn to thank God for His benevolence towards us. Whenever we receive what we want, we never go back to thank God”.