By Tony Abah
The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Metropolitan see, His Eminence John Cardinal Onaiyekan has called on Nigerians to embrace peace and unity in order to keep Nigeria one and indivisible nation.
The Cardinal made this called recently during his 73rd Birthday celebration held on the 29th of January 2017 at the Catholic Church of the Archangels Parish Durumi/Gaduwa Abuja.
According to him, there is no alternative to peace and every Nigerian must work hard at peace building as a way of promoting unity and national cohesion.
In his Birthday message, the cardinal bared his mind on several issues that have been affecting peace and unity in the country.
The scriptural reading at the occasion was taken from Matt 5:1-12 that talked about the beatitude which captured the direct opposite of what we have in Nigeria today.
“Too many people are grabbing more than they need, when Jesus said blessed are the humble and the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God, if all of us can imbibe this virtue of being peacemakers and work hard to maintain peace the world will be a better place. Jesus said the peacemakers are to be called the children of God, so if we don’t have peace in our society it means that we don’t have enough peace makers and what that translate is that we do not have enough children of God in our society, what we find today in our society is a heart full of vengeance people want to revenge and they claim to be fighting for God,” his Eminence said.
He added that the southern Kaduna killing would have been averted if only people pursue peace and forgiveness “What is happening in southern Kaduna where people came out to say that the killing that took place in December last year was as a result of the post-election killings of 2011 that has brought about the reprisal attacks in December of 2016. But if we say an eye for an eye we will not be going the way that God has commanded us”.
“We must all work for peace even when the world sees us as been stupid, the stupidity of God is more than the wisdom of men. We hear speculations that the Muslims are trying to convert all the Christians to Muslims but that is not possible unless the Christians themselves refused to stand firm and hold on to their faith because if they stand on their faith they will overcome any challenge”.
“What is the response to violence? You don’t win a war because you are right, but you win a war because you are more equipped. We must take politics serious because it is at this level that all decisions are made. We budget huge amount for our military and other defense system so why are we still not secured? The security agencies must double their efforts to see that the country is secured from unrest and to foster peace in the country.”
On Nigerian unity, the Cardinal called on every Nigerian to make a choice whether to continue to live together or go our separate ways.
“We have to make up our mind whether we want to stay together as one Nigeria or breakup into pieces but we have to bear one thing in mind that whatever choices we make there are consequences and we must count the cost of each decision, the cost of breakup is more grievous than living together as one country”.
“Some people will say let us divide between the Christian and the Moslem but where is the dividing line? Let us find a way of living together as one country”.
“As a democratic country, our justice system must be fair to all, we should treat everyone equally both the poor and the rich must have equal access to justice. We are concerned about the fact that the poor has no access to justice, some people stole chicken and they are in Kuje prison while some who stole billions from government are out there enjoying their loot”.
“Now they are talking about a mega party, but even if they succeed in forming the mega party and they don’t change the rules we will still go back to square one. We should find a way of doing the right thing for the betterment of all Nigerians. We have not been able to understand the basic element of democracy and that is why we find ourselves in the situation we find ourselves today, we are confronted by choice from other parts of the world and imposed on us”.
“We clamored for change and now we have gotten the change and some people still want another change from the change, we as Catholics we must however pursue peace, we need Catholics who will shine the light in politics, economy and other endeavors of life we find ourselves,” the Cardinal declared.