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Hardship Grips the Nation, Say Catholic Bishops and CAN

The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) have raised concerns over the pervasive hardship gripping the nation. This comes as the Federal Government, represented by Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator George Akume, acknowledged these challenges and reaffirmed its commitment to addressing security and economic issues to improve the quality of life for Nigerians. The statements were made during the opening session of the 2024 First Plenary Assembly of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria in Abuja.

The CBCN President, Archbishop Lucius Ugorji, delivered a somber assessment of the current state of affairs, describing it as the 'worst of times,' especially concerning security and the economy. He highlighted the pervasive insecurity and economic turmoil, despite substantial security investments. Archbishop Ugorji condemned the unceasing killings, kidnappings, and banditry that have instilled fear and paralysis in communities across Nigeria. He particularly lamented the brutal attacks on unarmed citizens, even within places of worship.

The Archbishop also criticized the government's reform agenda, noting that the withdrawal of fuel subsidies and the unification of the foreign exchange market had led to a sharp increase in the cost of living and a decline in the value of the naira. He highlighted the resultant high inflation, which has made basic commodities, food items, and medication inaccessible to many Nigerians, pushing some into poverty and begging.

The CBCN President further criticized the government's spending, noting that while the government demands sacrifices from the masses, there has been no significant reduction in the cost of governance. He criticized the ostentatious lifestyles of top government officials, contrasting it with the suffering of the poor.

In addressing these challenges, Archbishop Ugorji emphasized the need for a living wage that considers the socio-economic realities faced by Nigerians. He also highlighted the plight of Nigerian youth, many of whom are unemployed and vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking.

CAN President, His Eminence Archbishop Daniel Okoh, expressed solidarity with the CBCN's concerns, praising Archbishop Ugorji for his commitment to addressing governance, insecurity, and economic issues. Archbishop Okoh also highlighted the challenges faced by churches in Nigeria, including attacks on clergy and the denial of the right to worship.

Both groups called for sincere efforts to steer Nigeria towards a more secure and prosperous future, emphasizing the need for dialogue, inclusivity, and effective prosecution of corrupt officials.

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