We have noticed with concern the escalating youth restiveness, mass protests and violence in some parts of Nigeria. Issues that threaten security and peaceful coexistence demand the concerted effort of the government and all and sundry to deal with them timely and effectively before they are turned into national calamity.
Nigeria has witnessed various forms of uprisings that started as agitations for remedy of grievances. They grew steadily until they plunged the country into crisis of terrible magnitude, occasioning destabilization of the country, gruesome killing of thousands of people, wanton destruction of property, collapse of economic activities, etc.
While the Government and people of Nigeria are battling with the Boko Haram insurgency, the South-East Geo-Political Zone of Nigeria and a few other parts of the country are now witnessing blockage of roads, forceful closure of business and commercial activities, mass protests involving thousands of youths led by the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and a group that goes by the name, ‘Indigenous People of Biafra’ (IPOB). Their blockage of the head-bridge at Onitsha and violent protests on Tuesday, 1 December 2015, clearly point to an emerging national distress.
We, therefore, call on the Federal Government of Nigeria, The State and Local Governments, the State and National Legislatures and all security agencies to take necessary steps to bring to an immediate end, the mass protests that are now turning to national embarrassment. The grievances raised should be objectively addressed with commitment. Law and order should be strictly maintained.
We call on the leaders of MASSOB, IPOB, etc to seek solution to their grievances through dialogue and stop forthwith the mass protests that may soon be hijacked for purposes they did not intend.
We call on religious and community leaders and other stakeholders to take actions towards ensuring peace, justice, equity and cordial co-existence in Nigeria.
We must be mindful of the fact that delay in addressing a crisis situation quickens the harvest of mayhem.
This advent season gives us much opportunity to reflect deeply on people’s acts of omission and commission that are occasioning crisis of all sorts in Nigeria. Our claim of belief in God must be translated into action, ‘For God is not a God of disorder but of peace…’ (1 Corinthians 14.33). we must, therefore, with sincerity and commitment under God, ‘Seek peace and pursue it’ (1 Peter 3.11).
Most Rev’d Nicholas D. Okoh
Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria