Insecurity: I didn’t oppose Catholic Bishops’ protest — Fr. Bassey

Posted by News Express | 13 March 2020 | 1,015 times

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•Rev. Fr. Evaristus Bassey

Rev. Fr. Evaristus Bassey, former Director of Church and Society, an agency of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN), has described as misleading, reports that he opposed the protest by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN).

According to him, what he said was that he does not believe that protests were an effective tool for political change in the country since Nigerian democracy was not real democracy.

On March 1 a massive crowd of Catholic Bishops took to the streets to protest against the serial killing of Nigerians by Boko Haram terrorists and kidnappers in the country.

The President of the CBCN, Bishop Augustine Akubueze, who led the protesters, had also accused the Federal Government of being insensitive to the plight of victims of insurgency

But Bassey in his clarification through a statement issued in Abuja on Thursday said he announced the protest in church, wore black on Ash Wednesday “in obedience to the directive of the Bishops. So any medium broadcasting that I was in opposition was quite misleading”.

He said: “I was surprised when some friends of mine called my attention to some online media with a misleading headline that I was in opposition to the nationwide protest that took place recently organised by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria. Incidentally, I was one of the first persons to deploy my twitter platform to propagate information concerning the protest.

“I did however say (that) I personally do not believe that protests are an effective tool for political change in Nigeria; Nigerian officials are not necessarily elected through a free and fair ballot and so politicians are never really frightened about the people.

“Besides, they know that unlike other societies that can sustain protests, Nigerians mainly do one-off protests which often are merely symbolic. I however propagated and took part in the protest, in obedience, as this wasn’t such a fundamental matter of conscience.

“I would however encourage influential persons like the Bishops to engage politicians and elected officials in their constituencies to bring into effect some of the agitations we have been making for restructuring.

“I mean some of the worst governors may be Catholics. Bishops should engage them for good governance. Imagine too if Bishops engaged the federal legislators who are within their jurisdictions with a specific agenda; this might make more sustainable impact.

“Insecurity is festering because the federal government is biting too much, and even within their limited means, any governor that is serious would contain insecurity within his territory. Bishops should continue to engage their governors.

“I am not opposed to protest, I am just saying, after protest so what! Because Nigerian politicians have no respect for the people, and Buhari does not seem willing to do anything about electoral reforms that should make votes really matter.

“When our votes really begin to matter, politicians will respect the people and protest will be a real threat. Let us take one item for instance: Nigerian Bishops are connected enough in diplomatic circles to engage the European Union, the United States Congress, etc, to mount pressure on government for electoral reforms.

“Our governments respond either to violence or to diplomatic pressure, and as a church we can’t take the option of violence. Let us engage for electoral reforms!

“This is not to say that the protest had no value; it had great value. At least people will not say the church did not do something. By the way, this is the second protest under two years. But we shouldn’t wait until the Bishops ask us to come to Abuja to protest whereas we should also be engaging with our local politicians for good governance, not just to ask them to come and donate money to the church.

“And after protesting we shouldn’t fan ourselves that we have done so much and then we go and sleep or keep complaining; protest is the easiest part. From the local government council to the state house of Assembly to the federal legislature, let us engage them with Catholic values, which by the way promote human dignity, so that there are seeds of good governance sown at all levels.”

Source: News Express

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