‘Nigeria Is A Sick Nation, Allow Us Go Peacefully’ – Catholic Archbishop Obinna
Published By Family Writers
Archbishop Obinna, the Roman Catholic bishop of Owerri Archdiocese in a recent interview lent his voice to courageous Christian clergy, speaking against injustice, and the deteriorating peace in Nigeria.
In the explosive interview, granted to The Sun, the outspoken Archbishop spoke on the renewed call for a free Republic of Biafra, restiveness in the Niger Delta, and several other issues affecting the country.
“As far as I am concerned all these unrests in the Niger Delta or in the South East and so on are an indication that Nigeria is a sick nation,” Archbishop Anthony Obinna said.
Archbishop Obinna joined the Igbo Heroes Remembrance Day parade in Nkpor, Onitsha on May 30, 2016. The day marked a devastating massacre of Igbos by Nigerian soldiers. Human rights activists put the death toll at 90 and accuse the Nigerian Army of burying their victims in mass graves in the Army Barracks, Onitsha.
Excerpts from the interview are below:
Some of them complained about unemployment. Look at the state of the nation – everything seems to be in disarray. We have Boko Haram, Niger Delta agitations and the Biafran agitation in the South East. What are you going to advise the Federal Government about these?
As far as I am concerned all these unrests in the Niger Delta or in the South-east and so on are an indication that Nigeria is a sick nation. And the sense of patriotism is not there. I’ll say that is the reason for Biafra or the uprising for Biafra or the uprising for the Niger Delta. That is the reason. If we get Nigeria right and there is a noble sense of patriotism; noble sense of belonging in which every person, every segment of Nigeria counts and feels that it counts, then there won’t be all these agitations. That is why our leaders must go back to the drawing board and ask themselves this question; “Do we really want to be one Nigeria?” Is it the one Nigeria where we’re killing each other; afraid of war all the time and across the board. The leaders need to sit down and make up their minds if they don’t want one Nigeria, then let us separate peacefully. We can be good neigbours.
In a recent interview I had, I must have spoken this wise too. It is wonderful to have one loving, peaceful, patriotic Nigeria. If it’s not going to work out, for goodness sake, let us be honest with ourselves and say we cannot live together because we have too many religious, ethnic interests. I know we can go beyond this if the leaders become patriotic and being less self-centered, using resources to build up industries and factories to absorb the young people who are agitating. That has always been my position and I will continue to say that.
In essence, you’re calling on the different ethnic groups to come together and renegotiate the existence of Nigeria?
We don’t have true federalism as yet, we are still practicing the unitary system of governance with a command structure. So the national confab was an attempt to restructure and redesign Nigeria. This has not been taken seriously. I’m sure that if the 2014 National Conference was taken seriously I’m sure many people have said it’s the solution to Nigeria’s problems. True unity, true federalism in Nigeria has always been canvassed.
|Archbishop Obinna with Biafran protest|
In 1985 when I came from the United States with the patriotism I had in my heart I decided to tour and know my country. When I was in the United States I tended to know more of Europe and America. So I traveled from the East went through Benue, made it to Niger State and from there I headed down to the South-west up to Lagos etc. In short, I made a round trip of Nigeria. That time I felt a great sense of happiness that I was able to know a little more about Nigeria.
But today, to travel across Nigeria is a nightmare because we don’t trust each other. There are alarming signals of unrest and insecurity and we’re being alerted. The other day, just close to the Cathedral here, talking about Irete, a small town, raised an alarm about an invasion that was coming to them and they didn’t sleep the whole night. And some of them even left town. So these are the kinds of things happening with us.
As somebody put it in the paper recently he said this is like a slow civil war, a low-key civil war that is actually real. We don’t feel happy with the state of the nation and it is kind of worsened with these events that have come as a response to the failure of leaders to lead this nation aright so that there would be a sense of belonging. Once the leaders are alive to their responsibilities you don’t need to meet them personally but you will identify with them. See the effects: the effects have failed economically, politically, religiously, morally and socially. So that’s why I feel this matter should be taken up. We should really take a look at how we’re relating with each other. We’re so much polarized, we’re alienated and the children are not having it easy because they can feel and see the alienation between the North and South, between one ethnic group and the other.