By Fabian Anawo
Christians have been charged to begin to play active roles in politics going forward.
The advice came from the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, the Most Reverend Dr. Matthew Hassan Kukah at the flag-off of the seventieth-anniversary lecture of the Order of the Knight of Saint Mulumba, in Lagos.
Bishop Kukah said that the ugly stories of the country were because noble Nigerians left politics for people who have no credibility and competence to govern the country.
He challenged Catholics to take their rightful place in politics because the Church can lead the country to the promised land.
According to Bishop Kukah, the documents for the growth and development of states after the second world war were gotten from the Social Teachings of the Catholic Church.
He said that the passiveness of Christians in the politics of the country was responsible for the alleged persecution that Christians are suffering.
He alleged that Christians are always the first line of the attack saying that “persecution has always been the oxygen of the Church.”
Bishop Kukah said that the attacks on Christians and their places of worship and various other alleged persecutions have made Nigeria ranked the ninth-worst country for Christians to live in.
He identified toxic politics as having poisoned religion in the country, saying that the only way to correct it is to raise the consciousness of Christians to participate actively in politics.
According to him, this is not the time for Christians to stay away from active politics but the time to “walk towards the barking dog,” saying that participating in politics should be “a no retreat no surrender,” for Christians, as running away from the barking dog will make it to attack you.
He told Christians to stop complaining and lamenting over their predicaments because government is not about lamentation but the diagnosis of problems and providing solutions to them, which they can only do if they are active participants in politics and government.
The problem with Christians, he pointed out, is that they don’t know the power of their numerical strength and their tool for negotiation. Most times, he observed, they are thinking of themselves and their tribesmen instead of what is beneficial to the faith.
On kidnapping, he said that it is unfortunate that the government has not been able to tame the monster called “kidnapping for ransom.”
He said that he is at present negotiating with kidnappers for the release of one of his priests, saying that after a series of talks the kidnappers are demanding N 50m, which he does not know where to get it from.
He said that he does not understand why the government has not been able to find a solution to it and why people would have to pay money to suspected “murderers” to free their loved ones held in captivity.
Bishop Kukah commended the Knights of Saint Mulumba for the great work they are doing at the Veritas University, Abuja, and the numerous projects across the country that impact positively on the less privileged and vulnerable in the society.
In a remark, the Deputy Governor of Imo State, Sir Placcid Njoku said Christians need not be scared that they would lose their integrity if they join politics, saying that it would rather give them the opportunity to right many wrongs.
Also, Mr. Gabriel Nyitse, the Chief of Staff to governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State thanked the Catholic Church for being the mouthpiece of the downtrodden in the country.
He said that the Catholic Church has always spoken the truth to power and even demonstrated publicly to draw the attention of the government to ills in the society.
Mr. Nyitse said that because of insecurity, Benue has become home to one point five million internally displaced persons and raised the alarm that the country is on the verge of food crisis as farmers can’t farm because of herders and bandits.
In his welcome address, the Supreme Knight of the Order, Sir Charles Mbelede said that series of programmes have been lined up between now and May 2023 when the Order would clock 70 years.
He said that they planned to execute projects worth one hundred and fifty million Naira to mark their 70th anniversary.
Earlier, during the Holy Mass to kick start the celebration, the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Lagos, the Right Reverend Monsignor John Aniagwu commended the Knights of Saint Mulumba for the charity work that they are noted for.
The high point of the flag-off is the unveiling of the anniversary logo and mascot.