Clerics Warn Govt Of Potential Religious Crises

Archbishop of Lagos, His Grace, Most Rev. Dr. Alfred Adewale Martins.

Archbishop of Lagos, His Grace, Most Rev. Dr. Alfred Adewale Martins.

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LESS than a week to Christmas, religious leaders in the country have underscored need for the government to defuse potential religious crises that could threaten Nigeria’s unity.

This is coming on the heels of recent clash between men of the Nigerian Army and members of the Shiite religious organisation in Zaria, Kaduna State.

The incident, which has drawn condemnation locally and internationally, claimed the lives of many of the sect’s faithful, sparking calls for an immediate probe.

Paradoxically, the nation’s armed forces have until the end of this year to quell the bloody insurgency by the Boko Haram sect, which has claimed thousands of lives due to poor handling of situations between security operatives and the terrorist group.

“One is so worried about the fact that we have Boko Haram with us. And now, suddenly, we are beginning to perceive trouble coming from the Shiites issue that happened recently in Zaria,” said Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, His Grace, Most Rev. Dr. Alfred Adewale Martins.

“I believe that government needs to manage the situation very carefully and pay adequate attention to it, so that it doesn’t snowball into a state that compounds our present security challenges,” Martins said.

He added: “We need to set up a real good panel to find out what really happened in the first instance. And without fear or favour, be able to apportion blame to whoever it is due and then resolve the problem, because we really can’t afford to have another round of problems added to what we have at this point in time. We hope that government and its officials will be able to work in that regard.”

Delivering his Christmas message to Nigerians, Martins said despite the season being one of goodwill and joy in celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, it is also a difficult time for the people, as many have not been paid their salaries, and are in the pangs of the ongoing fuel scarcity.

He said: “We read in the newspapers that many have not received their salaries. We expect that government will take all necessary steps to ensure that the hardship of our people is relieved. We are talking about the reduction of salaries and laying off of workers. All these should not even be allowed to come up at all. The government and its agencies need to redirect its pattern of expenditure, redirect its pattern of deployment of resources, to meet the basic needs of people.

“In other words, if the government and its officials can reduce some of the unnecessary expenditures they undertake, I’m sure it will go a long way in ensuring that salaries are paid. It will go a long way in ensuring that workers are not relieved of their jobs.

“Now that ministers at the federal level are beginning to settle down, we expect them to develop policies that will have a lasting solution to some of the problems we have, particularly this persistent fuel problem. We know it is not government’s making that the price of oil in the world market has gone down, but at the same time, we expect officials that have the know-how, the competence, to develop policies that will lead the country out of this present difficulty.

“I believe that if the refineries are really put back to work again, naturally, the problem of fuel shortage will subside. This matter of fuel subsidy will also become a non-issue because we would be doing the thing right, here, in our own country, rather than importing the product.”

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