Interviews News

Corruptionin Nigeria is sickening – Archbishop Kaigama

*Wemust entrench justice for peace to return to the country

CatholicArchbishop of Abuja, His Grace Archbishop Igbatius Kaigama, spoke with selectnewsmen on national issues, where he expressed disappointment with the level ofcorruption, insecurity, poor quality education in the country. Senior Reporter,MYKE UZENDU was there and brings part 1 of the excerpts of the interview.

Kindly tell us Your Grace, your most memorable day as you clock 62 years?

The best I can think of is the day I became aCatholic priest. That is unmerited honour and privilege for me, from a verypoor, humble background; and I was called up to stand on the Alter to conveyneeds, prayers and other issues to God on behalf of the people, from the alter.That for me is the highest honour I can ever and will ever get; the day I waselevated, with all my weaknesses as an ordinary human being, to pronounce wordsfrom the Alter of God to the people.

Youare an administrator per excellence, especially in bringing up young minds tobecome responsible citizens, through priesthood and mentoring. With the waythings are going on in the country, would you rather call for state ofemergency in the education sector?

Certainly, this is what I am asking for. There hasto be total overhauling of the educational system; we must give seriousconsideration to the future of our young ones and our youths. We must letgovernment understand and appreciate that education is fundamental andimportant to alleviating all these challenges and problems we are facing:violence, banditry, kidnapping, robbery, etc. without good education that is holisticand change the mind to be positive to contribute positively, we shall continueto have large population of young minds who are disoriented. There must be drastic revolutionary anddrastic overhauling of our educational system in Nigeria, for us to moveforward.

What’syour take on overhauling the Almajiri school system

Almajiri cannot just be sent to wander the streets. Thateducational system that sends them away from home to wander in the streets isnot right. Government should take control of these. They are our childrenwondering the streets, not just the Almajiri alone. Go to the primary schools, secondaryschools, even universities, where students stand in large numbers, up to 2,000of them, in lecture halls and they can’t hear their lecturers. Something isentirely wrong with our educational system, not just the Almajiri system alone.

There is need for revaluation of our educationalsystem generally, not just the Almajiri system. A lot of our street children shouldbe assisted; they should be taken off the streets and assisted to becomeresponsible citizen. The educationsystems in Nigeria need reforms. We are not getting it right at all.

Withthe continued killings in the country, especially in the Southern Kaduna axis,what is your take on this, Your Grace, especially as the Christian Associationof Nigeria (CAN) had advocated self-defense?

There must be an end to all these senseless killingsgoing on in the country. I am a priest and one of the fundamental commandmentsof God is “thou shall not kill”. This doesn’tseem to resonate with us in this country. We feel as if it doesn’t matter atall in this country. To kill human being is grievous sin, it is criminal, yetwe do it as if nothing matters.

We kill with such ease without the slightest compunction,without the slightest pricking of conscience. I am still at a loss as to whyfellow Nigerians would take up gun, knife, spear, and club killing human beingswithout any scruples. That is totally unacceptable and ungodly. This is in anation where majority of the citizens are either Christians of Muslims and thisis ugly killings go on in this country? It’s so sad; it doesn’t portray ourcountry in a positive light.

If you calculate the number of people killed throughreligious fundamentalism, banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery, accidentaldischarge, etc, it’s so say; it’s not good news. We should be having betternews for the entire world.

I am not convinced that enough is being done at alllevels of government to bring this to comprehensive stop. My prayer is that ourleaders, who asked us for our votes, either as LG chairmen, governors,legislators at the state and federal levels, or the presidency, will do what ittakes to restore safety to Nigeria and ensure that Nigerians can move aboutwithout any molestation; that Nigerians can be in the north or south, east orwest without molestation, without being attacked and killed.

Asking about self-defense, in my Catholic theology,we were thought about self-defense. Somebody being attacked by an aggressor hasa right to defend oneself. We ask people never to take up arms in aggressionagainst anybody. If someone is attacking you, killing your father, your mother,your sister, your brother, destroying all that you have worked for in life, ofcourse, it would be absolute naivety, to sit down and allow the aggressorfinish everything because you are a man of peace. Nobody tells you to take upalms and do horrible things, but people have a right to defend themselves whenattacked, especially in the manner people are being attacked in this country. Evenin Catholic theology, we have a right to defend yourself, your family, if beingattacked; but, you don’t have the right to take up rifle and go to the streetsand kill people, for no obvious cause, just because you are angry with them. Wealways advise for reconciliation. But we hope there will be no need for thatcondition for aggression to arise, so there will be no self-defense.

What reforms would you recommend at these wobbly,cankerworm public anti-graft institutions: EFCC, ICPC and also the NDDC andsimilar institutions, especially given the level of corruption oozing out fromthese?

If you call themcankerworm, you know what it means. If these bodies are not serving publicinterest and the need for which they were set up. If they are being misused,underused, politicized or wrongly used, then there is every reason to advocatedrastic and comprehensive change. These bodies should be objective in doingtheir work, not to be selective in their pursuit of justice or pursuit of thosewho are seen to have embezzled public fund, without recourse to their politicalparty affiliation, tribe, race, religion, etc. these institutions should havethe right to carry out their duties without any form of distraction from anyquarters. If there is a perceived notion that these are instruments ofextortion or create confusion, we are unfortunately not blessed by theseinstitutions. Anyone employed to work in these institutions, should be sincere,hardworking, should be God fearing.

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