Attempt to Islamise Nigeria real threat to Christians’ faith – Archbishop Abegunrin

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Says Nigerians’ exodus for greener pastures caused by near collapse of political class

Uba Group

BY TIMOTHY AGBOR, OSOGBO

The Archbishop of Ibadan Catholic Archdiocese, Most Rev. Gabriel Ojeleke Abegunrin, on Monday, said attempt to Islamize Nigeria was a real threat that challenged Christians to do something for their faith, stressing that Christians were not allowed to assume certain positions in the country.

Abegunrin decried mass exodus of Nigerians, especially youths to other countries in search of greener pastures and blamed what he described as near collapse of political class for the disturbing trend.

He also blamed rising posterity teachings by some religious leaders and get rich-quick syndrome among youths for the mass exodus of Nigerian abroad.

The cleric made these assertions while delivering a keynote address at the opening ceremony of the First Synod of the Catholic Diocese of Osogbo, held at Our Lady and St. Kizito Pastoral Centre, Ede, Osun State.

Speaking on the theme of the synod: “You Will Be My Witnesses: Faithfulness to Christ and to Apostolic Tradition (Acts 1:8), Abegunrin urged the Catholic Church to restore hope of Nigerians who have lost hope in a better society by equipping them with set of skills to become assets to themselves and not deserters.

Addressing priests, religious and lay faithful who are delegates at the Synod slated to hold between October 2 and 8, Abegunrin said, “the attempt to Islamize Nigeria is a real threat that challenges us Christians to do something for the faith. While we have not suffered as much as our brothers and sisters in the northern part of Nigeria, the fact that Christians are denied or not allowed to assume certain positions in the country is an indication that people are already suffering because of their faith. We must find ways to cope in this environment and comfort and encourage our sons and daughters who may become victims of this oppressive system.

“We know that today, some youths are lured away by the promise of better-paying jobs or by the prospect of rich husbands or wives. Before things get too difficult for our members, especially the young ones, we must equip them with sets of skills to help themselves and become assets to the Church and not deserters. This is one way to ensure faithfulness to Christ.”

He added, “today, various reasons militate against practice of the faith such as the Get-Rich Quickly syndrome that has infected many youths, the spread of the Prosperity Gospel continues to deceive many that life’s goodness is measured only in noticeable material wealth. The near collapse of a vibrant and responsible political class has led not only the youth but also many adults to give up hope on a better society. I know there are many here that want to “Japa.” If everyone Japa, who will remain to solve the problems?

“The Church must restore the hope of these people and become light in the darkness of our world. I am confident that this Synod will open your eyes more to the needs of our people and in a synodal way, you can all devise solution to these problems and present the gospel message in a way that will bring joy and hope to our people just as it did at its infancy,” the cleric stressed.

Delivering homily at a Holy Mass he celebrated during the opening ceremony, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Osogbo, Most Rev. John Oyejola, urged Nigerians to desist from collecting money from political office seekers in exchange for their votes.

Specifically, the cleric urged electorate to desist from selling their votes during the 2023 General Elections, and asked Nigerians to hold politicians accountable for their electoral promises in order to vote out those who failed to keep to their promises.

He said what Nigeria needed was selfless leaders and urged voters to scrutinize candidates well, hold them accountable to their promises and vote them out should they derail from their manifestos.

He described the Synod “as a journey of sharing and listening, through which the Holy Spirit can speak to the people,” stressing that “the Holy Spirit can speak through anyone of us here at the Synod.”

He noted that, the synod is the first one in the Catholic Diocese of Osogbo and it was expected to have impact on the people of God.

Fielding questions from journalists after the Mass, the bishop said, “the significance of this synod is that we are making everybody, laity, clergy, religious, to know and come to that deep believe that the Church is theirs. Every baptized Christian in the Catholic Church is a disciple of Christ and Jesus is calling them to participate in His mission; mission of sharing their faith with others. So, we are challenging everybody to own the faith, go out and share the faith with other people.”

On the 62nd anniversary of the nation, the Chief Shepherd of the diocese said, “Nigeria is over 60 and by now, we should be preparing for our future generation. But by now, even the generation of now doesn’t know where they belong. So, we need to pray, no just to pray, but to work because we have been praying and we are not working. If we pray only, nothing will happen, we need to pray and work because God will not do for us, what we can do for ourselves. God will hear our prayer but we need to work.

“CBN"

“How do you work? From family; family should form their children so that when they become leaders in the society in the future, they will become ambassadors and good leaders in the future. And those who are leaders too should play their role. Their purpose of leading the people is to show good example. Christ was a servant-leader who came to live to the point of leaving his life for others. How do we live others by even giving our own selves. Selfless service is what we need in Nigeria and now that we are going to elections very soon, I beg everybody to go and register and if you have registered, get your PVC and if you have your PVC, make sure you go out to vote.

“And if you have your PVC, don’t sell your votes, your vote is your power. You have the power, the politicians are our servants, they are begging us to send them on missions. They are looking for job, that’s why they beg us for votes and when we give them assignment to do, we must make sure that they stand by it and if they don’t perform well, choke them out with your votes.”