By Cecilia Ologunagba
Abuja, Nov. 14, 2020 Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, the Archbishop of Abuja Catholic Archdiocese, has cautioned youths against allowing tribal and religious sentiment to divide them.
Kaigama, in an exhortation at a Prayer Programme – Holy Hour With The Youth – at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral on Saturday in Abuja, urged the youths to stand against disunity and vices.
“You must be wary of sentimental and divisive remarks such as ‘they are southerners with an agenda’, ‘they have a northern religious motive’ and ‘this is against our religion’.
“These are the statements that pit you against one another; they stop you from an audacious and unanimous resolve to seek better life by ending corruption at both low and high levels.
“Do not be deceived by ethnic and religious jingoists. Have sound moral principles and a firm faith, and work for what benefits humanity rather than parochial interests.’’
The Archbishop challenged youths to unanimously condemn corrupt practices.
“My beloved youths, let us admit that what is wrong is wrong. If children are abused, young girls are raped, palliatives for the poor are diverted, people are kidnapped, and if positions are not given on merit, we have a long way to go.
“Whether as youths or elders, we are all in one way or another guilty of corrupt practices and we should seek purification and forgiveness from God.’’
He said that during the EndSars protests, he kept praying that the voice of the Nigerian youths would be clearly heard, especially as they were conducting themselves in a peaceful and courteous manner.
“Unfortunately, some forces of evil introduced killings, looting and vandalism into an otherwise laudable initiative.
“The infiltration by hooligans distracted the noble cause that would have shown the world that Nigeria is on a new and higher level of political and social maturity.
“This destroyed the noble aspiration of the youths in our country and showed that we still suffer a moral weakness, which makes it very difficult to pursue the common good as one nation.
“Your noble cause was disrupted by unscrupulous elements, leaving us with many unanswered questions.
“The posers are many: Do we have the capacity as Nigerians to begin something positive that cannot be hijacked or crippled by those who suffer a kind of social or political paranoia?
“Is it possible to avoid introducing tribal sentiments, religious factors and the north/south dichotomy as we pursue the common good of this nation?
“Is it possible not to worry about who may feel offended and to engage in non-violent struggle for positive change beyond narrow boundaries or prejudices?’’
The Archbishop, however, urged the youth not to import corrupt practices into the Church, urging them to be watchful and avoid importing such mentality into the Church.
“When good initiatives are introduced by whoever or whatever group in the Church, we should not cripple them because of ethnic or geo-political reasons.
“Our Catholic Church is a family that is universal and of apostolic origin. While we should struggle individually for daily bread and a better life, we should realise that eternal values are most important.
“We must realise that what is of great importance is our unity, progress, the salvation of souls and how to qualify as citizens of heaven.
“Let us not imagine as Nigerians that when we colour our arguments with regional, tribal, clannish or religious sentiments, all will be peaceful and we shall achieve the stability and phenomenal progress we yearn for.
“The secret of growing stronger, bigger and happier is when we cherish one another and consider others with equal dignity,” he declared.