By Fr. Anthony Aneke
Addressing Newsmen on Friday 23rd October 2020, Most Rev. Callistus Onaga the Catholic Bishop of Enugu Diocese has asked young people to calm their nerves following the aftermath of the #EndSARS protest which degenerated to the widespread destruction of public infrastructure in the state and a 24 hour curfew imposed by the Enugu State government.
In his statement, Bishop Onaga emphasized that the EndSARS protest is a noble cause which is not only a case against police brutality but a clarion call to put an end to corruption which has been a hydra headed problem in the Nigerian Society. He maintained that corruption has eaten deep into the very fabrics of our society at all levels. “Corruption has affected every body, from the government officials, religious leaders and the civil society” he said.
He decried the pathetic situation of the rise of goods and services recently in Nigeria: “Imagine, a man called me few days ago and told me that he was sent a power bill of about 25 thousand naira in a month. He is being paid 24 thousand naira on monthly basis. Tell me, how would such a person survive in the Nigerian society, where will he borrow the remaining one thousand naira? The power sector is milking the poor masses, whoever is incharge should be very careful and be responsible.”
The deplorable situation of some Nigerian roads have been shameful, he said. Bishop Onaga maintained that Enugu-Portharcourt express road has been at the mercy of whoever has been contracted to do the work. The same could be said of Ugwu-Onyeama road: “when they Collect mobilization fee and scrap the road, they will just vanished. They have done that a number of times. The government should be able to supervise such projects.” he said.
For the bishop, fake prophecies by priests, pastors, men of God to seduce people and get their money and also cause confusion among them in fact, is the height of corruption in our society. For him, all hands should be on deck to get rid of it.
While praising the courage, confidence and organisation of the young people who initiated the EndSARS protest, he however regretted how the goal of the protest has been thwarted by hoodlums who are also young people that are destroying the very infrastructure they mostly needed.
He admonished young people to go beyond the protest to a constructive dialogue with the government on the table in order to achieve the desirable reforms pressed by the EndSARS protest.
He called for effective collaboration of the government, religious leaders, civil society especially youths in dousing the tensed situatuon in Nigeria currently .