The President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) and Archbishop of Benin City, Most Rev. Augustine Obiora Akubeze has described the collaborative efforts of all Nigerians as the panacea for addressing the challenges facing the country in all facets of life.
The Archbishop made the call in his address at the 2018 Anthony Cardinal Okogie Annual Lecture, held recently in Lagos at the McGovern Hall, Saint Agnes Catholic Church, Ikeja, Lagos. The theme for the years’ lecture was: Economic Empowerment as a Pre-Requisite for Nation Building.
Noting that Nigerians are one of the most industrious people in the world, Archbishop Akubeze stated that empowering the people through an enabling conducive environment for the private sector will definitely facilitate the economic growth of the country and economic empowerment of the people which “is the building of the capacity and the assistance given to individual to realise their God given potentials”.
The CBCN President emphasized: “If we fail to allow all Nigerians to have fair share of the opportunities that this country offers, we are going to be in crisis worse than we have seen. Therefore, I call on all Nigerians to come together to build Nigeria.” He urged all Nigerians to bring positive change to where they have the opportunity to do so.
Pointing out that one way of empowering the people is by giving credit to those who are ready for small and medium large scale farming production, the Archbishop of Benin City however regretted that interest rate of borrowing from the banks is so high, thus making it difficult for many with genuine intentions.
He however remarked that one of the ways to ameliorate the situation is to reform the country’s banking sector and empower them to be able to assist serious Nigerian business men and women. He noted that empowering the financial sector will go a long way in helping Nigerians to build the nation through the growth of the private sector.
The CBCN President however cautioned: “In order for us to develop rapidly, we need to get rid of institutionalized corruption”, as “corruption and development cannot live together”. He continued: “Prosperity for all and corruption cannot cohabit. Authentic religion and corruption cannot exist together.”
Going down memory lane on the life of the emeritus Archbishop of Lagos, Archbishop Akubeze commended his strong advocacy for the poor, adding that the cardinal is not afraid to speak the truth to anyone. He noted that in all his speeches, Cardinal Okogie has been constantly concerned about the plight of the ordinary Nigerian. He stressed: “He wants the wealth of the nation to spread to everyone.” Every Nigerian deserves a fair shot at seeking a decent living through decent wages both in the private and public sectors, the CBCN President added.
While commending Cardinal Okogie for his prophetic voice and bringing succour to many people by empowering them through the many institutions he has established, Archbishop Akubeze noted that the day’s lecture was to promote his legacy of economic empowerment for nation building. He however warned that prayer alone will not solve the nation’s problems, but rather prayer and work.
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