Catholic bishops on Monday night threw their weight behind President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration’s battle against graft.
The group pledged its support when the President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, Ignatius Kaigama, led 15 bishops on a visit to the President in Abuja.
According to Kaigama, the group had been preaching against corruption in Nigeria since 1960.
Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the meeting, he said: “The Catholic bishops in Nigeria have come to the Villa to greet the President. We had a warm and cordial meeting. We heard the President talk with passion about how to make this county better and to mobilise Nigerians to selflessly put in their best.
“Since 1960, the Catholic bishops have been talking against corruption, telling people to avoid it. It is a cancer, it is dangerous, it is a sickness and it is a social disease.
“We have assured the President that we are 100 per cent with him in his fight against corruption. With corruption, we can’t progress. With corruption, many things go wrong, immorality takes over, retrogression takes place. So, corruption is a huge obstacle that has to be dismantled.”
Assuring the President of their prayers, moral support and desire to cooperate, he noted that the Catholic Church had done much in education, health care or social services and other areas.
He said: “With the willing disposition of the President and his attitude of embracing everyone, we felt we should spell out some areas of closer collaboration.
“We found him a sincere man with great sense of dedication. He wants the best for this nation. We also want the best for this nation. He agrees that not everyone is working as he expects. There are some who are cogs in the wheel of progress.
“We are praying and hoping that such people will see that Nigeria is greater than all of us, that we should develop patriotic disposition and our aspiration should be to put this country first.
“With that, criminalities and other things anti-social will give way. We have hope. We only need to be patient,” he said
According to him, the President has explained to them the difficulties, challenges, bottlenecks facing the country, which he said they now fully understand.
The group called on Nigerians to give Buhari and his government a chance to bring about the change.
He said: “He is sincere, he is dedicated, he is committed and together, we shall make wonderful progress.
According to him, the attack on the Archbishop of Abuja, John Onaiyekan did not come up during the meeting.
He said: “It is one of the acts of criminality that we witness in Nigeria. You cannot say who did what. It is criminal.”
On education, he said: “It is our strong point in Catholic Church. We build character and if that is defective, you can never have a well functioning nation.
“We feel that when the citizens are well educated, then there is hope for Nigeria. Our schools need to be supported. We work as faith-based organizations; we run schools and hospitals to help the people.
“Sometimes, government treats us as if we are dealing with Nigerians who are from other countries. Sometimes, we are slammed with levies in schools and hospitals instead of government helping and supporting us to do more for the people, they demand so much from our institutions and even impose levies on students’’