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Security agencies must rejig their approaches to properly secure Nigeria – Archbishop Martins

FG urged to implement masses-centred policies

The Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos on Thursday 21 September 2023, celebrated 11 newly ordained priests during the Priestly Ordination held at the Holy Cross Cathedral, Lagos. The Homily, Emmanuel Ayeni, Administrator, St Gregory College, Ikoyi, charged the newly ordained priest to take cognisance of the church’s spiritual and temporal role in the society, and that they should use the altar to bless the people of God. Adewale Martins, the Archbishop of Lagos, addressed the press after the ordination. Excerpts by SEYI JOHN SALAU:

What is your charge to the newly ordained priests?

The priestly life at this point in time is one that has to deal with many issues of our time and as you said there are distractions, there are all manners of activities that could jeopardise the dignity of the priesthood that they bear. And so, we can only ask them first of all to recognise that God is the anchor that can hold them on when the surges of the temptations and trials come; so they must hold onto God, talking to God to guide them. Secondly, they must recognise that they are human and therefore, they should not make themselves available when any act of temptation or any act that could lead them astray. In other words, every one of us needs to avoid situations that can lead us astray from our purpose in life. That is basically what I will say to them; they have been training for nine years – so they have all the tools; so we can only ask them not to forget all they have learnt over the years.

Eleven new priests at a time when men of God are soft target for criminals; what is your advice?

The kidnap of priests and the kidnap of other people in our country is just a demonstration of the challenges of insecurity that we have in our nation, and as we keep on asking those who have the responsibility of securing our nation including the security agencies need to rejig their approaches. We have new people who have just been appointed – we expect new ways of dealing with the situation. Using not just the regular ways of fighting crime, but also using the modern means of fighting crime and criminality. So, we hope that new incentives will come up. Secondly, the non-state actors that are rarely part of the problem especially in the eastern part of our nation – government needs to find means of engaging them in such a way that whatever their grievances may be – solutions can be found to them, and therefore security of the nation can be better.

What about the increasing rate of cultism among the youth, especially in the entertainment industry?

Cultism is an expression of the fact that people are simply not ready to follow the narrow, straight path to that which is right and good. So, we can only encourage them to know that hard work, integrity, honesty, and going through the normal means for growth is followed by all. In other means, values need to be rejiged in order to overcome this cultism among the youth.

Read also: Meet Alfred Adewale Martins, a visionary shepherd in Catholic faith for 40yrs and counting

Also, congratulations on your 40th priestly ordination and Episcopal celebration; how do you feel considering there are more works to be done?

Well, I can only say that the grace of God has been abundant because no one by his own power or by his own knowledge would have been able to do it; so the grace of God is abundant and we are truly grateful for all the enablement and inspiration that He has given to us over the years.

Going forward, what will motivate you more considering the enormous task and what are the other things you intend to carry out in your service to the Lord?

The work of evangelisation is never ever completed. New grounds are always there for us to explore and to take advantage of the greater glory of God. So, it is an effort to continue and strive to find grace in making people to be more committed to their faith and to live that faith day-to-day; and to proclaim that faith to others.

What is your message to the government considering the high expectations from Nigerians?

Indeed, there are lots of expectations from the present administration, because Nigerians have had such a terrible number of years, and it is hoped that whoever takes over from the previous government will have to do better. If it doesn’t do better, then we can expect that whatever the pent-up emotions that are there now – we hope that it does not burst out into something that will create problems for our nation. Therefore in the first line of action; the government will do everything within its power to restore security in this nation. Because we have new leaders in the different security agencies and we expect the government will leverage on this newness of experience in order to ensure we have a secure nation. There is a lot of hunger in this land, there’s a lot of anger as well and the only thing that can assuage all of this is the government taking its responsibilities seriously. They must come out with policies that will truly impact the ordinary Nigerians.

A new Central Bank Governor has been appointed by the president; what are your expectations?

I understand that the new Central Bank Governor has been appointed awaiting approval by the National Assembly – there is a lot of expectation that he would use his office to turn around the bad economy that we are experiencing at this point in time. More than any other thing, we expect that the kind of corruption that was embedded in the previous years – he will find some ways of dealing with it, and ensuring that Nigerians get a better deal. I mean, we are all being asked to make sacrifices in order that our nation can be better. And, I am sure that Nigeria as a whole – we have no choice than to make sacrifices; we only expect that government officials and all those either at the executives, legislatives particularly will begin to make the sacrifices for everybody to see that the sacrifices are being made; and then people will be inspired to make sacrifices.

Some parts of the continent are currently witnessing some catastrophic natural disasters; could it be that we have offended God?

Well, I don’t know about offending God but I know about offending nature. We have abused nature, we have abused the environment, we have done all kinds of violence to the environment, and so naturally as they say (water will find its level); the environment will in its own way take back what we have taken out of it. And therefore, one can only ask that at this point in time we begin to act differently than we have been doing before in terms of managing the ecosystem; in terms of ensuring that our actions do not leave carbon footprints that will leave the whole world in the future not to become a desert or to ruin wildlife. So, I think first of all let us change our attitude towards the use of the things of nature. I am sure God will not wipe out His people – if anything is going to happen, we are going to cause it ourselves.