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Catholic Bishops Critique Tinubu’s Reforms

Economic Policies Under Fire for Deepening Hardship Across Nigeria

by Oluwatosin Racheal Alabi

In a powerful expression of concern, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) has delivered a stinging critique of President Bola Tinubu’s economic reforms, which they argue have significantly exacerbated the suffering and hardship experienced by the Nigerian populace. Speaking from Abuja, the bishops relayed the profound distress and escalating poverty witnessed across the nation, marking a period of increased frustration and rising crime rates that have taken a toll on the Nigerian people.

The CBCN, representing a broad spectrum of Catholic leadership within Nigeria, has become increasingly vocal about the dire consequences of the current administration’s policies. These policies, according to the bishops, have not only deepened the economic divide but have also imperiled the social fabric of communities throughout the country. The bishops’ observations, rooted in their close connections with the populace, paint a bleak picture of a nation grappling with soaring food prices, widespread insecurity, and a general decline in living standards.

Most Rev. Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, president of the CBCN, in his address at the conference’s first plenary assembly of 2024, underscored the grave implications of President Tinubu’s policy decisions. Key among these was the elimination of fuel subsidies and the unification of the foreign exchange markets, moves that have led to a sharp increase in fuel prices and a significant depreciation of the Naira. This economic turmoil, Ugorji noted, has plunged millions into poverty, with the inflation surge rendering basic necessities like food and healthcare unaffordable for the average Nigerian.

Despite the evident hardships, the government has continued to call for patience and further sacrifices from its citizens, promising brighter days ahead. However, the CBCN contends that the current reforms have been more detrimental than beneficial, with the nation’s economic and security landscape continuing to deteriorate. The withdrawal of fuel subsidies, intended to free up funds for development, has not been transparently managed, according to the bishops. Instead, it has led to increased borrowing and a deeper entrenchment of corruption within public institutions.

The CBCN’s critique extends to the government’s anti-corruption efforts, which they deem inadequate. Despite some successes in recovering stolen funds, the failure to secure convictions for corrupt officials has allowed corruption to flourish. The bishops call for a comprehensive overhaul of the financial management system to curb the rampant theft of public resources.

In response to the CBCN’s criticisms, Archbishop Daniel Okoh, President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), and Senator George Akume, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, acknowledged the challenges highlighted by the bishops. Okoh praised the CBCN’s commitment to fostering dialogue within the Church and the broader society, while Akume emphasized the government’s recognition of the Catholic Church’s moral and stabilizing role in Nigeria. He conceded that the Tinubu administration inherited a challenging economic situation but affirmed the government’s dedication to improving security, the economy, and overall national prosperity.

The CBCN’s forthright assessment of President Tinubu’s economic policies reflects a deep-seated concern for the welfare of Nigerians. By bringing these issues to the forefront, the bishops are not only advocating for immediate relief for those affected but also calling for a reevaluation of the government’s approach to economic management and anti-corruption efforts. Their voice adds a significant moral weight to the public discourse on Nigeria’s economic challenges, urging a path that prioritizes the well-being and security of all Nigerians.

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