Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, the Archbishop of Abuja Catholic Archdiocese, says the COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity for people to repent of their sins and turn to God.
Kaigama said this at his first Interaction Session with newsmen Abuja, since he became the substantive Catholic Archbishop of the Archdiocese.
He said: “God is giving us a second chance to begin again. If we sincerely repent and turn to God, just as He forgave the people of Nineveh, He will forgive and heal us.
“We should not be blind to our personal sins and the sins of the world.
“Let us turn the positive experiences being garnered during this pandemic, like the sense of solidarity, selflessness and community into policy and practice and be our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.
“The all too familiar bad news about social maladies such as embezzlement of public funds, kidnaping, banditry, militancy unemployment, cybercrime, immortality, violence and killings are still with us.
“We must ask the question whether all these leave our youths with any decent future.
“We can certainly do something differently and positively for Nigeria and Nigerians. The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Let us all take that little but significant step forward.’’
According to him, COVID-19 has led us to the realisation that we are not masters of our fate and that ultimately, our lives are in God’s hands, which means far better hands than our own.
“In the midst of all the harshness the pandemic poses, perhaps we might feel a gentle nudge that will help dispel the illusion that we are in control.
“God wants us to draw lessons out of the evil of COVID-19.
“Nigeria is blessed with enormous natural and human resources and should be very ready at such critical times to provide and efficiently distribute palliative to the poor and the needy.
“Our politics must be further refined, to include high principles and values, and must become an offer of self to serve the people.
“The social cancer of corruption must give way for Nigeria to speed up her journey to join the league of developed nations.
“Well intentioned anti-corruption agencies like ICPC and EFCC do not appear to have performed optimally, with the allegations of high level corruption in the news,’’ he said.
Kaigama further emphasised that COVID-19 pandemic had left some indelible lessons for Nigeria and the world at large, especially in fixing education and medical facilities.
“With the advent of pandemic, it became obvious that our medical facilities are highly insufficient to cater for emergencies like this; they are also below standard and need to be upgraded.
“Ideally, well equipped and functional medical facilities should be available and accessible in all the 774 Local Government Areas of the nation.
“We must resolve, as a country, to make access to health care possible for all.’’
In the same vein, he said the educational facilities in many of the public schools and institutions were not in line with global best practices.
The archbishop said that COVID-19 pandemic had forced schools globally to switch to online learning, saying that Nigeria must not be left behind.
“Education should be given a high priority, even though educating our students in the present circumstance will not be easy.
“It is good news that government is allowing the exit classes to resume and to sit for their final exams; all precautionary measures against COVID-19 must, however, be put in place.
“I believe strongly that the needed funds could come from the generous donations received, part sacrifice of salaries lavishly used by political parties before and during elections, recovered “looted’’ funds, etc.
“These could be used to improve or create structures for our students in public, private and faith based schools so that their academic life is not truncated.
“We cannot afford the adverse consequences of leaving our students idle for such an undetermined period of time,’’ he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Kaigama, who succeeded John Cardinal Onaiyekan, resumed his pastoral assignment in March during the lockdown from Archdiocese of Jos, where he had served for close to 20 years.
Kaigama has also celebrated his 39th anniversary as a Catholic Priest and clocked 62 years on Friday – July 31st, being a feast day of his Patron Saints, St Ignatius of Loyola. (NAN)