Catholic Bishops of Kaduna Ecclesiastical Province, have expressed sadness over the way and manner in which the insecurity in Southern Kaduna is being handled by the state government, saying in the face of the attacks, neither el-Rufai nor his deputy, Dr Hadiza Balarabe, had yet to visit the affected areas.
According to the Bishops, the little show of cancern by governor Nasir El-Rufai, has made the people of Southern Kaduna feel abandoned amid the incessant killings in the region.
The bishops also decried the spate of killings in the north occasioned by the activities of bandits and Boko Haram terrorists and called on governors in the region to henceforth stop negotiations with criminals.
The bishops’ words were contained in a statement titled, ‘Dark clouds of violence over our land,’ issued at the end of their meeting during the week in Kafanchan, Kaduna State.
The statement was signed by the Secretary of the Ecclesiastical Province and the Bishop of Kano Diocese, John Niyiring.
The province comprises Kaduna, Kano, Kontagora Minna, Sokoto and Zaria dioceses of the Catholic Church.
According to the bishops, El-Rufai ought to show more empathy to the Southern Kaduna people over the attacks on their communities, urging him to “visit the scenes of the attacks and use the opportunity of condolences to scold as well as appeal to the hearts of his people.”
They said, “At times like this, a leader must seek support by adopting the twin track of diplomacy, using backroom channels and keeping an eye on restoring peace.
“Like the mother of twins, a leader, at times like these, must not be seen to be sleeping on one side! As with the Federal Government, we believe that the state government could do more in terms of showing empathy to the victims of these crises.
“The people of Southern Kaduna feel abandoned by their governor in their grief. We appreciate that these times test the will of any leader, but there is no substitute for sobriety, calm and focus.”
The bishops called on el-Rufai to “consult across the spectrum, have the patience of listening even to those who do not agree with him and focus on persuasion and consensus-building across the divide.”
“We encourage him to visit the scenes of these tragedies and use the opportunity of condolences to scold as well as appeal to the hearts of his people. These gestures are a mark of good politics. Bad politics divides, good politics unites,” they added.
The bishops also called on politicians in the state to close ranks towards finding a lasting solution to the attacks and killings in Southern Kaduna.
“The endless killings can only turn our people against politics. Therefore, we call on the political class to rise beyond the boundaries of ethnicity, party and religious affiliations and see their people as one. It is criminal to play politics with the lives of our people,” they said.
Also, the bishops called for an end to all forms of negotiations with bandits and terrorists in the north, adding that an all-out war against criminals remained the only option.
They said, “There have been attempts at negotiations with these criminals by some governors and in some cases, huge sums of money have been paid.
“Yet, sadly, the victims of these criminals remain trapped in camps as refugees, living and dying in poverty and disease. This is unacceptable.
“We appeal to the governors to place the welfare of the victims of violence before these murderous criminals. Unless they are defeated in an all-out war, all appeasement by way of endless payments of our money will only feed their armoury and strengthen their evil enterprise.
“In the last few years, the purveyors of this violence have taken over the land and placed our security forces on the defensive. Hitherto, the nation’s main challenge is how to contain the dreaded terrorist group, Boko Haram.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic, the bishops said the situation had become even more precarious and perilous.
“Since this tragedy came upon us, our governors in the north have done their best, but as we know, this is still not good enough. All our communities still bear huge injuries and scars. We call on our governors to remain relentless in seeking to end this tragedy with greater urgency, dedication and sincerity,” they said.