The Archbishop Emeritus of Abuja Catholic Archdiocese, John Onaiyekan has called government and religious organisations to collaborate in boosting humanitarian works across the country.
Onaiyekan made the call in a keynote address titled “The Church in the Service of Integral Human Development: The Nigerian Experience”, at the Caritas Nigeria Day Celebration, on Thursday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the celebration with the theme: “The Church in the Service of Integral Human Development: The Nigerian Experience”, marked the 12th anniversary of Caritas humanitarian activities in the country.
Caritas activities cover Health and , Good Governance, Anti-Human Trafficking and Force Migration, Emergency Response and Humanitarian Services.
Other areas are Institutional Development and Capacity building, and Agricultural and Livelihood Interventions.
“Looking forward there is need to put more effort on collaborations with government and other organisations, including religious organisations.
“Caritas Nigeria has different departments in which they render humanitarian assistance to individuals, groups and society.
They also have many partners,” he added.
Onaiyekan also said the organisation had worked with Nigerian Government in the areas of education and health, until the civil war, when the collaboration was terminated.
“It is better to collaborate than to stay apart and I think it is not too late for us to insist that we must collaborate with our government.
“Once in a while, the government talk about Public Private Partnership with private business people, have they ever thought of partnership with groups like the churches and other agencies?
,” Onaiyekan asked.
He explained that in other countries, religious organisations were given funds to carry out humanitarian activities, adding that it was necessary for Nigeria to adopt that.
“The collaboration between the church and the state must continue to grow, it is only then that we can belong to clubs of countries that are helping others.
“The church need to be seen as agent of integral human development that no person should be left out.
“We must continue to make our services available to everybody who ask for it.
This is in line with church doctrine,” he said.
Earlier, the Executive Secretary of Caritas Nigeria, Rev. Fr. Uchechukwu Obodoechina said the celebration was organised to showcase what Caritas has been doing and motivate men of good will to partner with the organisation.
“We all know the level of the unavailability of basic necessities to Nigerians, and the responsibility of the church that is close to the people is enormous.
“That is why we feel we have a duty as a church and as men and women of the faith to build hope among those who have no hope.
So Caritas is a participation of the work of the church.
“The church has a responsibility for her sons and daughters, men and women of goodwill, but this job has to be systemically and professionally carried out.
“That is why we work in partnership with other agencies and funding partners to realize the goals and vision of Caritas,” Obodoechina said.
According to him, Caritas is working on 31 projects in 35 states, touching the lives of over seven million poor and vulnerable households in the country.
In their responses, the panelists, Dr Chichi Aniagolu-Okoye from Ford Foundation, Dr Rose Uchem of Missionary Sisters of the Holy Rosary and Rev. Fr. Maurice Kwairanga, also highlighted the need for corroboration to boost humanitarian works.
Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, the former Chairman of National Human Rights Commission who spoke virtually, cautioned that the collaboration between government and the church should not lead to silencing the church or compromising the word of God.According to Odinkalu, it would be wrong for a politician to win election on the altar of rigging and come to give thanks to God for such victory in the church.
The event attracted many stakeholder, including National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, Catholic Relief Services, among others.
Public Administration and Social Development Consult a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) has called for collective efforts of stakeholders in enhancing social justice in the Nigeria.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Consult, which is committed to promoting social justice, Mrs Margaret Ibeku, made the call at a news conference Abuja.
Ibeku identified lack of awareness and slow dispensation of justice as some of the major factors affecting Nigeria social justice system.
“One of the first challenges of social justice in Nigeria is awareness.
“Most Nigerians don’t even know organisations to go to for redress if there is any infringement on their rights or they are lagging in the opportunities that ought to be available to them.
“Slow justice system has made it seemed to be that offenders who infringed on the rights of the common man did not have consequences for their actions,” Ibeku said.
She said that in the light of the above, the organisation would partner with the Public Complaints Commission (PCC) to organise a maiden “Social Justice Conference and Award” event on Oct. 27 in Abuja.
Ibeku, who is the Chairperson of the National Steering Committee of the Social Justice Conference and Awards, said that the maiden event is aimed at promoting awareness on citizens rights, identifying vacuum and bridging the gap to promote Nigerian social justice system, “This conference will bring together academia, technocrats, civil society, public servants, interest group, students, cultural interest and religious groups, researchers and private organizations to interact and x-ray topical issues that borders on Social Justice and Good Governance.
” Ibeku said that the conference also cover issue of oil and gas, Internally displaced persons, housing sector and so many other sectors of the economy.
She said while the former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Prof Chidi Odinkalu, would be presenting a keynote address at the conference, other stakeholders including politicians would be invited for discussion on the 2023 general elections.
She said the body would thereafter present its white paper on recommendations to government and other stakeholders to promote social justice in Nigeria.
Ibeku said highlights of the occasion would include presentation of awards to Ministries, Agencies and Departments of government private organisations and individuals who had put in so much into delivering social justice in Nigeria.
She urged Nigerians to visit its website www.
com to nominate recipients for various categories of awards to be given on that day.
“We are aware that some individuals, organizations, with or without support have been trying their best in the area of social justice, human rights, fairness and equity.
“These bodies will be recognised and it is going to be a very transparent process.
“We are calling on all Nigerians to be a part of recognising these individuals and celebrating them in the way to encourage them to do better.