Home News 2 Catholic bishops want church-public partnership in health, education

2 Catholic bishops want church-public partnership in health, education


ABUJA – Two Catholic bishops have restated the need for government to improve on its partnership with faith-based and other voluntary organisations in the areas of health and education.

The bishops spoke in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Wednesday.

They said the Catholic Church had in the past demonstrated its capacity to deliver qualitative health care and educational services; hence the need for improved partnership with government.

The Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Oniayekan, said the church’s contributions in the health and educational sectors had always been purely based on humanitarian grounds.

Oniayekan said the church’s managerial skills and penchant for excellence in all its activities were prerequisites for government to actively engage it in the provision of important services.

“What is happening in the education sector is similar to what is happening in the health sector; the only difference is that the health sector is more dramatic.

“If you don’t have money to send your children to private schools you can send them to public schools and if they are brilliant; enough they can still make it.

“But if you are sick and you do not have money to patronise a private hospital and the public one available cannot help your condition; you might die as a result of an illness,’’ he said.

The cleric dismissed the insinuation that the church had the monopoly of expertise in the management of schools and health facilities.

According to him, the church’s achievements in the past years, both in health and education, are the basis for its appeal for partnership with government.

“It is difficult for one to judge the impact of his own action because a dancer cannot see himself; but one thing that everybody has acknowledged is that we have done very well in the areas that we have offered services.

“But what we are asking now is that government should do more than just thanking us, some of the things we do are not meant for Catholics alone they are meant for everybody to benefit.

“We are not saying we have the monopoly, but seeing is believing and we have evidently delivered in these sectors,’’ he said.

In another interview, Bishop Matthew Kukah of Sokoto Catholic Diocese, said there was a need for honest conversation between the church and governments at all a level.

He said in the U.S., about 30 per cent of medical services were being offered by the Catholic Church and wondered why it could not be replicated in Nigeria.

He blamed the broken synergy between the Church and government on the emergence of all forms of division in the polity.

“It is only in Nigeria that any form of social service is reduced to religion, politics, and ethnicity and to all kinds of division.

“There is no religion in sickness, no Christian or Muslim sickness, the issue is that Nigerians are miserably sick and need help.

“The issue here is that the Catholic Church is well prepared to deliver on these services, we have got history, experience and we are not competing with anybody, ‘’ Kukah said.

His added: “We are not seeking to monopolise the entire space, what we want is collaboration and nothing more.

The Catholic Church in its health and education summits sought for stronger partnership with government to build stronger and lasting institutions in both sectors. (NAN)

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