By Friday Idachaba
Lokoja – The Nigeria Catholic Diocesan Priests Association (NCDPA), Lokoja Diocese, has appealed to Kogi State Government to implement its desired changes in the political and socio-economic life of the state with human face.
The Catholic priests made the call in a statement signed by the association’s diocesan Chairman and Secretary, Very Rev. Fr Cyril Fanaiye and Rev. Fr Daniel Sule, and made available to newsmen in Lokoja on Friday.
The statement said the appeal had become necessary “in the light of the current protracted socio-economic downturn and untold hardship” being faced by the people of the state.
It stated that the clergymen were aware of the yoke of poverty and the stench prevalent in the state for over a year now adding that the whirlwind of economic recession was almost sinking the Kogi ship.
The statement noted with regret that a good number of parents, many of them aging, poor pensioners and vast majority of workers had gone without pay for over a year culminating in folding up of their businesses due to non-availability of customers.
It said even children were not spared by the ill-wind of the prevailing poverty in the state as many of them were now at home due to strike by their teachers while others lucky to be in school had to contend with hunger.
“We can see in the plight of our people, a reminiscence of Chinua Achebe’s two popular novels: No Longer at Ease and Things Fall Apart. We are aware that some have even died in the course of this one year of untold hardship.
“Therefore, we call on all stakeholders especially our Catholic brethren who are in privileged positions, to advise the government to pay attention to the plight of the people. We ask that they show pity and concern for the citizens of the state.
“By law, the primary role of any well-meaning government is the wellbeing and security of her citizens always. Good as infrastructure development is, only those who are alive can benefit from them”, said the statement.
It said the Reverend Fathers had never stopped and will never stop praying for the people and government, adding that they believed things would be better again.
The statement encouraged affected pensioners and workers to be hopeful.
“Already and thankfully, we hear that plans are ongoing to pay workers all their salary arrears as well as pensioners’ benefits. We want this speedily done”, it said.