The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), Tuesday in Abuja, said that “social security for the poor and vulnerable are schemes that ensure that none is left behind and that no citizen in these blessed West African nations needs to go to bed hungry”.
Buhari who was represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo spoke at the General Assembly of the Reunion of the Episcopal Conference of West Africa, held at the ECOWAS Secretariat, Abuja.
This is according to a statement signed on Tuesday by the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, titled ‘Why religious leaders should collaborate with governments in building peace, security in West Africa, by Osinbajo.’
Speaking on the theme, Fratelli Tutti: Path to Build Brotherhood and Sustainable Peace in West Africa, Buhari said “the Government of Nigeria remains committed to collaborating with the Church and all well-meaning actors in promoting peace and security. Concern for our neighbours is the moral foundation of social welfare.”
He noted that the Good Samaritan story told by the Lord Jesus “raises sacrifice and concern for the well-being of others over self, thereby establishing the truth that love of our neighbour is the greatest expression of our faith.”
Buhari explained: “That we must prioritize universal healthcare, while also ensuring free and compulsory basic education. And that we must create the environment for millions of young and restless people within our borders to find good-paying jobs and live decent lives.”
While commending the Catholic Church and the Bishops’ Conference for establishing a reputation for speaking truth to power, the President also called on the Church as a whole to speak out against violent non-state actors.
“Over the years, the Church has modelled profound approaches in challenging the impunity of some state actors and errant power.
“But my Lords, I believe the times also call for speaking to the growing numbers of violent non-state actors, some propagating genuine causes but with mindless violence often leading to the destruction of lives and property.
“In answer to tendencies that promote violence, force and war in the propagation of ideas, His Holiness, the Pope, takes the view that even Augustine of Hippo, ‘who forged a concept of ‘just war’ also said that ‘it is a higher glory still to stay war itself with a word than to slay men with the sword, and to procure or maintain peace by peace, not by war’.”
The opening ceremony also featured remarks by the President of RECOWA, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama, who is also the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja; the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, Archbishop Lucius Ugorji; and the ECOWAS President, Jean-Claude Brou, among others.
Also in attendance were the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, Federal Ministers such as Geoffrey Onyema (Foreign Affairs); Pauline Tallen (Women Affairs); Dr. Chris Ngige (Labour, Employment and Productivity); Godswill Akpabio (Niger Delta); George Akume (Special Duties) and Godwin Agba (State for Power).