Rise up to the challenge, Catholic Bishops charge El-Rufai on security.

The Catholic Bishops of Kaduna Ecclesiastical Province on Friday accused the state government of abandoning the people of Southern Kaduna at such a critical time.

The Catholic Bishops were reacting to the worsening security situation in the area where over 100 people had been killed by criminal elements in ethnic and religious violence.

Governor Nasir El-Eufai had on Sunday accused Southern Kaduna leaders of fuelling the crisis for pecuniary gains.

However, in a statement issued by the Secretary of the Ecclesiastical Province, John Niyiring, the Catholic Bishops said Governor El-Rufai abandoned the people of the region in their period of grief.

The statement read: “Crises test the will of a leader. At times like these, emotions are not enough. At times like this, a leader must seek out 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.

“Governor El-Rufai should 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.

“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 was how to contain the dreaded terrorist group, Boko Haram.

“Two years ago, the military announced that it had degraded Boko Haram and basked in the euphoria that Boko Haram was no longer holding Nigerian territory.

“But our joy was short lived as the story has progressively gotten far worse. Today, almost the entire Northern states are in the grip of these purveyors of violence and death. In the last three years, we have witnessed the relentless attacks and ransacking of entire communities by bandits in states like Benue, Kebbi, Plateau, Kaduna, Katsina, Nasarawa, Niger, Sokoto, and Zamfara.

“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. There have been attempts at negotiations with these criminals by some governors and in some cases, huge sums of money have been paid.”

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