The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Adewale Martins, has urged Nigerians to go beyond prayers in the fight against corruption by imbibing and practising values that witness to honesty and nobility.
Martins said this in Lagos on Thursday at the 10th Anniversary of the Anthony Cardinal Okogie Annual Lecture entitled: Creating a Corrupt-Free Society in Nigeria: The Role of the Church.
The Catholic Archbishop urged Nigerians to put aside personal interest, political convenience and bitterness in the fight against corruption which “our common enemy.”
According to him, “Those with the mandate to facilitate this process should be guided by a true sense of justice and act in accordance with the rule of law. The war against corruption is not just a battle for virtue and righteousness in our land but a fight for the soul and substance of our nation.
“It is a collective responsibility that requires our collective efforts. All Nigerians must be part of the struggle which ought to be carried out at all levels in order that we may recover our wasted opportunities.
“To guarantee sustainable success in fighting corruption, Nigerians must transcend ethnic, religious and regional affiliations and sentiments,’’ he said.
Martins said that for Nigerians to curb corruption, they must imbibe the virtue of selflessness and learn to be sensitive to the needs of others.
“Let us embark on the willingness to share with others what the Lord has entrusted to us and to generally be more concerned about the welfare of one another.
“Each one of us must make it our priority to respect one another, enhance the dignity of one another and appreciate hard work as there is no such thing as cheap peace or progress or an easy way out,’’ he said.
In his remarks, former Governor of Anambra, Peter Obi, urged the church to be at the front in the fight against corruption.
He urged religious leaders to inculcate good morals and godliness in members of the church to enable them refuse unsolicited gifts from people with questionable characters.
“Stealing of public fund is more than corruption, it is greed. It is greed that will make a person to steal what he cannot finish spending. The silence of Nigerians is encouraging corruption. Nigerians can put a stop to corruption if they make it a habit to always speak out.
“During my tenure as governor, I was able to manage my state and save enough money for our successor because I am not corrupt, “ said the former Anambra governor.
The Emeritus Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Anthony Cardinal Okojie, said that Nigerians cannot win the war against corruption except the very person concerned and that is man.
“Corruption is a decimal not only in Nigeria but the whole world, corruption spread like wide fire, it does not even spare the schools, families and the church; the judiciary and the politicians are also dented with corruption.
“Many people have confused ideas that corrupt politicians come to church and do thanksgiving with some of the looted money, some of them pay their tithes from it.
“And I ask, does this same church being exonerated from corruption? How then can we eradicate corruption in our society, and who is that competent person that can fight the war against corruption.
“Man is the first institution created by God with a free will amongst many institutions and the common factor of the institution are the church, the mosque, the school and the family.
“It therefore domesticate and disciplines the man inside the man; you will succeed in eradicating corruption in the society and that is when the church comes in. The role of the church is not politics but about the child’s attitude to morals; the good attitude of a child is cultivated at home based on the moral teaching of the church,’’ he said.