Bishops call for action in Nigeria as famine grows

The Catholic bishops of Nigeria have led calls for the government to act on the nation’s economic woes as a famine of unprecedented scale threatens the nation.

While signs of famine have been growing in recent months in the country’s north-east, fomented by the ongoing activities of the militant Islamist group Boko Haram, the situation is growing ever more dire as Nigeria’s dips increasingly into recession and struggles against rising inflation and unemployment rates due to the ongoing low price of oil internationally.

Now religious leaders in the nation have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to undertake urgent action to relieve the suffering of the Nigerian people.

As the bishops gathered in Akure for their annual meeting, conference president Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama issued a message on behalf of his fellow prelates.

“A lot still needs to be done by the Federal Government in alleviating the sufferings of the masses in the face of the current economic hardship,” he said. “The country should not be ruled with sentiments and there should be fairness and equality.”

The Catholic call has been echoed by a similar urging on President Buhari from the country’s Pentecostal bishops. Speaking to journalists following a meeting with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the chair of the Pentecostal Bishops Forum, Archbishop John Praise, confirmed he had asked for the government to act and, if necessary, to call in outside experts to help tackle economic woes.

 “The people who we lead are suffering,” the archbishop stated. “There are cries all over the place and let the government do whatever it can to alleviate the sufferings.

According to charity groups, many thousands are under immediate threat from famine, with reports of children dying daily as a result of hunger. An already precarious situation is being hindered on the one hand by reports that Boko Harma has targeted aid convoys attempting to reach the worst affected areas, while state officials have also been accused of stealing food supplies destined for the vulnerable.