John Onaiyekan, former archbishop of Abuja, says Nigeria has turned its resources into crises and problems.
Onaiyekan spoke at the 2019 presidential inauguration inter-denominational church service in Abuja on Sunday.
The revered cleric who represented Augustine Akubeze, president of the catholic bishops conference, spoke on the theme: “Setting the Nation on Higher Levels of Peace and Development in the Fear of God”.
Citing ethnicity and religion as cases in point, Onaiyekan challenged the government to proffer solutions to the challenges of the country.
“As we embrace a new term of government, it should be for us a new opportunity to change ways and review habits of governance, for a better Nigeria,” he said.
“God has endowed us with adequate resources to achieve this, resources that we unfortunately turn into crises and problems. Ethnicity and religion are two cases in point.
“For too long, we have been seeing what seems to be a policy of polarisation of the nation along primordial fault lines of ethnicity and religion. The result is that we have been indulging in the risky game of ’dancing on the brink of chaos’. Religion evokes strong emotions that ought to be deployed for solving the ills of our nation, not compound them.
“Those who manipulate religion for their selfish political interest end up destroying religion and harming the nation.”
The cardinal called on Nigerian leaders to embrace a sincere change of heart as the nation enters a new administrative phase.
“We do not know for how long we can continue to get away with this. But the handwriting on the wall is quite clear for all who care to see. It is sad that no condition is permanent; certainly not the present state of our nation,” he said.
“In this new term of office, there is need for a drastic change of government system, if our nation is to be saved from imminent chaos.
“For a positive change to take place, we must all be ready for a sincere change of heart, from the lowest to the highest, but especially at the highest levels. Empty boasts and bare-face denial of the realities around us cannot build a nation.”