23 February 2018

Nigeria: Catholic Bishops Criticise Gender Equality Bill, Condemn Distribution of Condoms in Schools

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria, CBCN, has criticised the "Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill" saying some of its content could "provide an avenue for the legalisation of many anti-human life and anti-family activities."

The clerics, in a communique at the end of their conference, also condemned the distribution of condoms and other contraceptive pills in schools.

"Whereas we acknowledge some legitimate rights due to women and the need to promote them, we, nevertheless, condemn the provisions of the "Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill," which could provide an avenue for the legalisation of many anti-human life and anti-family activities. We therefore demand that such provisions be expunged from the Bill.

"Similarly, we condemn in unmistakable terms the indiscrete distribution of condoms and contraceptive pills in our schools, youth service orientation camps and private/government health institutions. No person, authority or institution has the right to terminate human life."

They also demanded the immediate action of government to ensure adequate and even distribution of voter registration materials across the country.

The communique was issued at the end of the CBCN's first plenary session for 2018 in Abuja.

The clerics also lamented what they described as reports of inadequate voter registration materials experienced in specific parts of the country.

Although the Catholic bishops did not state the region where the said report about poor voter registration materials allegedly emanated from, the conference regarded the situation as unfortunate. It also condemned recent reports of underage voting allegedly experienced in Kano State.

"Elections are around the corner. This process begins with the registration of voters, an exercise that has already started nationwide. Reports reaching us from all over the nation indicate that in many places facilities for registration are not available, thus depriving many people of the right to register for voting. It is equally reported that such difficulty in registration often target certain segments of the community.

"Furthermore, we hear of the registration of underaged persons. It is quite unfortunate that our young people allow themselves to be used as canon fodders in electoral malpractices. Government and especially Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), should address these serious lapses with utmost urgency and without discrimination and bias," the statement signed by the former CBCN President, Ignatius Kaigama, and his team of officers said.

The CBCN also called on government to promote entrepreneurship and other forms of employment, as a means of alleviating the hardship in the country.

"In our recent visit to President Muhammadu Buhari, we expressed our concerns on the state of the nation. While we thank him for giving us a listening ear, we expect him to urgently address the issues raised, as he promised he would. We re-affirm that government has an indispensable role to play in supporting genuine initiatives to improve our people's standard of living.

"In the words of Pope St John Paul II, the state has the duty to "sustain business activities by creating conditions which will ensure job opportunities, by stimulating those activities where they are lacking or by supporting them in moments of crisis". We therefore call on government to provide adequate social amenities, infrastructure, functional education, right policies, and good governance, that will bring about the enabling environment required for entrepreneurship to thrive."

The CBCN announced its list of newly elected officers, praying for God's guardians upon them.

"To the glory of God we announce to you the newly elected principal officers of our Conference. They are: President, Most Rev. Augustine Obiora Akubeze, Archbishop of Benin City; Vice President, Most Rev. Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, Bishop of Umahia; Secretary, Most Rev Camillus Raymond Umoh, Bishop of Ikot-Ekpene, Assistant Secretary, Most Rev. Charles Michael Hammawa, Bishop of Jalingo. We pray for God's wisdom and guidance in the discharge of their responsibilities."


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