The World Council of Churches, has urged the Federal Government to make necessary arrangements in addressing economic injustice and protecting persecuted religious groups.
The Council’s Moderator of the Central Committee of WCC, Bishop Dr. Heinrich Bedford-Strohn, made the call on Tuesday during the WCC Executive Committee meeting in Abuja.
He pointed out the economic inequality in Nigeria and the incessant challenges confronting many Nigerians daily, as wealth continued to accumulate in the hands of the elite.
Bedford-Strohn, said “A significant proportion of Nigeria’s population is undernourished, representing a major hunger crisis for the nation. WCC urges the government of Nigeria to do more to address economic injustice.”
The WCC equally addressed Nigeria’s regional context, pointing out the crises in neighbouring countries that impact the region as a whole.
“Displacement and instability in the region is being exacerbated by environmental degradation and desertification due to climate change,” Bedford-Strohm said.
Speaking on the spate of religious persecution in Nigeria and other countries, he mentioned testimonies from churches regarding the insecurity, violence, displacement, and persecution faced by Christians in northern Nigeria and other parts of the country.
The World Council of Churches enjoined the Federal Government to prove adequate security and stability to the affected communities.
Also, WCC General Secretary, Rev. Jerry Pillay, noted the role of faith communities in demanding justice, protection, and peace.
He said, “Churches pray for persecuted Christians and advocate for government action to protect them.
The World Council of Churches partner with Muslim leaders to address religiously-inspired violence.
”Additionally, we have provided training to young individuals from diverse backgrounds to become peacemakers.”
Meanwhile, Christian Association of Nigeria, on Tuesday also backed the World Council of Churches’ appeal to the federal government to intensify efforts in tackling economic injustice and safeguarding persecuted religious groups.
Pastor Simon Dolly,
CAN’s Secretary for the North-Central Zone, Pastor Simon Dolly, identified the need for the government to take decisive actions to ensure equity, fairness, and justice in appointments and policy implementation.
“We urge the government to ensure equity, fairness, and justice in appointments, as well as the implementation of programmes and policies,” Dolly said.
He spelt out the importance of fair representation in government appointments and policy decisions.
He called for protection of religious freedom, while urging the government to uphold the rights of all Nigerians to practice their faith freely.
He emphasized the importance of guaranteeing religious freedom and the right to worship throughout Nigeria, as outlined in Section 4 (38) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
In the international context, the executive committee of the WCC called for immediate ceasefire in the Palestine-Israel conflict and the opening of humanitarian corridors.
It demanded the unconditional release and safe return of all hostages, while citing the importance of respecting the principles of international humanitarian law.
“We yearn for peace and for justice, for an end to the seemingly endless cycle of violence and suffering,” Pillay said.
On the upcoming 28th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, WCC Vice Moderator, Rev. Merlyn Hyde-Riley, advicated care for creation and climate justice.
“At this time of climate emergency, it is essential that COP28 courageously addresses the fossil fuel industry and their responsibility towards people and planet,” she said.
The World Christian Council highlighted the importance of providing sufficient funding to vulnerable and low-income countries experiencing the consequences of climate change.
The WCC’s demanded economic justice in Nigeria, immediate ceasefire in Israel-Palestine, and climate justice set a critical agenda for global and national action on these issues.