The Bishop of Umuahia Catholic Diocese, Most Reverend Lucius Ugorji, has urged Nigerians to take Pope Francis’ New Year’s message seriously.
Mr Ugorji gave the advice in his homily on Sunday at the Mater Dei Cathedral Parish, Umuahia.
He described the Papal message calling for an end to violence against women as pungent in a troubled world.
Quoting the Pope’s message, he said: “And since mothers bestow life, and women keep the world (together), let us all make greater efforts to promote mothers and protect women.
“How much violence is directed against women! Enough!
“To hurt a woman is to insult God, who from a woman took on our humanity – not through an angel, not directly, but through a woman.”
The 85-year-old Pope celebrated a Mass in St Peter’s Basilica to mark both the solemnity of Holy Mary Mother of God and annual World Day of Peace celebrations.
Mr Ugorji further charged governments at all levels in the country to promote “intergenerational dialogue” between the ageing political leaders and youths, who are the future leaders.
He decried the “recycling” of the old generation of leaders in political and government offices and argued that youths be given more space to operate and contribute to the nation’s development.
The cleric urged governments to invest more in education and strive to attain the UN recommended 20 per cent annual budgetary allocation to the education sector.
He regretted that the failure to make adequate allocation to the sector accounted for the dearth of modern teaching equipment in government-owned tertiary institutions.
“This is also responsible for the incessant disagreements between the university lecturers and government, leading to strikes,” he said.
Mr Ugorji also advised governments to create employment opportunities for the youths and improve the conditions of service “for those who are lucky to be employed”.
According to him, this will help to check brain drain, especially in the health sector, which is worse hit.
He further charged governments to provide the enabling atmosphere that would encourage private enterprises to thrive.
“There should be adequate security of lives and property, the government should provide the infrastructure, including good roads, efficient rail system and regular energy,” the clergyman said.