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The President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama has described equitable distribution of the nation’s wealth and political appointments as well as the prudent use of her resources by the political leaders as panacea for the present predicament and socio-economic challenges facing the country. He however added that the country and the people also need spiritual cleansing for a renewed life to facilitate a better Nigerian nation where equity and justice will be sacrosanct.
Archbishop Kaigama made this affirmation in his address at the celebration of the Mass and the re-consecration ceremony of the Nigerian nation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, during the recent three-day National Prayer Pilgrimage ceremony to conclude the celebration of the country’s third National Marian Congress held at the grounds of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), Benin City, Edo State. The country was first consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary at the first National Marian Congress held in Lagos in 1954.
The ceremony also marked the culmination of the country’s celebration of the Jubilee Year to mark the Centenary of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the three shepherd children at Fatima, Portugal, declared by the Holy Father Pope Francis, from November 27th  to November 26th 2017.  Justifying the need for the three-day Pilgrimage Prayer session for the country, Archbishop Kaigama declared: “You will agree with me that our beloved country needs healing, just as we the citizens made of different cultures and tribes too need inner healing. Indeed, our Church also needs healing.”
Outlining the virtues of the blessed Virgin Mary which include her tranquil faith disposition, her social sensitivity, her humanitarian concern and her fervent intercession to her beloved son Jesus; Archbishop Kaigama used the analogy of Mary’s intervention at the Marriage in Cana, Galilee to justify the need the for the prayer session and re-dedication of Nigeria to her Immaculate Heart to intercede for the country and rescue her from her present challenges. He remarked: “We too in Nigeria are lacking wine, not intoxicating wine – which we have in abundance, but the wine to stimulate our social sensitivity to improve the socio-economic conditions of our people and to see the need to be our brother and sister’s keeper.”
The Archbishop of Jos continued: “With its enormous blessings both human and natural, Nigerian should be able to change stones into bread, provide enough portable water and manna for the people as Israel enjoyed in the desert; cure people’s illness like angel Raphael did instead of rushing abroad for medical treatment; give good education to youths the type Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego received  (cf. Daniel: 1); provide better and easier means of transportation across the length and breath  of this nation; use our resources so prudently and with charitable consideration for others irrespective of tribe, religion or political leanings.”
In his own address, the Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki described the Marian Congress as a fulfillment of God’s will adding that “we have every reason to be grateful to God as Edo State is a beneficiary of this special Prayer Pilgrimage.” He described the Church as an oasis of peace noting that with the challenges presently facing the country, she needs the Church more than before.  Governor Obaseki urged  the Bishops  to pray for the country and her rulers and “continue to restructure our minds and hearts with more of love and less selfishness so that we can have more peace and love.”
He commended the Catholic Church for her invaluable contributions to the spiritual and social growth of the country. He reaffirmed the determination of his administration to make life better for the masses of the state by giving priority to education and primary health care; and revamping technical education. He expressed his willingness to partner the Church in these people oriented services.
The ceremony was attended by about 53 members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria including John Cardinal Onaiyekan of Abuja; Anthony Cardinal Okogie, the emeritus Archbishop of Lagos Archdiocese and Archbishop Patrick Eboseli Ekpu, the emeritus Archbishop of Benin City.. Also in attendance were: the Charge de Affairs at the Apostolic Nunciature,  Msgr Javier D Fernandes G,  who represented the Papal Nuncio to Nigeria, Archbishop Antonio Guido Filippazi; the Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki,  his deputy, Mr. Philip Shuaibu, and their wives as well as other government functionaries, about 800 priests, over 1,000 Rev Sisters and about forty thousand lay faithful from all parts of the country.


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