By Joseph Kingston, Calabar
Former Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Cross River state, Archbishop Archibong Archibong, has commiserated with the State government and indeed all the victims of last weekend’s vandalization of public and private properties in Calabar and environs, but tasked government at all levels to address the underlying factors which led to the carnage.
In a chat with our reporter, the CAN leader, who is also the founder of the Calabar-based Intercessors Bible Mission (IBM) said the rate and dept of vandalization, looting and burning down of property revealed the level of anger in the heart of those who carried it out.
According to the Engineer-turned-church founder, the time is fully ripe for the government at all levels to encourage Nigerian youths to exert themselves so as to bring fresh socio-economic ideas and vision for the good of the country.
Archbishop Archibong said “I condole with families of all those who had lost their lives and those who also lost property to the carnage. May the God of heaven strengthen them and grant them the ability to bear the avoidable loss. I
“Looking at the ENDSARS protest and the level of vandalization that we have witnessed across the country, it is an indication that the young people are terribly angry. The country and its leadership and indeed the elders have taken the young people for granted for too long. There is an assumption that the youths do not just exist and the young people have just made a statement that they are there.
“Everyman with a vein in his body would, in the physical, be surprised at the depth of destruction and would inevitably condemn it, but looking at it deeply and spiritually, it tells us about the deep rooted anger and venom in their heart. The level of destruction is telling us about the state of mind of the young people. They are so bitter to the extent that they are ready to destroy and even kill.
“As far as they are concerned, society is against their future, they government and the older people are out to destroy their destiny. The decay that has taken place, the lack of empathy, the suffering they undergo could force them to react destructively. If you look at Cross River state for instance, nobody would have believed that such carnage could have been inflicted on the state.
“Our leaders should create a chance for young people to assert themselves. We need to do something very fast about this situation and deliberately initiate steps to accommodate them, after all, the country belongs to them.”
The Clergy said he had, during meetings with pastors, appealed to them to preach to their membership to return whatever they looted, but called on the authorities not to contemplate criminalizing any youth. He believed that at that hour of madness, the youth who participated in the destruction were controlled by another spirit.
“We agree that what they did was wrong but then we must learn a lesson from it. Let us collectively appeal to those who looted property to return them. Look at it this way, how do you take something you won’t even use? Some of them got involved because they saw others doing it.
“At that moment, there was no iota of reasoning. They were controlled by something above them. Let the government show an element of understanding and accommodate them even though it is very painful considering the gravity of vandalization which went on,” he stated.
On why the curfew which was declared on Friday evening in Cross River was not enforced to have warded off the vandalization on Friday night and the whole of Saturday, the CAN leader linked it to intelligence failure on the part of the government and the security agencies, saying the authorities were not proactive enough.
He however advocated establishment of vigilante groups in communities to help in warding off repeat of the anomaly, and therefore appealed to the government to lend a helping hand to any community which has decided to establish such a group.
Archibishop Archibong further posited that the commencement of curfew between 4pm to 8 am was odd considering when civil servants are expected to officially close from work, as well as the ensuing traffic jam which has now become synonymous with Calabar streets in recent days. He therefore called on the state government to reconsider enforcing the curfew between the hours of 6pm to 6am.