President’s response to Nigerian massacre reveals ‘ignorance’ says missionary

An Irish missionary who worked for years in Nigeria has slammed President Higgins’ suggestion that climate change played a part in the massacre of several dozen worshippers attending a Pentecost Sunday Mass in the southwestern part of the country.

Sr Kathleen McGarvey said President Higgins’ “use of words reveals the ignorance of our leaders, whether conscious or unconscious, of the alarming spread of insecurity and violence in Nigeria”.

To present climate change “as the reason for the gruesome massacre in the church on Pentecost Sunday or for the ongoing rise of terrorist activities, banditry, kidnapping, attacks, and unabated onslaught of peoples and villages in Nigeria, is hugely incorrect and far-fetched, as Bishop Jude has said”, referencing a local Nigerian bishop who had earlier criticised the President’s statement.

“The rise and spread of radical Islamic extremism, seen today in the Boko Haram and the militants known as Fulani Herdsmen, are manifestations of this manipulation of religion for political purposes and indeed of what many today perceive as the Islamisation of Nigeria project of president Buhari and the northern Muslim elite,” she said.

Attacks such as that on the church of St Francis on Pentecost Sunday, as well as “continuous attacks on villages in Christian dominated villages in northern states, all of these go almost unanswered”, she said.

She urged that Government leaders “be more committed to truthful analysis and to conscientious involvement in ensuring security and development for the dear people, of all religions, of this great African nation”.

Responding to the attack, President Higgins had said: “That such an attack was made in a place of worship is a source of particular condemnation, as is any attempt to scapegoat pastoral peoples who are among the foremost victims of the consequences of climate change.”