In a discussion with Daily Sun from the Vatican, Onaiyekan said that though the Pope wouldn’t talk in the news media as they, the Bishops, do, the Pope would reply through diplomatic channel.
The Pope is the Head of State of the Vatican City and doubles equally as the successor of Saint Peter the apostle (Head of the Catholic Church).
Onaiyekan’s interview was subsequence to the Ad Limina’s visit of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) to Rome where all the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria gave detailed accounts of happenings within their Dioceses.
Peter Adoboh (Katsina-Ala); Bishops Wilfred Anagbe (Makurdi Diocese); William Avenya (Gboko) and Michael Apochi (Otukpo), all from the terrorised Benue state, spoke about the sad developments in the state.
The visit happened at a time when there were renewed assaults in Benue State which cost the lives of 19 persons, with the inclusion of two Catholic priests, Revd Frs Joseph Gor and Felix Tyolaha at the St. Ignatius Quasi parish in Ukpor-Mbalom in Mbalom village, Benue state.
According to report made by Onaiyekan, the Pope was saddened by the ill development, and went ahead to ask for the Bishop of Makurdi, whom he held, upon meeting him, while both of them wept profusely.
According to Onaiyekan, “The Pope is so concerned about what is happening, not only about the Benue killing, but about the situation that has been going on in Nigeria for many months now, even here. He showed deep concern.
“What he does, how he reacts is probably not something that he will like to put in the newspaper for everybody to see. The Pope has generally his channels for reaching out to government.
“The Pope will not speak as frankly as we did because this is our country. We can speak like we wanted. We can speak like we think we ought to speak as leaders of our Church.
“The Pope will be using everything, including from a diplomatic point of view,” Onaiyekan said.
The former President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) reported: “I can tell you now that when we went to see him, he specifically requested to find out who is the Bishop of Makurdi.
“And he held him to his chest and greeted him very specially and the Bishop of Makurdi was too moved that he burst into tears in front of the Pope and I had to hold him, to tell him, cheer up, cheer up my brother. That is just to show how much concern he has.”
Onaiyekan added: “The politicians can continue to pretend that everything is normal. But they know it isn’t. The rest of us cannot allow them to deceive us and defend themselves.
“You can already see that things are not going well and we have elections in a few months. So, it is possible that you are going for an election, but you are not going to get a good election and that means we will be postponing the solutions to our problems.”
Onaiyekan said however, that he’s hopeful that the situation will die down soon as Nigerians are good people willing to make things work.