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Bad Governance Harms Human Dignity: Bishop in Nigeria

CANAA || By Father Eze Matthew, Nsukka Diocese || 12 October 2017

bishop onah on bad governance harms human dignityBishop Godfrey Igwebuike Onah of Nsukka Diocese in Nigeria recently noted that bad governance harms human dignity and that those who have pledged to promote the dignity of the human person should resist the temptation to be hired as mercenaries in the enemy’s army.

He was speaking during the Fifty-Seventh Founders’ Day Lecture of the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) which took place on Thursday, 5 October 2017 under the theme: “To Restore the Dignity of Man – Why and How?”

According to the Prelate, dictators and bad governments are the worst enemies of the truth that university seeks and teaches. He reminded all and sundry that modern universities owe their origins to the desire within the Church to cultivate in a group of people the search for truth as a profession; truth about God, about man and about the world.

Tracing the historical origin and foundation of University, Bishop Onah amongst other things discussed the guild of students (universitas scholarium) in Bologna and the guild of teachers and students (universitas magistrorum et scholarium) in Paris in the 12th century, from which the University took its name.

“Contrary to what many think, universitas had nothing to do with a presumed universality of the knowledge that a University offers but rather with the association of people with common pursuits who wanted to protect their interests and safeguard themselves against external interference and distractions. Foremost on the minds of the members of the guilds was the unhindered pursuit of truth (veritas),” he said.

He lamented the tragic irony in Nigeria where the guild of teachers and students sometimes hinders the pursuit of truth and emphasized that anytime the university interrupts its normal programme in protest against the government, the university by that very act makes itself an ally of its oppressor.

Concerning some of the roles a university should play he said, “People often see the University as a place where young persons acquire more knowledge and better skills that will prepare them for specific tasks in the society of adults. And they are right”.

He further observed that human action and inaction are capable of lowering human dignity in oneself and in others.

Given that freedom is the foremost expression of the imago Dei and the misuse of freedom or sin disfigures it, Bishop Onah said, it then follows that the misuse of human freedom or sin lowers human dignity.

Truth, in his view, “is the link between the University and human dignity and to restore the dignity of man entails therefore leading man to know who he really is – the image of God – and helping him to make that image shine brightly for everyone to see.”

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