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Why do priests rage?



Why do priests rage?

There is tension between the Anglican and Catholic communities in Anambra State. The former is accusing the latter of dominating government in the state, thereby marginalising them. It climaxed in a protest last week as OKEY MADUFORO reports from Awka


The number was unprecedented as they matched in two lines from Arroma junction to the Government House, Awka Anambra State. Had it been that the day was a Sunday, observers would have ran away with the impression that it was a religious procession celebrating one saint or in remembrance of one Episcopal event in the history of the Christendom. Far from it! The clerics were on a protest against what they described as the marginalization and intimidation of Anglicans in Anambra State by the government of the day. According to the Archdeaconry of Onitsha Anglican Archdiocese, Ven Josiah Chukwukadibia Ofoegbu, the priests were on protest against the denominational politics allegedly being played by the state government. “We are embittered with what is happening in our dear state. This present administration is turning Anambra State to a denominational state.


It is unfortunate that this is happening 28 years after Bishop Ajayi Crowder, who built the school left Nigeria. “The school was handed over to the Anglican Church. Both Anglicans and Catholics knew about that. When government seized schools, it was seized from us and during hand over to schools, it was again handed over to us.


“But it was quite unfortunate that Governor Obiano sent thugs few weeks ago to send us out of the place. They disgraced us in our own property. They dispersed the worshippers and even threatened to kill us. This injustice must end. “We want to let him know that we will worship there on Sunday. He should prepare for war. We are ready to die on that land. Obiano should stop that discrimination. “Some Anglicans were denied ticket in this state because they are not Catholics. When people like Jim Nwobodo and Nnamdi Azikiwe were leaders, they never discriminated against anybody.


“We are here to also tell the governor that we will worship at the place on Sunday and if he fails to open the place, we will open it by force. Nigeria and the world will hear what will happen on Sunday” he said. A mild drama played out during the protest. An Archdeacon of the Anglican Communion and Governor Willie Obiano’s aide, Ven. Barr. Amaechi Okwosa sent by the governor to address the protesters was resisted by the aggrieved priests.


Okwosa, who is also the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Awka Capital Territory Development Authority, while addressing journalists said the governor has set up a committee to look into the matter with a view to finding a lasting solution, even as he regretted that the governor was not informed about their visit.


“To the best of my knowledge, there wasn’t an official information regarding the visit. They are laying down their grievances, and from what they are saying, they have a misgiving regarding a school at Onitsha, which they want the governor to intervene and do the needful.


“The matter is a lingering situation. The government headed by our governor, had inaugurated a committee to look into that matter so that it will be resolved once and for all, and that will be a precedence to other issues that are similar to this.


“Also, we got from some of the clergy that this matter is in court already and speaking as a lawyer, it is prejudicial when you take some steps when the matter is still subsisting in court. They should let the law to run its course, instead of getting in the way of law. “I told them that if what they are saying is true, I will advise them to wait and let the court resolve the matter.


Also, if the Bishops in the Anglican Communion are coming to the see the governor, they should wait for the outcome of the meeting.


“We have spoken to their leaders and let them know that if they had spoken to us about their coming, the governor would have adjusted his time. The governor is not on seat because he did not have any formal notice. “I want to say very clearly that the government of Anambra State is very sensitive to matters like this and the government is not out to take people’s property belonging to church or individual.


I am pleading with them to eschew violence and follow it to a peaceful conclusion.


“Also, I am aware that the nine Bishops of Anglican Communion have met regarding this issue to which they have agreed to come see the governor and he is looking forward to seeing them to resolve the matter very soon. I feel bad that they are outside the sun because I am one of them” he lamented.


When contacted, the head, Information and Communication for Onitsha Catholic Archdiocese Fr. Pius Uche Ukor, told this reporter that it was no news about the protest by the Anglican Church and that he has no reaction to make.


“It is not a new thing which you know and they have been protesting for long. They protested during Obiano’s first tenure. They had protested before, calling the names of former governors, Chris Ngige, Peter Obi and now they are protesting against Willie Obiano .


“This one is about Bishop Crowder Memorial School that is in dispute. So, we are not reacting to anything and if they have issues with their protest, let them resolve it with the state government for we are not reacting to anything” Last week’s protest was indeed the climax of that cold war between the Roman Catholic Church and Anglican Communion since after the tenure of Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju.


Members of the Anglican Communion have continued to insist that the regimes of Sen. Chris Ngige, Chief Peter Obi and the incumbent, Chief Willie Obiano have never favoured them simply because the trio are all Roman Catholics. But Chief Charles Amilo, who was Commissioner for Information during the tenure of Ngige was quick to contend that,“we had more Anglicans in the government of Ngige than Catholics.


Even in the appointment of boards and heads of parastatals, Ngige went out in search of the best brains not the best Catholics or the best Anglicans. Former Anglican Archbishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev. Maxwell Anikwenwa had taken us on that and after his own private investigations, he was convinced and Anikwenwa is alive today; go and ask him.


”The regime of Chief Peter Obi was not even spared by the Anglican Communion. Okey Chukwuogo, an Architect and a knight of St. Christopher told New Telegraph that the regime was the worst culprit.


“Why would a Director in a Ministry be compelled to hang a chaplet or scapular and parade himself or herself before the Secretary to the State Government or the Head of Service for him to be appointed a permanent secretary in position that he merited?”


“I know countless of Anglicans who remained as Deputy Directors and Directors for five years up to retirement age and their contemporaries and juniors in the ministries were promoted to permanent secretaries because they were Catholics.


“In fairness to all and sundry, I am talking of proficiency and merit and not because I am an Anglican. If somebody is qualified to serve his state in any capacity, he should be given the chance even if the candidate is a traditionalist or Pentecostal church member.” Obi was also accused of marginalizing the Anglican Church members even in the last job employment he carried out before handing over to Obiano.


Senior Special Assistant to Obi on Media and Publicity, Mr. Valentine Obienyem, described the allegation as untrue. “The job employment that they talked about is difficult to prove. Six thousand persons or more were employed and one wonders how we were able to know the number of Anglicans and Catholics that were employed or those that actually applied for those positions”.


“How could that be true when we had Prof. Chinyere Okunna, an Anglican, who served as Chief of Staff and Commissioner for the eight years of Obi’s Administration? We also had Mrs. Kay Onyechi, Commissioner for Education.


We had Barr. Chuma Mbonu, who was then the Chairman, Anambra State Universal Basic Education Board. We had Arch Okey Chukwuego as Chairman Anambra State Urban Development Board and Arch Mike Nwafor, as Managing Director, Anambra State Housing Corporation. All of them were Anglicans”.


Apparently the religious politics in Anambra State was not really visible under the regime of Chukwuemeka Ezeife as his denomination, Salvation Army has about the least number of membership. Chinwoke Mbadinuju, who is a blend of the Anglican Church and Christian Pentecostal mission never faced the challenges of who gets what and from what denomination?


Elder Ezenwaji Okoli one of the spokesperson of the Temple of All Nations, told New Telegraph that it is a case of the poisoned chalice. “I was here during one of the governorship election period when a priest told his congregation that you must vote for a person that receives the same Holy Communion with you and even threatened to stop them from receiving holy communion if he or she fails to vote for the church member.


This is a case of a poisoned chalice and everyone that is not a Muslim drinks from the same chalice containing the blood of Jesus Christ and when it is poisoned, all the partakers in the community would all die.


“I urge the regime of Obiano to listen to this people, look into his cabinet and if that is true, find a way of making amends. The Anglican church themselves should also know that a governor is like the father of all no matter which denomination he belongs.






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