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February 24, 2017

Leadership is for service, not intimidation – Fr Ralph Madu

…As Fr George Nwachukwu celebrates silver jubilee

When, on being sworn-in, late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua stated that he was going to adopt a servant leadership model, he used the metaphor to draw attention to the simplicity, sacrifice and self-giving sense of service that he hoped to bring to leadership. This he tried to live out in his presidency in spite of his fragile health. Today the notion of servant leadership and its option for the poor poses a serious challenge to Africa in general and Nigeria in particular.
Rev Fr Ralph Madu, Secretary General, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, recalled this servant-leadership Philosophy in his homily at a thanksgiving Mass to mark the priestly silver jubilee celebration of the Rev Fr Dr George Nwachukwu held September 18 at the impressive SS Philip and James Catholic Church Egbu, Owerri.
Fr Madu regretted that leadership as service has been replaced in Nigeria and other parts of Africa with leaders who see themselves as the oga at the top, who are to be adored, adulated and awed.
The Secretary General said what we see today are office holders who believe in power over their citizens, rather than power for service and welfare of their people, leaders who use the structures and paraphernalia of power to intimidate those who elected them into office.
“Today, evidence of this is not only in the guns, cars and armed personnel that surround public office holders. Rather we see the movement of the president, governors and ministers bearing the hallmark of a miniature territorial military occupation of an environment.  State resources meant for the attainment of the common good are treated as an extension of the treasury of the individual in power….”
Turning to his fellow priests, Fr. Madu warned that servant-leadership model is not only for those in government, reminding them that the Church had not been inoculated or insulated from the metaphor.  “No wander Pope Francis recently enjoined pastors to endeavour to smell like their sheep.”
Facing the congregation, the homilist told them that the men Christ chooses as priests are not supermen, not saints, adding that “God uses ordinary human beings like Fr. George, with all their gifts and foibles as his ministers, and does extraordinary things through them and with them and in them.”
Reflecting on the readings, Fr. Ralph said the real challenge today was for one to look at his own personal spiritual life.  “Am I really a trustworthy steward or a cheat?”
He described the celebrant as a simple and brilliant man of God, a quintessential media expert, who knows how to deal with people individually, to lend a listening ear and a helping hand, and to connect with people in a light and casual way.
In his vote of thanks, Fr. Nwachukwu  who was elated at the turnout of friends thanked them for finding time to celebrate with him, stressing that the celebration at Egbu was just for his friends as another celebration will take place in his home town in December.
Highlights of the celebration include unveiling of his book – “My journey so far; and cutting of Jubilee cake.
The celebration chaired by Prof. Jude Njoku KSM, attracted a large number of the Clergy, Religious, Who’s Who in Imo politics, captains of industry, the academia, business class, media practioners etc.
Fr. George Nwachukwu, Director of Communications/Media, Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri was born in the early 60s at Umuopara Obiangwu in Ngor-Okpala LGA.
He was ordained a Catholic priest for Owerri Archdiocese on August 16, 1991.

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