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Bishop Nwokolo and the rest of us

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Bishop Nwokolo and the rest of us

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Owen Nwokolo should address himself to genuine challenges of today’s world, rather spend time and resources on inciting the congregation against the government

Rev Zacheus Iloegbuna

The impression given by a couple of write-ups in both the traditional and social media is that the Diocese on the Niger, which is the official name of the Anglican Diocese of Onitsha, is that the ecclesiastical body and the Anambra State government are embroiled in a controversy over the ownership of a swath of land on which Omu Nwagboka Memorial Primary School and Crowther Memorial Primary School are located in Onitsha. The impression is misleading. There is no problem whatsoever between the diocese and any government in Nigeria over the ownership of any school or any asset.

READ ALSO: 2019’ll bring Nigeria close to God, says Anglican bishop

The so-called problem is an unnecessary controversy started by Bishop Owen Nwokolo and orchestrated by his wife. They are supported by a handful of priests who are their sidekicks. Our bishop has the mindset of a typical Nigerian politician. His wife is something else, but this is a story for another day.

Over 90 percent of priests in our diocese are not with them in this macabre dance. We have a moral duty to ensure that our diocese, the oldest in the South East, does not become an object of ridicule. It offends good conscience and morals to wake up one morning and lay claim to the ownership of a large piece of land and the developed property on it.

The unnecessary controversy began when the church asked Anambra State Deputy Governor Nkem Okeke a few months ago for permission to conduct weekly midweek service in Crowther Memorial Primary School. Dr Okeke, a practising Anglican of the finest hue, obliged. It was the right thing to do.

But the church strangely began to lay the foundation for a large building. It has been said that it began the foundation surreptitiously, that is, in the dead of the night.

The fact that our priests, acting on the instructions of Bishop Nwokolo, requested Deputy Governor Okeke for permission for a weekly midweek service in the primary school shows clearly that the place does not belong to the diocese. In other words, our representatives went to the state government for consent for worship because we knew that the school is not ours. You seek permission of this nature only from the authentic owners, in this case the state government.

If Bishop Nwokolo wants to have a regular midweek service or any service at all in a school which belongs to the Diocese on the Niger like Dennis Memorial Grammar School in Onitsha or the Anglican Girls’ Secondary School, also in Onitsha, will he go to Deputy Governor Okeke or any government official for permission? Of course, he will not.

There is no record that the Diocese on the Niger has ever employed any teacher or any non-teaching staff member in Crowther Memorial Primary School. Nor are there records that it has ever added even a 6-inch block there. Neither have pupils have ever been entrusted to our care. Therefore, it is extremely difficult to sustain the argument that the school has ever been what Americans call a parochial school, that is to say, a school owned by any church.

The temptation to rely on the name to lay claim to the ownership of Crowther Memorial Primary School is a cheap thing to do. It is disingenuous to claim any place or asset based on the name.

President Olusegun Obasanjo named a substantial part of the airport road in Abuja after American President Bill Clinton when he visited Nigeria in the twilight of his presidency in 2004. Can the Clinton family claim ownership of the area? Can the American Embassy claim that the Bill Clinton Drive in Abuja now belongs to the American government?

Perhaps it is necessary to explain at this juncture how the twin-primary schools on the land, which Nwokolo is claiming came about their names. Omu Nwagboka Egwuatu was the name of probably the most powerful and famous woman leader in Onitsha history; she died in 1890.

Those of us from Onitsha and environs—up to Ogwashi Ukwu in present day Delta State—are familiar with the title of Omu, which female leaders bear. A lot of our people believe that until recently the people of Ogwashi Ukwu, for instance, did not have kings but were led by powerful women who took the title of Omu.

Hence, the Onitsha Urban Council School in Onitsha known for affordable tuition fees, was renamed Omu Nwagboka Memorial Primary School.

As the school’s pupil population grew in leaps and bounds, another primary school was created out of it. The new school was named after Bishop Ajayi Crowther, the first Nigerian missionary to land in Onitsha, specifically where the school is located.

The practice of creating schools out of the existing ones and have both the old and new ones co-exist in the same premises is a common thing in government-owned schools throughout Nigeria. But the practice does not obtain in faith-based educational institutions.

A top Anambra State government official was recently quoted to have requested the Diocese on the Niger to produce documents showing that the land in question belongs to it. The Anglican Church is well organized and has so many lawyers in our hierarchy who ensure that things like the registration of church’s assets are done properly.

It will be fatal to their case if the ecclesiastical authorities cannot produce such documents. Not even one person will give them the benefit of the doubt. The truth is that the land originally belonged to the famous Ekwerekwu family of Onitsha, and they never sold it to any church.

Owen Nwokolo should address himself to genuine challenges of today’s world, rather spend time and resources on inciting the congregation against the government and even the Catholic Church which, as Americans would say, have no dog in the fight over land ownership. The Universal Basic Education (UBE) has just published its 2018 ranking of secondary schools in Nigeria, and it is dominated by Catholic schools, including Christ the King College, Onitsha. Anglican schools, including DMGS in Onitsha, are nowhere. Thanks to the leadership of Bishop Nwokolo.

It is time for the Diocese on the Niger to get serious. All these histrionics and incitement and shouts of religious persecution are dishonest. Peaceful co-existence is the way to go. And honesty remains the best policy, all the more so in the church.

READ ALSO: Igbo won’t undermine peaceful co-existence in Lagos – Uzoh, Ohanaeze Deputy President

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Rev Iloegbuna is the penname of a senior priest in the Diocese on the Niger

The post Bishop Nwokolo and the rest of us appeared first on The Sun Nigeria.

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CATHOLIC WORLD

Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump – CAN fumes

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Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump - CAN fumes

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has reacted to President Muhammadu Buhari’s revelation of his conversation with United States President, Donald Trump, on the massacre of Christians in Nigeria, saying President Buhari was economical with the truth.

President Buhari had on Tuesday, revealed that at the heat of the bloody clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria, the United States President, Donald Trump, unequivocally accused him of killing Christians.

Buhari said these in his closing remarks at the two-day ministerial performance review retreat held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday.

At a point, the President digressed from his prepared speech and narrated his encounter with Trump on the bloody clashes.

He said he managed to explain to the American leader that the clashes were not about ethnicity or religion.

He said, “I believe I was about the only African among the less developed countries the President of United States invited.

“When I was in his office, only myself and himself, only God is my witness, he looked at me in the face, and asked, ‘Why are you killing Christians?’

“I wonder, if you were the person, how you will react. I hope what I was feeling inside did not betray my emotion, so I told him that the problem between the cattle rearers and farmers, I know is older than me not to talk of him. I think I am a couple of years older than him.

“With climate change and population growth and the culture of the cattle rearers, if you have 50 cows and they eat grass, any root, to your water point, then they will follow it. It doesn’t matter whose farm it is.

“The First Republic set of leadership was the most responsible leadership we ever had. I asked the Minister of Agriculture to get a gazette of the early 60s which delineated the cattle route where they used meager resources then to put earth dams, wind mills even sanitary department.

“So, any cattle rearers that allowed his cattle to go to somebody’s farm would be arrested, taken before the court. The farmer would be called to submit his bill and if he couldn’t pay, the cattle would be sold, but subsequent leaders, the VVIPs (very important persons) encroached on the cattle routes. They took over the cattle rearing areas.

“So, I tried and explained to him (Trump) that this has got nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. It is a cultural thing.”

However, CAN’s Vice President and Chairman of the association in Kaduna State, John Hayab, was not impressed with Buhari’s submission, saying “Buhari and his government will never stop from amusing us with their tales by moonlight because what is happening in Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Birnin Gwari, Southern Kaduna, Taraba, Plateau and others cannot be described as a cultural thing.

He told Punch correspondent in an interview: “President Buhari’s weak story about his conversation with President Donald Trump further confirms why his government does not care about the killings in our country by calling them cultural things.

“Just this (Tuesday) evening, I received a report from the Kaduna Baptist Conference President about the number of their members that have been killed by bandits in Kaduna State from January 2020 to date to be 105 and our President will call it a cultural thing? All we can say is may God save our Nigeria.”

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NATIONAL NEWS

CAMA: Bishop blasts Christian lawmakers

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CAMA: Bishop blasts Christian lawmakers

The Catholic Bishop of Nsukka, Most Rev. Godfrey Onah, has blamed Christians in the National Assembly (NASS), for the passage of the 2020 Companies and Allied Matters Bill (CAMA), signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari recently.

Bishop Onah, said in a remark during the Sunday Mass that if Christians in NASS had opposed the bill, it would not have been passed into law.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on Aug. 7, signed the CAMA bill into law, giving provision for religious bodies and charity organizations to be regulated by the registrar of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), and a supervising minister.

“The question many Christians have been asking is, where were Christian legislators during the debate of this bill and its passage in the National Assembly?

“Because, if they had opposed this bill on the floor of the house, it would not have been passed and sent to the president for assent.

“I blame Christian legislators for doing nothing and allowing the passage of the 2020 CAMA Act,” he said.

“When I say that Christians are too divided and too selfish, don’t forget that the second in command in this country is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, a professor of Law and a pastor.”

Onah, however, wondered what the Federal Government wanted to achieve in monitoring how the finances of churches in the country are managed when it contributed no dime to the church, NAN reports.

“Government should focus and monitor its ministries, agencies and other government institutions where it budgets billions of Naira annually and not church offerings.

“Had it been that the government gave allocations to churches and decided to monitor its usage, nobody will question the government,” he said.

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NATIONAL NEWS

Nigerians spit fire over fuel, electricity prices hike

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Increasing Fuel and Electricity Prices

Anger and condemnations, across the country, have continued to trail last week’s take off, of new increases in pump price of petroleum products and electricity tariffs, as directed by Federal Government.

Recall that the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) official, D.O. Abalaka announced on Wednesday September 3, on behalf of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that the new price of petroleum is now N151.56k per litre instead of N149 – N150 per litre which it was previously.

The new electricity tariff which the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) tagged “Service Reflective Tariff” has also come into effect. It requires consumers to pay N53.87 – N66.422 per kwh of electricity.

Outraged consumers of fuel and electricity have therefore warned government to get ready for collision with the masses if it fails to rescind these new prices.

Those who have expressed outrage over the new prices regimes include, the Organized Labour, Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Nigerian main opposition political party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) and the Major Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN).

Others are: Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) and the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce (NACCIMA).

The NLC said, “The frequent fuel price increase will no longer be accepted. We will not allow Nigerians fall victim of government ineptitude and negligence to make the country self-sufficient in terms of refining petroleum products at home.”

On its part, the PDP has described the price hike as “callous, cruel and punishing” and demanded an immediate reversal to avert a national crisis.

The All Industrial Global sees the incessant increase as a confirmation that deregulation means just price increase.

“This is unacceptable! Under a pandemic, we should put money in the pockets of citizens to revive collapsed livelihoods and preserve lives.” In its reaction, NECA said it has always urged Federal Government to adopt deregulation policy in the oil and gas downstream sector.

The MOMAN in its statement insists that monthly price variation of fuel was no longer sustainable. It urged PPRA to adopt quarterly price mechanism which would save the market the hassles of price volatility. The statements by IPMAN and NACCIMA also followed along the same line that the hike “…serves only to increase the severity and duration of the looming economic recession.”

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