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BOOK REVIEW: ROCHAS REVOLUTION, Leadership By Example

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BOOK REVIEW

Title:                      ROCHAS REVOLUTION, Leadership By Example
Author:               Rev. Fr. Nathaniel I. Ndiokwere
Pagination:     240 Pages
Reviewer:       Mr. Brendan Ikechukwu Nwaozor; Principal Information Officer;                  
                            Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, Owerri.
Book Review-ROCHAS REVOLUTION, Leadership By Example

The author, Rev. Fr. Dr. Nathaniel I. Ndiokwere is not new in contributing to the literary world, as he has to his credit some of the soundest quotable materials which are regularly used in academic parameters.

Beginning this project with a simple quote from the Book of Proverbs in the Bible highlights the author’s status as clergyman of sound intellectual standing and a good homilist, who knows his onions of the pulpit. The Quote: “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Prov. 28:18) clearly encapsulates the writer’s project in the Book “ROCHAS REVOLUTION, Leadership By Example”.

Introducing the man Rochas Okorocha, the author vividly takes his readers through the line, into the political status of a man who has gone so highly political, even to the height of coming second in the bid for the presidency on the platform of his former party. Condescending to the gubernatorial race for his state – a tiny federating unit of the ‘octopus’ called the Nigerian Nation shows the obvious altruism foe which Rochas has been known since he came to the limelight as a philanthropist who has been financing the education of over 6,000 students throughout the federation through his Rochas Foundation Colleges.

The author has made far-reaching efforts to present Rochas as the popular choice of the people for that slot and who, people, painstakingly queued behind to make the difference in governance. As somebody who had a humble beginning and who never knew affluence as a child, he is in touch with the reality of what the ‘have-nots’ pass through. Identifying education as his fulcrum of success flaunted his pedigree of free education to the children of Imo state and the electorate who responded by giving him votes and guiding these votes for them to count.

Dr. Ndiokwere tries to paint Rochas in glowing flames that he has refused to countenance any possibility of the man having skeletons in his closet. Hear him “I had no qualms about my claims. I simply answered like the man born blind in the Gospel of St John (9:25). “Whether he is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I know that though I was blind, now I see”.

Father Ndiokwere cleverly evaded a straight answer. But such is the passion with which the Reverend gentleman sees Rochas and his rescue mission. The author made very serious efforts to liken Rochas and his mission to Christ in his salvivic mission. What is Father Ndiokwere really positing as the main crux of the Rochas Revolution? The author is so endeared to the prefix “Revolution” as captured in the book’s title, when he peruses the mesmerizing circumstances that enthroned Rochas on to the “Douglas House” Owerri.

It was clear to the author that something entirely new in Nigeria was taking place in Imo state. It has been a complete deviation from “business as usual”. People could see with their eyes. Some Imolites have confessed that ‘their eyes had seen their ears’.  The revolution to turn things ‘upside-down’, to demolish and rebuild has started and was going on with amazing speed.

Moreso here is a Revolution that a politician jettisoned his Security Votes and Monthly Salaries computed into Billions of naira so that education in Imo state can be free; so that children of the poorest of the poor can have strong future obtainable through education; so that beautiful edifices can spring up and overtake thick bushes ubiquitous in our cities of Owerri, Orlu and Okigwe. This is un-African. Whereas African political leaders perpetuate themselves in office so as to grab and grab and grab to empty the coffers and vaults of their state, Rochas does the contrast. It is always “My people, My people, Oh! My people”

Father Ndiokwere referred to his earlier publications to buttress his grievances against the leadership of our country: inept leadership, unprecedented corruption, neglect of the electorate and general indolence on the part of our leaders to take cognizance of the biting plight of the masses.

Rochas Revolution appears to the author to hold the promise of good governance for the country. Fr. Ndiokwere however makes it clear that the Rochas Revolution has not yet triumphed, only that he has hopes that the revolution is on the path of success.

The author consistently indicted the previous administrations for sharing the economy of the nation among themselves – the elites and the ‘powers that be’. Fr. Ndiokwere bemoans the apparent infectious results of what corruption has caused the country in terms of good international reckoning – Nigerians are not good enough for the World Bank Presidency, not fit enough to be appointed referees in international competitions, and not even fit enough to coach the national teams. Such is the level of international skepticism about the integrity of Nigerian citizens no matter how overtly qualified for certain positions.

The author went to lengths to deliver his work in very fluid language that is comprehensible by all who can read. This 12-Chapter work can be rated as first class. The author is not implying any covert or overt support for Rochas Okorocha nor is he arrogating to himself the arbitration of administrations past and present, but as a clergyman he is, he is at war with inefficiency, corruption in high places and wanton balkanization of the integrity of Nigerian Nationals.

Father Ndiokwere had once thought of contesting the governorship seat in Imo state, citing his late priest-colleague Rev. Fr. Moses Adasu of Benue state as his mentor for such an ambition. Though his friends and colleagues dissuaded him, he still hoped that along the time, something might happen to vindicate his wishes. That, he has seen in Rochas and his Revolution.

I think the author can go in and sleep since God has sent his Angel in the likeness of Rochas.  Father Ndiokwere’s nursed ambition was the righting of wrongs as embarked upon by Owelle Rochas Okorocha. The author’s belief that Rochas is getting everything right has or appears to have made Fr. Ndiokwere abandon his own project.

The author tried to liken the change that took place in Imo state to the vision of and charisma of Pope John XXIII in convening the council of the Church in 1962 where the Church was afforded the opportunity of ‘aggiornamento ‘. Hear the Holy Father “We are not here on earth to guard a museum, but to tend a blooming garden full of life”.

Father Ndiokwere in this work appears and savors the outcome of the council’s work and sees in this “fresh air”, the new Imo state under Owelle Rochas Okorocha. The governor may have embarked on many projects at the same time, but the projects are populist and that is how leadership should be formatted.

The author’s open letters to Rochas after his election and subsequently recommended that only projects that impact positively on the lives of the people should be embarked upon. Father Ndiokwere is particularly happy that free education which he has always hoped for is now possible and simply believes that anybody coming after Governor Okorocha cannot and is not expected to lower standards or abolish this great relief to the poor masses of Imo state.

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Covid-19 robs 2020 Owerri Archdiocesan Day/Odenigbo lecture of usual festivities

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2020 Odenigbo with Archbishop Obinna

…Half a loaf better than no bread at all – Archbishop Obinna

By Emeka Ani

The usual pomp and pageantry that characterize the Owerri Archdiocesan Day/Odenigbo lecture did not feature this year due to Covid-19 pandemic, thus leading to a low-key celebration.

Not only that the usual lecture did not hold, the “Odenigbo Eve,” which usually involves a variety of cultural entertainment, including dances, drama, singing and wrestling contests did not feature at all; Covid-19 emebiela ihe!

But according to Most Rev. Anthony Obinna, Catholic Archbishop of Owerri and founder, Odenigbo lecture series, who filled the gap created by the absence of this year’s lecture, “kama ehi mmadu ga-agbafucha, o ka mma igbubiri ya odu”. (It is better to accept less than one wants or expects than to have nothing at all.)

The Owerri Archdiocesan Day is an annual celebration to commemorate the 1994 elevation of the Catholic Diocese of Owerri to an Archdiocese. The celebration began in 1996.
According to Archbishop Obinna, the “arch-ness bestowed on the diocese was an invitation challenge to root the gospel of salvation deep into our lives and culture, to purify, rectify and sanctify every part of our culture, to reject what is evil, harmful and inhuman therein.”

This year, the Archdiocesan Day, which was held on Saturday September 5, began with a thanksgiving Mass as usual at Maria Assumpta Cathedral Owerri. It was presided over by Most Rev. Anthony Obinna assisted by the Catholic Bishop of Aba, Most Rev. Augustine Echema and the Auxiliary Bishop of Owerri, Most Rev. Moses Chikwe, Episcopal Vicars and several priests.

The Cathedral, unlike in the past was half-filled following directives by the Archdiocese that only those invited would be admitted to ensure compliance with the Covid-19 protocols, especially physical distancing.

In his homily at the Mass, Bishop Echema described Owerri as a special Archdiocese that produced two bishops in one year; a reference to the appointment of Bishop Chikwe and himself in 2019.

Commending Archbishop Obinna for establishing Odenigbo lecture series, Bishop Echema highlighted the importance of native language, saying there is correlation between language and culture.

Bishop Echema emphasized the importance of native language in evangelization and advised ndigbo to take Igbo Language seriously, speak Igbo, write Igbo and dream in Igbo, because “when one dreams in a language, it shows that one understands not only the language but also the culture of the people.”

The thanksgiving Mass was followed by fund-raising for archdiocesan projects especially the building of a new Archdiocesan Secretariat, a minor seminary and a monastery, after which the faithful relocated to the Obiri-Odenigbo for refreshment and a talk in place of the 2020 Odenigbo lecture which was to be delivered by Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu, Papal Nuncio to Trinidad and Tobago. Because of the coronavirus and the total lockdown, the lecturer could not arrive Nigeria for the lecture, titled: Otu Chukwu: Otu Obara, Mbikozi Umu Mmadu. The lecture has now been differed to 2021.

However, in its place and to ensure this year’s Odenigbo is not totally a failure, Archbishop Obinna delivered what he called a “Talk” but eventually became a lecture. He titled it: ODENIGBO: ENYEMAKA PURUICHE N’IJI ASUSU IGBO EZISAZI – ANABATACHA OZIOMA KRISTI.

In the 57-page lecture, which he delivered with the same vigor and vitality as he did in 2000 when he delivered that year’s Odenigbo lecture – “UJUNWA: Anuri Uwa Niile,” Archbishop Obinna, explained that the need to intensify and expand the saving work of Christ among ndigbo and within the Igbo religio-cultural context through Igbo Language gave rise to Odenigbo.

He commended the white missionaries for bringing the Goodnews of salvation to Igboland and elsewhere even though they did not give much attention to the use of Igbo Language in evangelization, apart from the Catechism and other publications like Ndu Dinwenu Anyi.

Archbishop Obinna recalled with nostalgia, a historical event which took place on September 20, 1970 during the Episcopal ordination of Bishop Mark Unegbu at Mt. Carmel Catholic Church, Emekuku.

“That day was unforgettable in the use of Igbo Language and Igbo music and instrument to celebrate Mass. For the first time, since 1885 Gloria in Excelsis Deo (Otito Diri Chineke n’elu kacha elu) was sung in Igbo (instead of Latin) with Igbo instrument amid jubilation.

Describing Christ as Odenigbo, Odenuwa, Amarachi Obinna said, he (Christ) has freed ndigbo from ancient and modern fears, occasioned by traditions and customs that terrorize and hold ndigbo captive.

Concluding the lecture, he observed that the modern darkness we see today is based on stupidity and pride, when some people want to recreate themselves, do whatever they like, without fear of God or man because of greed, modernity, science and technology.

“We had thought that the end of Nigeria-Biafra war will bring peace to the country but unfortunately there is still fear and anxiety in Igboland and Nigeria, people are living in fear, the world is living in fear.”

For man to have peace of mind and live in peace, in a world full of fear, the lecturer said there was need for us to receive the light of Christ and gift of the spirit; take the word of God seriously and live a life of humility, devoid of pride based on academic qualifications, scientific and technological discoveries and material acquisitions.

“These will give way to a life of humility, love and mercy and the beauty of the world created by God will manifest in you and in the society.”

“It is only in the gospel message of Christ – who is Odenuwa and Odenigbo that one can proudly say; “The world is beautiful (Uwa Amaka), he said.

In a vote of thanks, the Auxiliary Bishop of Owerri, Most Rev. Moses Chikwe said the standing ovation that greeted the Archbishop’s special lecture was a proof that the talk was well delivered and well received, adding that the Archbishop is always at home with Igbo Language.

The takeaway of the lecture, according to Bishop Chikwe, was that Igbo Language is beautiful and its beauty was rooted in Christ, the Odenigbo, who is neither white nor black.
Though Mbem Odenigbo (Odenigbo Anthem) and Ekwe Odenigbo did not feature at the lecture, the cultural dance by the CWO of Our Lady Queen of Peace, Egbeada entertained the audience, thus giving the occasion a semblance of Odenigbo celebration.

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HRH Eze Peter Opara inaugurates cabinet

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HRH Eze Peter Opara  inaugurates cabinet

…As traditional leadership gets boost at Umunumo Ancient Kingdom

By Magnus Ibe

The Traditional leadership of Umunumo Autonomous Community, Ehime Mbano LGA of Imo State received a resounding boost on Sunday August 23, as the cabinet members were formally inaugurated by HRH, Eze Peter Chima Opara (Eze Udo II).

The assemblage of top brass personalities into the cabinet is indicative of robust prospects for the growth and development of the Ancient Autonomous Community.

Inaugurating the members of the Eze-in-Council, the Royal Father charged the inductees to shun personal interest and put the community in the front burner for a rapid transformation and development. He enjoined the cabinet members to be proactive, articulative and dogged about the welfare of the community, employment and empowerment of the youths so that a new chapter is enacted.

According to him, many are called, but few are chosen. He charged them to move the community to the next level by articulating right attitude and formulate policies that will accelerate the development of the community. He cautioned against indolence and insubordination that can retard the unity and development of the community.

HRH Eze & Ugoeze Peter Chima Opara with Monsignor Jerry Ofoegbu and other priests

HRH Eze & Ugoeze Peter Chima Opara with Monsignor Jerry Ofoegbu and other priests

In his remarks, the President-General of the Town, Chief Godwin Uwah working in synergy with the royal father advised that the various Town Unions leadership should synergize and work in one page with the cabinet members. Chief Godwin Uwah observed that membership of cabinet is subject to review every four years.

Among the cabinet members comprise Chief Godwin Uwah PG, Sir MCN Asawalam (KSM), Chief Chidi Ogueri, Chief Sir Emmanuel Ibe, Chief Aloka Alexander, Nze H.D. Eze, Mr. Emeto K. Michael, Nze Godwin Amaku, Mr. Columba Ohazurike, Chief Mel Daimeon Osuji (Omereoha), Hon Ononamadu Emeka Joseph, Chief Peter Crown Duru, Chief Romanus Ogueri, Comrade Godwin Ihekwoaba, Nze Romanus Chukwu, Nze Vincent Ukah, Chief E. Evaristus Okafor, Chief S. Okele, Nze Clement Iwueze, Hon Felix Iwuji, Chief S. Obikaonu, Hon Kelechi Iwueze, Mr. Joseph Obi Onyema (Deputy PG), ACP H. Agbiogwu, Chief M.C. Okoro, Nze Nneji Boniface, Nze Charles Nwokoro, Nze Edmund Nwokeke, Chief Joseph Anosike, Chief M. Dingwo, Chief Columbia Isikuma, Chief Oliver Agbaso, Ichie Bernard Nwohiri, Nze Titus Iwunze, Chief Romanus Ijejiobi and all village chairmen constitute members of the enlarged cabinet. HRH Eze P. Alozie, Abunumo I graced the event.

In a vote of thanks, Chief Mel-Daimeon Osuji, promised on behalf of the members of the Eze’s cabinet to live above board like Caesar’s wife. He observed that he was humbled to speak on behalf of the top brass personalities who constitute the Eze-in-Council and also made a personal donation of one million naira.

Centre: HRH Eze & Ugoeze Peter Chima Opara (Ezeudo II) with the cabinet  members, Monsignor Jerry Ofoegbu & Eze & Ugoeze P.O. Alozie (Ebunumo I)

Centre: HRH Eze & Ugoeze Peter Chima Opara (Ezeudo II) with the cabinet
members, Monsignor Jerry Ofoegbu & Eze & Ugoeze P.O. Alozie (Ebunumo I)

In his contribution, Hon. Emeka Joseph Ononammadu, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Enugu State, who is also a member of the cabinet made a mouthwatering financial support and others including Sir. M.C.N. Asawalam donated handsomely.

Inducting the new cabinet members, Msgr. Jerry Ofoegbu prayed for God’s guidance and wisdom for the Royal Father and the cabinet members.

He eulogized the royal father for putting God first in his nascent leadership. He admonished the PG and the members of the Eze-in-Council to ensure peace and unity in their various domain. He spoke against injustice, insubordination and manipulative divisive tendencies that will sow seed of discord in the community. He prayed God to bless the royal father with the Wisdom of Solomon.

Msgr. Ofoegbu prayed for longitivity, peace and development of Umunumo Ama-Iri community. He cautioned against sectionalism and maltreatment of widows, orphans and the less privileged in the society.

Traditional cuisine of palm wine, Ugba with stockfish and other local delicacies were served to all and sundry. Eze & Ugoeze Ekwunno, Eze Umuezeala Oguara graced the event amid pomp and pageantry.

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St. Michael’s Choir Umuaro wins singing competition

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St. Michael's Choir Umuaro wins singing competition
By Magnus Ibe

Monsignor Jerry Ofoegbu presided over the activities heralding the Silver Jubilee anniversary celebration of Rev. Sr. Mary Ifechukwudere Emeribe which kicked-off at St. Charles Parish Umunumo, Ehime Mbano LGA Saturday August 29, with worship and praises to the glory of God with a singing competition among four parishes.

Msgr. Ofoegbu, the Dean of Ehime Deanery expressed profound gratitude to God for His mercies and goodness culminating in the silver jubilee anniversary celebration of Rev. Sr. Emeribe of Daughters of Mary Mother of Mercy congregation (DMMM) who is billed to mark the 25th year anniversary celebration of her profession in December.

The event was graced by Rev. Frs. Paschal Nwaobasi, Boniface Edomobi, Nnamdi Anyanwu, Andrew Agbiogwu who extolled the Silver Jubilarian for keeping faith and for being involved in the spread of evangelism. He appreciated her niece for commencing her celebration with the singing competition among the parishes in her home Umunumo community.

The competing parish choirs included: St. Charles Parish Choir Umunumo led by David Ohaeri, St. Ignatius Parish Choir Ibeafor Umunumo led by Okorie Damian, St. Michael’s Parish Choir Umuaro-Umunumo headed by Jim Nnorom and St. Theresa’s Parish Choir Umuoma Nzerem led by Fidelis Osuji.

In her remarks prior to the commencement of the competition, Rev. Sr. Emeribe observed that the event marks the beginning of the celebration heralding her profession and consecration in the Lord’s vineyard. According to her, she was motivated by St. Augustine who said that “whoever sings well, prays twice.”

According to her, she started the induction of the four competing parish choirs on March 23, 2020. She posited that she was motivated to help upgrade the choir because most times, “external” choirs were hired to animate Eucharist worship at burials and weddings due to the poor and inferior choir at the locality.

She disclosed that she included St. Theresa’s choir Umuoma Nkerem because she served there for over ten years. She observed that even participating choirs will have a token of appreciation and a certificate of participation. She said the star prize of one hundred thousand naira (N100,000) goes to the eventual winner of the competition in addition to the customized trophy.

According to her, her intentions to help groom a central choir from the whole Umunumo Ama-Iri community and she hopes that the competition will become an annual event.

The team of judges from Abia State led by Nath Nwoko (Rochobath) included, Amarachi Udochika and Obinna Osisiogu.

At the end of the competition, the choir from St. Michael’s Parish Umuaro won the first prize and were given the their prize money after each choir rendered five Christian renditions each.

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