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Don condemns N335m budget for bishop’s consecration

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By Sam Eyoboka
A FEW days after the installation of a Catholic bishop for the university town of Nsukka in Enugu State, a senior lecturer with the University of Nigeria in the town, Dr. Tony Nwaezeigwe has expressed displeasure over the huge budget expended on the pro-ject, accusing the church lead-ership of insensitivity.

Dr. Nwaezeigwe, a Senior Research Fellow at UNN’s Institute of African Studies, wondered why the Catholic Church which often frowns at the high level corruption in the current government should budget a whooping N335 million for the installation of a new bishop for Nsukka Diocese.

*Bishop Godfrey Igwebuike Onah of Nsukka Diocese being crowned by His Eminence, John Cardinal Olorunfemi Onaiyekan. PHOTO: HILL EZEUGWU
*Bishop Godfrey Igwebuike Onah of Nsukka Diocese being crowned by His Eminence, John Cardinal Olorunfemi Onaiyekan. PHOTO: HILL EZEUGWU

In a statement made available to Vanguard, the lecturer wondered if the Church leadership is on the same page with “its teaming masses? Otherwise, why should the church budget a whooping N335 million to install a new bishop of Nsukka Diocese, as recently announced by Chief Nnia Nwodo?

More embarrassing: “What is even more embarrassing is that Chief Nwodo stated that the said amount was meant to feed 50 bishops and about 1,000 priests at the occasion. This is without re-gard that the about 10-kilometer road linking Nsuk-ka, the seat of Diocese and Lejja, the hometown of the retiring bishop, Dr. Francis Okobo, which also hosts a Federal Girls Government College has defied all prayers, both political and spiritual to let it have a taste of modern macadamized thoroughfare since the coming of colonial masters,” he stated.

According to Dr. Nwae-zeigwe, the church could have used a considerable chunk of the amount to fix the Nsukka-Lejja road as a bequeathing legacy for His Lordship, Bishop Francis Okobo.

“This is not a question of government responsibility, because if town development unions and non-governmental agencies could partner with the government in providing social amenities for the people, then nothing stops the church from doing same.

“The installation of the new bishop for the Nsukka Catholic Diocese should have therefore been an occasion for the total reorientation of the church leadership in line with the circumstantial needs of the people, both in political and socio-economic terms.

“By doing this, the church not only becomes more focused as both a receiver and giver, but becomes better placed to properly understand the turn-ins and turn-outs of gover-nance,” he maintained.

Continuing, the don said it is obvious that nobody questions what a church earns or hands out to its clergy, but it is on record that Archbishop Emeri-tus, Anthony Cardinal Okogie had come out to reveal what was his remuneration as a Catholic cleric.

“It is here suggested that with the huge amount tax-free money that enters the church coffers, coupled with its team-ing army of unmarried clerics, the Catholic Church should, as in the tradition of the past partner with government in providing social amenities to the masses,” he pleaded.

Dr. Nwaezeigwe also frown-ed at the Catholic leadership’s undue focus on the so-called corruption in Jonathan’s adm-inistration than the raging insecurity which is more or less fundamentally targeted at Christianity in this nation. Even as a church, how far has it initiated anti-corruption campaign among its teaming faithful, he asked.

Global Jihad project

For the CBCN, he had a poser: “Under the present circumstance where the Fed-eral Government is battling the enemies of Christianity, which should have been better: the CAN joining the JNI to war against President Jonathan, or doing what the current CAN leadership is doing at present? This question calls for moral answers given the obvious pro-Sokoto Caliphate stance adop-ted by the Catholic Church leadership in recent times.

“CBCN should be reminded that the unending killings of Christians in the North are the result of Islam’s global jihad project and not about the so-called corruption under Jona-than’s administration,” he cautioned.

He argued that the church stood akimbo while Nigeria was drafted into Organisation of Islamic Conference, OIC, and D-Eight with nothing more than verbal resignation to fate.

“What is apparent today is that, while the Catholic Church claims to have returned to CAN, its spirit remains far removed from the ideological confines of the body. There is no gainsaying the fact that this seemingly negative ideological disposition of CBCN is a direct contrast to the ideals and practices set out by the charismatic Cardinal Okogie in defence of the over-all interest of Christians in Nigeria, both as CBCN and CAN president.

“It is on record that Okogie did not in any manner attempt to compromise the collective interest of Christians. His resolute stand against Niger-ia’s admission to the exclusive Muslim OIC forced Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, to put Nigeria’s presence in the organization in abeyance.

Symbol of resistance

“Under Okogie Christendom was one undivided body very conscious of its enemies. The then Rev. Father Matthew Hassan Kukah, now bishop, not only towered higher than most of his contemporaries but was a toast of every Nigerian Christian, home and abroad, as the symbol of resistance against the oppressed Middle Belt minorities.

“But under John Cardinal Onaiyekan’s CAN, President Umaru Yar’Adua, in 2008, re-opened Nigeria’s membership of OIC, and for the first time Nigeria was represented by his president. What is more re-markable about Onaiyekan’s emergence is that, the once celebrated voice of the opp-ressed Middle Belt Christians, Father Kukah was conscripted as a cover-defender of the Sokoto Caliphate under the guise of being enthroned as a Catholic Bishop of a non-eccl-esiastically viable Sokoto Diocese, but which by sym-bolism is better described as the Catholic ambassador to the Caliphate,” he stated.

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