By Chidi Nkwopara, OWERRI
Directors of Communication from all the Catholic Archdioceses, Dioceses and Religious Congregations in Nigeria, converged on Ahiara Diocese and brainstormed from October 9-12, 2018.
It was their second plenary session for the year. The event took off with a Pontifical Mass held at St. Brigid’s Parish, Nnarambia, Ahiara, Mbaise.
Delivering the homily at the Mass, Apostolic Administrator of Ahiara Catholic Diocese, Most Rev. Lucius Ugorji, expressed worry that despite repeated promises of government, Nigerians remain deeply wounded and degraded by unemployment and poverty.
“Indeed, many of our people are deeply wounded and degraded by unemployment and poverty, a poverty that generates other social problems. This includes but not limited to violent and cyber crimes, ethnic and religious strife, terrorism and kidnapping, baby factories and human trafficking that trap many girls in sex slavery”, the Apostolic Administrator said.
While reminding the nation’s leaders that poverty leads to low esteem, frustration and despondency, which seek relief in drugs, Bishop Ugorji also fumed that many of the Nigerian elite “see their involvement in politics as an opportunity for manipulating oil wealth and obscenely amassing ill-gotten gains at the expense of the masses.”
Quoting the 2010 World Bank Report, Ugorji said 80 percent of the revenue accruing from the nation’s oil wealth, benefit only one percent of the population as a result of corruption.
He reminded the Communication Directors that in the digitalized world of this day and age, “the protagonists and sponsors of modern secularist ideologies, use the powerful opinion-shaping instruments of the mass media, to spread pervasive culture.”
Welcoming the participants later, President, Association of Diocesan/Religious Directors of Communication of the Catholic Church in Nigeria, Rev. Fr. Pius Ukor, reiterated the position of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, that “government is slow in responding to the violent occurrences and often allow many perpetrators of these heinous crimes to go unpunished.”
Speaking also, Ahiara Diocesan Director of Communication, Rev. Fr. Innocent Uwah, said “normalcy has fully returned to the church’s life, within her enclaves to the glory of God.”
The Sokoto Diocesan Director of Communication, Rev. Fr. Chris Omotosho, described the event as “a sort of home coming” for him.
“My mother is from Mbaise. This trip is a sort of home coming for me. I am Yoruba by birth but now working in Sokoto Diocese. I thank my Bishop, Most Rev. Matthew Kuka, for giving me the opportunity to be part of this national body. Nigeria and Nigerians will be better for this outing,” Omotosho said.
In a resolution they released after, Directors said they, as professional journalists and are leading reporters, they have a duty to project the truth, based on facts, without distorting the reality.
They pledged to ever remain tools in the hands of God, in the task of disseminating the right information within the enclaves of the Church, the frontiers of the nation and to the ends of the world.
“We attest that normalcy has returned to the Church’s life in Ahiara Diocese after those sad years of the bishopric crisis and that Ahiara is springing up again, to the joy of Christ’s faithful.
“As the country prepares for general elections in 2019, we, as communicators of the Church, reiterate the stand of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, CBCN, that as we look forward to the elections of 2019, we refuse to give up on our hope for a great, prosperous and peaceful nation. For our dreams to be achieved, we must embrace a new way of governing ourselves.
“As communicators, therefore, we must remain objective, nonpartisan, and uphold the truth in our reportage, also educating the people in the exercise of their civic right throughout the election period.
“We are still insistent on resisting the symptomatic condition and temptation of twisting the truth by being faithful to the pursuit of goodness.
“We remain committed to defending the truth while avoiding economic and manipulative reportage, which feeds on misinformation and is rooted in the thirst for power, vain pleasure and vain glory and destroys our interior freedom.”
The communiqué was signed by the President and Secretary of the Association, Rev. Fr. Anthony Ijesan and Rev. Fr. Benjamin Achi, respectively.