Pope Resuscitates South Sudan Visit

Pope Resuscitates South Sudan Visit

Pope Francis has declared his ambition to visit South Sudan two years after a planned 2017 trip was cancelled because of the civil war in the world’s youngest country.

Concise News gathered the Pope during a meeting with South Sudanese President SalvaKiir on Saturday, expressed his desire to visit the country.

“expressed the wish to ascertain the conditions for a possible visit to South Sudan,” a Vatican statement said.

It added that he wanted to make the trip as “a sign of closeness to the population and of encouragement for the peace process”.

Oil-producing South Sudan, which became independent in 2011, descended into civil war in December 2013 when a dispute between Kiir and his sacked deputy RiekMachar sparked fighting, often along ethnic lines.

About 400,000 people have been killed, and more than a third of the country’s 12 million people uprooted by the civil war – a conflict punctuated by multiple rounds of mediation followed by renewed bloodshed.

In September, Kiir, who is Catholic, and Machar, a Presbyterian, signed a peace deal calling on the two main rival factions to assemble, screen and train their respective forces and unify them into a national army before the formation of a unity government in May.

Three days ago, the Brussels-based International Crisis Group said in a report that the six-month-old peace deal risked collapse because none of these steps has occurred, just two months before the deadline.

More than half of the population of South Sudan is Christian, while Sudan is predominantly Muslim.

In 2017, Catholic Church leaders in the country said they had expected the pope would visit the capital, Juba, in the autumn of that year. The tentative plans were scrapped because of security concerns.

The original trip was to have lasted only one day for security reasons and the pope was to have flown in after spending a night in another African country.

Communiqué: GOVERNANCE IN NIGERIA AND THE COMMON GOOD

Communiqué: GOVERNANCE IN NIGERIA AND THE COMMON GOOD

A Communiqué issued at the end of the First Plenary Meeting of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) at the Resource Centre, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN), Durumi, Abuja, 10 – 16 March 2019

PREAMBLE

We, the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria, held our First Plenary Meeting for the year at the Resource Centre, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN), Durumi, Abuja, 10 – 16 March 2019. Having prayerfully reflected on issues affecting the Church and our Country, we now issue this Communiqué.

2.         LENT, A SEASON OF NEW BEGINNINGS

The Holy Season of Lent affords us an added opportunity to pray, to fast and to enhance Christian charity. As we sincerely seek the face of God, let us be steadfast in cultivating those virtues of decency and moral uprightness that will enhance the peace, the unity and the well-being of the whole nation. With the Holy Father, Pope Francis, we pray that the Holy Season of Lent teach us again how to live as children of God, redeemed, led by the Holy Spirit and capable of acknowledging and obeying God’s law written in our hearts.

3.         GOVERNANCE AND THE COMMON GOOD

The Church in her Social Teaching describes the Common Good as the “sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily”. The pursuit of this good must be based on the respect for the sanctity and dignity of human life and the equality of all people. The Common Good presupposes respect for the human person and requires the social well-being and development of the group itself. Governance worth its name is only possible where there is true justice, equality and peace. It demands virtues, such as, patience, modesty, moderation, charity and efforts to share. In governing, leaders have to focus on the Common Good and ensure that the people and their aspirations, both individual and collective, assume paramount importance. As a matter of justice not charity, political governance has to pay particular attention to the provision of basic amenities, making sound policies and showing concern for the underprivileged of the society who are often deprived of the opportunity to participate in their own development. We therefore enjoin government at all levels in Nigeria to put necessary structures of governance in place and enact appropriate laws that will produce such an environment. We equally insist that the democratic culture of the separation of powers and the independence of the Judiciary be respected.

4.         THE CHURCH AS VANGUARD OF GOOD GOVERNANCE

For centuries, the Church has been an advocate of good governance for the Common Good. To this end, we call on all dioceses to promote the Social Teaching of the Church, to simplify and to translate it into concrete actions and to use it for an effective socio-political formation of all the people. Special attention must be paid to young people and families so that the values espoused in Catholic Social Teaching would be inculcated early into children and young people.

However, because moral authority is crucial for good governance and transparent accountability, we as a Church commit ourselves to exercise authority based on sound Christian moral principles, truly inspired by the example of Christ and guided by His compassion.

5.         STATE OF THE NATION

The 2019 General Elections and Our Democracy

The 2019 General Elections have come and gone except in some areas where the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has scheduled supplementary elections for specified reasons. We commend our people for the patriotism and the maturity displayed, and the electorate who in some places came out en masse especially during the Presidential and National Assembly Elections to exercise their rights and perform their civic duties. We equally note the voter apathy that characterized the subsequent Governorship and State Houses of Assembly Elections. We believe that this apathy may not have been unconnected with among other things, the violence, malpractice and the unnecessary militarization of the process, all of which contributed to eroding the people’s confidence in the electoral process. We have taken note of those who have been declared winners, and commend the civility of those who rejected the results but have chosen to express their grievances through legitimate means under the law rather than through violence. Whatever the outcome, justice must be seen to have been done. We admonish whoever holds power at the end of the day to remember that power belongs to God and to Him alone. God demands strict accountability for how anyone takes power and uses it, for God cannot be deceived or challenged (Lk 16:2).

Towards a New Political Culture

We affirm that elections are an opportunity for people through the ballot to freely choose those who will serve them. We denounce the unfortunate incident of loss of lives and destruction of property, which is ongoing even now. We however, admonish that elections should not be turned into a battle between warriors fighting to capture power and conquer territory and people at all cost. We observe that many of the challenges that emerged during the electoral process were as a result of inadequate electoral laws, which made implementation problematic and at times offered lacunae for evil minded people to exploit the situation to their own advantage. Even where the rules were clear, they were not always adhered to. One of the reported phenomena during the elections was the crude and reckless use of money to buy votes; showing how desperate politicians and political parties are determined to get political power at all cost. Bad elections do not lead to good governance. We demand that the government acknowledge the inadequacies that characterized the 2019 elections and embark on a course for redress. We urge her to enact, endorse and implement laws and policies that will ensure free, fair and credible elections in the future. 

Promoting Good Governance: a Duty for All

We enjoin all Nigerians, leaders and the led, to abide by democratic principles such as respect for human life, human rights and the rule of law. We also encourage the electorate to ensure that those who hold public offices in our country are held accountable. We equally urge all Nigerians to eschew all forms of indiscipline and corruption and be resolute rather than lose hope in our struggle for a better future and nation.

RECENT KILLINGS IN KADUNA AND OTHER STATES

We have received with deep sorrow, the tragic news of the resurgence of further horrific killings in some parts of Kaduna State, Taraba, Benue, Kogi, Edo, Rivers, Zamfara, Adamawa and other states. Against the backdrop of the violence and bloodshed that characterized the last elections, we are pained that the culture of death is becoming embedded into our daily lives. This persistent devaluation of human life and property poses an existential threat to our personal survival and that of our nation. How can government continue to appear helpless in the face of such shameful tragedy? We strongly appeal to the President, in collaboration with the Governors of Kaduna State and other affected States to seriously take steps to arrest this drift before total anarchy and mayhem consume the entire nation. 

EVENTS IN THE CHURCH

Events in the Local Church

We are grateful to God and to the Holy Father, Pope Francis, for appointing Most Rev. Ignatius AyauKaigama, formerly, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Jos as the Coadjutor Archbishop of Abuja. Archbishop Kaigama remains the Apostolic Administrator of Jos. We congratulate His Eminence, John Cardinal Onaiyekan for this new development. We felicitate with Most Rev. Albert AyindeFasina on his happy retirement as Bishop of Ijebu-Ode Diocese. We wish Bishop Fasina a rewarding retirement. We thank God and the Holy Father for the appointment of Rt. Rev. Msgr. Francis Adesina to the Episcopal See of Ijebu-Ode. His Episcopal Ordination comes up on the 25 April 2019. The Catholic Bishops of Nigeria continue to thank God and the Holy Father for the appointment of Rt. Rev. Msgr. Patrick Eluke as the Auxiliary Bishop of Port Harcourt Diocese. We rejoice with His Lordship, Most. Rev. Camillus Etokudoh and the entire Christ’s faithful of Port Harcourt Diocese. The Episcopal ordination of Msgr. Eluke comes up on the 9 May 2019. We recall the happy occasion of the Centenary Celebration of the arrival of the Catholic faith in Kano. We equally thank God for the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Canonical Erection of the Dioceses of Ilorin and Ijebu-Ode. We pray for the continued growth of the faith in these dioceses.

Events in the Universal Church

We note that the World Youth Day was celebrated in Panama in January 2019 with many Nigerian youths, bishops and priests participating. We pray that the entire Church in Nigeria continue to lead and encourage the youths to imitate our Mother, Mary, in seeking, discerning and doing the will of God. On another note, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, organized a summit of all the Presidents of Conferences of Bishops on the theme: “Protection of Minors against Sexual Abuse”. As part of our duty of governance as Shepherds of the flock of Christ, we commit ourselves anew to ensuring that minors and vulnerable adults are safe from sexual abuse and offenders are duly prosecuted and given appropriate sanction.

We are happy to announce the 3rd Plenary Assembly of the Regional Episcopal Conferences of West Africa (RECOWA-CERAO), with the theme: “The New Evangelization and the Promotion of Integral Human Development in the Church, Family of God in West Africa”. The Assembly takes place in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, 13 – 20 May 2019. We equally rejoice with The Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), which concludes the yearlong celebration of its Golden Jubilee between 21 and 29 July 2019 in Kampala, Uganda. The theme of the celebration is “Church-Family of God in Africa, Celebrate your Jubilee! Proclaim Jesus Christ your Saviour”.  May the Jubilee enhance the proclamation of the good news all over the African continent and bring the joy of salvation to the entire people of God.

8.         CONCLUSION: BE PRAYERFUL, BE HOPEFUL, REMAIN FOCUSED

We thank God for keeping us together as a nation. As a people we must be prayerful, hopeful and focused as we journey through another four years in our political history. St. Paul admonishes us: “the night is far gone and the day is close at hand, let us cast the works of darkness and put on the armour of light” (Rom 13:12-13). Strengthened by this biblical injunction, let us rededicate ourselves to the power of God’s word in prayer.  Our intensive prayer inflames our hearts in faith and keeps our hope alive. We must continue to pray to God to help us rediscover our common humanity, cultivate respect for one another, enthrone transparency and accountability in the use of our common patrimony and imbibe apostolic charity towards the poor and the vulnerable in the Church and society. 

May the Almighty and Merciful God through the intercession of our Mother, Mary, Queen and Patroness of Nigeria lead us along the way of truth, love and peace, Amen.

Most Rev. Augustine Obiora AKUBEZE 

President, CBCN

Archbishop of Benin City

Most Rev.Camillus Raymond UMOH                               

Secretary, CBCN                    Bishop of Ikot-Ekpene

Fr. Augustine Nnemeka reaffirms Church position on IVF …Says impotence enough ground to dissolve marriage

Fr. Augustine Nnemeka reaffirms Church position on IVF …Says impotence enough ground to dissolve marriage

The parish priest of St. Cyprian Catholic Church, Oko-Oba, Agege, Rev. Fr. Augustine Nnemeka, has said it is wrong for members of the Catholic Church to go for In Vitro Fertilisation in order to have children.

The cleric spoke on Saturday during a seminar on marriage and family life, organised by the Catholic Men Organisation(CMO) also noted that impotence was enough ground to dissolve a marriage.

The seminar, themed, ‘Understanding Catholic Marriage and Upholding the Family,’ was held on the church’s premises.

Responding to questions at the seminar, Fr. Nnemeka, said that impotence and impediments could make the church annul a marriage.Noting that an impotent man was not qualified for marriage, he urged all intending couples to carry out adequate medical tests before consummating their unions.

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On IVF, he said, “The church does not support it. It has to be natural. When we defined marriage, we said it is for the good of the spouses and procreation. And I simplified it by calling it love-sharing and life-giving. The outcome of love-sharing is life-giving.

“There are some that have done it (IVF) and paid millions without results, because it is not even automatic. The church, however, does not permit all these genetic engineering. I believe saying this will help members who did not know it is wrong to change their mind in case they are thinking of it.”

He appealed to parents not to mount pressure on their children, thereby forcing them into marriages they are unprepared for.

The cleric told our correspondent that there was the need for constant enlightenment of couples to build stable homes and a strong society.

The Chairman of CMO in the parish, ChidiEkenedo, who also spoke at the seminar said many marriages are collapsing due to impatience.

“We know that marriages are facing a lot of challenges in Nigeria and a lot of factors are responsible, which could be economic, social, financial, spiritual or material. Some marriages are facing pressures and tensions and breaking down.

‘We,therefore, decided to put this seminar together to encourage couples and intending couples to be patient and adhere to the teachings of the church on marriage. We want them to know the importance of commitment and effective verbal communication in marriage,” he added.

FCMB Introduces SheVentures for women-owned SMEs

FCMB Introduces SheVentures for women-owned SMEs

First City Monument Bank (FCMB) has introduced another value-added initiative called SheVentures for women-owned Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs). The initiative will provide enhanced support to existing and upcoming women-owned SMEs through access to finance, training and mentoring to boost their business in a sustainable manner. This initiative is the FCMB Women in Business Unit, and was launched at an impressive ceremony on March 7, 2019 in Lagos as part of the Bank’s activities to celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day under the theme Balancing for Better. At the ceremony, some women SME operators received loans ranging from N500,000.00 to N5,000,000.00.

In a statement, FCMB explained that SheVentures is anchored on a unique selling proposition of ‘’Be You’’, which connotes confidence, independence and the courage required by women to fulfil their aspirations. ​It is designed to engage, inspire and equip potential and existing women entrepreneurs to take bold steps that would launch their business to greater heights. 

SheVentures comes with several cutting-edge features and benefits for women-owned SMEs. One of such is the zero-interest rate for an initial period of three months. In addition, FCMB will organise free training and mentoring programmes for 80 women entrepreneurs every quarter, out of which 40 of them will access this loan. This means that by the end of the year, the Financial institution would have mentored 320 women and 160 of them would receive the Bank’s support.

At the launch ceremony, the Managing Director of FCMB, Mr. Adam Nuru, said the Bank strongly believes in the power of entrepreneurship. He added that the contribution of women to economic development cannot be understated, noting that over 30% of businesses owned globally are either female owned or managed as women establishbusinesses at a much faster rate than men, thereby making significant contributions to job creation and economic growth

According to him, ‘’the platform we have created through SheVentures proposition is both a community and a channel to bring the best of opportunities, growth and fulfilment to women entrepreneurs. This would inspire and enable them to go the extra mile to contribute significantly to national development. While our primary objective is to encourage many women to venture into business, we are doing this in an exciting and highly rewarding manner for our customers in line with our new core values of Execution, Professionalism, Innovation and Customer-focus’’.

The Managing Director emphasized, ‘’as an SME focused financial institution, we are always committed to leveraging our position in the industry to accelerate the achievement of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) especially that which aims to improve gender equality and promote women empowerment.

Also speaking, the Executive Director, Business Development of FCMB, Mrs. Bukola Smith, said the Bank recognises and appreciates the noble effort of women entrepreneurs in the areas of job and wealth creation, poverty reduction, empowerment and the overall development of Nigeria.

She explained that, ‘’SheVentures proposition is as much a statement of substance as it is one of intent. We are passionate about supporting women in business. The offerings of the proposition especially the zero-interest rate, training, mentoring, networking and insurance cover, are tailored to offer sustainable benefits and increase productivity and the contributions of women-owned SMEs. A total of forty women have qualified and will be accessing the zero interest loan. We will disburse A total of N83 million to these women ranging from N500,000 to N5million. We have no doubt this will further help to unravel and unleash the true potential of women in entrepreneurship’’.

Mrs. Smith added, ‘’we have also put in place, structures and processes to ensure transparent selection of the beneficiaries. We will hopefully increase the number on a yearly basis and will keep enriching the other value-added services to cater for challenges women face in their businesses”.

Beneficiaries of the FCMB zero interest loan under the SheVentures proposition, commended the Bank for providing a valuable and impactful platform that creates opportunities for the realisation of business aspirations. 

In her comment, the Chief Executive of Richman Fishers & Company Limited, Mrs. Adetayo John-Fishers whose firm received a facility of N3million, stated, ‘’FCMB is indeed a partner in progress. I did not expect it. The loan given to me would go a long way to enable my business expand and grow in terms of income as well as capacity to employ more staff. With this loan, I will achieve my planned production increase and subsequently ramp up supply to my customers’’.

In the same vein, the Managing Director of Bimmy Bridal & Events Limited, Mrs. Adebimpe Atoyebi-Adejumi said, ‘’I am very excited to benefit from this support by FCMB. The N2million facility would definitely improve my business. Thank you FCMB for providing the SheVentures package’’.

Reports show that women make up 49.2% of Nigeria’s adult population. However, only 42.6% of them have access to formal financial services. Moreover, 42.7% of Nigerian women are business owners out of which only 2% have access to capital and loans to grow their businesses. It is also reported that an estimated 7 million businesses will be set-up by Nigerian women in the year 2021 with the potential to create 8.9 million jobs and unlocking N19.7 billion in terms of revenue for the country. With a clear understanding of its market and environment, FCMB is well positioned to continue to create value by delivering exceptional services, while enhancing the growth and achievement of the personal and business aspirations of its customers.

Imo governorship election

Imo governorship election

By way of paired comparison, Imo and Ogun states shared a lot of similarities in the just concluded governorship elections. But they also have their dissimilarities. They stand out as the two states incumbent governors fell out with the national leadership of their party in the choice of the governorship candidates.

During the primaries of the All Progressives Congress APC, both governors, Rochas Okorocha and Ibikunle Amosun had their preferred candidates for the governorship position. The national leadership of the party preferred otherwise and went ahead to offer its ticket to candidates of the party’s choice to the dissatisfaction of the governors. But they still left both governors with the senatorial tickets of the party.

Not satisfied with the development, the governors opted to still push their preferred candidates through the platforms of some other relatively unknown political parties basking on the political structures they had established in their respective states. So it was that while Okorocha opted for Action Alliance, AA with his son-in-law Uche Nwosu as the candidate, Amosun went for the Allied Peoples Movement where his preferred candidate Adekunle Akinlade flew the flag of the party.

The governors pursued their senatorial ambitions through the platform of the APC while at the same time working against the candidates of their party at the governorship level. But whereas Amosun emerged successful in the senatorial election, Okorocha’s election was enmeshed in serious controversy. The returning officer had while declaring the result in favour of Okorocha, said he was doing so under duress and to save his life.

Apparently acting along this line, INEC said it would not offer Certificates of Return to any candidate where results were announced under duress. It made good this decision by excluding Okorocha from the list of successful senatorial candidates to receive that certificate. But Amosun’s was devoid of controversy. It is not certain the final position INEC will take in relation to Okorocha’s case. But one thing that appears certain is that there are still thorns strewn on his way to the National Assembly.

The governorship elections have come and gone. While Amosun’s candidate lost to the candidate of the APC, both the APC candidate and that of Okorocha lost to the Peoples Democratic Party PDP in Imo State. For keen watchers of political events in the state, the turn of events should not be surprising.

Okorocha came into the saddle after he defeated the incumbent regime of Ikedi Ohakim who had fallen out of favour with people of the state. He had a very popular mandate such that expectations were high that he would take the state to higher heights. This feeling was fuelled by some of the philanthropic ventures he was involved in before he became the governor. The expectation was that if he could touch many lives in his private capacity, he would definitely do more when he has the resources of the state at his disposal.

But this expectation was to turn out a pipe dream. He soon began to incrementally squander the goodwill that brought him to power through very unpopular policies and scant regard to due process.  He was even quoted to have queried the efficacy of due process in the business of governance. He displayed an uncommon disdain for elite involvement in governance accusing leaders who came around him of a hidden desire to share government money.

Okorocha became so loud, boasting that he was going to retire all known political leaders in the state except himself and made good this promise by relegating the elite and people of substance to the back seat, always preferring to surround himself with yes-men for whom the lure of the stomach was the prime motivation. He began to create a new class of leadership with questionable credentials, always preferring those who will do his bidding without questioning.

With such a mindset, Imo State was brought down to its knees. His new class of leaders basking on the euphoria of their newly unmerited status displayed an uncanny disdain for those who cared to question the slide to the precipice into which the state was inevitably headed. Every sector of governance: the education system, the civil service, social infrastructure and the health care delivery system were so assaulted and desecrated that it will take years to bring them back to form. Even in the area of some of the projects he attributes to his credit, poor quality work and an abysmally poor standard of performance combine to erase whatever credit he might wish to ascribe to his regime.

His regime became a catalogue of woes as workers were owed salaries; pensions and gratuities running to several months stood in arrears. But he found comfort in praise singing and cronyism. His became a regime of what has now been aptly described as government of Okorocha for himself and members of his immediate family. He was so blinded by the trappings and arrogance of power that his became a verity of Lord Acton’s maxim that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Apparently because of the enormous resources at his disposal and his connection with the federal government, he thought he could bulldoze his way to become a maximum ruler in the state whose words must be obeyed at all costs. It was very common to hear him rehearsing how he single-handedly built the APC in the southeast, the insults he received in the process and how that should qualify him for special attention.

All this was designed to run down his people by creating the false impression that he is the only one that can be trusted and entrusted with higher offices by the powers that be. So it was that he could not find any other person suitable to hand over power except his son-in-law despite extant understanding that power should rotate among the three senatorial zones of the state. Curiously, Okorocha who has been positioning to run for the presidency on the grounds that power will shift to the southeast in 2023 scorned the same principles in his state. Despite protestations and tension created by the idea of having three governors from the same zone for 24 years, he was bent on bulldozing his way at all cost.

But respite came the way of the state when his party denied his anointed candidate the governorship ticket. He failed to see the handwriting on the wall. Not even the strident campaigns mounted against him by the national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole was enough for him to do a rethink. Oshiomhole had during the flag-off of the campaign rally of the APC in Imo lambasted Okorocha accusing him of sundry misdeeds including running the government of the state as a family business. In saner climes, that was all that was needed to vote out Okorocha or any of his surrogates from any elective office.

He trudged on accusing Oshiomhole of being an ingrate for turning round to work against him after he had helped him to secure the office of the national chairman of the party. Before Oshiomhole, he also had issues with John Oyegun, the immediate past national chairman of the party. And when Oyegun left he boasted that all the wrongs he allegedly wrought against him especially in the conduct of the primaries of the party will be redressed by Oshiomhole.

It was a matter of time. Soon, he again fell out with his supposed rescuer. Curiously Okorocha was blinded by the lust for power to decipher the handwriting on the wall. He talked to himself, listened to himself and could not come to terms with the reality that he was in a deep mess. Imo people resented him, resented all that he represents even as he went around with the noxious obsession that he was the best thing that had happened to the state.

But the people of the state spoke very unequivocally in their choice of the PDP candidate, Emeka Ihedioha as their preferred governor despite Okorocha’s sundry strategies and devious subterfuge to procure victory by all means. The verdict of the Imo people is clear. It is a verdict against running government as a family business; a verdict against poor leadership and a verdict for credible alternative and power rotation. It is a verdict of the will power of the electorate and that verdict must be respected.

It is a bold statement that Okorocha, who defeated an incumbent in 2011with practically nothing, could not install his preferred candidate in 2019 with everything at his disposal. Such is the verdict of history and he should give peace a chance!

We want government to succeed – Archbishop Kaigama

We want government to succeed – Archbishop Kaigama

Photo: Archbishop Ignatius AyauKaigama of Jos, Nigeria, greets Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yostinos of Zahle and Bekaa, Lebanon, as they leave the morning session of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 9. (Credit: CNS.)

NEW YORK – While Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos, Nigeria – this week appointed coadjutor archbishop of Abuja – was recently in the U.S. to highlight the plight of persecuted Christians to the international community, he also weighed in on a number of other concerns, including climate change and fighting government corruption.

In an interview with Crux, he spoke about the need for the government to better exercise its functions so that pastors are not reduced to social workers and also weighed in on last month’s high stakes sex abuse summit at the Vatican, where he said the whole Church must come together to bring about “justice” on the issue of sex abuse.

Crux: In your remarks at the United Nations, you mentioned climate change as a contributing factor to religious clashes in the region where droughts and deforestation have caused violent conflict between nomadic Christian farmers and Muslim herdsman. We’re coming up on the 4-year anniversary of the pope’s encyclical Laudatosi’, wherein he calls for urgent attention to this issue. What’s been the response and effect of this document in Nigeria and throughout the African Church.

Kaigama: Well, it certainly was a news item that the pope is worried about the environment. I’m not sure everyone has read what the pope has said, and I’m not sure our government has taken time to delve into the details of what the encyclical entails. But the news is that the pope is certainly worried about the degrading of the environment and pollution, that we must respect the environment as we respect human life. The point was loudly and clearly made by the pope but how it has been absorbed and personalized is another thing.

The Church deals in blessings, prayers, exhortations, and preaching. When it comes to issues of security, weapons, and Boko Haram, etc., we cannot do this all. When it comes to the environment, what can we say, except to tell the government that this needs to be done. I think this crisis can be solved if the government takes note of it. Take the Sahara – it is there and you can convert it to a flourishing, beautiful land.

Speaking of the government, you’ve just had presidential elections in the country. What is the relationship between the Catholic Church and President MuhammaduBuhari, who was just re-elected?

We are not enemies, but we are not too friendly either. We have had good rapport with the president. I remember before he was elected, during his campaigns he requested to see members of the Catholic bishops’ conference. I was the president then, and I led the delegation. We had very useful dialogue and told him exactly how we felt about the nation. We asked him questions. “They say you are a religious bigot, is that true?” He gave us honest answers and we were quite satisfied.

When he became president, we went to see him again. We presented to him what we felt were issues of concern and since he hadn’t been in office long, we gave him some time to see what he could do. Two to three years later, we went again, this time demanding to know what has been achieved and pointing out areas of concern – areas of security, conflict between herdsmen and farmers, infrastructure, education, and poverty. We brought this all in a memo, and he was a gentleman about it. He listened and gave us good answers. But then, that’s where it ended. We even talked about inclusivity in government, and you don’t just take people from one particular religion or region. We have six geo-political zones, and they all should feel adequately represented. We reminded him that some of his appointments were lopsided, but I don’t think much was done.

When we were in Rome for the ad limina visits last year, we received the sad news of the attack of the herdsman on a community where two priests were killed with seventeen parishioners at morning Mass. They were just shot by a so-called “unknown gunman.” We were quite upset and during that period, we sent out a collective message as bishops that was quite strong telling him that if he could not guarantee the safety and security of our people and our church, he should better resign. I’m not sure he was too happy.

We want to see government succeed. I’m a pastor and a priest, and I don’t want to be converted into a social worker. But right now, I am a priest, I am a pastor of souls, and some time I feel as if I am more a social worker than pastor of souls. That is the duty of government to take care of the needs of the people and to allow me time to focus on the salvation of souls.

Last month, a fellow Nigerian – Sister Veronica Openibo – made headlines at the Vatican’s sex abuse summit when she said she knew of cases of abuse in Nigeria going back to the 1990s. What were your reactions to her remarks and then what do you believe the lessons from the summit are for your own country?

I’m not sure what fact she has. It’s important that we know. I ask why those facts haven’t been presented to us at home. I have been the president of the bishops’ conference for two terms, and we initiated meetings with male and female religious superiors with bishops every two years so we can meet collectively and discuss freely the situation in the Church and what we can do.

I thought that such a weighty matter should have been touched at home, and the way it came out is not something I’ve heard before. I can’t say that all the bishops and priests are saints in Nigeria but I don’t want to generalize. The tendency is for isolated cases to look like that they’re the norm.

Africa has 54 countries and just to say that all Africans do this is terribly offensive. I don’t doubt that there are certainly abuses. I would expect this sister to have facts and information for us. Let’s hope that she will come back home and give us the facts, because I’m sure the bishops will willingly take it on. The summit was absolutely necessary. We need to wake up. We need to reclaim our credibility. If a few Catholic priests around the world commit a grievous offense, and all of us are made to suffer for that, it hurts us all. We have to see where the problems are and tackle them head on, and I think it’s important that the bishops met in Rome under the leadership of His Holiness Pope Francis. Justice must be done.

Pope appoints Archbishop Kaigama as Bishop of Abuja

Pope appoints Archbishop Kaigama as Bishop of Abuja

His Holiness, Pope Francis, has appointed His Grace, Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama as the Catholic Bishop of Abuja.

Pope Francis, represented by Apostolic Nuncio to Nigeria, His Grace, Archbishop Antonio Guido Filipazzi, made the announcement on Monday in Abuja, during the opening ceremony of the first plenary meeting of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria.

Kaigama will take over from His Eminence, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, who reached the retirement age of 75 years on Jan. 29.

Until his appointment, Kaigama was the Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Jos and immediate past President of the CBCN.

“We congratulate and pray for Archbishop Kaigama. I know that it is not easy for him. But I told him like Abraham, go out of your land to the land God will show you and God will bless you and make you the father of many people,” Filipazzi said.

The new Catholic bishop of Abuja is a priest of Jukun origin from Taraba.

Born on July 31, 1958, Kaigama studied for the priesthood at St. Augustine’s Major Seminary in Jos and Rome respectively.

The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that Kaigama was ordained priest on June 6, 1981, and was appointed Bishop of Jalingo by Pope John Paul II, now Saint Pope John Paul, and later consecrated as bishop on April 23, 1995. In 2,000, Kaigama was again appointed by Pope John Paul II to succeed the late Archbishop Gabriel Ganaka as Archbishop of Jos.

Convicted French cardinal Barbarin to meet Pope Francis Monday

Convicted French cardinal Barbarin to meet Pope Francis Monday

French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, who received a six-month suspended jail sentence for failing to report sex abuse by a priest under his authority, will meet Pope Francis at the Vatican on Monday, officials in his southeastern Lyon diocese said.

Barbarin, the most senior French cleric caught up in the global paedophilia scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church, had said after his conviction last week that he would travel to Rome to tender his resignation.

The pontiff will grant the 68-year-old archbishop of Lyon a private audience at 10am (0900GMT), French church officials said.

On March 7 a court in Lyon found Barbarin guilty of failing to report allegations that a priest, Bernard Preynat, had abused boy scouts in the Lyon area in the 1980s and 1990s.

The priest, who was charged in 2016, is expected to be tried this year.

Barbarin’s lawyer immediately announced plans to fight the landmark ruling, which was hailed by abuse victims as ushering in a new period of accountability in the French church.

His trial came as Pope Francis battles to restore faith in the church following a slew of abuse scandals that have spanned the globe, from Australia to Chile and the United States.

Less than a week after Barbarin’s conviction the Vatican’s former number three, Australian Cardinal George Pell, was sentenced to six years in prison by a Melbourne court for the “brazen” sexual abuse of two choirboys.

Barbarin, an arch-conservative who took over as archbishop in Lyon in 2002, was an outspoken opponent of gay marriage.

He had long been accused by victims’ groups in Lyon of turning a blind eye to child abuse in his diocese which blighted dozens of lives.

“I cannot see what I am guilty of,” Barbarin told the court at the start of the trial in January. “I never tried to hide, let alone cover up, these horrible facts.”

But the court found otherwise, saying the archbishop, “in all conscience”, chose not to tell authorities of the abuse allegations “in order to preserve the institution to which he belongs”. Two other senior French religious figures have been convicted of failing to report child abuse in the past: Pierre Rican, the archbishop of Bayeux-Lisieux, in 2001, and the former bishop of Orleans, Andre Fort, last year.

I’ll be Governor of all, Ihedioha pledges

I’ll be Governor of all, Ihedioha pledges

Governor-elect of Imo State, Emeka Ihedioha, has promised that his government would serve all, whether they voted for him or not.

Ihedioha, a former deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, won the Imo State governorship contest under the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) with 273,404 votes. His closest rival, Uche Nwosu of the Action Alliance (AA), polled 190,364 votes.  

The Governor-elect said under his watch, no section of the state would be excluded.  He addressed a world press conference in Owerri on Thursday.

“My fellow citizens, I will be governor to all Ndi-lmo both those who voted for us and those who did not. No part is greater or more important than the other. We are equal stakeholders in the Imo project and must, therefore, ensure that our people are united in the pursuant of the common good.  

“We will run an all-inclusive government and not a government of exclusion. Ours will be a government that will promote the unity of the state, rather than accentuate the fissures that have characterised our relationship with each other in recent times,” he said.

On the style of his administration, Ihedioha said it would strictly be open, transparent and accountable, with due process being its hallmark.

“I believe strongly that those in positions of authority must render an account of their stewardship to the people. The era of brazenness in Imo State is gone,” he said.

The Governor-elect promised not to waste any time in translating his campaign promises into tangible goods and services for the people.  

“We entered into a social contract with you with our manifesto and we shall remain faithful to our obligations in that contract. This contract seeks to substantially improve the welfare, security, property rights, economic and social advancement of our people. We shall find creative ways of funding our ambitious infrastructural projects and give Imo the quality education, healthcare and general good governance that you desire,” he said.

He added that the decay in the last eight years makes it imperative that the redemptive work starts immediately.

“To kick-start the rebuilding process, I shall set up in the coming days, a Transition Team with clear terms of reference. This team will liaise with the outgoing government to collate and collect information on the state of affairs of our State. They will recommend the structure of our government.

“They will translate our campaign promises into actionable executive and legislative policies with clear timelines. In summary, they will be charged with making far-reaching recommendations on the way forward for our dear state that has suffered from years of brigandage, lack of direction, Ad-Hoc approach to governance and lack of due process,” he said.

For Imo, a new dawn, by Ihedioha

For Imo, a new dawn, by Ihedioha

BEING VICTORY SPEECH OF HIS EXCELLENCY, RT. HON. CHUKWUEMEKA NKEM IHEDIOHA, CON ON HIS ELECTION AS GOVERNOR OF IMO STATE:

Protocols:

1. On Monday, March 11, 2019, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced the results of the governorship election held in Imo State on March 9, 2019 and I was declared Governor-elect of Imo State.

2.     It was a resounding victory for the good people of our State. I thank all those who contributed in one way or the other through prayers, voluntary service and hard work of staying in the queue and voting. Yes, this victory belongs to the ordinary men and women in Imo – the traders, artisans, clergy, labourer, farmers, teachers, students, youth and women of all ages.

3.     I thank you for the great honour of electing me the Governor of the state and Hon. Gerald Irona, the Deputy Governor, for the next four years. Though you have collectively given us your mandate, this victory belongs to all of you who not only bought into our vision of a great renaissance but also toiled endlessly to ensure that the dream for our dear state is realised. With utmost humility, on behalf of the Deputy Governor-elect, we accept this call to service.

4. I am humbled by your trust in my leadership. For me the mandate which you have bestowed on me is sacred and I shall do all in my capacity to uphold that thrust. For your trust, we owe you unalloyed service.

5.     This election is as epochal as its outcome is momentous. It is a fervent protest against impunity and the celebrations in all the nooks and crannies of the state is a testimony to your belief in the rightness and wisdom of our vision for Imo state and the new path to progress which we shared with you during the campaigns.

6.     To our indefatigable team, men, women and youth who worked tirelessly, and gave their time, talents and resources freely in furtherance of the greater Imo dream, we say thank you.

7.     My gratitude also goes to the leaders, faithful members of the PDP who not only found me worthy of the governorship ticket, but worked assiduously to realise this dream. Without your incomparable sense of duty, this moment would have been but a mirage. And to my darling wife, Ebere, your sacrifices and prayers have been my staying power. For being my pillar of support, I say, thank you. My dear mother, children, siblings and family members and friends I say thank you for all your sacrifices. To officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the security agencies as well as other officials who conducted, observed or monitored the election, I say a big thank you, for conducting a credible election. To fellow contestants, I salute your sportsmanship. You fought gallantly but like in every contest, a winner must emerge. I extend my hand of fellowship to all of you as the urgent and gargantuan task of rebuilding Imo is a collective responsibility.

8.     We shall run an open, transparent and accountable government with due process as its hallmark. I believe strongly that those in positions of authority must render account of their stewardship to the people. The era of brazenness in Imo State is gone.

9.     My fellow citizens, I will be governor to all Ndi-lmo both those who voted for us and those who did not. No part is greater or more important than the other. We are equal stakeholders in the Imo project and must therefore ensure that our people are united in the pursuant of the common good. We look forward to the future with hope. It is my duty and responsibility to ensure that we remain brothers and sisters with a common destiny. I am certain that with all hands-on deck, we shall achieve the Imo of our dreams.

10. We will run an all-inclusive government and not a government of exclusion. Ours will be a government that will promote the unity of the state, rather than accentuate the fissures that have characterized our relationship with each other in recent times. As the popular saying goes, “let us not listen to things that will divide us, let us rather listen to things that will unite us, for united we stand, divided we fall.”

11.   All we need to do to realise this vision is to aggregate our skills, talents, and sundry resources in our collective basket of goodwill in productive cooperation as Imo is indeed a land of peace, known for the political sagacity of its people.

12.   Our priority will be the reclaiming of the dignity of our people. We shall no longer be the laughing stock of Nigeria as only positive, productive and progressive stories will be told of the new Imo. Imo has always been known for the right things, with a huge reservoir of human capital waiting to be exploited for the great leap forward.

13.   The elections are over. What remains is the fulfillment of the promises we made to our people. We entered into a social contract with you with our manifesto and we shall remain faithful to our obligations in that contract. This contract seeks to substantially improve the welfare, security, property rights, economic and social advancement of our people. We shall find creative ways of funding our ambitious infrastructural projects and give Imo the quality education, healthcare and general good governance that you desire.

14.   The level of decay in the last eight years makes it imperative that the redemptive work starts immediately. To kick-start the rebuilding process, I shall set up in the coming days, a Transition team with clear terms of reference. This team will liaise with the outgoing government to collate and collect information on the state of affairs of our State. They will recommend the structure of our government. They will translate our campaign promises into actionable executive and legislative policies with clear time lines. In summary, they will be charged with making far reaching recommendations on the way forward for our dear state that has suffered from years of brigandage, lack of direction, Ad-Hoc approach to governance and lack of due process.

15.   Finally, may I also use this opportunity to warn all those who may be tempted to do illegal last-minute transaction with the outgoing government, particularly financial institutions, which may result in further burdening the state with unsustainable liabilities that they will be doing so at their own peril. 

16.   All I seek is your continued support. Together, we will create the Imo of our collective dream. We shall not fail you.

17.   Thank you.

Rt. Hon. Chukwuemeka Nkem Ihedioha, CON

Governor-elect, Imo State, Owerri,
13th March, 2019