French cardinal to be acquitted of covering sex abuses in Lyon

French cardinal to be acquitted of covering sex abuses in Lyon

Public prosecutor says she would not ask for Cardinal Philippe Barbarin’s conviction

By Elisabeth Auvillain

Paris — One of France’s most prominent bishops, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, is likely to be acquitted of charges of not denouncing a priest who sexually abused children between 1971 and 1991.

French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyon arrives at the courthouse Jan. 7 in Lyon. Barbarin and others were on trial for failing to discipline a local priest who allegedly abused children while running a Scout group in the 1980s. (CNS/Reuters/Emmanuel Foudrot)

At the end of his four-day trial, Jan. 7-10, in Lyon, public prosecutor Charlotte Trabaut announced she would not ask for his conviction. Even though the president of the tribunal is not bound by the prosecutor’s stand, it seems likely that the cardinal will be acquitted.

French judicial authorities opened a case against Barbarin in 2016, in the name of the French state. The court closed it, invoking statute of limitation.

Then the group named La Parole Libérée (“the word made free”), brought the charges in a private prosecution, in their own name, as partiesciviles — private victims — after discovering, in 2015, that Fr. Bernard Preynat was still working with young boys. They thought this personal action could convince a court of the prejudice they suffered, knowing most facts fell under the statute of limitation.

Stern and slightly stooped, Barbarin, 68, said he was not guilty of anything: “I never tried to hide and certainly not cover anything.” He then kept quiet, letting his lawyers speak for him during the whole procedure and explain he only made mistakes in managing the case and would act differently today.

He did not ask for forgiveness from the victims of Preynat, whom Barbarin was responsible for, since the priest served in his diocese.

For La parole Libérée, the purpose of this legal action was to tell publicly what had happened. For two days, the court heard moving testimonies from nine of Preynat’s victims, who described, painfully and with graphic details, how they were sexually assaulted.

Victims unite

The long history of this case begins in 1971, when Preynat was appointed as a parish priest to Saint Luc, a new church in a rapidly growing neighborhood of Sainte-Foy-lès-Lyon, where he became chaplain of a troop of scouts, boys and girls.

A charismatic man, Preynat was very popular with a lot of parents, who thought he did a great job organizing activities for the scouts and taking them to camp. His authoritarian ways were reassuring at a time when the church was in the wake of Second Vatican Council. Liturgy was changing, a lot of priests left to get married, and parishioners were disoriented.

Preynat often became a friend of the family. Some thought he was a little too close to little boys, but nobody imagined for a moment what was happening in his office, on the first floor of the rectory, when he would ask one of the boys to come and see him.

From 1979 to 1991, he regularly abused boys, even raped some of them. Sixty-five cases have been documented by La parole Libérée, and there are estimates of about 100 victims altogether.

As is often the case, the boys never talked about the abuse, either to their parents or their peers. But in early 1991, when the mother of 11-year-old François Devaux overheard her son talking with his brother, bragging about being a favorite of the priest and telling him, “He even kisses me on the mouth,” Devaux’s parents were shocked. They asked him questions and started talking to other parents. Some of them echoed their worries, others defended Preynat.

Devaux’s parents asked for the priest to be sent to another mission, away from children. When nothing happened, Devaux’s mother sent a letter by registered mail to the archbishop of Lyon, Cardinal Albert Decourtray, writing she was going to the press if Preynat was not removed.

A few weeks later, the priest was appointed as chaplain to the congregation of the Little Sisters of the Poor, a religious community caring for old people.

Decourtray thought the matter was closed. Preynat told the cardinal he would never do anything wrong again. The cardinal urged the parents not to file a civil complaint, for the sake of the unity of the church.

Six months later, though, contrary to his promise to Devaux’s parents, Decourtray appointed Preynat to a country parish, away from the city of Lyon.

Decourtray died suddenly in 1995 and was replaced by Cardinal Jean Marie Balland, who died three years later. Cardinal Louis-Marie Billé served as archbishop from 1998 until he died in 2002.

When Barbarin became archbishop of Lyon in 2002, he met Preynat and asked him about his past. “He told me he was ashamed and had never done anything since 1991. I believed him. I trusted him,” the cardinal is quoted as saying to journalist Isabelle de Gaulmyn senior editor of the French Catholic daily La Croix, and the author of Histoire d’un silence, the most comprehensive and well documented investigation on the scandal.

Archbishop Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is pictured May 17, 2018. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Apparently, there was no trace of the scandal in the priest’s file, except for the letter sent by Devaux’s parents. “This is something which happened before my time,” Barbarin would repeat at his trial. “My predecessors dealt with it, I had no reason to reopen the case.”

In 2002, the Annual Assembly of French Bishops voted on an important declaration stating that “Priests guilty of pedophile acts … have to face justice,” adding that bishops should not stay passive and cover such acts.

Barbarin admitted he knew Preynat was suspected of inappropriate behavior with children. But nobody had sued us, he said, repeating this was for him “a thing of the past.” “It wasn’t until I met with AlexandreHezez in 2014 that I understood the problem,” Barbarin is quoted as saying by De Gaulmyn in the same interview. “Until then I heard only rumors.”

Hezez, one of the founders of La Parole Libérée, was among those who told the court how he was sexually abused between the age of 8 and 11 by Preynat. In 2014, when he recognized Preynat at a parish feast and heard that he was in contact with children, he asked Barbarin for an explanation.

Before taking action, Barbarin asked the Vatican for advice. Rome took several months to tell him to send Preynat, then 74, into early retirement, “avoiding any scandal.” Barbarin waited another 10 months to forbid Preynat to celebrate Mass and perform sacraments.

In the meantime, he met with Hezez and proimised him he would take action against Preynat. But it took so long for Preynat to be removed from ministry that Hezez decided to write to Lyon’s prosecutor’s office, telling him about Preynat’s actions. Legal action was then taken.

At the same time, Hezez got in touch with François Devaux and another former boy scout and victim of Preynat, Bertrand Virieux. Together the three founded La Parole Libérée to collect information and testimonies.

De Gaulmyn knew Preynat as a child and wanted to find out why nobody, the victims, their parents, or church authorities, denounced him, since they all told her they knew more or less what had been happening.

“At the time of Preynat, nobody questioned priest’s authority. This scandal will enable us to evolve and see priests as they are, normal men, and not put them on a pedestal as we have done for so long,” she said in an interview in La Croix, on the eve of the trial.

Video of Affaire Preynat-Barbarin, histoire d'un silence

Isabelle de Gaulmyn, senior editor of the French Catholic daily “La Croix” and author of “Historie d’un Silence,” speaks about the Preynat-Barbarin case (in French).

Vatican side-step

For France, a mainly Catholic country, this trial is a turning point. Most Catholics, religious as well as lay people, are relieved to see such devious behaviors are not a secret anymore. The last day of the trial, Msgr. Emmanuel Gobilliard, auxiliary bishop of Lyon, thanked Devaux for the work his association had done: “Thank you for shaking the church. It needed it.” he told him, in front of the cameras, outside the court.

The top Vatican official in charge of sex abuse cases, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, who is among the accused with four close aides to Barbarin, refused to appear in court, because the Vatican invoked his diplomatic immunity.

Barbarin’s personality has only added to the hostility. A conservative archbishop who never smiles, he is known to decide everything himself and give his own opinion, ignoring the church’s official position.

“A very brilliant mind, but always excessive. People loved him or hated him,” said Henri Tincq, a journalist and parishioner in the Val de Marne, a Paris suburb, where Barbarin was chaplain of the LycéeMarcelin Berthelot.

“He was more appreciated by the parents and youngsters who liked his authority and charisma,” said OdileLerolle, who took over part of Barbarin’s responsibilities as chaplain of the lycée after he had left for Lyon.

Barbarin’s verdict will be rendered on March 7. He risks a three-year jail sentence and a fine of 45,000 euros.

[Elisabeth Auvillain is a freelance journalist in Paris.]

Pope Francis: What to expect in 2019

Pope Francis: What to expect in 2019

By Andrea Gagliarducci

Vatican City, Jan 15, 2019 / 02:00 pm (CNA).- The finalization of a Curial reform process, a reshuffle in some Vatican positions, and an eventual consistory to “refill” the College of Cardinals might be among Pope Francis’ key moves in 2019.

As all eyes are set on the Vatican anti-abuse meeting, to be held Feb. 21-24, Pope Francis is in fact engaged in ongoing to reshape the Roman Curia and the College of Cardinals.

The first of the pope’s likely key moves has to do with the College of Cardinals.

After the death of Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran, there is no cardinal camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church. The camerlengo is chosen by the pope only, and holds is a very delicate position, especially during a sedevacante in the papacy.

When the pope dies, or renounces his seat, “the Camerlengo of Holy Roman Church has the duty of safeguarding and administering the goods and temporal rights of the Holy See, with the help of the three cardinal assistants, having sought the views of the College of Cardinals, once only for less important matters, and on each occasion when more serious matters arise,” according to the apostolic constitution Pastor bonus.

In general, the camerlengo oversees an office of the papal household that administers the property and revenues of the Holy See.

If the pope doesl not appoint a camerlengo, the cardinals will elect one at the beginning of the sedevacante.

However, Pope Francis might refrain from appointing a new camerlengo before he promulgates a long-awaited apostolic constitution on Vatican governance, Predicate evangelium, which is expected to reshape the offices of the Roman Curia.

There are rumors, in fact, that Pope Francis is going to abolish the pontifical household, including its office within the first section of the Secretariat of State.
According to a CNA source familiar with the subject, the idea has been suggested, though the shutdown of the pontifical household does not appear to be imminent.

The abolition of the pontifical household will bring some issues to be solved, since all the competencies of the pontifical household might be divided into other offices: the Sistine Chapel choir would go under the administration of the office for liturgical celebrations, the management of state visits would be placed under the protocol of the Secretariat of State, and so on. It is yet to clarified.

However, the decision would mark a major break with the past. The pontifical household is the direct legacy of the pontifical court, and its presence recalls the religious meaning behind any papal activity.

The rumors about the pontifical household also involve Archbishop Georg Ganswein, the prefect. Ganswein was appointed to the position in 2012 by Benedict XVI. He is now in his second 5-year term at the helm of the prefecture, while maintaining his position as particular secretary to the Pope Emeritus Benedict.

However, discontinuing the prefecture would prompt Pope Francis to find Ganswein a new position. One of the more widespread rumors is that Ganswein will be appointed secretary of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, to replace Archbishop Marcello Bartolucci. Bartolucci will turn the retirement age, 75, in April.
Ganswein could also be eligible to take a position within the Congregation for Divine Worship. It is noteworthy that Cardinal Robert Sarah, the prefect, will end his five-year mandate in November, and it is possible the composition of the congregation’s top ranks will be reshuffled at that time.

Another key move in the Roman Curia might be the shutdown of the pontifical commission Ecclesia Dei. Established in 1988 by St. John Paul II in order to carry on a dialogue with traditionalist parties, the commission was reformed by Benedict XVI with a 2009 instruction Universae Ecclesiae, linking the commission to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Pope Francis may shut down the commission, making it an office within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

If the shutdown takes place, the pope will have to find a new post for Archbishop Guido Pozzo, the commission’s president.

The shutdown of both the pontifical household and Ecclesia Dei would be part of the wider project for Curia reform.

At the moment, Praedicateevangelium, that is, the new constitution that will regulate tasks and competencies of Curia offices, is being finalized. Pope Francis will likely want to make an overall revision of the text.

However, most of the structural reforms are already in place: Pope Francis has established the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, merging there the Pontifical Councils for Laity and Family and a part of the competency of the Pontifical Academy for Life; he established the dicatery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, that absorbed the Pontifical Councils for Justice and Peace, Migrants, Cor Unum, and for Health Care Workers.

Under Pope Francis, the Secretariat for the Economy and the Council for the Economy have been set up, while the reform of the communication department led to the establishment of the Secretariat for Communication, now a dicastery.

It seems that, at the moment, the other curial offices will not be touched. Cardinal Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, is 76 now, so he has surpassed the usual retirement age. Pope Francis, however, confirmed him at the helm of the dicastery until his 80th birthday. No changes are to be expected there, then.

The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue is without a leader since Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran, the president, died in July 2018. It is still uncertain whether the pope will appoint a new president or will merge the pontifical council with another Curia office.

While undergoing these major structural changes, it likely Pope Francis will hold another consistory for the creation of new cardinals during this year.

Cardinals are eligible to vote in a conclave when they are under 80. At the moment, there are 124 cardinals who are eligible to vote in a conclave. Out of these, 59 have been created by Pope Francis in five consistories, an average of one consistory per year.

During this year, there will be 10 cardinals that will turn 80, and will not be eligible to vote in a papal conclave anymore. Out of these 10, three were made cardinals by Pope Francis.

The cardinals aging-out are: Alberto Suarez Inda, Orlando Beltran Quevedo, Edwin O’Brien, Stanislaw Dzwisiz, John Tong Hon, Sean Baptist Brady, Laurent MosengwoPasinya, ZenonGrocholewski, EdoardoMenichelli, and TelesphorePlacidusToppo.

By October there will be only 114 cardinals eligible to vote in a conclave, six less than the maximum permitted number of voting cardinals, which was set at 120 by St. Pope Paul VI – Pope Francis made an exception to this number at the last consistory.

All odds say that Pope Francis will hold another consistory, naming new cardinals during 2019. Who will receive new red hats is not foreseen.

It is noteworthy that Archbishop FilippoIannone, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, and Archbishop RinoFisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, are the only heads of dicasteries without red birettas.

And it is noteworthy that Ireland’s only living representative in the College of Cardinals will age out of voting eligibility. So, the pope might consider another Irish cardinal.

However, it is also possible the pope will reward some of the periphery Churches, sticking to the point that all the Church must be represented in the College of Cardinals.

So by the end of 2019, the Roman Curia and College of Cardinals might be completely made in Pope Francis image. And it would be the first time since the beginning of his pontificate.

Updates: IMO PDP Campaign Day-2

Updates: IMO PDP Campaign Day-2

IHEDIOHA REASSURES NWANGELE AND NKWERRE PEOPLE OF EQUITY AND JUSTICE, RECEIVES ASSURANCES OF MASSIVE VOTES FOR PDP

The supersonic campaign train of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Imo State made a momentary stop at neighbourly Nwangele and Nkwerre Local Government Areas Tuesday, January 15, 2019.

And the people of the two areas were once again reassured of equity and justice by the Imo PDP gubernatorial candidate, His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, CON, KSC, who unequivocally pledged to treat Nwangele and Nkwerre LGAs equally as he would treat his own Aboh Mbaise LGA.

The rallies lived up to their billings with very impressive crowd trooping out to hear what the party has in stock for them. Musical entertainment by Jubilee Entertainment, led by Mazi Chinonso Aniche, enlivened the venue, living no dull moment.

Very important party leaders, particularly those from Nwangele and Nkwerre LGAs were present. Of remarkable note was the presence of Chief Achike Udenwa, Chief Ebere Udeagu, Dr. Alex Obi, Barr. Charles Ezekwem, Sir Martin Ejiogu, Lady Maria Mbakwe, Hon. Gerald Irona, Engr. Ben Ekwueme, Chief Benjamin Azike and a host of other dignitaries.

Of course, very much present were Rt. Hon. Sir Chudi Jones Onyereri, Senatorial candidate for Imo West (Orlu Zone), Hon. Kingsley Echendu, House of Representatives candidate for Nkwerre/Isu/Nwangele/Njaba Federal Constituency and  Dr. Johnbosco Nkpadobi, candidate for Nwangele State’s Constituency candidate and Chief Casmir Ojukwu, candidate for Nkwerre State Constituency. They came with thousands of their supporters.

They all spoke in glowing terms about their readiness to join Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha to win the general elections to liberate Imo people are rebuild Imo State. They assured that PDP will win all the seats in the area that will be contested in the elections.

The rallies were held at the playgrounds St. Peter’s Church, Umuozu, Nwangele LGA and a school at Owerri Nkwoji, Nkwerre LGA. Earlier, a Town Hall Session was held at Obi Igbo in Amaigbo ancient kingdom, with the traditional rulers and leaders of the component towns in attendance.

At end of the Day-2 rallies at Nwangele and Nkwerre LGAs, the people were observed to be quite satisfied with the sincerity in the promises of Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha and other leaders and candidates of the party.

It is believed that their expressed satisfaction at the rallies will be translated into satisfactory voting for PDP candidates at all levels – president, governor, Senate, House of Representatives and State Assembly on February 16 and March 2. To God be the glory!

Updates: IMO PDP Campaign Day-1

Updates: IMO PDP Campaign Day-1

Hope rekindled as Imo PDP campaign takes off
…Ihedioha reiterates resolve to liberate Imo people and rebuild Imo state

The much awaited official flag off of the campaigns for the 2019 general elections by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Imo State took off with big bang and on a more serious noteon Monday, January 14, 2019.

The event started with a Town Hall Session held at the Umuechendu Hall at Umueze Junction near Mbaitoli LGA Headquarters in Nwaorieubi, the rally proper was held at the playground of St. Mary’s Catholic Parish, Ubomiri also in Mbaitoli LGA.

The saying goes that “Charity begins at home”.  In their wisdom, the leaders of the party and organizers of the campaign rallies saw Mbaitoli LGA in Owerri Zone as home where the Campaign should take off. And how right they were! Imo State knew that Imo PDP has started campaigning for 2019 general elections.

The turn by party leaders, members and supporters was Catholic! Unavoidable traffic build up was observed along the Ubomiri axis of the very busy Orlu-Owerri Road. Fanfare reigned like harmattan, with all sorts musical sounds.

The 42 candidates ready to go for victory on behalf of Imo PDP were present. Beginning from His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, CON, KSC, the governorship candidate, through his deputy, Hon. Gerald Irona to all the three Senatorial candidates, ten House of Representatives candidates and the twenty seven House of Assembly candidates; all were on ground with their teeming supporters from across the 305 wards and 27 LGAs of Imo State. It was a carnival of good people desirous of good government and good governance.

Protocols were observed. Kolanuts were presented traditionally. Speeches by speakers were delivered. Assurances and reassurances of victory by PDP at all levels were made. Hopes were raised and the mood for real campaigns and ultimate voting and victory in the elections. All of that was amid the presence of the who-is-who of Imo politics.

The high points were found in the speeches by the party Chairman in the State, Barr. Charles Babatunde Ezekwem and the governorship candidate, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha.

Delivering his speech, Barr. Ezekwem, introduced Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha as a man who has credibility, capacity, and the needed competence to move the State forward. He noted that the party has presented the best candidate to the people of Imo State. He reassured that Ihedioha’s tenure as governor will be days of great glory for Imo State.

In his turn, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha felicitated with all PDP leaders members and supporters, assuring them that the PDP administration in Imo State under his watch will focus on core areas which he stated include, power, education, healthcare, infrastructure, sustainable youth and women development and empowerment, employment, payment of workers’ wages and retirees pension, training and retraining of teachers, industrialization, rural development, economic growth and general development.

Ihedioha while appreciating the ebullience of the Ezekwem-led State Working Committee (SWC), thanked all of the party leaders and members for the confidence they reposed in him. He reassured them that everybody will be appropriately carried along when by God’s grace he assumes office on May 29. He reaffirmed his commitment to the implementation of the manifesto of the party as was unveiled recently.

The PDP standard bearer in Imo State seized the opportunity to campaign for the PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, GCON and his vice president candidate, Dr. Peter Obi, urging Imo people to troop out on February 16 to vote for PDP. He reminded that a vote for PDP at all levels is a vote for the restoration of Nigeria and making the country working again.

Present at the rally included but not limited to His Excellency, Chief Dr.Achike Udenwa, Engr. Chief Dr. Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Hon. Gerald Irona, Hon. Jones Onyereri, Hon. Ezenwa Onyewuchi, Hon. Jerry Alagbaoso, Hon. Henry Nwawuba, Hon. Obinna Onwubuariri, Sir Martin Ejiogu, Nze Ray Emeaña, Lady Maria Mbakwe; Ndi Ezes and traditional rulers of Mbaitoli LGA; Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN); Civil Servants and Retirees Associations;  and thousands others.

The significance and implications of the take-off of the Imo PDP campaigns are very sharp. Among other things, it is established again that the party is first to kick-start a real campaign rally process which other parties may attempt to emulate.

It further proves that PDP is the only true party in the 2019 general elections in Imo State, with a structure and organized system of doing party things.

The PDP by their very successful campaign rally take-off have proved that they are organized, focus, civil and democratic in every segment of their road to Douglas House. In character and conduct, PDP has shown capacity and capability to liberate Imo people and rebuild Imo State.

All that is left is for Imo people to vote for PDP on February 16 and March 2 for their own good and the good of their families and the State in general.

2019: REBUILDING IMO STATE FROM THE RUINS

2019: REBUILDING IMO STATE FROM THE RUINS

…Ihedioha reiterates resolve to liberate Imo people And Rebuild Imo State as Imo PDP Campaign Takes Off
By Remi EmekaNjoku-Ndii
With additional report from Ogu Bundu Nwadike

Current Hopelessness of Imo State

Among the comity of States in Nigeria, Imo State has lately become a laughing stock. The once thriving economy and pearl of the East currently lacks purposeful leadership and is in ruins. The last 7 years of the APC maladministration characterized by flagrant disregard to principles of rule of law and good governance has completely destroyed the foundations laid by our founding fathers, dis-articulated a thriving economy; eroded the significance of our once vibrant civil service; lowered the educational standards; chased away investors through policy inconsistencies; confiscated our lands, expropriated/ misappropriated our commonwealth and systematically impoverished and reduced our collective esteem as a people.

According to a recent report contained in the manifesto of the governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for the 2019 election, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, “the state is bedevilled with a rapid decay of public infrastructure; crippling debt burden of over N100 Billion up from N26 Billion in 2011 without any meaningful infrastructure to show for it but instead we have mounting salary and pension arrears; humongous unemployment and underemployment, despite the fact that between May 2011 and December 2017, Imo State government received over half a trillion Naira from the Federation Account excluding the bailout fund of N63.91 billion, Paris refund of N32.02 billion, over N50 billion internally generated revenue, Ecological funds running into several billions of Naira, the balance of N13.5 Billion on the State bond taken by the previous administration, the N3.3 billion  lease of Adapalm and proceeds from royalties etc.”

In addition, “from May 2011 to December 2017, Local Governments in Imo State received N276.6 billion from the Federation Account, yet there was no functional and democratically elected Local Government System from May 2011 till August 2018.”

“Human capital development has been severely stunted in the last seven years. It is shocking to note that Imo State University, formerly ranked 1st amongst state owned universities in Nigeria and 9th in overall country ranking by 2005 is currently ranked 16th and 58th respectively by the 2018 NUC ranking; and has lost its accreditation in medicine and allied subjects.”

More distressing is the fact that, “the health sector in the state is in a state of complete decay as evidenced by the fact that there is presently only one functional General Hospital in the entire state which is located at Umuguma. There are only 54 medical doctors, 4 consultants in Obstetrics, Gynaecology, Paediatric surgery and Family Medicine, 9 Pharmacists, 7 Laboratory Technicians, 172 Nurses and no Radiographer or Physiotherapists in the entire Imo State health system. Compare these figures with that of the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri having 120 consultants, 240 Resident Doctors, 50 Pharmacists, 7 Radiologists, 14 Physiotherapists and 700 Nurses.”

“Suffice it to say that Imo citizens and residents have groaned in pains for far too long. There is therefore the need to take back our State and rebuild it through purposeful leadership, cleanse the pains of yesterday and restore the pride and dignity of our people. United by patriotism, we can still build a better Imo state that is anchored on transparency, fairness, equity, good governance, sincerity of purpose and dedication,” the PDP governorship candidate laments.

IHEDIOHA: WHEN GOD ANOINTS A LEADER

IHEDIOHA: WHEN GOD ANOINTS A LEADER

Historically, leadership is presented as the main purpose for God’s creation of human beings. This thought is sourced from the charge of God to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to have dominion over everything else that created. In fact, Adam was to lead Eve, the woman and his wife, and together both were to lead the other creatures of God.

Incidentally, shortly after God settled the leadership issues with the first human beings, the failed in their leadership task. That failure of leadership began the story of the fall of human beings in God’s plan and purpose for human beings.

Till date, the greatest problem of the world is bad and failed leadership. In the family systems, in the corporate world, in government systems and in the society, leadership deficiency and outright failure has remained the bane of mankind.

Yet, God in his infinite wisdom has always reserved some people in limited numbers who are successful in their leadership duties and responsibilities. These are often described in the Holy Bible as those who did what was right in the sight of God. They are those that place God and fear of God high, over and above everything else in carrying out their leadership service.

The Bible records it that when the righteous is in power, the people rejoice. But when the wicked is in authority, the people regret. That leaves the understanding that wherever there are complaints about wanton poverty, lack, hunger, disease, sickness and deaths, there you find a wicked leader and bad leadership.

According to the Bible, of all the kings of Israel, right from Saul to the last of the kings of Israel and Judah, most did what was evil in the sight of God, while very few did what pleased God. The kings that offended God were those that served man-made gods, while those served the Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel were the ones that pleased God.

The dawn of the king or leader that pleased God began with David the son of Jesse. He was a young Shepherd of his father’s flock. While he was away tending his father’s flock, he was sent for and anointed King of Israel by Prophet Samuel at the directives and supervision of God Himself.

It is significant that the older, more powerful and much stronger brothers, the sons of Jesse were rejected by God, only for the frail underaged boy to be anointed King by God. That was relevant to the concept of the making of a leader.

In Imo State, South East, Nigeria, among the candidates preparing to vie for the office of the governor of the State is a man who has been exhibiting the features of the biblical David. The man’s semblance with David is so striking that many that come in contact with him is soon reminded of King David of Israel. And to crown it all, with his simple stature, he has proved to be a giant-killer.

We are talking about His Excellency, Rt. Chukwemeka NkemakolamIhedioha, CON, KSC, former Chairman of House Committee on Marine Transport, former Chief Whip, former Deputy Speaker and lastly former Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from 2003 to 2015. He is the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 general elections.

The story of the start and progress so far of Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha on the road to power and authority in Nigeria is simply davidic. After graduating from the University of Lagos in 1988, he secured a job in the Nigerian Senate in 1992 at the age of 27. By 1995, at the age of 30, Ihedioha was sitting among the biggest political leaders of Nigeria, including Shehu Yar’Adua, Olusegun Obasanjo, Atiku Abubakar and a host of others that formed the political group known as People’s Democratic Movement (PDM). Ihedioha was the Director of Media and Publicity of PDM.

By 1998 PDM transformed into PDP and in 1999 won the election at the presidential level and majority of the various other levels. Rt. Hon. Ihedioha was appointed a Special Assistant to the then Senate President, Chuba Okadigbo. He was redeployed in 2001 to be a Special Assistant on Political Matters to the then Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, GCON.

By 2003 he contested for and won the AbohMbaise/NgorOkpala Federal Constituency seat in the House of Representatives. He was soon to carve a niche and make his presence visible in the House when he was appointed Chairman, House Committee on Marine Transport. Within the first term, 2003-2007, Ihedioha sponsored several bills, of which ten passed and signed into law.

In 2007, Ihedioha was re-elected into the House and became a principal officer by virtue of his election as the Chief Whip. In this capacity he equally excelled very highly. That legislative term ended in very successfully in 2011.

In 2011, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha won a third term to represent the same AbohMbaise/NgorOkpala Federal Constituency. The highpoint was his unanimous election as Deputy Speaker by the 360-member House. By virtue of this, Ihedioha became a presiding officer of the House and the National Assembly. He was draft to the position of Speaker, when the substantive Speaker, Rt. Hon. Aminu Tambuwal became the governor of Sokoto State.

It is pertinent to mention here that Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha kept updating and upgrading himself academically. He attended a number of best citadels of higher education viz Harvard University Business School and Stanford University Business School, both in the United States; Oxford University Business School, and London School of Economics, both in the United Kingdom. He also attended the British Columbia University in Canada. His course of study in these great institutions focused business, economics, accounting, finance, government, management and administration.

The litany of Ihedioha’s legislative accomplishments and achievements is long and lengthy. But as a testimony to them, he was honoured by Federal Government of Nigeria with Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON), which is the fourth highest national honour.

The following is a summary of the Ihedioha bills:

1. The International Convention for the Safety of life at Sea (Ratification and Enforcement) Act 2004.

Status: Passed and Signed into Law in June 2004.

Role: Rt. Emeka Ihedioha’s was the Principal Facilitator.

2. The United Nations Convention on Carriage of Goods by Sea (Ratification and Enforcement) Bill H.B 118.

Status: Passed and Signed into Law in 2005.

Role: Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha was the Principal Facilitator.

3. The International Convention for the Preservation of Pollution from Ships 1973/78 (Ratification and Enforcement) Bill H.B 159.

Status: Passed and Signed into Law in May 2005.

4. The International Convention on the Civil Liabilities for Oil Pollution Damage (Ratification and Enforcement) Bill 2004 H.B 157.

Status: Passed and Signed into Law in January 2006.

Role: Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha was the Principal Facilitator.

5. International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for the Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage 1979 as amended (Ratification and Enforcement) Bill 2004 H.B 159.

Status: Passed and Signed into Law in January 2006.

Role: Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha was the Principal Facilitator.

6. A Bill for an Act to Establish a Council for Registration Freight Forwarders in Nigeria.

Status: Passed and Signed into Law.

Role: Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha sponsored it.

7. The Chartered Institute of Shipping of Nigeria Bill 2005.

Status: Passed and Signed into Law.

Role: Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha Co-sponsored it.

8. Nigeria Ports Act (Amendment) Bill 2009.

Status: Passed Consideration.

Role: Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha was the Principal Facilitator.

9. Merchant Shipping Act.

Status: Passed and Signed into Law

10. Nigeria Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators Bill 2009

Status: Passed second Reading as at 2015).

Role: Rt. Hon. Ihedioha Sponsored it.

Rt. Hon. EmekaIhedioha also made other legislative accomplishments, including the following viz membership and leadership of committees and delegations:

1. Member, Joint Committee on Constitutional Amendment.

2. Chairman, House Ad-Hoc Committee on Legislative Agenda

3. Chairman, House Ad-Hoc Committee on Constitution Review

4 Chairman, Committee of the Whole.

5. Alternate Chairman, Governing Council of Nigeria Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS).

6. Chairman, Ad-hoc Committee on Process and Procedure for Obtaining Local and Foreign Loans by Federal and State Governments.

7. Chairman, Sub-Committee on the Review of the Police Act.

8. Nigeria Branch Representative, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

9. Member, Leadership Group, National Democratic Institute (NDI) International Observer Group that monitored the parliamentary elections in the Republic of Lebanon.

10. Leader of Delegation to the 6th General Assembly of the International Parliamentary Association for Information Technology, Sofia, Bulgaria in 2008.

11. Member, Executive Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament African Region.

12. Leader Nigerian Delegation to the 41st Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Mpumalanga, South Africa.

13. Leader of the Nigerian Delegation to the ECOWAS Parliament.

14. Chairman, House Ad-committee on the Alteration of the 1999 Constitution

15. Deputy Leader of the Nigerian Delegation to 125th International Parliamentary Union at Barn on 19th of October, 2012.

16. Deputy Leader of Nigerian Delegation to the 126th International Parliamentary Union Assembly at Kampala, Uganda from March 31 to April 5, 2013.

17. Deputy Leader of Nigerian Delegation to the 127th International Parliamentary Union Assembly at Quebec, Canada from 21st to 25th October, 2013.

18. Deputy Leader of Nigerian Delegation to the 128th International Parliamentary Union Assembly at Quito, Ecuador from 22nd to 27th March, 2013.

19. Deputy Leader of Delegation to the 129th International Parliamentary Union Assembly at Geneva, Switzerland from 7th to 9th October 2013.

20. Chairman, House Committee on Marine Transport.

21. Chairman, Ad-Hoc Committee on Constituency Projects.

22. Chairman, Ad-Hoc Committee on the Celebration of Ten Years of Unhindered Legislative Practice in Nigeria (1999-2009).

Ultimately, apparently for his uncommon legislative accomplishments, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, CON, KSC was honoured with the award of the fourth highest national honour, the Commander of the Order of the Nigeria (CON).

The period of Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha in Federal House of Representatives has been rated excellent for him, the AbohMbaise/NgorOkpala Federal Constituency, and Imo State in general. He attracted, facilitated and sponsored thousands of people-oriented projects.

In the areas of road construction, education, health, electricity, water, security, marine transport, environment and rural development, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha left a remarkable imprimatur. It is such that in varying quantum each of the 27 Local Governments Areas of Imo State received share of Ihedioha’s projects.

In the area of employment and empowerment, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha transformed thousands of lives of Imo people for the best. For instance, on different occasions, he sponsored skills acquisition trainings and empowerment progammes in which three persons comprising youths and women from each of the 305 wards of Imo State were beneficiaries. At the end of such skills acquisition trainings and empowerment progammes he provided substantial seed money to the beneficiaries.

In the same vein, Ihedioha facilitated the employment of hundreds of Imo youths with graduate and secondary education qualifications. Scores were offered overseas scholarships for undergraduate and graduate studies by Ihedioha.

The records are such that they are quite long and lengthy that reproducing them here may be too cumbersome. But let it suffice that Rt. Ihedioha went to Abuja to represent AbohMbaise/NgorOkpala Federal Constituency and came back home to Imo State with people-oriented, life enhancing projects, employment and empowerment.

In 2015, he contested for the office of governor of Imo State but lost to some better forgotten unorthodox circumstances. During the preparations for that election, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha toured across the length and breadth of Imo State. He met Imo people and acquainted himself with the hinterland and grassroots.

Quickly after the election, which result he took withy philosophical equanimity he moved on with his other life engagements. And how time flies! Before anybody knew it was 2018; the year before the election in 2019.

With due consultations with various cadres of people in Imo State, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha received encouragement to give the governor’s office another shot in the 2019 elections. And effective April 2018 he set out on vigorous tour of entire 305 wards and 27 local government areas of the State. That mission was successfully accomplished in August 2018.

At the PDP gubernatorial primary election that was conducted under very free, fair, transparent and credible atmosphere of peace, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha emerged the PDP guber flag bearer for the 2019. Since thereafter he has not cared to give rest a room. It has round the clock political electioneering campaign engagements.

Only recently, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha embarked on a scheduled tour of London and some States of America where he met with hundreds of Imo people resident in diaspora. He went with the message of his vision and mission to liberate Imo people are rebuild Imo State when he assumes office as governor. In Washington DC, USA, Ihedioha delivered a major policy speech on the topic, “Imo State in the Global Economy”. It is heart-warming that he had in audience some industrialists, investors, intellectuals and technocrats. That according to pundits portends good omen for the economy of Imo State under the watch of Ihedioha from 2019.

The essence of the foray into the curriculum vitae and resumé of Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha is to let those who do not know him make his acquaintance while those who know will relish a fresh citation of the leader who has proved that he is anointed by the Almighty God to liberate Imo people and rebuild Imo State.

It is believed that Imo State and indeed Nigeria need leaders with the anointing of God upon their lives. Periscoping and assessing the pedigree and antecedents, capacities and capabilities of Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, presents the verisimilitude with some of the greatest successful leaders like the earlier mentioned King David who rose from nobody to somebody and from nothing to something great.

There is an increasing conviction among Imo people of various categories, both at home and abroad, that among the candidates that will be contesting for the office of governor of Imo State, Ihedioha is the most prepared and ready to deliver good government and good governance to Imo State and Imo people.

If the unprecedented high level of support being enjoyed by Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha is the pole of measure of his suitability for the office of governor of Imo State, then he will win the 2019 governorship election with votes and mandate of the people of Imo State. May God be with him and bless his ambition with resounding success.

*Ogu Bundu Nwadike, M.A, is a journalist, editor, publisher, writer, author and public affairs analyst and critic. He is in the media team of the Ihedioha Campaign Organization.*

Chile bishops visit Rome in bid to rebuild ties with Pope Francis

Chile bishops visit Rome in bid to rebuild ties with Pope Francis

Photo: A demonstrator displays a banner during a rally against Chilean Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati over allegations he covered up sexual abuse of minors outside his residence in Santiago. The banner reads: “Cardinal Ezzati: Coward covering up! They will not steal our hope. Another church is possible” and “Survivors Network of Ecclesiastical Abuse.” (Credit: CNS photo/Ivan Alvarado, Reuters.)

ROSARIO, Argentina – Almost a year to the day since Pope Francis’s troubled January 2018 visit to Chile, a group of Chilean bishops is returning the favor, visiting Rome on Monday to try to “strengthen communion” with the pontiff after a series of clashes that included Francis accusing Chilean prelates of covering up clerical sexual abuse and of destroying evidence.

One of the bishops who worked to make Monday’s meeting happen told Crux the encounter was requested by the Chileans, to “bring him up to date on what we’ve done since his visit,” and to try to “rebuild the relationship between the Chilean bishops’ conference and the Holy See, making it more formal and structured.”

Requesting to remain unnamed, he said Saturday that the objective is to once again have “formal ties” between the government of the global Church and that of Chile, because the structural bond “is broken.”

“Each bishop, when they go to Rome, meets with the pope, some of them with the various Vatican dicasteries, but there’s no formal conversation, the ordinary relationship with the Apostolic See is broken” the bishop said. “This needs to be addressed to strengthen communion.”

Things between Chile and the papacy have been tense since Francis summoned every Chilean bishop to Rome last May to address an ongoing institutional crisis due to various cases of clerical sexual abuse, some which go back many decades but which continued to be mishandled.

At the end of that meeting, every bishop presented their resignation to Francis in a two-page document defined to Crux as “pastoral in tone” and with no real canonical value. Experts say this means that despite a codicil of canon law stipulating the pope has three months to accept a bishop’s resignation before it becomes void, in the case of Chile the resignations were set up in a way that allows the pope to take as long as he needs.

As a result, several bishops who took a deep breath after the three-month deadline expired are not yet out of the woods. Among them is Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati, Archbishop of Santiago, who at 77 has presented his resignation to Francis twice, once in May and again when he turned 75.

Ezzati is one of eight Chilean bishops who’ve been subpoenaed by the civil prosecutor’s office on charges of cover-up. He’s also one of five who will meet Francis on Monday. The list, all members of the permanent commission of the Chilean conference, also includes Bishop Santiago Silva president of the commission; vice president Archbishop Rene Rebolledo Salinas; Bishop Fernando Ramos Perez; and Bishop Juan Ignacio Gonzalez.

Silva too has been subpoenaed, and for this reason he decided to skip a Feb. 21-24 meeting of every president of a bishops’ conference called by Francis. Instead, Ramos will attend.

Since his trip to Chile on Jan. 15-18 last year, Francis went from publicly defending disgraced Bishop Juan Barros, the first of seven bishops whose resignations he accepted since May, to acknowledging that he made “serious errors of assessment and perception” in the case of Barros, who has long been accused of covering up for his mentor, former priest Fernando Karadima.

“I recognize … that I have made serious errors of judgement and perception of the situation, especially due to a lack of truthful and balanced information,” Francis wrote in a letter to the Chilean bishops released April 18.

In it, he also announced that he would be meeting a group of Chilean survivors of clerical sexual abuse. The letter was the result of an investigation conducted in the pope’s name by Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Spaniard Father JordiBertomeu, an official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which among other things deals with cases of abuse by priests.

After meeting with the pope in late April and early May, three survivors told reporters that he had “formally asked us for forgiveness, in his own name and on behalf of the universal Church.”

One of the survivors said he believed the pope hadn’t lied but had been badly informed. The survivor said Francis had told him, “I was part of the problem, I caused this, and I apologize to you.”

Francis then got tough with Chile’s bishops. In a document leaked to the media, the pope told the bishops that removing people, though necessary, is not enough.

The problems facing the Chilean Church today are not solved by “addressing the concrete cases and reducing them to the removal of people; this – and I say this clearly – must be done, but it’s not enough, we must go further.”

According to Francis, it would be “a serious omission” not to look into the roots and structures that allowed for the abuse – not only sexual abuses, but also abuses of power and conscience – to happen and to continue over time.

Sources with knowledge of the situation told Crux last November that during their general assembly some of the prelates expressed anger with the way Francis has treated them, wanting to go to Rome to address it.

However, the Chilean bishop who spoke on background this Saturday said the reason for the visit is not to voice resentment but to try to re-build the bond, although, he said, this isn’t to say that some of the prelates aren’t hurt.

“If some of us weren’t upset, we’d all be Martians,” he said.

Pope baptizes babies, says faith must start at home

Pope baptizes babies, says faith must start at home

Photo: Pope Francis baptizes an infant in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel. (Credit: CNS.)

ROME – Pope Francis celebrated Mass in the Sistine Chapel Sunday, marking the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, as he does every year, by baptizing the babies of Vatican personnel and telling their parents that to pass on the faith, they must start at home both by giving a good example and teaching their children the basics.

In his homily for the Jan. 13 Mass, during which he baptized 27 babies, including 12 girls and 15 boys, Francis noted how at the beginning liturgy the parents were asked what they wanted for their children, to which they collectively responded saying they were asking for “the faith.”

“You ask for faith from the Church for your children and today. They will receive from the Holy Spirit the gift of faith in their hearts, in their souls,” he said, adding that “this faith must grow.”

Though children learn the faith by studying it in catechism courses as they get older, the pope said that before that, “faith is transmitted. And this is a task that affects you,” he said, speaking to the parents and godparents of the children.

Transmitting the faith, he said, “is done at home, because faith is always transmitted in dialogue, dialogue within the family, at home, in the climate of the home. This is your task: to transmit the faith with your example, with your words, teaching them how to make the Sign of the Cross.”

Francis noted how he has often seen children who have never been taught how to make the Sign of the Cross, so “they do something and you don’t know what it is.”

He told parents to teach their children these basic elements of the faith, to be good examples, and to provide an environment of love and peace in the home, “so they see Jesus is there.”

Francis also offered the parents a piece of advice, cautioning them to never fight in front of their children.

“It’s normal that spouses fight, it’s normal. It would be strange if not,” he said, “but do it so they don’t see it. You don’t know the anguish a child has when they see their parents fight.”

“Your task is to transmit the faith to them, transmit it at home, because it’s learned there. Then they will study it, but faith at home,” he said, adding that providing a peaceful environment where children can grow without the stress of hearing their parents fighting is part of providing a good example and allowing the faith to grow.

As he does every year, the pope closed his homily telling mothers not to be afraid to breastfeed their babies if they are crying, which he said would have “a polyphonic effect,” leading other infants to join in.

Francis’s Mass for the Baptism of the Lord marks the end of this busy holiday marathon of Masses, speeches and liturgies, officially closing the Christmas season.

As a liturgical footnote, given the design of the Sistine Chapel, the baptism Mass is generally the lone occasion each year when the pope celebrates ad orientem, “towards the east,” meaning with the priest facing the altar rather than the congregation. It’s the style associated with the older Latin Mass prior to the Second Vatican Council in the mid-1960s.

In his Angelus address after Mass, Francis reflected on the biblical scene of Jesus’ baptism, saying the passage points to the key dynamics of Jesus’ relationship with the people, and his relationship with God the Father.

The people, he said, are not only “a background of the scene,” but they are “an essential component of the event.” Before Jesus is immersed in the water of the Jordan River, he is immersed in the crowd of people waiting to be baptized by John the Baptist, meaning he has united himself to them, “fully assuming the human condition, sharing in everything but sin,” he said.

By joining the people who ask John the Baptist to baptize them, Jesus also shared their desire for internal renewal, and himself became a “new creation,” he said. Noting how in the Bible a dove descends over Jesus while a voice from heaven says, “this is my son, with whom I am well pleased,” Francis said these words are also directed to each Christian today.

In terms of his relationship with God the Father, after immersing himself with the people, Jesus then immerses himself in prayer and begins his public ministry, the pope said, noting how Jesus constantly refers to himself as being “sent by the Father to show his goodness and his love for all men.”

For Christians to be faithful, they must unite themselves to Jesus just as he united himself to the Father, Francis said, adding that this unity is built through prayer and action, giving a “clear Christian witness not built on our own human projects, but according to the plan and style of God.”

He closed his address urging Christians to commit themselves to remember their baptismal promises, and to remind themselves that Jesus saved mankind “not by our own merits, but to implement the immense goodness of the Father, which makes us merciful to all.”

Pope: Faith says ‘no’ to Satan, ‘yes’ to God

Pope: Faith says ‘no’ to Satan, ‘yes’ to God

Pope Francis arrives to lead his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. (Credit: Stefano Rellandini/Reuters via CNS.)

ROME – Baptism requires rejecting Satan and professing one’s full faith in God, Pope Francis said.

Only by being able to say “no” to the devil, his works and empty promises “am I able to say ‘yes’ to God, who calls me to conform myself to him in thoughts and deeds,” he said.

“It is not possible to follow Christ (while) imposing preconditions,” he said May 2 during his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square.

Continuing his series of talks on the sacrament of baptism, the pope looked at the importance of the heart being ready to receive the gift of new life from God through the baptismal water and the Holy Spirit. When a child is presented for baptism, its parents and godparents renew the vows of their own baptism in rejecting sin and professing faith in Jesus.

“Either you are with God or with the devil,” the pope said, which is why the renunciation of sin and the profession of faith are “two acts tightly connected to each other.”

One must break with the past and its sinful attachments, “leaving them behind in order to embark on the new way, which is Christ” and to be able to “truly embrace others,” he said.

“The devil divides and God always unites the community, the people” in one body, he said.

During the baptismal rite, he said, the individual is asked to respond in the first person, to reject evil and profess his or her faith as a sign of choosing to be personally responsible in this daily commitment of trusting in God and walking with him.

The profession of faith reflects a commitment – aided by baptism – to be strong and persevere throughout all of life’s trials and temptations, he added.

“Rejecting sin, the temptations of evil, Satan – the source and cause of every sin – and faith in what the Church believes” are not temporary or provisional commitments asked only at baptism, Francis said.

They are required throughout life, he said, and “the presence of the Holy Spirit will give you the strength to fight well” against evil and temptation.

Whenever people bless themselves with holy water, he said, they should recall with joy and gratitude the gift they received on the day of their baptism and they ask for the grace to persevere and live “immersed” in God’s love

Ihedioha kick starts campaign with church service

Ihedioha kick starts campaign with church service

…Vote out Herodian rulers-Obinna
… Popular prophet predicts guber victory for Ihedioha

With less than seven weeks into the 2019 general elections in the country, Rt.Hon Emeka Ihedioha, the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), Imo state  and the entire family of the party have knelt in worship to the Almighty God asking him to take the lead in all their electioneering campaigns and bring victory to their knees in all the elective positions.

They commenced the campaigns with a celebrated high mass held at the Assumpta Cathedral of the Owerri Archdiocese with archbishop Anthony J V Obinna, the archbishop, presiding.

The Church service which started at about 9:30 am was graced by Professor Jude Ejike Njoku who came by 9:39 am, Achike Udenwa ,former governor of the state, Charles Ezekwem PDP chairman, Hon Oliver Enwerenem and all the cream of PDP in Imo in attendance.    In an exclusive interview, some of the PDP members who spoke in an anonymity described Emeka Ihedioha the party’s flag bearer as an epitome of peace, uprightness and a symbol of exemplary leadership, with a high level of integrity, transparency and accountability.

Charles Ezekwem, chairman of the party in the state , in an interview said  “As we want to start our campaigns, we decided that it is necessary to come to the house of  our LORD to commit all the activities of our campaigns for 2019 general elections into the hand of God”.

In his homily Archbishop Anthony Obinna, the archbishop of the Owerri  Catholic archdiocese who presided  over the church service with other priests assisting, described the leadership style of most of our political leaders as herodian, full of greed, covetousness, violence and terror.

Like the biblical Herod,  they ate terror and violence personified leaders  who use soldiers,  police, political leaders, religious leaders and all security apparatuses within their reach to unleash terror to people to achieve their objectives.

” Now Herod is alive with us in different parts of Africa, Nigeria and Imo state. People are being killed as a result of terror and violence of our political leaders who are greedy”

He prayed and urged the electorate   in Imo state and the entire country to vote out herodian rulers.

Also in a special programme hosted by the True Believers Assembly, a world Church organization, Reverend Eric Onunji, the General Overseer and aprophet renowned for true manifestation of his prophetic utterances has predicted Victory for Emeka Ihedioha, governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Imo state, even as the elections commence in a few weeks ahead.

It would be recalled that in 2015 he predicted the result of the presidential election and the gubernatorial election in Imo state and they came out  true as predicted, he predicted also the result of the election of the late Independence Ogunewe  (Ahiazu/Ezinihitte Federal
Constituency) the result came true as predicted, he also predicted the election of  Mike Iheanetu(Aboh Mbaise State Constituency) it cametrue, now he has sent word to  Emeka Ihedioha and related the massage of victory which he said was a revelation from God to him.

“Emeka Ihedioha will win the governorship election of Imo state this year, 2019. Because he has honoured this invitation, God will honour him this year, he will rule from the government and with the fear of God, with God all things are possible”, he said.

He continued “we are not interested in your money or to tell you to raise funds for us but you are here because of what God said we should tell you, what he, God, has said about your victory at the polls”. Emeka Ihedioha, however was unavoidable absent and was he was
represented by Kizito Onuoha and Kingsley Nzemechi a lawyer and personal friend of Emeka Ihedioha .

At the church programme held at the True Believers Assembly headquarters, Nnorie in Ngor/Okpala local government area, the crowd was huge, although it was also expected because it was one of the Tuesday’s programme which unprecedented crowd was expected.

The theme was, “Push until something happens” featured deliverance, salvation, healing, breaking of curses and yokes etc with the guest minister pastor Kingsley Nwachukwu from the Eleutheria Ministries, Port Harcourt.

The participants counted their blessings as God touched their problems and many who were sick received their healings.

He advised Ihedioha not to hesitate to remember Ngor/Okpala and ensure that the local government gets a good chunk of dividend of democracy when he assumes the seat of power at the Douglas House in the state.

By SABY ELEMBA, Owerri