FAITH AND POLITICS

FAITH AND POLITICS

By Very Rev. Monsignor Livinus Ukah

The Christians who live in today’s world always bear in mind what Jesus said “If you want to be a disciple of mine, you must deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me”. The political climate at Jesus time was very intense and polarized. To work in a polarized world needs faith-filled people, strong like Jesus to help to dismantle social structures that dislocate humanity.

We know how the early Christians suffered in carrying the ‘’Cross’’ dying for truth and living amid mysteries of human life. They spoke eloquently in the midst of evil and alienation of people. Their concerns for the people and eloquent testimonies and lifestyles could breed explosive social discontent for those who want to remain the same in governance and continue to oppress the people. Governance should be therapeutic; heal people, caring for the people by making sure that there is peace and food in the land. 

We must know that the church is superior to the state because its authority comes from God but the church and the state should work together because the church has special vocation from God. So the church and the state should cooperate to enforce more moderate, realistic and moral demands on the society at large.

The church’s divine authority is immense that it can coerce a government that lacks moral compass. The responsibilities that lie on the Christians are many and so they must first of all be just in their lives and must confront issues of injustices in the society.  They live and liberate the oppressed. Where secular authority violates human rights and jails people unjustly the church must speak.  Christians filled with faith must know that no power is allowed to violate human rights or is allowed to make draconian laws that upset God’s plan for his people .What is happening in Nigeria is  atrocious, insecurity everywhere. Muslims should cooperate with the Christians to bring peace and justice to mankind. 

Indonesia has the largest population of Muslims in the world but the live in peace with people. Why not us in Nigeria?

Christians are called to raise their voices against injustice in the society, eliminate injustice, reduce poverty and bring peace. They should make sure that people are allowed to participate in the economic, political and cultural life of the country. It is unfair for any individual to prevent one from participating in politics. Catholic Priests are not allowed to participate in partisan politics because of its duplicities but other churches allow their pastors to join politics but we have never seen them perform better than ordinary politicians in politics. We want people who can bring value to the system and create hope for the people. 

Politics is not meant only for the elite and money bags. Human society must be regulated properly to have harmony and avoid violence. Security of life must be assured Christians must always use the Gospel values to sanitize the society to make sure that social justice is maintained. Seriously, the Christians must make sure they do not sell their rights to proclaim the values of Jesus at political positions but speak to power that the dignity of human persons is safe-guarded in the country for there is constant abuse of human rights all over. They should change the unjust structures as the early Christians did and not minimize the value of justice. Our faith should not be dormant and we should use our faith values to fight in the social world.

Christian faith can help to restore humanity heading to ruin. It can bring justice to humanity by calling evil by its name.

Nigeria needs Justice, fairness – Bishop Onah

Nigeria needs Justice, fairness – Bishop Onah

…Says “Islamization and “Fulanization” project already in implementation

The Catholic Bishop of Nsukka Diocese, Most Rev. Prof. Godfrey IgwebuikeOnah, has said that Nigeria needs Justice, fairness and good governance to surmount her challenges. He said Christians in Nigeria, especially Catholic faithful, must exhibit the Christian virtue of selfless service to humanity and avoid power tussle which he said is setting the people apart.

The Catholic prelate, who decried what he described as a partial constitution drafted to favour a certain part of the country, also said that the “Islamization and “Fulanization” project has gone beyond being a hidden agenda, for it is now being implemented openly and with impunity.”

Bishop Onah gave the statement during a Homily preached at the Silver Jubilee Thanksgiving Mass of Most Rev. Anthony John Valentine ChiedozieObinna, Archbishop of Owerri, at Maria Assumpta Cathedral, Owerri on Thursday 5th September 2019.

According to him, Archbishop of Owerri has been in the forefront of preaching against injustice and bad governance in the country.

He said although the Christian bishops have never failed to respond to the call by the people to always speak up against injustice and bad governance, but the people themselves must equally exhibit selfless service to humanity just as Jesus enjoined all Christians to always do.

He said Archbishop Obinna always stands on truth and also preaches truth, fairness and justice despite persecutions.

According to him, “Archbishop Obinna uses every means at his disposal to proclaim the liberating truth of the Gospel – (welcome or unwelcome) in season and out of season, reproving, rebuking and encouraging his brothers and sisters, always with patience and sound teaching (cf. 2 Tim 4: 2). He has been heckled and harassed even in the Church while at the service of the truth for the benefit of God’s people.”

Below is the full homily:

“The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves… I am among you as one who serves” (Lk 22: 25-26)

Today we join the Bishops, the Clergy, the members of Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Laity of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province in giving thanks to God for his many blessings in the past 25 years since the creation of the Province.

Understandably, the thanksgiving celebrations have been planned in stages, in order to give us time to pause awhile and reflect on the various dimensions of the great things the Lord has done for and in his people in this quarter of a century.

Today, our attention is focused on the blessings we have received in and through the person, the life and the ministry of our Archbishop and the Metropolitan of Owerri Province, Archbishop Anthony John Valentine ChiedozieObinna.

Our thanksgiving reflection today, guided by the Word of God that has just been proclaimed to us, intends to be a simple reminder that the Bishop, like every Priest and Deacon, is ordained to serve; it equally intends to invite all of us to thank God for the various ways in which Archbishop Obinna has sincerely tried all these years to lead the People of God through service.

Although we sometimes sing the “Ecce sacerdosmagnus” for living and serving Bishops (the hymn was originally the introit for the Mass of pastors and confessors who are already saints), given that the text is in the past tense, it would seem that the proper time to sing it would be after the death of the Bishop. For it is only then that it can be affirmed that “in his days he (did what) was pleasing to God” (“onye mere ihena-asoChinekemgbe o na-achi”).

Our prayer is that those who will be there when the lifeless body of Archbishop Anthony Obinna will be lying before the altar will then be able to sing “Ecce sarcedos magus” with a clear conscience, as did the homilist at the funeral of the Servant of God, Bishop Michael UgwujaEneja.

Looking at the life of the majority of Christians down through the ages, one is often left to wonder how seriously we take our own religion. If one were to summarize in a few words what Christianity is all about, one could say that it is a way of life characterized by love, which is expressed through self-sacrificing service of neighbour.

Unlike the other religious leaders of his time, our Lord Jesus Christ taught and demonstrated that true worship of God does not consist in keeping a set of rules or performing determinate ritual actions, but rather in loving God and neighbour, to the point of giving one’s life for one’s friends – “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Remain in my love… Greater love has no one than this that one gives one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15: 9-13). All the teachings and actions of the Church are meant to make people embrace this way of life and live it out in action.

It is therefore sad to note that some of the Church’s administrative and pastoral actions, which are meant to bring Christ’s Gospel of love nearer to the people, like the creation of new Ecclesiastical Provinces, Dioceses and Parishes, as well as the appointment of Bishops and Parish Priests, often turn out to become causes of struggle, quarrel, intrigues, slander, divisions and “genetically transmitted” resentment. On a Jubilee day like this, we have a sacred responsibility of asking ourselves why this is so.

What have we as Christians done with positions of leadership, whether in the Church or in the larger society, that has made people forget that such positions are for service? What body language, what manner of leadership, from Bishops has lead people now to talk of “struggling for the bishopric” or some priests positioning or posturing to be made bishops (even though that is a futile exercise)? What have we done with our positions of service that now makes even members of the Institutes of Consecrated Life (Religious Priests, Sisters and Brothers) struggle and manoeuvre to be made Superiors General? People hardly ever struggle to serve.

The struggle is usually for power and personal gain. It is my opinion that those who struggle and campaign to be made heads of the various bodies in the Church (clerical or lay) should never get it, because most likely, such persons are not seeking the positions in order to serve but for some other personal or selfish reasons.

Christians have carried the same attitude over to public life. How many of our public servants are really servants in the true sense of the word – including the Christians in public service? Are our civil servants actually serving us in public offices? Not minding that minister is just the Latin word for servant, how many of our ministers really see themselves and act as servants – including the Christians among them? “The leader among you must be the one who serves.”

The late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua appeared on the Nigerian leadership horizon like a meteor. When at his inauguration as the 13th President of Nigeria he promised to be a servant-leader, Nigerians were ecstatic and immediately fell in love with the man. It was as if he had introduced a concept never heard of in Nigeria. Yet, more than half of Nigeria’s population is Christian.

Had Nigerian Christians never read this passage from today’s Gospel before Yar’Adua? «The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves… I am among you as one who serves» (Lk 22: 25-26).

Of course they had. But perhaps they never thought it applied to them, nor did they see it lived out by other Christians in leadership positions. When therefore we Christians pay only lip service to our own values, their adoption by others, or by the secular society, challenge us to self-examination and personal as well as collective conversion.

As Msgr. TheophilusOkere once observed, the driving principles of the French Revolution and Communism, namely, justice, freedom, equality and universal brotherhood, are all core Christian values, which Christianity somehow failed to adequately implement. Thus he affirms: «It took the French Revolution and its philosophers to get society as society, serious again on these values, preached for ages without effect by Christianity. [And] it took the rude shock of Karl Marx’s atheistic materialism to force the attention of the world on the crying need of justice for all.

Though both movements “failed”, that failure is rather an indictment of the one, moral force equipped and mandated to effect these programs in the world». This is food for thought on our style of leadership today. If our people are surprised and excited when they see a leader who is a servant, then we have reasons to ask ourselves questions about our own style of leadership.

Let it be said that leading through service of neighbour is neither easy nor a way of life that can be adopted in a once-and-for-all manner. No. It is rather a painful life-long process, that is learned only by kneeling at the foot of the Cross, contemplating the victimhood of Christ’s priesthood.

The context of the dispute among the Apostles in the Gospel reading of today was the Last Supper, the first Eucharistic celebration, and very close to the Passion and death of our Lord. The Apostles had just received the Body and Blood of Christ for the first time and Jesus had just told them that he was about to suffer and to die. And they started disputing among themselves over which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.

In such a solemn and sad situation, in which one would have expected them to be worried over the sort of their Master, they were rather struggling for positions of power and importance. What an embarrassment! What a shameful thing for these most intimate friends of the Master! What a patient Lord and Master we have! Rather than express his disappointment at the behaviour of his friends, he patiently taught them that their greatness should be in service.

It was not easy for the Apostles to learn and practise this. It will not be easy either for the successors of the Apostles or for any other Christian. When therefore we notice that many of us in leadership positions are not servants of the people, we should realize that we are only earthen vessels holding divine treasure. That notwithstanding, we have to keep trying to learn and internalize this principle; for without diakonia, our priesthood loses its very essence. Without the diaconate, we cannot be either Priests or Bishops.

Since leadership through service is not easy to find, we have good reasons to celebrate and to thank God when we find a good specimen of it. Ordained Bishop 4 September 1993 (26 years ago at the age of 47) and appointed Archbishop only 6 months later (while he was still trying to figure out what being a Bishop meant, AmarachiObinna chose for his episcopal motto: “To serve God and His people.”

Before his episcopal ordination, Fr. Anthony Obinna was fully immersed, after a thorough specialized training, in the diakonia of the truth as a lecturer at the AlvanIkoku College of Education, Owerri. There he was engaged in the service of divine truth: seeking it, loving it, embracing it and bringing it to others through education. This, says Pope St John Paul II is a special service to humanity (Fides et ratio, 2).

And since his elevation to the episcopal office, his dedication to this service has intensified to the point of becoming a consuming passion. Anthony Obinna is in love with the truth and seeks it diligently at all times, through prayer, meditation and study. Yes, he is a man of prayer (“a call for prayer: can we say the Rosary?”), a seasoned intellectual and an avid reader with a seemingly insatiable thirst for knowledge. This prepares him in adequately for the special service of teaching the people of God and of proclaiming the truth as a prophet. This is highly needed in Nigeria at this moment.

 Today, Nigerians expect so much of their Bishops. In the darkness and gloom that have enveloped our country, many are looking expectantly at the Church for a ray of hope, however faint. Whether it is about the perceived Islamization and “Fulanization” of the country, or about the current effort of the Federal Government to stifle every form of opposition, people are asking: What is the Church doing? And by the Church they simply mean Catholic Bishops. But I ask: What else can the Bishops do that they have not done already? The Bishops have prayed and continue to pray for Nigeria. The Bishops have spoken clearly and consistently against bad governance, from the time of military dictatorship, when the voice of the Church was the only one that could not be silenced, till today, when military dictatorship has returned in another form.

The Bishops have expressly stated that this country is in trouble. The Bishops have told the government repeatedly that the only way out of the catastrophe that is about to happen in this country is justice and fairness: respect for those parts of the Constitution that are just and fair; amendment of those parts of the Constitution that were so framed as to favour parts of the country, either geographically or religiously.

This country is experiencing deterioration on a daily basis and our people are losing confidence in themselves. There is a decay of infrastructure and near total collapse of security. All this have been pointed out by the Catholic Bishops on several occasions. What have the Bishops not said? At the peak of insecurity in this country the Bishops candidly advised the President to resign, since he could no longer provide protection for the lives and property of Nigerians. Repeatedly the Bishops have engaged every President of this country.

But what about our Christians, including our Catholics, who are in government? There are card-carrying Catholics in all the political parties that have ruled Nigeria since the return to democracy. What have these Catholic or Christian members of the ruling parties done to translate into concrete action the indications that the Bishops have given? Bishops have marched the streets in prayer and protest. Bishops have taken the Government to court in some States.

The only thing that we have not done and will never do is to incite our people to violence, because that would be wrong. The Federal Government of Nigeria needs to know that our youths are losing confidence in the peaceful and nonviolent way we are proposing. And I would like to state clearly today, out of respect for Archbishop Anthony Obinna who has been foremost in speaking out in defence of good governance both in his State and in the Country, that the current Federal Government of Nigeria will hold itself responsible if it refuses to listen to the voice of reason and the calamity we all fear befalls our dear country.

The Islamization and “Fulanization” project has gone beyond being a hidden agenda, for it is now being implemented openly and with impunity. But then there is a limit to the extent to which the people can be oppressed without their reacting to the oppression. We therefore appeal to all those in Government at different levels in this country to remember that they are there to serve ALL the people of Nigeria.

To our Christians I would say what I have said repeatedly in other occasions, that a Christian people cannot be Islamized, until it has first been de-Christianized. And we are now de-Christianizing Nigerian Christians and even Christianity itself by the convenient, self-made or customized form of Christianity that is now very popular in Nigeria; a Christianity devoid of the cross, suffering and service. We are also de-Christianizing Christianity by the promotion of fetishism and neo-paganism in the name of culture.

United with and configured to his Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, whom God anointed with the Holy Spirit and power (Acts 10: 36), Archbishop Obinna uses every means at his disposal to proclaim the liberating truth of the Gospel – (welcome or unwelcome) in season and out of season, reproving, rebuking and encouraging his brothers and sisters, always with patience and sound teaching (cf. 2 Tim 4: 2). He has been heckled and harassed even in the Church while at the service of the truth for the benefit of God’s people; persecuted and prosecuted (even by presumably cradle Catholics) for condemning the anti-Christian and antihuman social evil of the osu (and ohu) caste system in Igboland; dubbed a partisan politician for defending the right of the people to good governance; labelled a tribalist (even by some colleagues) for underscoring the importance of language in the promotion and evangelization of a people’s culture. It easy to imagine him at some moments like St Paul: «pressed on all sides, but not crushed, perplexed but not driven to despair, persecuted but not abandoned, bowed but not broken» (2 Cor 4: 8-9).

But, Amarachi, you cannot give up at this point. It is too late. You would lose your identity. Anaghiamu aka ekpenanka. Like St Martin Bishop of Tours you can only pray thus: «Lord, if I am still needed by your people, I will not refuse to serve. Your will be done». (Lee m Dinwenu; ekwuputagomikpenkwumotoGi). Yes, his people and YOUR people still need you.

They still need your perceptive and discerning mind; they still need your clear and irrepressible prophetic voice. We know that it is not just years but the weight of responsibility that has shrivelled your charming face, bent your elegant frame and shaven your head without water.

But you must plod on! For the Spirit of the Lord God is upon YOU, because the Lord has anointed YOU to bring good tidings to afflicted Nigerian people; he has sent YOU to bind the broken hearted and disillusioned Igbo youths, to proclaim Christ’s liberty to the captives of wicked ancestral and cultural beliefs and practices and the opening of the prison to those Christians who are bound by their false beliefs; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour to those in positions of authority who make a difference through service-leadership, and for those who persist in causing Nigeria and Nigerians further distress, even while devoutly saying the “Prayer for Nigeria in Distress” – the day of vengeance of our God.

Without forgetting the other forms of service that you must render to God and his people, never relent on your diakonia of the truth. And may God who began this good work in you bring it to completion, so that at the end, when he calls you to himself, your people can sing without contradiction: “Ecce sacerdosmagnus, qui in diebussui, placuitDeo.” Ad multosannos!”

A Time to Rebuild:   AN ADDRESS BY THE GOVERNOR OF IMO STATE, HIS EXCELLENCY, RT. HON. EMEKA IHEDIOHA CON, ON THE OCCASION OF HIS 100 DAYS IN OFFICE BROADCAST, GOVERNOR’S OFFICE, OWERRI, IMO STATE, NIGERIA.

A Time to Rebuild: AN ADDRESS BY THE GOVERNOR OF IMO STATE, HIS EXCELLENCY, RT. HON. EMEKA IHEDIOHA CON, ON THE OCCASION OF HIS 100 DAYS IN OFFICE BROADCAST, GOVERNOR’S OFFICE, OWERRI, IMO STATE, NIGERIA.

PROTOCOLS

A 100 days ago, my Deputy, Hon. Engr. Gerald Irona and I were sworn into offices as Deputy Governor and Governor of Imo State, respectively. At that solemn event, we pledged to serve you with honesty, transparency and the fear of God. We have not, for one day wavered from that commitment. Let me begin by thanking you for entrusting the leadership of our dear State to us at this auspicious time in our history and for your support and prayers that have taken us thus far.

In keeping with the hallowed tradition in democratic governance, a 100days in Office has always been observed as a benchmark to measure the initial achievements of any government. I can assure you, that the executive arm, the legislature and you the good people of Imo State, are working together to rebuild Imo State.

2.0 Imo Growth and Strategic Development Plan

2.1 As you are all aware, prior to our inauguration, we constituted a high-powered Transition Technical Committee (TTC) comprising distinguished Imo sons and daughters from both within the state and the diaspora. This was to harness our huge human and economic resources to set a clear path in our rebuilding process.

2.2 The outcome of the great work accomplished by this team is being reviewed to come up with an Imo State development agenda to be known as Imo Growth and Strategic Development Plan (G-SDP). The Plan involves a two-stage development horizon of a 5-year Economic Blueprint. These noble men and women assisted us at no cost. To them, we say, a big thank you for their time and sacrifices.

The Plan include the delivery of 381km rural access road projects, restoration of an improved Owerri Master-plan, restoration of water supply in Owerri metropolis, roll-out of a State health insurance scheme as well as the reactivation of four technical education institutions in the state. Others include an economic growth and strategic development initiatives along 5 sub-themes of; Human Capital Development, Agriculture and Food Security, Infrastructure, Industrialization and Job Creation as well as Security and Environment.

3.0 Building Institutional Framework for Good Governance

3.1 In this direction, we have set up a structure for transparency and accountability in the governance process. Accordingly, we have signed into law, Executive Order 005, known as Treasury Single Account (TSA) Order to consolidate all government revenues under one account. We have also adopted other measures designed to plug leakages and increase Internally Generated Revenues (IGR) in the state coffers.

3.2 We cannot achieve the right growth as a state without a sustainable revenue generating system. The State has less than 5% of the working population of over 2 million paying taxes and this is not an acceptable position. We met an arbitrary tax collection system leading to leakages, fraud and all sorts of irregularities.

To ensure a sustainable IGR regime, we took steps to reform the state Internal Revenue Service. From August 2019 all cash tax payments have been banned and the Government has mandated the use of the PayDirect platform with a single source sweeping of revenue. This has started addressing the issue of multiple accounts and leakages, and the IGR has grown from an all-time low of about 300m in July to 600m in August.

3.3 We have commissioned a Central Billing System which will drive the use of technology in tax collection. We have started a tax payer enumeration exercise with the attendant benefit of identifying the tax payers and ensuring they pay the right amount of tax to the right source.

3.4 A transformation of the revenue service built on the pillars of People Processes and Technology to ensure that we serve the needs of the populace in the most efficient and professional manner, by operationalizing the autonomy of the Imo Internal Revenue Service in line with global standards.

3.5 We have also listened to your issues on multiple taxation and commenced a tax harmonization exercise in a bid to eliminate multiple taxation and streamline taxes in a manner that will only focus on the most relevant taxes to be paid.

3.6 Due to these strategic and fiscal responsibility moves, Imo State has gained positive image and is now on track to join the Open Governance Partnership league. It also now qualifies for performance-based grants of the World Bank as well as other multilateral development institutions. We are also currently developing the Imo Growth and Economic Development Fund. The fund will be unique in Nigeria and would serve as an investment catalyst for the Imo State economy.

4.0 Restoring Confidence in the State Civil Service

4.1 Another immediate concern we confronted head-on was the weakness of the State Civil Service due to high nepotism, lack of motivation, delayed salaries and under-payments by, sometimes, as much as 30 percent of salaries due. We, thenceforth, set up a review committee to look into cases of improper or irregular appointments, promotions and other related matters.

4.2 The Committee has turned in its report and, subsequently, we have approved the restoration of payment of 100 percent salaries to all workers in the State, recalled all unjustly suspended Directors, reversed some undeserved promotions and sponsored officers to capacity building programmes. Similarly, Local Government workers have been paid the backlog of salaries owed them by the last administration. I can tell you that there is a renewed sense of motivation in the civil service across the state today.

5.0 Rebuilding our collapsed infrastructures

5.1 We inherited a huge swath of collapsed infrastructures. Except those built by the Federal Government that are useable, the roads built by the state are in a very bad shape, despite the billions of naira purported to have been spent on road construction by the immediate past administration.

5.2 However, we are happy to inform you that the expanded State Executive Council has approved the award of contracts for the reconstruction of 14 critical roads across the State to relievethe sufferings of our people. These include: Naze-Federal Polytechnic Road-Ihiagwa-Obinze road; Ahiara Junction-Okpala Road; Aba Branch-Ahiara Junction road and the Imo Stare Teaching Hospital Road. Others include, the Umuowa-Old Orlu Road; MCC-Toronto Road; Mgbidi–Oguta road; Ogwoghoranya-Avutu with spur at Avutu Poultry FarmRoad andthe Douglas–Emmanuel College-NazeJunction road.

5.3 Also captured in under this phase of reconstruction are: the Assumpta-PortHarcourt Road; OkigweOkpara Road-Police Station Road; Control Post-World Bank–Umuguma Road; Okigwe Road-IMSU-Bishop Court Roundabout Road and the Concorde Boulevard Ring Road-Zuma–PH Road. To show that we mean business as usual, yesterday, we embarked on an aggressive flag-off of seven (7) of these projects.

5.4 Just last week, at Onuimo, Isu and Mbaitoli Local Government Areas, we flagged off one of the most ambitious rural road construction projects in the country. Valued at N13.5 billion the World Bank assisted Rural Access and Mobility Project (RAMP), involves over 70 rural road networks with a cumulative distance of 381 kilometers across most of the 27 Local Government Areas of the state. We met the project just on the drawing board, we immediately harnessed the necessary resources to pay the counterpart funding.

6.0 Security, Public Utilities and Social Services

6.1. Security in the State has been a big challenge since we assumed office. Pursuant to this, we have held several meetings with our Security Chiefs on how to chart the way forward. Accordingly, a few days ago, we launched Operation Iron Gate, as a strategic measure to combat crimes and criminalities as well as rid the State of all undesirable elements.

6.2 We have taken practical and sustained steps to get our health care delivery system in Imo working again. We have relaunched the stalled Health Insurance Scheme to connect effectively into the already existing federal government insurance scheme. We have also committed 1% of our Consolidated Revenue to this scheme. We are therefore confident that, in no distant time, a good percentage of our populace would have registered and started benefitting from the scheme.

6.3 Indeed, no meaningful industrialization can take place where there is poor power supply. Power supply in the state, over the years, has been limited by generation shortfalls as well as transmission and distribution deficiencies. Other hindrances include, the absence of modern electricity management systems and the non-exploitation of green technology in the energy mix.

6.4 Consequently, we have set up the Imo State Power and Rural Electrification Agency (I-POREA) to evolve strategies to remove barriers to adequate exploitation of our power generation potentials. We also empowered I-POREA to take advantage of the State’s natural gas and alternative energy resources to bridge the gap in access to electricity in the state. We have also made remarkable progress towards the restoration of electricity supply to some areas of the State where they were nonexistent in the last seven to eight years. This include, the replacement of 79 failed transformers across the State, completion of electricity supply to Inyishi Aluminum Extrusion Company and its environs as well as the Oguta 33kv line electricity project.

6.5 For several years, the Otamiri Water Supply was not functional and our people in the State capital and its environs suffered untold hardships. We have therefore, provided what was required to get it working again. Specifically, water started running again in Imo on 24th July, 2019 after almost seven(7) years of dry pipes. In the same vein, work is ongoing to rectify cases of burst pipes across the major roads. Similarly, when we assumed office, we discovered to our consternation that there was no functional fire-fighting equipment in the state. We took prompt and practical steps. Today, we have successfully repaired four firefighting trucks to restore the operations of Imo emergency and firefighting services.

6.6 We are tackling the housing deficit in the state by taking concrete steps towards repositioning Imo State Housing Corporation. We are entering into partnership with primary mortgage institutions such as Federal Mortgage Bank, the Family Homes Funds and other reputable private sector investors, towards providing 5000 affordable homes by the year 2023. We also have a Social Housing Initiative designed to create about 15,000 jobs in the next four years.

6.7 Since our assumption of office, we have carried out the renovation of the Odenigbo lodge which presently serves as the offices of the Governor and Deputy Governor and commenced the renovation of Commissioners’ quarters and quarters of security chiefs. We have also completed comprehensive enumeration of all public buildings in the state capital for accountability purposes.

7.0 Reviving Agriculture and Enhancing Food Value Chain

7.1 Pursuant to our resolve to harness our agricultural potentials as well as generate employment, just a few days ago, we launched our Agricultural Roadmap which represents a comprehensive framework for self-sufficiency in food production, both for domestic consumption and for exports purposes. By our strategic location at the heartland of the South East and our endowment with the only international cargo airport in the region, we are certain that with the right investments, the state would harvest monumental benefits in this sector.

7.2 I am happy also to report that the first batch of 500 youths selected from all the 27 LGAs in Imo State will be sent to a modern farm at Nasarawa State, in a few weeks, under the Imo Youths in Agribusiness Programme (IYAP). Here, they would learn the best practices in tropical agriculture, after which they will be supported to start their own businesses in Imo State.

7.3 We have also commenced the establishment of a Rice Seed Farm Cluster on the Imo River Basin at Amumara – Ezinihitte Mbaise LGA. This programme will make Imo State self-sufficient in the production of improved variety of rice seeds with a view to strengthening our rice value chain. Experts in rice breeding, production and processing from the Africa Rice Centre at IITA Ibadan will be training our groups of rural young farmers to grow and process improved rice seeds.

7.4 We have also commenced the introduction of light mechanization to farmers in areas where full tractorization may not be possible. This is intended to reduce the drudgery of farming and make it more efficient and attractive for the youths. Experts in power tillers, threshers etc. would soon arrive from the National Centre for Agricultural Mechanization (NCAM), Ilorin, to commence the pilot scheme. Specialists in light irrigation and water management have also been invited and I have released funds for equipment to pilot the teaching of youths on how to make use of our perennial water sources for an all-year-round production of crops.

7.5 The process for the rejuvenation of Imo ADP has commenced and plans are underway to train staff and reintegrate them back to intervention programmes that have suffered severe setbacks in the past as a preclude to granting access to reputable, time-tested investors.

7.6 It is noteworthy that, the Avutu Poultry Farm has been cleared for a full restoration to a world-class standard. Similarly, Adapalm is being cleared through the relevant Committee and we would soon commence operations. The challenge of pending legal issues is being attended in order to clear the way for full optimization of its potentials.

7.7 Our state is set to host the only Agribusiness Park in Nigeria at Ngor-Okpala. This comprises an agribusiness academy, and a smart agribusiness centre, thus positioning the facility for revenue generation and job creation. In a few weeks’ time, we would begin the process of data capture of afffected Imolites in the upcoming agriculture revolution program targeting 400,000 participants between the ages of 15-64.

8.0 Rebuilding our Sports facilities

8.1 In the area of sports development, you would agree with us that Imo State used to be the fishing ground for sporting talents. Many celebrated sports stars have emerged from our State. But in the last few years, even our Heartland Football Club and the Grasshoppers Handball Club have performed abysmally due to complete neglect.

8.2 The Dan Anyiam Stadium was completely broken down to the extent that NFF barred it from hosting matches and our football team, the heartland football club was nearly relegated from the Premiership as a result. Happily, our prompt intervention just before our inauguration arrested the slide. We have started re-grassing the Dan Anyiam Stadium, installing new flood lights, replacing the seats and constructing Olympic standard tartan tracks, while the Grasshoppers Stadium is beginning to wear a new look. Furthermore, local councils have joined the talent mining program of the state government through construction of sporting facilities in their respective local government areas.

9.0 Strategic Reforms to Enhance Investment

9.1 For years now, Imo State has been the ugly bride in the area of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the country. No amount of moulding of statues can attract the needed investment in the state if the government lacks integrity and the enabling environment for both domestic and foreign investments is not there. Accordingly, we have designed a framework for implementing the necessary reforms to improve our place on the World Bank Ease of Doing Business ranking, which has taken a battering in the last eight years.

9.2 In a few weeks’ time, we would be inaugurating the Imo State Enabling Business Environment Council – ISEBEC. The Council, would draw up, implement and oversee an agenda for business process reforms. We have commenced initial engagement with development partners like the World Bank and DFID, to provide technical assistance to the Secretariat and related MDAs to implement the reforms.

9.3 As mentioned earlier, we are reworking the Tax Billing System (TBS), to stem the debate over multiple taxations and to restore transparency and accountability in our tax collection regime. In the coming days our Imo people will know exactly what taxes are due to them and how and where to pay such taxes.

9.4 The government has revamped the Imo State government Bureau of Public Procurement and Price Intelligence and appointed a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply as its Director-General. Thus far, the BPPPI has dusted and resurrected the State Public Procurement Law No.12 of 2010, which was kept moribund since its enactment. Similarly, we recently embarked on investment and trade promotion visits to the United Kingdom, Germany and others, where we interacted with prospective investors, development partners and donor agencies.

10.0 Getting the Pension Process Right once and for all

10.1. We inherited over 6 years of pension arrears and discovered baffling discrepancies in the total number of pensioners in both the State and the 27 Local Governments. Consequently, we are carrying out a comprehensive audit of the pension administration system in the State with a view to ascertaining the actual number of pensioners and ending the perennial cycle of verifications that has plagued the process. In a short while, the exercise will be concluded and all the troubles hitherto experienced by our senior citizens, would be a thing of the past. I assure you that this will be the last pension verification exercise in this state.

11.0 Environmental Sanitation.

11.1 Owerri our State capital was famed for its cleanliness, but in the last eight years, we witnessed a gross deterioration of our standards of beauty and sanitation. It could rightly be said that no State capital in our federation at any moment in our history suffered a conscious infrastructural dilapidation and decay like Owerri. Every visitor that visited Owerri had alluded to this fact. Immediately we assumed office, therefore, we embarked on the removal of mountains of refuse dumps that littered the state capital and followed immediately with the de-silting of blocked drainages to ensure a permanent solution to the issue of flooding in the capital city.

11.2 We have also revived the monthly state-wide clean-up exercises and have set up a high-powered committee to work with ENTRACO, the Imo State sanitation agency. We are delighted to observe that the face of Owerri is progressively changing. Only last week the Nigerian Association of Town Planners gave Owerri the 2019 Green Cities Promotion Award.

12.0 Restoring the Autonomy and Integrity of the Local Governments

12.1. I am glad that we have fully restored the autonomy of the Local government as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution. The Interim Management Committee for the Local Government as resolved by the 8th Assembly, is a stop-gap measure to hold the forte as we work towards free, fair and credible local government elections.

13.0 Rebuilding Technical & Vocational Education/ Creating ICT Hub as a Catalysts for Industrial growth.

13.1 Giving our children quality and affordable education is a priority of our administration. Preparatory to the assumption of our schools in the new session, we hosted a well-attended Education Stakeholders’ Summit in which we felt the pulse of the administrators, operators, practitioners and students alike. We are geared to this time, making our systems work.

13.2 My good people of Imo State, you may recall that in my inaugural address, I promised that we would resuscitate technical and vocational education in the State. The need to create a pool of highly skilled youths that would be the pride of the State in the coming years, cannot be over-emphasized. Consequently, on June 2nd, 2019, we inaugurated a Taskforce on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) under my office. It has been charged with the mandate to deliver tangible outcomes on the transformation of TVET within 180 Days.

The resuscitation of TVET being a priority of the Rebuild Imo Project is anchored on our firm belief that the acquisition of critical technical and vocational skills by majority of our youths has the capacity to stimulate sustainable industrial development, job and wealth creation and ultimately rapid improvement in the socio-economic life of our people. Security of lives and property will also be assured when our youths are off the streets because they are gainfully engaged.

13.3 I am glad today, to inform you that just yesterday, we flagged-off the rebuilding and equipping of four technical colleges in the State namely; Government Technical College Owerri, Ahiara Technical College, Government Technical College Okporo, Orlu and Government Technical College Osu. Our target is that by 2020 we should have hit 60 percent mark of post-Basic students as enrolees in the TVET system.

13.4 Similarly, we recognize the place of Information & Communication Technology- ICT, as the bridge to the future. Consequently, again just last week we signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a major technology incubation company in the United States to harness the budding technology potentials of our youths. We are also in contact with Google Inc. on how we can invest in the capacity of our young ones.

13.5 I am glad to inform us that today we shall launch the first phase of the Chief Leo Stan Ekeh Entrepreneurship Support programme for Imo State indigenes. In this first phase 1,300 people will be given interest-free loans. The main interest free loan for bigger businesses and school fees on the N1.5 Billion support shall commence on Oct, 2019. The objective is to encourage our people engaged in genuine businesses and to empower our people. I therefore commend Chief Ekeh for this gesture and encourage other Imo industrialists to emulate his example.
14.0 Rebuilding Culture and Tourism in our State

14.1 Less than a month into this administration, we successfully revived the abandoned Ahiajoku Lecture Series. It has, indeed, been elevated to an Institute with the appointment of a Director-General to take charge of its affairs. By doing this, Ahiajoku has become a first rate cultural and intellectual resource centre on Igbo culture and civilisation like the Goethe Institute in Germany and the Italian cultural institute.

14.2 The lingering crisis between the indigenes of Nekede and the State government over the alleged misuse of the land designated for the zoological garden has been resolved and we have repositioned the zoo to ultimately become a tourist destination.

15.0 Strengthening and Optimizing the Doctrine of Separation of Powers
15.1 In this period, we have had a cordial relationship with the legislature. On assumption of office, we immediately hosted a retreat with the members of the State Assembly. This interaction had led to fruitful outcome such that a total of 8 Bills (3 in the 8th Assembly and 5 in the 9th Assembly) were signed into law in the period from May 29th to date.

15.2 The are: Imo State Public Procurement (Amendment) law (2) Imo State Local Government Administration (Amendment) Law, (3) Imo State Universal Basic Education Board (Amendment) Law; (4) Imo State Power & Rural Electrification Law , (5) Imo State Electoral (Amendment) Law, (6) Imo State Market Development Authority Law, (7) Imo State Facility Management Agency Law and Imo State Sports Commission (Establishment Law). Moving forward, we are working on domesticating the Administration of Justice Act as well as the Child Rights Act, respectively.

15.3 In the same vein, we recognize the independence of the Judiciary and are supporting the establishment of a multi-door court house to create alternative windows for dispute resolution. Only a few days ago, I inaugurated the reconstituted Imo State Judicial Service Commission made up eminent jurists, renowned legal practitioners and reputable Imo citizens. All emoluments and other entitlements of the Judiciary are released as and at the when due.
16.0 The Nagging Question of Accountability by the Immediate Past Administration

16.1 It is important to recall that we took over the reins of government without even a single handover note. Handover notes, traditionally, is the least responsibility an outgoing administration owes an incoming one. Usually it presents a clear picture of the status of government funds, assets, liabilities, pending judicial matters and even policies to enhance continuity. But unfortunately, this was not done.

16.2 We discovered upon inception that the inability to provide the necessary documentation was due to a total abuse and neglect of laid down procedures of good governance. Most shocking were the litany of “garnishee absolute orders” amounting to over N30billion in addition to six years of unpaid pension as well as salary arrears. Projects were poorly conceived, shabbily executed or hastily abandoned. We have even found some of them very hazardous to human safety.

16.3 It is worthy of note that with our wage bill at an average of N2.5b per month, almost N1b monthly pension bill and in an atmosphere of very low IGR, leaves very little for development. This is compounded by the almost N1b statutory deduction on our FAAC, majorly for the repayment of the N26.8b bailout funds, given to the last administration by the FG. But we shall not despair.

16.4 As a government that espouses the Rule of Law, we will never endorse any manifestation of arbitrary powers. As a result, we have set up two judicial panels of Inquiry, namely: the Judicial Panel of Inquiry into Land Allocation from 2005 to 2019 and the Judicial Panel of Inquiry into Award of Contracts from 2005 to 2019. We have also set up an Inquiry into the Management of Local Government Finances from 2011 to 2019. These panels are made up of very credible Imo citizens with impeccable track records and we are certain they will give ndi-Imo justice.

17.0 Conclusion
17.1 Ndi Imo Nwemadu, we have made progress in a short time. The outlook of our state is good. These could not have been possible without the cooperation of our vibrant legislature as well as your support and sacrifices. I, once again, express our heartfelt gratitude to the State House of Assembly, and you my people. I continue to appeal for your partnership and prayers as we work rebuild Imo State and work to restore the glorious days of our beloved State.

17.2 Thank you all for your attention and God bless.

Governor Ihedioha Unveils Achievements In 100 Days

Governor Ihedioha Unveils Achievements In 100 Days

…Health, Education, Agriculture, Youth Development, Sports  Security, Get Huge Boost
…Says his administration remains focused
Imo State Governor, Rt. Hon.Emeka Ihedioha CON, has said his administration remains unwavered in the task of  rebuilding the State from years of ruins and neglect it was plunged into by the last administration.
In his address at an event to mark the 100 days of his administration, the governor narrated his administration’s impressive  achievements in various sectors of the economy of the State.
He said the Imo Growth and Strategic Development Agenda plan (G-SDP), a two stage development horizon of a 5 year Economic blueprint conceived by the  Transition Technical Commitee provided the roadmap for the overall economic growth and development of the State which include among other things  the delivery of 381km rural access road projects, restoration of an improved Owerri masterplan, restoration of water supply in Owerri metropolis, roll out of a State health Insurance scheme as well as the reactivation of four technical education institutions in the State.
The Governor stated that others include an economic growth and Strategic development  with emphasis on human capital development, Agriculture and food security, infrastructure, industrialization and job creation as well as security and environment.
Governor Ihedioha said within 100 days in office, “the State Internal Generated Revenue, IGR, increased from all time low of about 300m in July to 600m in August.
“This was as a result of transparency and accountability in the governance process with the signing into law, Executive Order 005 known as Treasury Single Account which consolidated all government revenues  under one account.
“Imo State is now on track to join open Governance partnership which now qualifies it for performance based grants of the World Bank and other multinational development institutions”.

Governor Ihedioha noted that his administration has restored 100 percent workers salary in the State, paid backlog of Local Goverment workers and recalled all unjustly suspended Directors, reversed some undeserved promotions, sponsored officers to capacity building programmes.
In the area of roads which has been in poor condition for many years, Governor Ihedioha said 14 critical roads are undergoing reconstruction while the Rural Access and Mobility Projects involves 70 Rural Roads network with a cumulative distance of 381 kilometres across 27 Local Governments.
“Security has also received great attention in the last 100 days with the kick off of Operation Iron Gate designed to combat crime and criminality and rid the State of all undesirable elements.”
In the health sector, the Governor said the stalled Health Insurance Scheme has been relaunched in the State to connect into already existing Federal Government Insurance Scheme.
On the perennial power problems affecting the State, Governor Ihedioha said the Imo State Power and Rural Electrification Agency (I- POREA) has been constituted to evolve strategies to remove barriers to adequate exploitation of the power generation potentials in the State.
“We have made remarkable progress towards the restoration of electricity supply to some areas of the State where it was non existent for many years. 79 failed transformers across the State have been replaced and electricity supply restored to Inyishi Aluminum Extrusion Company and it’s environs as well as the completion of  Oguta 33kv line electricity project.”
He stated that water supply which has been lacking for many years in the State  has been restored with the revitalisation of the Otammiri Water supply.
He also revealed plans by his administration to provide 5000 affordable homes by 2023 by going into partnership with some reputable  primary mortgage institutions.
He reiterated the commitment of his administration to an  agricultural roadmap which  has been conceived by his Administration  and which represents a comprehensive framework  for self sufficiency in food production both for domestic consumption and for exports purposes.
The Governor said 500 youths from the 27 local governments of the State have been sent to Nassarawa State under the Imo Youths Agricultural Programme (IYAP).
Governor Ihedioha noted  that Rice farm cluster have been established at Amumara in Ezinihite   Mbaise which willmake Imo sufficient in the production of improved variety of rice seeds with a view of strengthening the rain value chain in the State
 He said experts in rice brewing and processing from the Africa Rice Centre at IITA  Ibadan will train young rural farmers in the State to grow and process improved rice seeds.
He said the Avutu poultry farm is on the verge of being restored to a world class standard while ADAPALM will soon commence operations.
Governor Ihedioha revealed that the State is set to host the only Agribusiness park in Nigeria at Ngor Okpala Local Government Area of the State.
In the area of sports development , he said the Dan Anyiam stadium  is being re-grassed after many years of neglect while installation of new flood lights, replacing the seats and constructing Olympic standard tartan tracks is underway.
He said the Grasshopper International Handball stadium, Owerri will  also begin to wear a new look while the local councils have joined the the talent hunt programme of the State Government through construction of sporting facilities in their respective local governments.
Governor Ihedioha announced that  as part of his government’s determination to improve on ease of doing business in the State, the Imo State Enabling Business Environment Council, ISEBEC, would be inaugurated which will compliment the revamped Imo State Government Bureau of Public Procurements and Price Intelligence.
He said the State Government is willing in getting the process right once and for all after inheriting over 6 years of pension arrears and discovery of baffling discrepancies in the total number of pensioners in both the State and the 27 local governments
He explained that the ongoing pension verification is aimed at ending the perennial cycle of verification that has plagued the process for a long period.
He said the State Government has achieved a lot in the area of sanitation by reviving the monthly clean up exercise while remarkable progress has been made in the education sector.
He said his administration has flagged off the rebuilding and equipping of four technical colleges in the State namely Government Technical College, Owerri, Ahiara  Technical College, Government Technical College, Okporo, Orlu and Government Technical College, Osu.
He expressed hope that by 2020 the State would hit 60 percent mark of post Basic  students as enrollees in the TVET system.

Gov. Ihedioha flags off 81km urban roads construction, reconstruction of Technical Colleges

Gov. Ihedioha flags off 81km urban roads construction, reconstruction of Technical Colleges

.. Monarchs, NURTW, Imolites laud governor on projects

In fulfillment of his promise to address the dilapidated infrastructure in the state, with a view to ensuring economic development, Governor of Imo State, His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha CON, has flagged off the construction of 81km urban roads project worth N23.4b in the state

This is as the governor has promised that his administration would not consider geographical divisions while addressing the developmental needs of the state. 

The governor who stated this while performing the flag-off of the projects, Thursday, said part of his administration’s cardinal agenda is to run a one-stop state, where democracy dividends will be evenly distributed across the 27 local government areas of the state. 

The 16 roads earmarked for construction under the project include Nkume/Umuowa/Owerri Ebiri/Umuna/Orlu; Imo State University Teaching Hospital, Umuna; Mgbidi/Oguta; Douglas/Emmanuel College/Naze and Naze/Poly/Iheagwa/Obinze. 

Others are Control-Post/World Bank; Ahiara Junction/Okpala; IMSU/Bishop’s Court; Okigwe Town/St. Mary’s Catholic Church, MCC/Toronto junction, Aba Branch/Ahiara Junction, Concorde/Zuma/Port Harcourt, among others. 

L-R: Imo State Commissioner for Works, Ben Ekwueme; Imo State Deputy Governor, Gerald Irona; Imo State Governor, Emeka Ihedioha; Archbishop of Owerri Archdiocese, Anthony Obinna; Ray Ibe, Imo State Education Commissioner, Viola Onwuliri; when the governor performed the flag off of urban roads construction in Owerri, Thursday.

The governor also flagged off the reconstruction of Government Technical College, Okporo, Orlu, Government Technical College, Owerri, Dan Anyiam Stadium and Grasshopper International Handball Stadium, Owerri. 

“Today we are commencing construction of urban roads and comprehensive roads rehabilitation across the state to address the sorry state of our roads. We have tried to provide palliative measures on the roads ranging from the desilting of drainages to address the perennial flooding to filling the failed portions. 

“We have deliberately chosen state roads while we have also commenced discussion with the federal government for the federal roads including Owerri/Orlu/Akokwa Road,” he went further to say. 

He continued, “In order to ensure that a good job is done and to guarantee the durability of the project, painstaking processes were observed. The process of getting to this point was transparent and followed due process. All these were done to ensure not just quality assurance but value for money. 

“It is significant again that we are flagging off this project in Orlu Zone. We are running a one stop state. For us all, Imo belongs to Imo people and geographical divisions have nothing to do with our unity as a people.”

He also assured that the construction of both the government technical colleges, and the stadium would meet the international standards to boast technical education and sports development in the state.

The governor also charged the contractors handling the projects to deliver to specifications and guarantee their durability, pointing out that his administration is committed to providing durable projects.

Speaking at the flag-off of the Assumpta roundabout – Port Harcourt road project, the Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri, His Grace, Most Rev. Anthony Obinna commended the governor for his achievements and urged him to ensure that the projects are supervised for quality delivery.

In their remarks, the state Commissioner for Works, Engr. Ben Ekwueme, Special Adviser to the governor on Technical and Vocational Education and Training, Hon. Oliver Enwerenem, , Chairman, Imo State Sports Commission, Chief Fan Ndubuoke, and top notch traditional rulers in the state hailed the governor on the projects.

Ekwueme assured on behalf of the contractors that the project would enjoy life span of 15 to 20 years when completed, adding that all would be delivered fully between 12 to 18 months of the commencement.

Chibuike Onyeukwu

Chief Press Secretary to the Governor

25 Years of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province

25 Years of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province

Beginning from tomorrow, Monday, September 2, 2019, all roads will lead to the Maria Assumpta Cathedral Owerri, for the activity-packed last lap of the one-month Silver Jubilee Celebration of the Inauguration of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province and Installation of Archbishop Anthony J.V. Obinna.

The bishops of the suffragan dioceses of this largest Catholic Province in Nigeria –Umuahia, Orlu, Okigwe, Ahiara, and Aba, as well as those from other dioceses in the country and beyond, are expected to arrive Wednesday in Owerri, the Metropolitan See for the celebrations.

While the Thanksgiving Holy Mass by Most Rev. Obinna to mark 25 years of his installation as the Metropolitan Archbishop of the Province, comes up Thursday, the Apostolic Nuncio to Nigeria, Most Rev. Antonio Filipazzi, is expected to preside at the concelebrated Provincial Thanksgiving Mass the next day being Friday. The Owerri Archdiocesan Day Thanksgiving will round off the dual jubilee celebrations on Saturday September 7 with a Thanksgiving Mass and 2019 Odenigbo Lecture.

Owerri Diocese, created out of the Old Onitsha Diocese in 1950 was elevated to the status of an Archdiocese in 1994, with the dioceses of Umuahia, Orlu, Okigwe, Ahiara, and Aba as its suffragan local churches. The inauguration of this new province which covers the entire states of Imo and Abia and parts of Rivers and Anambra States was inaugurated on September 4, 1994 during a ceremony which also saw the installation of the Most Rev. Anthony Obinna as the Metropolitan Archbishop.

The Province can rightly be described as the seed-bed of Roman Catholicism in Igboland. The total number of indigenous priests in the six dioceses at that time was 750 while parishes were 249 and Catholic population about 2,248,000.

Since that time, the number of priests, parishes and Catholic population has grown in leaps and bounds.

In the Archdiocese of Owerri alone, the Catholic population has risen to about 1,049,213 with 138 parishes, 25 chaplaincies and five Special Jurisdictions. It is blessed with 318 diocesan priests and 55 religious priests. There are eight male religious congregations and nine female religious congregations working in the Archdiocese. Owerri is also blessed with about 194 senior seminarians, many sisters, brothers, catechists and catechizers.

The Archdiocese has two major seminaries namely, Seat of Wisdom Major Seminary Owerri and Claretian Institute of Philosophy Maryland Nekede. It has numerous primary and secondary schools, Whelan Research Academy, Schools of Nursing, Midwifery, Laboratory, Assistant Technology, Hospitals, Maternity homes, farms etc.

The Most Rev. Obinna has to his credit, the renovation/re-roofing of the Maria Assumpta Cathedral. He did not stop at that but ensured the landscaping of the entire premises, as well as set in motion many other structures including a secretariat complex and an ultra-modern Archdiocesan hall, both on-going.

His pastoral visits to remote rural communities have acted as a catalyst to the building of the people’s faith and the number of dedicated churches has soared. Similar phenomenal growth has also been recorded in the other five dioceses.

For these 25 years, Owerri Ecclesiastical Province has lived out the purpose for which she was carved out, among others, “to promote … a common pastoral action” of the member-dioceses and “the more closely to foster relations between the diocesan Bishops.”

The Province has made serious efforts to live out and maintain the categorical dictates of Christ’s evangelization mandate, vocation, mission and ministry, her ecclesiastical discipline and order, as well as her ecclesiastical unity and solidarity with her member dioceses.

Despite the many challenges, she has made remarkable progress in maintaining her inviolable identity and dignity as well as her sacred traditions.

Whatever the challenges of the sad sides or missed marks, the Province and her Dioceses and faithful have more reasons to rejoice and to celebrate in thanksgiving to gratitude and God.