Let us make a difference says Bishop Onah

By Eva ChumaNnamene

NSUKKA: The cream of Nsukka people from all walks of life in Enugu State, Nigeria, gathered on Sunday the 15th November 2015 to give honour to whom it was due. Thus, the University town of Nsukka stood still for the reception of an illustrious son, the incumbent Governor of Enugu State, His Excellency, Right Honourable Ifeanyichukwu Ugwuanyi (a.k.a. Gburugburu).

It was an event that brought together all the men and women of "timber and caliber" of Nsukka including the servicing Senator representing the area, Senator Chuka Utazi who was also at the helms of the Planning Committee. Other distinguished guests include the Catholic Bishop of Nsukka, Most Rev. Prof. Godfrey Igwebuike Onah who presided over the Thanksgiving Mass attended by the Governor.

The Anglican Bishop of Nsukka, Bishop Aloysius Agbo. Others include a retinue of priests, religious, the lay faithful and many other highly placed personalities. Speaking during the event, the Catholic Bishop of Nsukka, Most Rev. Godfrey Igwebuike Onah addressed the different segments of the audience.

He expressed the profound joy of Nsukka people as they received their illustrious son: as a sign of their gratitude to God on his victorious April elections, as an opportunity to ask God's assistance on him, and also as a chance to express their support to him. He made bold to challenge the people to think about what they would do to support the governor rather think only of what the governor would do for Nsukka people.

Addressing the ills of sycophancy on the Nigerian polity, Bishop Onah noted that "most of those milling around the Governor and other persons in public office are like the proverbial dog following closely on the heels of a fat-bellied man, in the hope that it will always be able to feed itself from him.

This is a result of the harm done to our work ethics by colonialism, which made our people see public office (oruoyibo) as an opportunity to get the most out of the white-man's government." The Catholic Bishop lamented that "Fifty-five years after the departure of the white-man, this mentality is still deeply engraved in our individual and collective psyches.

The problem is further compounded by that negative aspect of our culture which seems to support an individual's use of his position to favour his relations, with little or no regard for moral questions, as expressed in these and similar proverbs: "Mmaduada-anoron'eluudara, nwanneyaanoron'alana-arachaaja-aja. Onyennaya no n'izu, ikpeadighiamaya. Onyenwanneya no n'enigweadighiejeokummuo".

The Bishop beckoned on his listeners most of whom were baptized Christians to widen the scope of their concept of brotherhood to go beyond their blood relations. He emphasized that "At baptism we have become God's children, brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ; and this should widen our concept of family and kinship. And as followers of Christ who gave his life for all, we should be ready to make sacrifices for the good of all the members of our new family, the family of the People of God".

Bishop Godfrey Onah told the Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi who was barely six months in office as the Governor of Enugu State, that, though it was too early to assess how far he has fared, that he, the Bishop, in their interactions, has observed the governor's "clarity of thought, sharpness of focus, resoluteness of purpose and, of course, deep genuine compassion for the people of Enugu State".

Noting how the Governor's faith has helped shape his administrative principles, the Catholic Bishop of Nsukka proposed a collaborative mission between the Church and the State. He highlighted the fact that "many Nigerians have been touting the change mantra as if people will change simply because you tell them to.

Some thought that a change of government was all that was needed to end the scourge of corruption in Nigeria. While others naively believed that the fear of punishment alone would be enough to suddenly transform Nigeria into Singapore. The Holy Father Pope Francis teaches us that 'change is impossible without motivation and a process of education' (Pope Francis, Laudatosi', 15).

This is why the government must partner with the Church. The Church is an agent of positive change in persons and in the society because she is a mother and a teacher (mater etmagistra). As a mother she is an expert in motivating people through her preaching of love and as a teacher she is committed to education for personal transformation.

Even here in Enugu State and in the Nsukka cultural zone, the Church continues to play these roles among many others. Everybody in this country is aware of the rot in the education sector. But who is interested in cleaning the mess? Your Excellency, we are.

As Church we offer you our full collaboration in the urgent task of restoring a future to our children through value-based education. Please, I beg you in the Name of God: Do not allow the greed and corruption of some civil servants and politicians to prevent you from carrying out a long overdue cleanup of the education sector in our State.

A nation that has not got a sound education system has no future at all". He further encouraged the Governor to make a difference in the governance of the people of Enugu State.

The reception event which was preceded by a thanksgiving Mass at St Theresa's Cathedral, Nsukka featured dances and other entertainments. The exuberant crowd displayed their joy in welcoming their illustrious son.


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