- Prof. Utomi advises against IPOB’s Monday-weekly sit-at-home.
- The church and Government have cordial relationship – Sir Obi, Prof Utomi
- The Church should be the conscience and soul of the political class —Fr. Onyilioha
NNEWI — In the quest for promotion of sustainable development through community-based actions aimed at creating a peaceful society and enlightened empowerment through application of Christian values and ethics, the Christian Legacy Initiative (C.L.I), Nnewi in collaboration with St Joseph Major Seminary, Ikot-Ekpene held her first Christian Legacy Lecture series with the theme: “The Catholic Priesthood as a catalyst for sustainable development in the Nigerian Society with special reflection on the life and times of Rev. Fr. Dr. Raphael Nwankwo, (1946-1993), the first Ekwulumili indigenous catholic priest.
This auspicious event kicked off with a Holy Mass at 10: 00 am in Holy Trinity Parish, Ekwulumilci, Nnewi South, a suburb of Nnewi, Anambra State on Saturday, August 14, 2021.
Delivering the homily in the presence of the clergy and congregation, the president of Christian Legacy Initiative, Rev. Fr. Dr. Chiedu Onyilioha said, “Praising God should be the priority and vision of every Christian as well as having paradise as a destination on the last day.”He went down memory lane reflecting on two attributes of the first indigenous priest of Ekwulumili in whose honour the lecture series was organized. Fr. Onyilioha said;
“Fr. Dr. Raphael D. Nwankwo has the zeal and hunger to be a priest of God as his priestly apostolate made him travel far and wide. Fr. Onyilioha continued, he was an exemplary priest who due to his determination studied moral theology. Through his prestigious dispositions earned Ekwulumili the popular sobriquet ” Ndi be Fr. Nwankwor (Fr. Nwankwor’s kit and kin).
Acknowledging all the clergy and resource persons present and represented, he described the presenter of the keynote address, Prof Pat Utomi as an intellectual colossus of Knowledge”
Responding to the press, Fr. Onyilioha explained the rationale behind the forum as achieving one of the aims and objectives of having a public lecture including selecting and awarding Christians and community leaders who have distinguished themselves in sustainable services to humanity. In his words: “Fr. Raphael D. Nwankwo was a Catholic priest, an academic, community leader filled with humanitarian acts, so he deserved to be included in the award posthumously”. On the motivation behind his initiative, Fr. Said, “Giving back to the society that has shaped me from infancy to childhood then to adulthood formed the basis of such intellectually oriented programme” he responded
While encouraging Christians to be steadfast despite the insecurity challenges bedeviling Nigeria that Christians as some point since creation suffer persecutions, he submitted that “the roles of the church in the national level should be a gadfly that should stink intellectual as well as ethical consciousness into the political class, the church should not in any way begin to romance with the political class rather should be the conscience and the soul of the political class calling their attention to dysfunctionalities, inefficiencies, and corruption, the church should be the apostle that should be pricking the consciences like John the Baptist who said you brood of vipers, why have you come to invade the time of your destruction? So the church should be exercising the prophetic voice in condemning indiscipline, corruption, wanton destruction of lives and property.”
Welcoming all and sundry to the occasion, the chairman of the occasion, Sir Nobert Obi expressed overwhelming gratitude to the organization on the success of the event. Addressing Professor Pat Utomi as “a worthy ambassador of C.K.C.” He appreciated all the priests and lay faithful, he stated that the church should be the real backbone of positive change in society, so he affirmed that the theme of the lecture series is in timely.
Making reference to the post humus awardee, Rev. Fr. Dr. Rapheal D. Nwankwor, ” He was a great man with monumental impacts on humanity and society hence he charged the congregation to remember Fr. Nwankwo in prayers. He thanked the special guest of honour who is the only surviving sister of Fr. Nwankwor, Ms. Madgalene Nwankwor. “Remembrance is good; to remember somebody that passed on in 1993 tells more of the exemplary life he lived.”
Fielding questions with the press on the relationship between the church and the government, Sir Obi answered: “The church and government have cordial relationship.” Using Anambra State as an example, the retired educationist and state Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) Anambra State chapter said: “Governor Willie Obiano carries the Catholic Bishops, Anglican Bishops and Pentecostal Bishops along in decision making of his administration generally.”
On reconciling the situation where APGA has two candidates namely prof. Chukwuma Soludo and sir. Chukwuma Umeoji flying the flag and the fracas surrounding his party, APGA at all levels especially as it concerns the November 6th, 2021 Anambra guber election, he assured the press that he is on course to reconcile the situations. “Two of them are very good candidates, I am in contact with Chukwuma Umeoji to pacify his grievances, but as it stands, Prof. Charles Soludo is the candidate”.
Delivering the keynote address on the theme “Priesthood as a catalyst for sustainable development in Nigeiran society, the presenter, Prof Patrick Okedinachi Utomi, founder of Centre for values in leadership, Lagos set the ball rolling by sharing his life experience as an accident survival in 1991 when he couldn’t breathe and was admitted in St. Charles Borromeo Hospital Hospital Onitsha” where he was revived.
While relating to the lecture in honour of Rev. Fr. Raphael Nwankwor, the erudite political economist and management expert, Prof. Utomi said “Two kinds of immortalities exist, “one, people talk about you long after you are gone which was his major focus.”
He cited the example of the Italian politician, ‘Niccolo Machiavelli’ who is still alive 500 years after his death. Because of the legacy he left, he is always a point of reference. Prof Utomi stated that “Values shape human progress so priest should centre their teachings on values”. Quoting John Paul II “Unless the reason one is in politics to alleviate the dignity of human lives, we fell as people in the custodian of public lives. As politicians, our primary duty is to serve the people and not to be served.” Referring to his book ‘To Serve is to Live’ where he stated that every human has two principal reasons for pursuit of immortalities.
Earlier in the day, he told Journalist about his experience in the Philipines in1988 when he toured South East Asia and other parts of the globe for his research. There, the citizens revolted against bad government after listening to a thunderous homily by the catholic priest, they were charged up.” The women holding their Rosary beads all stood their grounds and forced the bad leader to resign”. Continuing, he said, “Citizens’ power is very important, citizens are morally bound to rise and change bad government”.
He highlighted that democracy in Nigeria has been abused as public officeholders are not necessarily the wishes of the people. He said Nigeria is in a civil war as the number of citizens that die daily surpasses other countries like Syria, Afghanistan. ”What we have in Nigeria is intimidation” .He highlighted that democracy in Nigeria has been abused by public officeholders.
On how citizens rose to effect change in the Philippines in 1998, Prof Utomi re-emphasized; “the church played a notable role that made the president to resign so the Nigerian churches and the catholic priests should speak up against bad leaders inform and guide the citizens and congregation rightfully.
Reacting to agitation and boycotting activities by IPOB in respect to Mazi Nnamdi Kanu. He advised “We have to be very careful in the strategies that we deploy, honestly, fairness and justice is important, why is he been tried, what offence has he committed? When you forgive Boko-Haram members that have killed thousands of innocent Nigerians, it is illogical and inhumane to deny justice to unarmed peaceful group and support terrorising group”. However, we should be careful not to punish ourselves in pursuit of justice. If you prevent people from working or engaging in activities to sustain their source of livelihood in the South–East, that nonworking will take away their daily incomes. You can’t be cutting your nose to spite your face, we need to think more carefully about productive strategies to adopt” he submitted.
Contributing, the Chairman, Organizing Committee of the first Christian Legacy Lecture series, Engr. Ndubuisi Okoil suggested that the youths should be given their place in society. However, he frowned against indiscriminate exposure of children to social media and advised parents to play their roles accordingly in the home so that the society would be a better place; some parents leave their children in possession of sophisticated phones without checkmating its usage, so the children are exposed to abominable sites like pornography, horrible betting sites which is an aberration from the norms of the society.
Speaking further, Engr. Okoli said “the place of the home or family in government is indispensable, because if we have good homes, good parents, good children, then we will produce good government and good society, do not shy away from the fact that the family is the first agent of socialization”. “Membership of Christian Legacy Initiative (C.L.I) is opened to all and sundry who desire equity, transparency, justice, so common and join to effect a positive change in the society.” he concluded.
A host of other clergy and personalities like Mgrs Hypolite Adigwe and Mike Onyekajukwo, Fr. Emmanuel Maru, Very Rev. Fr. Bath Nnaemedo, Fr Chidiebere Martin Nwosu, His Worship Maria Nwadimkpa Anyabolu, Ms. Magdalene Nwankwo, Rev. Fr. Maurice Izunwa, Chief Donatus N. Ume Onusulu, Chief Elochukwu Umeaduma amongst others graced and participated in the occasion and made it colourful.
The major highlight of the occasion was the book launch in memory of Rev Fr. Raphael Nwankwor PhD. and award presentations to exemplary citizens.
- Ononuju Egwuonye, is a staff reporter for The West African Pilot News, WAP.
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