Obinna Odogwu, Abakaliki
Ten years after the Anglican mission stormed Afikpo in Ebonyi State, on January 26, 1997 with the planting of St. Paul’s Church (now Cathedral Church of St. Paul), the missionary diocese of the church was inaugurated on March 18, 2007, with Rt. Rev. Paul Udogu installed as its pioneer bishop.
As expected, the new bishop set out for work in the Lord’s vineyard with the main target of winning souls for Jesus Christ and contributing to the expansion of God’s kingdom on earth. That effort saw to the planting of churches in the communities under the diocese.
There was also the establishment of schools, hospital, diocesan investments such as bakery, fishery and water industry. The investments were avenues to create employment for its members and others particularly those within the precincts of the diocese.
For the schools, Daily Sun gathered that the diocese established Archbishop Peter Akinola International Schools, Afikpo in June 12, 2010 and named it after the immediate past Primate of All Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Most Revd Peter Jasper Akinola.
The school, which first resumed for academic activities during the 2011/12 academic year, provides crèche, nursery, primary and secondary education.
The diocese also established the Archbishop Peter Akinola School in Isu, Onicha Local Government Area of the state. Although, the school has since commenced operation in a rented facility, a friend of the bishop, it was gathered, has commenced the construction of a 10-classroom block with administrative office. The turning of sod of the school building was done on Tuesday, June 25, 2019.
Little wonder, the fifth synod which marked the 12th anniversary of the diocese was a period of stocktaking for the bishop for the bishop.
Delivering his Presidential address/bishop’s charge at the 1stsession of the fifth synod of the diocese, Rt. Rev. Udogu rolled out a long list of new achievements recorded by the diocese since the last synod.
The synod which held at Good Shepherd Anglican Church, Ozizza in Afikpo North council area had the theme: “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and forever” and was attended by the Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Solo Chukwulobelu.
Also in attendance were about nine prelates from different dioceses in the country including the former Dean of Church of Nigeria and Archbishop emeritus of Awka Diocese, Archbishop Maxwell Anikwenwa; more than 30 clergymen of various ranks, members of the knights, and other top dignitaries.
According to Bishop Udogu, one of the recent achievements of the diocese was the establishment of housing scheme for the diocesan workers whereby ‘seed money’ was given to each of the beneficiaries to start their personal house projects.
Others include the ordination of eight persons as deacons and five others as priests. Their trinity ordination, according to the prelate, took place on June 30, this year at Emmanuel Anglican Church Parish, Amasiri.
He also mentioned licensing of the first set of the diocesan lay readers numbering 17 at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Afikpo this year; appointment and election of 41 officers into various positions as well as the appointment and election of nine executive members of the Diocesan Council of Knights.
The prelate further said that the diocesan mission hospital established in Ukawu community, Onicha Local Government Area, has continued to provide medical care to the people of the community.
He said that although their vision for the establishment of the hospital was yet to fully materialize due to non-availability of a trained medical doctor to man it, the diocese has sponsored a young church worker to study medicine with the hope that upon graduation, he would take charge of the diocesan medical mission.
The Bishop also said that seven Anglican faithful were made knights at a colourful service held at the cathedral church in May this, among other numerous achievements.
On the state of the nation, Bishop Udogu condemned in totality the increasing rate of insecurity in the country by Boko Haram terrorists, Fulani herdsmen, kidnappers and others.
Regarding the last general election, he commended President Muhammadu Buhari “for his modest and simple celebration of victory and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar for his recourse to democratic institution in expressing his grievances over the election.”
In his remarks, Governor Obiano lauded the modest achievements of the diocese and the bishop for the quality leadership he has provided in the diocese while urging him to do more.