Our attention has been drawn to the publication carried in the public forum of the Sun Newspaper of Sunday the 2nd day of June, 2019 and credited to the columnist, Chiedozie Chukwubuike with the above caption. The publication is a scathing commentary on a part of Bishop Samuel C. Ezeofor’s Presidential Address/Bishop’s Charge delivered to the Second Session of the 5th Synod of the Diocese of Aguata on Friday, the 3rd day of May, 2019.
Generally, it is not the practice of the Church to join issues with people. The article ought not to have attracted any response but for the fact of its magnified falsehood and malice against the Bishop of Diocese of Aguata and the entire Anglican Church judging from the mischievous caption and contents of the article, hence this rejoinder.
The Bishop’s Charge to the Second Session of the Fifth Synod of the Diocese is a written document and whatever the Bishop said is there for anyone to see and read. It is quite obvious from the publication that the columnist never read the Bishop’s Charge, particularly the portion on the state of the Nation and Anambra State which formed the basis for the sponsored and unwarranted attack on the Bishop, hence he wrongly stated that the Bishop did not address corruption and electoral misconduct and bogus allowances to members of the National Assembly. But in truth, the Bishop condemned endemic corruption in Nigeria including the use of money and apparatus of State to influence voters during the last general elections and nepotism and ethnicity in the appointments and administration of government in Nigeria.
Again, if the author was not doing a hatchet job, he would have read the Bishop’s Charge to see the profound and robust messages of salvation, righteousness, wisdom, morality and integrity in public and private transactions which exposition came from the theme of the Synod – “JESUS CHRIST: THE POWER OF GOD AND THE WISDOM OF GOD.”
The Bishop never abused the Governor of Anambra State but only stated the truth as it concerned the circumstances of the emergence of the Governor in the politics and governance of Anambra State and the role the Governor played in the last general elections. The Bishop was right to call for a just and equitable rotation of the Governorship seat among the three senatorial zones and denominations, as the lopsided religious politics which has swallowed up Anambra State is also well known.
It was a Godly admonition aimed at promoting unity and fairness in Anambra State which should not draw the ire of anyone except promoters of injustice, inequity and oppression. To categorize such Godly advice as brazen politicking is callous and mischievous. Who is that Christian Bishop, Pastor or Minister of God in Nigeria worth his calling that is not worried about the tension and ominous existential threat of some actions and deliberate inactions of government? A lot of religious leaders with integrity are standing out boldly to speak against the evils in the society not minding whose ox is gored. Bishop Ezeofor should be applauded for his courage and boldness to speak out, and not this sponsored smear campaign aimed at painting him as unfit for higher calling in the Episcopal Order. If a man of God such as Bishop Ezeofor fails to speak out in perilous political times such as now prevail in Nigeria, who else are we expecting to speak? Detractors should not be surprised at his courage for the God we serve hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power and of love and sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7.
The motive behind the write up is dishonourable and wicked. Any discerning mind who read the sponsored publication would notice that the specific mention of the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Aguata, Rt. Rev Dr. Samuel Ezeofor, and reference to the coming replacement of the outgoing Archbishop, Most Rev. Prof. G.I.N. Okpala who is about to retire from office, was a desperate attack by political principalities and powers who want to dictate and manipulate who should be the new Archbishop of the Anglican Communion in the Province of the Niger and that Bishop Ezeofor should be stopped by all available means.
May be, the sponsors of the publication want a politically correct and compliant Archbishop who will not raise a voice when there is mis-governance, inequality, injustice, oppression and victimization of citizens of Anambra State on account of denominational faith. Unfortunately, the Anglican Church does not have timid Bishops in her fold! A good government or leader in any sphere of life should be eager to welcome constructive criticisms from concerned and well-meaning persons. Calling a spade a spade should not be the reason why Bishop Ezeofor is being besmirched.
Let those behind the mask understand that the election of the Primate, Archbishops, Bishops and indeed all categories of leaders in the Anglican Church is ordered by the Holy Spirit and neither open to secular and political dictation/manipulation nor subject to the whims and caprices of men. Chiedozie Chukwubike and his sponsors should sheath their sword because the election and who eventually emerges as the next Archbishop of the Province of the Niger is in the hand of God.
Beyond the immediate motive of the write up to politically dictate and direct the House of Bishops on who not to elect as the next Archbishop of the Province of the Niger, is the general intention to abuse and disparage the image of the entire Anglican Church in Nigeria by singling her out as having “scandals” while other churches/denominations have no challenge or scandal at all.
This is why the writer and his sponsors devoted a substantial part of the article on Paul University, Awka and picked on the 55 Dioceses who run the institution and falsely portrayed them as being incapable to manage the University. The manner of attack on the University is to discredit the school and scare away students and other staff/workers of the University, being the only existing University owned by the Anglican Church in the South East and South South zones of Nigeria which fits perfectly into the denominational stigmatization to paint everything Anglican in Anambra State in bad light.
The write up also talked about two great philanthropists, Engr. Paul Erinne and Dr. Ernest Obiejesi, and alleged that they are on the “way to the Catholic Church.” The information that Engr. Erinne and Dr Obiejesi are bringing a campus of Loyola Jesuit College to their hometown, Okija and that Engr. Erinne built a rectory for Christ the King Church, Okija are not evidence that the Anglican Church has failed in its responsibilities. Most communities are blessed with men and women who selflessly engage in valuable development of their communities and it is in bad taste to insinuate that the commendable efforts of the two Okija philanthropists had any bearing to alleged conduct and utterances of some Anglican Bishops. Moreover, the two men are not from the Diocese of Aguata where Bishop Ezeofor presides.
To further show the motive of the writer and his sponsors to paint the leadership of the Anglican Church in bad light, they wrote in general terms that, “it is most embarrassing that some Anglican bishops are obsessed with power, position and politics.” He also wrote that “the Anglican Communion worldwide has faced enough scandals in recent years.” Nothing was said about other churches and denominations!
The only thing to tell the writer and his sponsors is that the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) is waxing strong and the faithfuls have implicit confidence in the leadership of the Church. No amount of sponsored attack will detract the Church from living out her vision and mission. They should know that the Anglican Church is also not open to extraneous and sponsored political manipulation in the conduct of her affairs.