Anambra Govt Reacts To Prayers in Markets In The State
1. The people and government of Anambra State are proud of the stupendous religious heritage of the state. The great Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther began his missionary journey in what was to become the Eastern Nigerian Region in Onitsha.
It was from Anambra State that the Anglican and Catholic faiths spread to other parts of not just the Southeast but also the entire Eastern Nigeria. Such early Anglican clerics of Igbo origin as the Reverend John Christopher Taylor and the Reverend Alfonso Chukwuma Onyeabo began their distinguished careers in Onitsha.
Anambra State gave the Catholic Church its first West African to be beatified or raised to the alters, Blessed Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi, and also gave it the first Nigerian to work as a very senior and globally respected official of the Vatican, Francis Cardinal Arinze.
2. Our people’s intense spirituality has been immensely beneficial to the state in particular and the nation in general, including in the conduct of business. The Anambra State government has understandably been supportive of spiritual activities in markets which include regular prayer sessions.
3. In the last few months, however, the regular collective and compulsory prayers have been a source of controversy because of the frequency and duration. Until recently, markets were compulsorily closed every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from morning till afternoon to enable traders to pray for success.
A good number of traders have been complaining that the closures were too frequent, all the more so since many of them attend morning devotion daily, say such prayers as The Angelus at midday and Divine Mercy at 3 pm, also daily.
They have also been complaining that the constant market closures were depriving them of the opportunity to buy and sell, forcing customers from Imo, Abia, the two Congos, Cameroon, Chad, Niger Republic, Central African Republic, Kano, Enugu, Sokoto, Ebonyi, Kogi and elsewhere to go to markets in neighbouring states like Delta. What is more, the traders accuse a certain religious preacher of being the brain behind the incessant closures for purely private gain.
They are of the view that he has created a culture of fear and has been spreading superstition and rancor in the markets by brainwashing traders into believing that he is responsible for every business breakthrough while ascribing every failure to the spiritual wickedness and manipulation of family members and fellow traders. In the process, according to the traders, the preacher has been making a fortune at their expense.
4. Whatever may be the degree of frustration which the traders feel about the incessant market closures and their possible manipulation by a self-serving preacher, the Anambra State government advises all those in the markets in the state to remain spiritual because their spirituality benefits the state, like in its significant contribution to Anambra’s emergence as the safest and most peaceful and united state in the whole country.
What may not be acceptable is the frequency of the collective and compulsory prayer session. To close down markets three times every week for several hours on each occasion in order to force every trader to pray at the same time will rob the state of its competitive edge in business. It will drive businesses to other places.
5. It is appropriate to hold a global and compulsory prayer session monthly. Each market will decide on the day and time to shut down and hold its own prayers to thank God for His protection, guidance and blessings. Meanwhile, individuals and groups will continue with their daily prayers like Morning Devotion, The Angelus and Divine Mercy.
6. The Good Lord has always been protective of our state, and has always showered us with countless blessings. All we owe Him is constant show of gratitude and faithfulness through prayers which have to be balanced with pragmatism. Indeed, His banner over us is love (Song of Solomon 2:4).
God bless Anambra State, the Light of the Nation.
C. Don Adinuba
Commissioner for Information & Public Enlightenment