Joe Igbokwe and the Re-definition of Religious Bigotry
By Valentine Obienyem
I do not have any problem with Mr. Joe Igbokwe working in Lagos. I know many of our Igbo brothers and sisters that are working in Lagos. That is how it should be and more of such should be encouraged. I, too benefitted from Lagos State. I attended LASU in the nineties, when it was almost free education. Till today, I still have that sense of attachment to the school.
My problem with Mr. Igbokwe is going out of his way to denigrate the best from his state because he wants to please his benefactors. I said that the way he was going, if a Tinubu turned into a matador and mistakenly slayed an Anambra man instead of a horse, the likes of Joe Igbokwe would justify that on the ground that death was not meant for horses alone!
The other day, he joined Obi’s traducers, those that are working against an Igbo man becoming a Vice President to roast Obi in poisoned ink by confirming him an ethnic and religious bigot? In answering Mr. Igbokwe, I had written that “after many years of granting Mr. Joe Igbokwe the benefit of the doubt, I now have every reason to believe that he is one of the most disreputable Igbo man living in Lagos. He has proved that his manner of life is dishonourable, unscrupulous and treacherous. He has drank to the dregs the loose morality of politicians that he easily forgets himself while striving to please his masters even when they are dealing with those that are supposed to be his people. Peter Obi’s crime is protesting the deportation of Igbos from Lagos.”
It is pathetic that the only reason Mr. Igbokwe called Obi an ethnic bigot was because he challenged the then Gov. Fashola for deporting Igbos from Lagos. If the likes of Obi did not shout, may be today Joe Igbokwe would be the only Igbo man staying in Lagos. Just imagine the irony, an Igbokwe justifying the deportation of Easterners to the East even when other enlightened Yorubas joined Obi in condemning Mr. Fashola.
Yesterday, Mr. Joe Igbokwe also confirmed that Obi is a religious bigot, simply because he is contesting the Vice Presidential slot against another Yoruba man.
Let us see Obi’s relationship with the Churches in Anambra State as a means of appraising him as a religious bigot. First let us peruse through Obi’s Cabinet to see the bigotry inherent in it.
1. Mr. Oseloka Obaze, Secretary to State Government Catholic
2. Stella Okunna,Chief of Staff and Comm. for Economic Planning/Budget Anglican
3. Peter Afuba, Comm. for Justice and Attorney General Catholic
4. Azuka Enemo, Comm. for Local Government Anglican
5. Lawrence Ikeakor, Comm. for Health, Anglican
6. Henrietta Agbata, Comm for Women Affairs Anglican
7. Callistus Ilozumba, Comm.for Works Catholic
8. Edozie Aroh, Comm. for Youths and Sports, Anglican
9. Sebastian Okoye, Comm. for Environment Catholic
10. Ohamobi Chike, Comm for Transport, Catholic
11. Chibunna Okoli Akirika , Comm. for Lands Anglican
12. Engr. Patrick Obi, Comm. for Housing, Catholic
13. Ngozi Okoye, Comm. for Finance Anglican/Pent
14. Emeka Nwankwu, Comm. for Utilities Catholic
15. Uju Okeke, Comm. for Education, Catholic
16. Okoli Christopher, Comm. for Science and Tech, Anglican
17. Ndubisi Menakaya , Comm. for Agriculture, Anglican
18. Vivian Nwandu, Special Adviser on MDG, Anglican
19. Godfrey Muotolu, Special Adviser on Chieftaincy Matters, Catholic
20. Emenike, Obi, Principal Secretary to the Governor Catholic
21. Oby Nwankwo, Perm. Sec. Govt. House, Anglican
22. Ferdinand Obi Permanent Secretary/closest aide Anglican
Look at the composition of the Civil Service Commission under Obi
1. Mrs Ngozika Melifionwu (Chairman) Catholic
2. Mr George Asuegbu Ijezi (Secretary) Anglican
3. Barr Gabriel Onyeozili (from Obi’s own town) Anglican
4. Dr (Mrs) Kate Obioji Catholic
5. Mrs Pauline Ndibe Catholic
6. Mr. Shedrach Onuigbo Anglican
Look at the Judiciary under Obi
Chief Judges during the Tenure of Mr. Obi:
1. Justice Chuka Okoli (met on assumption of office) Anglican
2. Justice Nri Ezedi (appointed by Obi) Anglican
3. Justice Emeka Nzegwu (appointed by Obi) Anglican
4. Justice Paul Obidigwe (appointed by Obi) Anglican
5. Justice Peter Umeadi (appointed by Obi) Catholic
Anambra State Judiciary has 18 Judges. The under listed, 10 in number, belong to Anglican faith, while the rest belong to Catholic and other faiths:
1. Justice Ijeoma Onwuamaegbu Anglican
2. Justice O.M Anyachebelu Anglican
3. Justice J.I Nweze Anglican
4. Justice O.C. Amaechina Anglican
5. Justice P.C Obiora Anglican
6. Justice V. N Agbata Anglican
7. Justice G.C Anulude Anglican
8. Justice Ike Ogu Anglican
9. Justice C.C Okaa Anglican
10. Justice Otti Anglican
Look at the Customary Court of Appeal under Obi
1. Justice Chinwe Amaechi Anglican.
2. Justice Samuel Okoye Anglican
Support to Mission health institutions
It will be recalled that Obi started his partnership with the Church on health at Iyienu Hospital owned by the Anglican Communion. The hospital benefitted more than other missionary hospitals from Government support under Mr. Peter Obi.
He equally supported other Anglican hospitals that did not fall under the original hospitals slated for assistance, namely, Faith Hospital and Maternity owned by the Anglican Diocese of Awka. Another one is the Amichi Diocesan Hospital. He was, in fact, the one who encouraged the Bishop to start the School of Nursing.
He also assisted hospitals owned by the Pentecostal fellowship, an example being Jesus the Physician Hospital at Awka.
In his partnership with the Churches to build and rebuild institutions, Obi built 10 maternities and four of them were for the Anglican Church and are located in:
1. Umueje, Anyamelum L.G.A
2. Awba-Ofenmili, Akwa North L.G.A
3. Ihiala, Ihiala L.G.A
4. Umunze, Orumba South L.G.A
RETURN OF SCHOOLS
After Obi returned schools to their original owners, some people outside the Catholic and Anglican Churches raise the issue of assistances only rendered to the two Churches, but the fact was that only the two Churches owned schools that were taken by the Government.
Always moved by equity, all the money shared to the mission were in proportion to the number of schools retuned to each. Is this Igbokwe’s definition of bigotry?
I understand that some disputed schools were not returned. Is returning them amidst disputes Joe’s definition of bigotry?
Like Catholic schools, all Anglican schools got buses, computers, generators, among many others. Is this Joe’s understanding of bigotry?
ANGLICAN BISHOPS ON OBI
Anambra State is better today because Mr. Obi collaborated with organizations that have the progress of the State at heart, and one of them is the Church. Obi partnered with the Church through return of their schools to them, the rehabilitation of their health facilities, among others. It is very wrong to see Obi and his bigotry through the prisms of warped minds as Mr. Igbokwe. it is better to see Obi through the prisms of Anglican Bishops, all of who, like other religious leaders, worked closely with him.
Now, see their opinions about Mr. Peter Obi:
His Grace, Most Rev. Dr. Christian Efobi, Archbishop, Province on the Niger, in referring to Obi, resorted to a biblical quote: “When the righteous are on the throne, the people rejoice.”
For the Anglican Bishop of Onitsha, Most Rev. Dr. Owen Nwokolo, “What Anambra is witnessing under Obi is a revolution, the likes of which the State has not witnessed in the past.”
According to Bishop Ephraim Ikeakor of Amichi Diocese, “Obi has done very well. His return of school to the Churches has made the difference in education. His collaboration with the Church is yielding fruits. Any person who says he has not done well is a blatant liar.”
The Anglican Bishop of Ihiala, Most Rev. Dr. Raphael Okafor, during the first session of the Second Synod of the Diocese at St. Andrew Church, Lilu said: “His Excellency, Mr. Peter Obi, CON, the former Governor of Anambra State will always be celebrated in the State. We cannot forget him and his Government, which was a Golden Era in this State which we hope will continue.”
At St. John’s Anglican Church, Umueze-Anam, while presenting an award to Obi, the Diocesan Bishop and Synod President, Rt. Rev. Dr. Henry Okeke, said “the award became expedient given that it was the last Obi would attend our synod as governor. He is a friend of the Diocese and he is being honoured in recognition of his contribution towards the success of the Diocese since inception as well as the development of Anambra West as a whole.”
At the 1st Session of the 29th Synod of Anglican Diocese on the Niger at St. Thomas Church, Oraukwu, the Bishop of the Diocese, Right Reverend Professor Godwin Okpala said, “I thank Mr. Peter Obi whole-heartedly for always identifying with affairs of the Church. God will continue to bless and uplift him for transforming the entire State. He has set a standard others will strive to emulate.”
The Anglican Bishop of the Diocese of Niger West, Rt. Revd Prof Anthony Nkwoka at Archbishop Patterson’s Seminary, Igbariam said this of Obi: “We shall remain prayerful at all times for God to give the State a Governor that will be like Gov. Peter Obi when his tenure expires. I have followed the Governor’s politics over the years and I see in him essential godliness that is absent among Nigerian politicians. By returning schools to the missions with sincere apologies and providing funds for their rehabilitation, Obi has left an indelible legacy for generations unborn.” In his own remarks about Obi, the Anglican Bishop of Awka, Rt. Rev Alexander Ibezim, during his visit to the Comprehensive Secondary School, Nawfia said: “ development under Peter Obi in all sectors, especially education is marvellous. I pity those that will come after him as it will be difficult for them meeting up with the standards Governor Peter Obi has set. Obi’s example in governance is worthy of emulation for building institutions, unlike the past governors of the state that built individuals.”
What other verdict by Anglicans about Mr. Peter Obi should be more valid than those of My Lord Bishops? I think the likes of Igbokwe are on their own. For him the prove of Obi’s bigotry is not in his actual relationship with the Church, but in what he heard from Chief Dan Ulasi, a seasoned mercenary.
I challenge the likes of Joe Igbokwe to show me, by comparison, any government in Anambra state or elsewhere that did for the Church, including Anglican Church, 2% of what Obi did for them.
Enlightened minds can engage in intellectual exercises which I do a lot, by looking at the Churches from different perspectives, but only bigots look at it like Joe Igbokwe with the aim to cause problem for the people. He is a Lagosian by adoption, don’t he know that a typical Lagos family houses people from different denominations and faith, each leaving his life without being a terror to one another. This are the type of lessons we expect him to learn and imbibe and not tendencies that are destructive to the society..