It was a rare demonstration of Christian brotherhood and ecumenism penultimate Friday as hundreds of people of Owu-Ubi autonomous community, in the Ikeduru local government area ofImoState, irrespective of their religious linings, lined the rural roads to welcome an Anglican prelate, the Rt Rev Emmanuel Chigozie Maduwike, Bishop of Ikeduru Diocese, with pomp and pleasantries.
The occasion was the second bi-ennial Diocesan Conference of the Anglican Christian Fathers Fellowship held between Friday 20th April through Sunday 22nd, 2012 atSt John’s Anglican Church Owu-Amakohia.
The three-day event which began with the celebration of Holy Eucharist each day, had as its central theme: “The Christain man and Prudence”, taken from the book of the prophet Isaiah Chapter 52:13. It featured a wide range of activities which included; presentation of various address, lecture series, praise and worship session, reports from various Archdeaconries, Bible expositions, open forum with questions and answers, passing and adoption of resolution and communiqué, cutting of Conference Cake, Award presentation, plenary session and Archdeaconry thanksgiving. It was a three-day soul refreshing and acquisition of new knowledge.
Preaching a sermon during the opening session, Ven Josiah Emeribe, Archdeacon of Inyishi Archdeaconry described a Christian man as one who has accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as his Saviour. Addressing the over two hundred delegates, including priests and the other church workes, Ven Emeribe said a prudent Christian man is that man that worships God in truth and spirit. He described prudence as right reason applied to action, warning that many have deviated from the way of the truth.
He said membership of A.C.F.F and other organizations in the church does not make one a Christian, but one who has personal relationship with God especially now that Christianity is becoming fashionable. He admonishes Christian fathers to lead a life worthy of their calling, saying; what does it profit a man if he gained the whole world and loose his soul”.
The lecture session followed with Dr David Iwuagwu as the resource person. He lectured on the Disease of the Prostate gland, emphasizing on cancer of prostate. According to the lecturer, prostate gland is only found in male as part of the male reproduction system. It lies between the neck of the bladder and urethra. It produces mucus, fluids, enzymes and hormones that nourish the spermatozoa. Its enlargement obstructs the urethra and cause sensation during urine passage.
It is common among men between the ages of 40 and 85, and if not treated earlier, may develop into other problems that may effect the kidney and liver. He said treatment is by medication and surgery. He therefore called on Christian fathers to abstain from care-free-life style like too much consumption of alcohol, womanizing and using of sex-enhancing drugs.
Thehigh pointof the day’s event was courtesy visit to HRH Eze Engr Ben Nwaneri the Ubi I of Owu-bi-Nubi, the host community. The Eze, a staunch Roman Catholic in a rare demonstration of Christian brotherhood, lined up with members of his cabinet and other high chiefs to receive Bishop Maduwike and his entourage in his palace. Bishop Maduwike intimated the traditional ruler on his visit. He extolled the leadership quality of the Eze, especially the cordial relationship among members of his cabinet. He lamented on the deplorable state of roads in the area, as they have been cut off from their kith and kin in the local government.
Bishop Maduwike said he chose (Owu Amakohia as venue for the 2012 bi-ennial conference, so that others would see what their brothers and sisters in this part of the local government go through. He therefore called on the rescue government of Owelle Rochas to come to the aid of the helpless Imolites, especially now that their kith and kin have to travel through Mbaise and Owerri to visit them.
Responding Eze Nwaneri thanked the prelate for coming. He spoke on the homogeneous nature of his people saying; we are one in God irrespective of religious inclinations. He described Bishop Maduwike as a special gift from God and enjoined all to support him. He again spoke on the deplorable state of roads in his domain and implored the Bishop to join him in calling for assistance from the appropriate quarters.
Most of his cabinet members and high chiefs were highly delighted that a conference of such magnitude is for the first time being hosted in their community. One of them Chief Dr Calistus Chibundu also a staunch Catholic, simply introduced himself as a true friend of the Anglicans.
The theme of the conference continued to run in the second as Ven. John Akahara emphasized on the need to imbibe prudence in Christian life and management of resources. Preaching during the occasion, Ven Akahara said the application of wisdom is total, touching on every spheres of life, including marriage and management of family resources. He decried a situation where many Christian fathers squander their hard earned resources on frivolities such as drunkeness and in pool offices. He called on such Christian fathers to have a rethink and repent.
Preaching his presidential address and charge for the 2012 bi-ennial conference, Bishop Maduwike described Christian fathers as first priests in their respective families. He said Christianity is the religion of those who accept Jesus Christ as God incarnate.
He enjoined all to imbibe Christian virtue and prudence in all their undertakings. The prelate described prudence as the hall-mark that sustains the quality of human existence – economically, socially, politically, in family affairs, and otherwise.
Community govt, ralionalisation set workers against Imo govt
Governor Rochas Okoroch ofImoStatemay be the most popular governor in Nigerian but some of his policies have of recent set him on collision course with powerful sectors in the State that could not only diminish his popularity but retard the momentum of his obvious accomplishments.
The civil servants in the state, feeling that their jobs are on the line, have threatened to embark on industrial action over government’s plan to relocate many of them to their community councils of origin to consolidate, according to government, the fourth tier government that is yet to be approved by the State House of Assembly.
The governor was said to have had a first hand taste of the vehemence of the workers resentment recently when he went to the secretariat to address them on the issue but was uncharacteristically jeered by the workers who hitherto would have cheered his every word.
Speaking in the same vein, the workers told our Reporters that they had to forcefully and openly oppose the move because, apart from losing their jobs, they argue that the arrangement lacked adequate planning as there are no accommodation and other office facilities to accommodate returning officers.
Fumed one; “The fourth tier government is experimental as no one is sure whether it can work or not and to re-deploy workers to a non-existent institution is like using workers as guinea pigs”.
Another sticking point is the commercialisation of ministries, departments and agencies (MDA) whereby government has charged each to generate revenue to pay salaries and maintain their offices.
The workers contend that the policy has put most of the MDAs under intense stress in their attempts to generate revenue.
One of them argued pointedly; “the civil service from history is basically meant for social service not for revenue generation and even those that charge for their services charge token fees”. He cited the case of judicial fees for oaths and affidavits saying that “if such fees are commercialized they would rise astronomically and it would mean that justice will be available to the rich not to the poor”.
A staff of the State Water Board said that his men have encountered stiff resistance in collecting the borehole fees adding that they have been chased away by irate owners of boreholes.
According to him some of the owners argue that they had provided water either free or commercially to their communities and that government should rather pay them allowances for performing her duty instead of taxing them.
However, some workers conceded that Governor Okorocha has performed creditably in his short time in office but warned him not to negate his efforts by unpopular policies.
“No doubt, his zeal to makeImoStatethe best inNigeriais passionate which is why he is in a hurry to finish the projects in one year. This hurry has led him to a few mistakes which can be corrected”, said a female senior civil servant.
Another civil servant who said he is a senior officer and would retire in two years’ time said he agreed that the civil/public service need drastic downsizing but that it should be a gradual and humane process in view of its social implications.
In his words; “In the course of my duties I have toured many government companies/parastatals and private organizations. What I have found out is that a schedule or duty which three employees can do in a private set up effectively and efficiently, 15 employees would be engaged to do it in a government set-up. That is why a government worker can stay away for a month from the office and it would not be felt although he would always take his pay every month. There is need for staff rationalization but it must be done with human face”.