The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has commended the commitment of the Kaduna State Government to peace.
Nicholas Okoh, the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, stated this Wednesday (today) in Kaduna when he visited Governor Nasir El-Rufai. The primate assured the governor that the Church of Nigeria shares and supports this commitment to peace.
Mr Okoh, an archbishop who led a nine-man delegation of the Church of Nigeria, thanked the governor for receiving his team. He also expressed gratitude for the audience Governor El-Rufai granted in November 2019 to a team of bishops led by Ali Buba Lamido, the archbishop of Kaduna Province.
The Primate recalled that he mandated the visit of the Archbishop Lamido team and said that the Church of Nigeria is grateful that the team was received with goodwill in a meeting that clarified the status of St. George’s Cathedral, Zaria.
Mr Okoh confirmed to the governor that the attention of the Church was “drawn to the unguarded and unacceptable writings of one of our Bishops, the Right Reverend Abiodun Ogunyemi, the Bishop of Zaria Diocese”.
Mr Okoh assured Mr El-Rufai that “we want to state it clearly that the Church of Nigeria is not partisan in the politics of the nation and that the position of Bishop Ogunyemi is not the position of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion).”
Speaking further, Mr Okoh said, “this second visit to your exalted office is to reassure you of the fact that the Church of Nigeria is not fighting with Governor and the government of Kaduna State.”
He added that “our brother Bishop Ogunyemi has been cautioned and warned to desist from making utterances and writings that are tantamount to threatening the peace of Kaduna State and the nation at large”.
“It is pertinent to put it on record that the Church of Nigeria has sat several times in meetings and extensive discussions with our brother, Bishop Ogunyemi, where he was cautioned and charged to desist from utterances and writings that could lead to misunderstanding between the Church and government, and stir up religious crisis. Your Excellency, we can assure you that he has given an undertaking to be of good behaviour.”
Mr Okoh reiterated the belief of the Church of Nigeria in the biblical teaching to “give back to Caesar what is Caeser’s, and to God what is God’s”.
He added that “we believe God sets up leaders and that the government of Kaduna State is in existence by the grace of God. The Anglican Church does not engage itself in fighting government, rather, it seeks fruitful ways of engaging the government for the benefit of the citizens of the land.”
Concluding his remarks, Mr Okoh said that “the Church of Nigeria seeks the peace of our country Nigeria as well as that of Kaduna in particular and cannot be a party to any attempt to destroy the peace that we are enjoying at the moment.”
Mr El-Rufai thanked Mr Okoh and his delegation for the visit. He said the Kaduna State Government was disappointed by the conduct of the bishop over the issue of St.George’s Cathedral, Sabon-Gari, which the government had decided since 2016 to preserve for its historical significance.
He explained that the government is considering gazetting the cathedral as a historical monument. The governor disclosed that given the sad legacy of religious crisis in the state, the government cannot take lightly anything that threatens the security of the state.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting with the Governor, Mr Okoh said he came to Kaduna to discuss peace in Nigeria and Kaduna State, stressing that Nigerians must build bridges of peace for the nation to move forward
“We have to come to Kaduna to discuss peace in Nigeria and Kaduna state. We must build bridges and not to create problems in the country because it will consume everyone. We must work together and build Nigeria.”
On the Primate’s team were former Foreign Minister, Odein Ajumogobia, who is the Chancellor of the Church of Nigeria, and bishops from Lokoja, Kubwa, Kaduna and Dutse, and Abraham Yisa, the registrar of the Church of Nigeria.
Special Adviser to the Kaduna Governor (Media & Communication)