By Father Moses Iorapuu

Every year between August and September Americans face serious hurricanes, tornadoes and storms, this year is no exception; Hurricane Harvey which got nicknamed Monster Hurricane left in its wake catastrophic havoc in Texas, Corpus Christi, Houston, Louisiana and other states. Harvey has been described as the most ferocious hurricane to touch down in the US in a decade. Despite widespread devastation, there were fewer casualties reported because of early warnings and good preparation. Although early warning does not protect the states against flooding, destruction of homes, farmlands, industrial buildings and electricity,  the people are able to recover far more quickly than in places like Nigeria where a little disaster means generations of poverty and leaves the people to providence.  The world is gradually drifting into global ecological disaster as experts of Climate Change continue to warn; sadly though the media in Nigeria is yet to set the agenda and make the threat of ecological disasters a public issue and place the seriousness of these threats as daily discourse. How I wish these issues become the daily bread on social media!

            While in the United States, the government and media have kept citizens informed and offering immediate assistance, in Nigeria on the other hand, a few millimeters of rainfall in one day have left many homes and church buildings flooded in some parts of Lagos, Edo and Benue states, but the opposite is the case; in Benue the governor at least visited some parts of the affected areas including Radio Benue Makurdi. Senator George Akume was also seen visiting other places.  But the rains affected other towns and villages outside of Makurdi.  Our media prefer to give priority to issues that affect those in power.

Ecology refers to the entire ecosystem; the earth and its inhabitants are bond together: water, trees, birds, insects, animals, and the atmosphere are interconnected. Our forefathers knew this and treated their habitat as spiritual materials and many traditional societies still consider the earth as a holy shrine and the earth is even called Mother! Many cultures continue to defend their natural habitat against invaders and abuse from within, that is why there are forest reserves, green zones and trees are planted and laws are made against logging and indiscriminate bush burning in civilized societies.  In Nigeria, unfortunately many are ignorant of the reasons for these practices, while many others ignore them for business gains and immediate exigencies that must be met for their survival. There are many villages that have no electricity and even where there is electricity, firewood is used for cooking, people destroy trees for charcoal, they cut down trees to build new houses and make furniture and to stop them, the government must provide an alternative means of fuel and livelihood. The government adds to the worsening situation, by allowing some of its agencies to approve construction works on reserved lands, or approve construction work that has no respect for environment and there is no government policy to protect green areas as parks even within cities.

Submerged houses in Makurdi flood

Submerged houses in Makurdi flood

Ecological or environmental issues have become dominant in international discourse again under the umbrella of Climate Change. Pope Francis has even spiritualized the discourse with his Laudato Si, which is a great turning, taking us into a new consciousness, in which the earth is not experienced as separate, but interdependent and intertwined, bringing out our inter-being with the ecosystems, a vision of oneness that makes us treat responsibly the earth we inhabit.  The so-called greenhouse effect we are suffering is caused largely by human activity. Human activities such as cutting down of trees, burning of bushes, dumping of refuse carelessly, the irresponsible use of electrical appliances and electronics, and digging of the earth for burnt bricks are dangerously destroying the environment and causing climate change.

There was a sharp division among scientists over the exact causes of climate change; others were of the view that it was natural and others held that it was human. Today only a few in the United States still do not believe that human activity is the main factor for climate change.

Many unprecedented catastrophes that are experienced the world over cannot continue to be ignored. Churches and residential houses within our cities get flooded every year, the intensity with which winds come with rainfall and the high temperatures we experience these days and the disappearing rivers and streams are enough warning signs of the impending danger. Desertification, deforestation, forest fires, flooding, landslide and mudslide are all badly affecting the human populace, from Bangladesh to the Democratic Republic of Congo, from China to the United States, from north to south, and from east to west, but because their effects sometimes are not obviously felt, the world continues to play the ewe; hide its head in sand.

The whole debate began with the knowledge the world has come to know of the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is a natural process that warms the earth’s surface to make the earth habitable; it is the process by which radiation from a planet’s atmosphere warms the planet’s surface to a temperature above what it would be without its atmosphere.  When the sun’s energy reaches the earth’s atmosphere, some of it is reflected back into the space and the rest is absorbed and re-radiated by greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases include water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone and some artificial chemicals, such as Chlorofluorocarbons (CPCs). The absorbed energy warms the atmosphere and the surface of the earth. This process maintains the earth’s temperature at around 33 degrees Celsius warmer than it would otherwise be, allowing life on earth to exist. The big problem the world faces now is that human activities, particularly burning of fossil fuels – coal, oil and natural gas – agriculture and land clearing, bush burning, logging are increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases.  This is the enhanced greenhouse effect, which is contributing to the warming of the earth; which in turn is sparking off the infrequent natural catastrophes we are today witnessing: flooding, desertification, landslide, and the global warming with other terrible consequences.

Ecological disasters are like nuclear disasters, no nation is completely immune or insusceptible to their aftermath. The citizens of nations experiencing severe famine or draught will migrate to other countries bringing with them other demands on the host nation. The citizens of nations or states pummeled by flooding or forest fires or diseases caused by disasters activated by our disruption of the ecosystems will become a heavy burden on their governments, other families and a strain on the available resources. In local examples, flooded homes for instances create untold hardships on families and reverse their financial gains in an already tensed financial environment. What about waterborne diseases as a result of contaminated drinking water? What about flooded farming lands that will no longer be productive leading to poverty and hunger? What about homes destroyed?

Flooded streets

Flooded streets

             There are spiritual consequences to ecological or environmental disasters, details aptly captured in Laudato Si. The green grass, the green forest and the blue skies and blue waters are symbols of how God continues to bless what he created and saw as good. The sacrifice of the mass and other sacraments have natural elements as their matter, and natural environment enhances meditation and prayer. The Canticle of Daniel in the Bible invites:“And you, rivers and seas, O bless the Lord. And you, creatures of the sea, O bless the Lord. And you, every bird in the sky, O bless the Lord. And you, wild beasts and tame, O bless the Lord. To Him be highest glory and praise for ever. And you, children of men, O bless the Lord. To Him be highest glory and praise for ever. “Today the rivers are drying up, the wild beasts are going, the birds such as vultures are gone extinct already, and so who is going to praise the Lord, if we and everything become plastic?

Our leaders must be cautious as they aggressively pursue industrialization and technology at all cost. The absence of trees for instance means an invitation for desertification, drought, flooding, poor quality and quantity of water and increased greenhouse gas effects. The absence of trees leads to poor and polluted atmosphere and the radiation from the sun hits harder and exposes humans to skin cancer and other diseases. The use of many vehicles and smoking machines that emit their pollutants into the atmosphere, the burning of bushes and forests and the irresponsible use of computers, mobile phones and leaving our lights and other electrical appliances continuously on when they are not in use add up to the destruction of the ozone layer which is no longer thick enough to protect us against over radiation from the sun’s rays.  All these activities are directly or indirectly disrupting the teeming diversity of life and the ecosystems that sustain it. We may be looking at catastrophic images of flooded areas in Texas, Houston, Bangladesh, and Makurdi in Benue state Nigeria and be asking questions about what is responsible? The answers are in our human activity: from some of the examples cited above to other ones such as disregard for building regulations and dumping of refuse that close up water channels; our refusal to judiciously use the ecological fund, to plant more trees and encourage a more responsible lifestyle.

We have to improve our social, political, religious, cultural and physical quality of life by strong government advocacy that will promote knowledge of environment and ecological disasters that can rubbish the gains human beings have achieved since the creation of man with a single shot or blow of one catastrophe. The Western world had perceived this danger in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries when spirituality became connected with environmental issues and human activity was seen as disrupting the teeming diversity of life and the ecosystems that sustain it. The improvement of the social and cultural quality of life in the Western world was greatly influenced by strong movements of adult education, promoting the knowledge of national history and literature, the encouragement of cultural activities at the local community level of drama, music, sports, dance, creative writing and songs; we do need such mechanisms.

Faith based organisations like Churches, make a big difference  in rural life through active engagement and involvement, adding spiritual orientation and confidence in topical debates and to  prepare young people for urban migration that leads into middle-class and professional life, rather than leave them to the threats of slums and informal unstable economy. Reverend Fathers, religious men and women and other missionaries and men and women of God must become vanguards for Climate Change. There are no more serious community, rural clubs or associations with the objective to enrich rural life as in the past, political associations that do not promote the capacity of young people to perform better in formal and non-formal education and so improve on their world have become the dominant factor in society. There is so much corruption in the system that the absence of good teachers and learning materials and local libraries are no body’s concern; the absence of good schools in rural areas and poor agricultural yields as a result of herdsmen attacks, the agricultural land destroyed by grazing herds and the dangers posed by activities of loggers make no meaning to anyone in authority. We have to make environmental and ecological issues topical and keep them in currency not only for ourselves but for the future generation. The men and women of the media, the men and women of the Church and the men and women in the government must become knowledgeable enough on these issues to enlighten the public; all hands to the pump. Make ecological and environmental issues our daily bread on social media, enough of the cock and bull stories that inundate the social media while ecological catastrophe looms!

By Tinadoo Jenny

Too much of preaching is dominating our political arena but little service is done. The primary responsibility of elected public officers is to govern with service, and politicians must concentrate on their primary assignment and leave the work of preaching to ordained ministers. The readings for this Sunday are apt for the Nigerian politicians: “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, pick out from among you seven men of good repute full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this duty, But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” (Acts. 6:2-4) This was part of the sermon by the Director of Communications Father Moses Iorapuu, on the readings of the Sunday of May 14, 2017 at St. Joseph’s Parish, Nyiman. The priest explained that the electorate should blame themselves and not God when they vote corrupt and evil politicians into power, because they are supposed to choose God fearing people who are full of God’s Spirit and wisdom, in other words those who have the fear of God and love for the electorate.  He told the congregation that “the beginning of the ministry of deacons, that of serving was the church’s response to  fighting injustice in the system and to kick injustice out of the Church. There was a quarrel between Greek speaking Jews who were converted to Christianity against the Hebrews, because their widows were discriminated against in the daily distribution of resources. This is the problem with Nigeria as well as every other country. When people are elected, they are to ensure that there is justice in the distribution of common resources for the citizens. In Nigeria however, politicians have turned preachers and priests are now doing the daily distribution of resources: providing jobs through schools and health facilities built by the church, paying school fees to poor children, feeding the poor, taking care of idps and other vulnerable people, while the politicians whose calling is to serve the tables are hiding the resources of the people in graveyards and uncompleted building.”

The priest attributed the noises being made against President Buhari as part of the greed that led to crisis in the early church: “Wherever some people have the opportunity to write or speak, they will complain over thing or the other. The Tiv ones complained that Buhari was discriminating against the Tiv People who voted him into power because he did not give a Tiv person a ministerial appointment. Today Buhari has appointed many Tiv people as managing directors of some federal parastatals and the complainants are quiet, but I wonder how the appointment of a Tiv person translates into equal distribution of common resources when the life of the ordinary person remains the same. Some who accused Buhari of being a Fulani man aiding Fulani herdsmen to kill Tiv people are no longer making the noises. This is greed! All we care about is appointment and not about people who are of good repute and full of God’s Spirit and wisdom. The Fulani herdsmen-farmers crisis was there years before Buhari was born, other factors unconnected with Buhari exacerbated it, but it makes more appeal to blame it on Buhari! The Ibo people did not vote for Buhari, but they have so many ministerial appointments, yet every day is one court case after another against their marginalization, this is sheer greed! You cannot have your cake and eat, so says the English phrase. How many tribes do we have in this country? Why do we not think of the many tribes that have nothing and still say nothing? All the noises about the so-called “we are left out “are as a result of greed. If our elected officers are people of good repute and full of the Spirit and wisdom: the governors, the senators, the state and national assemblies and the chairmen of local government areas, theycan and should ensure the equal distribution of resources for their communities. But when we prefer corrupt people as leaders for the peanuts they offer, the dead in the graveyards and reptiles and insects in uncompleted buildings and in septic pits and farmlands will become the owners of our common patrimony while we will continue to languish in misery. Dear brothers and sisters, Jesus tells us “let not your hearts be troubled, do not worry, believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” Jesus is going to prepare a place for you, so do away with all worries and acts of injustice against fellow brothers and sisters because of greed; in other words greed has pushed you to be worried about your tomorrow and you no longer need Jesus. Again you cannot have your cake and eat it, period! Jesus cannot be the way for those who are unjust in their dealings with their fellow brothers and sisters; neither is he the truth for people who tell lies in private or public nor is he the life for those who trust in their own power or other powers for their victory. It does not matter where our leaders come from as long as they are men of good repute and full of God’s Spirit and wisdom and can guarantee the equal distribution of our resources. Watch out and guard yourselves from every kind of greed, because a person’s life is not made up of the things he owns, no matter how rich he may be, (Luke 12:15). Jesus has many rooms enough for everyone in his Father’s kingdom; you must equally create enough space for others to be happy in the kingdom God has given you on earth.” Father Iorapuu concluded.

By Anthony Cardinal Okogie, Archbishop Emeritus of Lagos

The question may appear strange.  But it is pertinent.  Do we have a nation?  Or, have we been living in the illusion that we have one?

The landscape of insecurity in Nigeria ensures that the question is pertinent.  A long list of disturbing indices compel us to ask the question: the Boko Haram insurgency that stubbornly stares us in the face in northeastern Nigeria, the Chibok girls who have been held in captivity for over three years, the phenomenon of murderous herdsmen, the ethnic cleansing in southern Kaduna, the unabating spree of abduction in virtually every part of the country, separatist agitation in the southeast, militancy in the oil producing Niger Delta, silent but ominous discontent in the southwest, the lawlessness of corruption, the equally lawless and less than methodic response to the lawlessness of corruption, the less than transparent approach to matters of governance, the display of arrogance by representatives of government when they are called upon to explain actions of government to the Nigerian, not to mention but these.

It has been said many times in the past, and it is still being said: life and property are not safe in our country.  But their protection is the primary responsibility of the state.  The state is made up of institutions.  Institutions are established directly or indirectly by the Constitution, directly if explicitly provided for in the Constitution, indirectly if established in a manner that conforms with the Constitution.  It is through such institutions that government fulfills its primary responsibility of protecting life and property of the citizen.

                The Constitution that establishes these institutions is a set of fundamental norms for the regulation of the life of an association that a nation is.  When it is truly legitimate, such a Constitution is not imposed.  It is freely adopted by the people.  Its adoption is informed as a sign that their membership of the association is consensual.    The people who form the association that a nation is regulate the affairs of their association by a Constitution they freely adopt by such informed consent.

But here we are living in a country whose Constitution does not have our consent.  By extension, institutions established by this Constitution exist without our informed consent.  They exist, not to serve the people, but to serve the interest of those who imposed the Constitution.  This Constitution was imposed by way of a “benevolent military dictatorship”—a contradiction in terms—and the forces represented by the so called benevolent dictatorship.

Cardinal Okogie

Anthony Cardinal Okogie

By further extension, officials of these institutions established by an imposed and dangerously defective Constitution cannot be expected to be at the service of the people.  They can only be expected to be at the service of their own interests, and at the service of those who put them in office, and those who put them in office put the Constitution in place. Neither the state nor its officials serve Nigerians. That is why they constantly take Nigerians for granted.  We may line up at polling stations, in the hot sun or in the torrential rain, when we go to the polls every four years, as we shall soon be doing come 2019 believing that we have a democracy.  But, as recent publications are pointing to us, our elections are matches fixed by local and foreign kingmakers who decide on who gets “elected”.  Little wonder we have a political leadership that arrogantly refuses to be accountable to the people they are supposed to serve.  This refusal to be accountable is not peculiar to one political party.  It is,in fact, multi-partisan.  Instead of being transparent, accountable and polite to Nigerians, our political office holders and their spokespersons, irrespective of party affiliation, have the audacity to call Nigerians who express legitimate concerns names that such Nigerians do not deserve to bear.  If they really depended on our votes to be in office, would they be so insolent?

If the primary responsibility of the state and its institutions is to protect life and property, if institutions that constitute a state are not at the service of the people because this primary responsibility is assumed in the breach, then, neither the Nigerian nor his or her property is safe.

Nigeria has a cocktail of security agencies, and a huge percentage of Nigeria’s budget is officially allocated to them.  We have the Police, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Immigration, Customs, assorted intelligence agencies.  But the simple fact is that they were not established to protect the people.  They were established and are operated to protect political actors.Now, if the state does not protect us can we truly say we have a nation?

Nigeria has broken down and is not working. She was not well set up by British colonialists.  She was further incapacitated by a succession of unprincipled politicians and lawless soldiers.  That is why we are not safe. That is why we need to go back to the drawing board.  We cannot validly claim that we are a nation.  We urgently need to set to work to build one, and it is in our interest to do so.  We must assume the task of building a nation on the basis of right relationship among Nigeria’s diverse ethnic and religious communities.

We need a new Constitution establishing a new political arrangement, and this new political arrangement must serve the people, not the politicians at the expense of the people.  When government is at the service of the people, and when each citizen seeks his or her own good by working for the common good, then we can truly say we have a nation, a nation we can proudly call our own.

Catholic, a term from the Greek Katholikos, meaning universal, was first used by St. Ignatius of Antioch in the second century, refers to the members, the churches, the institutions, the hierarchy, the clergy and the teachings of the church founded by Jesus and given to the apostles. According to the Catholic Dictionary, St. Ignatius who first used the term wrote: “wheresoever the Bishop appear, there is the Catholic Church.”

It was in the same spirit that Bishop Wilfred Anagbe defined his actions of ordaining deacons for the catholic diocese of Makurdi, who are not by birth of the geographical circumscription of Makurdi Diocese.

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The newly ordained Deacons for the Diocese of Makurdi

He declared that the church is universal and that he is a catholic bishop and not a bishop for Tiv race or any group and that the Catholic Church cannot be limited to a particular ethnic group or clan. As long as a candidate is called by God and meets the requirements for admission into the seminary, his place of birth is of no consequence in the diocese of Makurdi. One of the five candidates ordained is from Ipav in Gboko local government area; and besides this candidate, Makurdi diocese has seminarians from Idoma, Igede and Igbo extractions.

Bishop Anagbe told the congregation that as a mother diocese, Makurdi cannot take the path of a narrow thinking people who cannot accommodate others.

We must be broad minded, expand our horizon and act big; Makurdi is a home for all who are willing to be law abiding and obedient to the teachings of the Mother Church, said the bishop.

He equally charged the candidates to remain committed to their promises and undertaking to indemnify Makurdi Diocese of any misdemeanor that will be an embarrassment to the Church.

                The prelate warned the congregation that once a candidate is ordained he is a property of the church and since they have not questioned why he is ordaining candidate from other parts of Tivland and beyond, when he corrects them, no pressure group should politicize it.  The ordination of Revd Philip Utile (Ullam Mission), Revd Adagba Benjamin (OLPH), Revd Yugh Patrick (Adaka Mission) Revd Cyprian Orsuul (Udei) and Revd Barnabas Akaa (Mkar) took place on January 13, 2017 at the Pastoral Centre, Makurdi.

By Prof James Tar Tsaaior

For much of the year 2016, the Tiv nation was in mourning, in grief. The portentous accents of the Indyer drum announced the passage of the paramount ruler of the Tiv towards the end of 2015. Following the gathering to the ancestral domain of the Begha u Tiv, Orchivirigh (Dr) Alfred Akawe Torkula, Tor Tiv IV, Tivland became disconsolate. Benue State was in a mournful mood. Even Nigeria was drenched in tears.

It was the Catholic Bishop of Gboko Diocese, Most Rev. Dr. William Amove Avenya who captured the lachrymal mood most luridly. Addressing the mammoth congregation at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Baptist in Gboko, the umbilical cord and centre of Tiv unity, the prelate advised the Tiv people to grieve like a nation with hope and accord a most decent burial to the late monarch in fidelity to Tiv tradition and culture. But he also admonished them to ensure that an “unpolluted” Tor Tiv emerged to succeed the late Torkula.

Providence heard the prayerful admonitions of Bishop Avenya. Today, the Tiv have a new paramount ruler. He is Orchivirigh (Prof.) James Ayatse. The new Tor Tiv is a foremost scholar, celebrated intellectual, experienced administrator, refined gentleman and a man of culture. He has been twice vice-chancellor, a rare accomplishment he shares with another distinguished Tiv compatriot, Prof. David Iyornôngu Ker.

The new Tor Tiv has been providing insights into his reign when he is formally installed later this year. Addressing the Ijirtamen, the supreme council of Tiv affairs, he spoke of a new dispensation which will witness the flourishing of peace, justice, fairness and equity under his keen watch. He has appealed for a greater sense of unity among the people and assured that with unity, all the challenges and contradictions prevalent in the land will be surmounted. He has called for a new agenda with God as the centrepiece of that agenda.

Also on the occasion of the annual prayer pilgrimage for peace in Tivland organised by the Catholic Dioceses of Makurdi, Gboko and Katsina-Ala, the Tor Tiv-elect pledged to preside over the land with the fear of God and asked the people to return to God, the only source of hope, consolation and peace. He promised to be father to all, to be apolitical and to co-operate with the government and the church for the peace and development of Tivland and Benue State.

My interest in this column is not so much to weave panegyric songs and serenade the new Tor Tiv. That will be a fit subject worthy of attention in the not too distant future. My concern now is the overriding and imperative need for a new Tiv agenda now that a new Tor Tiv has emerged. For after the expected euphoria of the moment, the Tiv need to harness the arrows of their minds and etch them onto the tight bowstrings of reality in contemporary Nigeria and in the face of present global realities. For the frog that is drunk with merriment and forgets itself soon ends in the belly of the snake.

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Tor Tiv-Elect, Prof. James Ayatse

In an attempt to chart a new cause in the course of Tiv nationhood amidst the plural contradictions that define Tiv society today, one sure way to begin is to have recourse to history. It was Wantaregh Paul Iorpuu Unongu who prophetically and perspicaciously asked the Tiv people where people they wanted to go. That was in 1969. Unongu, a young academic with Lagos University, sought to know from the Tiv in an open letter where they wanted to go from that moment in their national pilgrimage in Nigeria and the world. Today, nearly fifty years after, that question is and remains more urgent, more immediate than ever before. It sticks like the tiny fish bone in the throat that refuses to be extracted.

So I enlist the words of Unongu, the renowned and ageless sage and ask: now that a new Tor Tiv has arrived, where do we go from here? This is a crucial question. Whether the Tiv realise it or not, this a critical juncture in their history, a forked road in their journey towards becoming, toward belonging in Nigeria and in the world.

The Tiv must have a direction and a destination they are headed to. For when a people are without direction, they become like a locomotive that is berserk, which can run into a ditch or yawning precipice. They also become like a ship that is rudderless, which can embrace the rocks and capsize anytime.

So this is an epochal moment for sober reflection and stock-taking on past history with its successes and failures. It also calls for a dispassionate assessment of present history and its defining trajectories. The moment also compels and requires a trained vision and renewed focus on future history.

For it is important for one to look to where one fell but it is more important to know why one stumbled and fell. The Tiv must seek to know why history has somehow treated them so unkindly, so unfairly. Or better put, they must learn from history and know how to co-operate with history so that history can treat them justly.

Now that a new Tor Tiv has emerged, one direction the Tiv must pursue is to ensure that there is greater national unity and cohesion in their ranks. For long, there has been a crisis of national purpose. This is because of lack of unity due to personal selfish ambitions and gross greed. The enduring lesson life teaches humanity is that no one, no matter how creative and ingenious, can clap with one hand. The Tiv have been unsuccessfully trying to clap with one hand.

As a result, the Tiv have for so long failed to achieve national consensus whether in the realms of politics, culture, economy or social life. The loss of the then Benue Cement Company and the inability to compete favourably with others in political engineering locally and nationally are a glaring consequence of lack of national unity and an abiding sense of purpose. For where there are cracks, bedbugs breed and infest.

The cardinal principle of communal sharing has almost altogether disappeared from Tiv national memory archive. The creed now has become primitive individual accumulation, egocentricity and self-aggrandisement. Our memory bank has been so drained that the Tiv have turned against themselves like wild animals in a game reserve.

Consequently, they have rendered themselves most vulnerable and assailable in a pluralistic society like Nigeria where ethnic nationalism over-determines national engineering. To survive meaningfully in such a hostile and competitive environment, the Tiv need more than sheer luck or fortune. Unity and cohesion are indispensable. The Tiv need to prepare for their luck or fortune in Nigeria.

A new Tiv agenda now that a new Tor Tiv has arrived will also require that petty jealousies and envy which have become a national pastime will have to geometrically decrease if not get eliminated altogether. The Tiv have unfortunately refined the art of jealousy, an act that runs contrary to Tiv tradition and culture. This has negated the time-honoured ethos which proclaims that “I am because we are; we are because I am”; as well as the powerful philosophical statement that “One for all; all for one”. The famous slogan, “Ayatutu ka uno, ka se” which emphasises unity has become an empty, barren phraseology; a dead letter.

A new Tiv agenda now that a new Tor Tiv has been appointed will require a cultural paradigm shift: the inauguration of Tiv cultural renaissance. Tiv culture is undergoing a slow but sure culturocide. This debilitating reality is accompanied by the erosion and denudation of Tiv grammar of values and mores. An avoidable consequence of the neglect and progressive death of Tiv culture is the slow disappearance of Tiv language as the medium of communication.

The Tiv must know that no matter how old the monkey has grown, it never forgets its callisthenic displays. We must not forget the good aspects of our culture, our unique Tivness. We must cherish the treasures of our language and the philosophies it conveys. No other people can do this for the Tiv people. They alone can preserve it. For what is ours is ours, not others.

Every culture is transmitted by its language. The crisis of language translates to cultural stasis. What is happening with Tiv language now suggests a cultural crisis which if not addressed urgently with the seriousness it deserves, will inevitably result in the weakening and eventual disappearance of the culture and race. The new Tor Tiv will need to vigorously push an agenda for Tiv linguistic and cultural renascence for the continued survival of the group in a multi-ethnic Nigeria and globalised world order.

A new agenda under a new Tor Tiv will also compel great individual and collective investment in economic activities for enhanced social development. The Tiv are famous and hardworking farmers who alone can conveniently feed Nigeria. If Benue State today earns the sobriquet of “Food Basket of the Nation”, it is without doubt the industry and resilience of the Tiv in agricultural production. The Tiv believe that it is the busy nature of the bees in collecting nectar that the honeycomb is produced.

However, farming has earned the Tiv more poverty than wealth and riches. This is because there is no meaningful economic activity in the land. There are no industries, for instance, to process agro-based products. Farming itself is still being done on a subsistence basis. This reality affects the Tiv in other states other than Benue such as Taraba, Nasarawa, Plateau and parts of Cross River. Poverty has established a formidable dynasty in the land and the vast majority of the people are not spared its tyranny and dictatorship.

However, sustainable agricultural production which will uplift the people from poverty to wealth, from despondency to hope, can be accomplished. But it can only be accomplished through mechanised farming. The Tiv Traditional Council under the new Tor Tiv can stimulate action in this direction by conscientising the government but also raising consciousness among the people leveraging on the good platform of the church and other groups about the dignity of agricultural production. With the right attitude, food production will achieve a quantum leap and wealth and wellbeing will be created for the people.

Purposeful and visionary leadership is essential for a pan-Tiv agenda under the new dispensation. The new Tor Tiv has the historic mandate to galvanise the people in the direction of greater unity of purpose and consensus on issues of national significance. He must have proper understanding of the present realities. He must also have a clear vision about the future direction he will steer the Tiv nation.

For him to have a successful and memorable tenure, he must seek wise counsel from God and other well-meaning people who will uphold the common good. He should not keep the company of sycophants who will surely swarm around him for palace pecks and perquisites. He should avoid the pitfalls of partisanship like a plague of leprosy and assume the proper role of father of the nation. He should be a father who is willing to treat with justice and fairness all Tiv compatriots irrespective of clan, politics, religion, gender or creed.

Now that a new Tor Tiv has arrived, let there be newness of life in the land. Let the people bask in the euphoria of a fresh and promising day. Let the vegetation luxuriate with a green fortune that will yield a bountiful harvest of development and growth. Let the people and even animals be fertile and the land produce in abundance. Let this new beginning propel the Tiv nation on the path of true greatness and ethnic solidarity now that a new Tor Tiv has ascended the throne. Let the Indyer sound exultantly with cadences of hope and a life of plenty and abundance for the people, for the folk now that a new Tor Tiv is here.

Bishop William Avenya of Gboko Diocese has welcomed Franciscan Missionaries who have signed a contract to render their services in the health and education departments of the diocese.

Welcoming the female religious group, known as the Tertiary Sisters of St. Francis, from the Province of Cameroon, Bishop Avenya assured them of his maximum support and the hospitality of the lay faithful of the diocese, and urged them to keep to the terms of engagement and reference.

Before they will commence their official assignment, the bishop advised that they spend a month interacting and learning about the cultures of the people they will be working with because they are all foreigners.

The Health coordinator of the Diocese Father Michael Dogo, the Chancellor, Father Isaac DUGU and the Director of Catholic Education Services, Father Augustine Igbum were present during the signing of the contract.

Father Dugu who noted that the religious congregation was the first to pen down a contract with the new diocese advised them to “set a high standard for those who will be coming behind.”

sisters

Bishop William Avenya with priests and religious during the commission of convent for Franciscan Missionaries and the installation of the dean of Adikpo Deanery, Father Matthew Dzer at St. Ann’s Adikpo … Oct. 23, 2016

The Vicar General of the Congregation worldwide, Sr. Alphonsa Kiven who led the delegation likened their cordial reception and the signing of the contract to the “birth of a baby” after a prolonged pregnancy and assured the bishop that they will bring their wealth of experience to bear on their new assignment with a serious sense of commitment and dedication.

Two of the three religious will work at St. Monica’s Hospital, Adikpo, while the other will work in the education department.

Sr. Ebamu Ruphina, who has vast experience in hospital administration, having worked as the Matron of St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Hospital and Cardiac Centre, Shisong, Cameroon, for the past ten years, will take charge of St. Monica’s as the administrator, while Sr. Neng Flora, a pharmacist and nurse will be the hospital’s pharmacist.

The Mother General of the Nativity Sisters, Sr. Ann Abah, SON alongside with the Secretary General of the Congregation, Sr. Susan Tonguve, SON signed   similar contract with the diocese on the same day to render their services in the health and education departments of the diocese.

The Nativity Sisters had signed a contract with the then old Makurdi Diocese when the late Bishop A.A. Usuh, who died on July 14, 2016 at age of 74, was in charge.  That contract became invalid in 2012 following the creation of Gboko Diocese, as some of the institutions they were running are within the geographical map of the new diocese.

The Tertiary Sisters of St. Francis in Cameroon are the African Province of a congregation  of Roman Catholic Religious Sisters of the third order of St. Francis which was founded in Brixen, Italy, which lies in the South Tyrol region of the country. Their international motherhouse is in Rome. The occasion took place on October 22, 2016 at Bishop’s House, Gboko.

            Following the signing of the contract with the Franciscan Missionaries, Bishop Avenya the next day, which was Mission Sunday commissioned the renovated convent for the religious. The bishop on the same occasion installed Father Matthew Dzer as the Dean of Adikpo Deanery.

By Isho Maza Richard

The Catholic Bishop of Katsina-Ala Diocese Most Revd Peter I. Adoboh has carried out many changes in his diocese. In a sudden but decisive way, priests have been given transfer letters which saw the swapping of parishes among priests.

            The shake-up also involves the appointments of the two new deans; Father Clement Akaazua Iortyer is the new dean of Katsina-Ala Deanery, while Father Michael Mchia is the new Dean of Sankera Deanery.

            Priests affected in the restructuring exercise are Father Michael Mchia of St. Gerard Majella Cathedral who has been moved to St. Mary’s Parish Chito as parish priest; Father Moses Igba of St. Paul’s Quasi Mission Akai, appointed as the new Cathedral Administrator; Father Peter Ukor Agema moves to Akai as the priest in charge; Father Stephen Iortyer who was assistant at St. Gabriel’s Quasi Parish Agbanyi, was appointed parish Priest of Catholic Mission Tsav-num; Father Daniel Yiyeh of St. Margret Parish Tor-Donga moves to St. Paul’s Catholic Parish Kyado as Parish Priest. Others include Father Moses Orti of St. Mary’s Parish Katsina-Ala who moves to St. Joseph’s Quasi Parish Jootar as priest in charge, while Father Hon Joseph of Jootar  proceeds to Rome for studies. Father Solomon Menger was appointed the new priest in charge of St. Mary’s Quasi Parish Katsina-Ala and Chaplain, St. Gerard Catholic Secondary School Katsina-Ala and Divine Love Girls Secondary School.

            Father Godwin Bagu of St. Thomas Aquinas Major Seminary Makurdi moves to Holy Spirit Catholic Parish Sankera, while Father Emmanuel Atsen Mgbakpa of Holy Spirit Parish Sankera moves to St. Hyacinth’s Quasi Parish Buchi as parish priest. Father Jov Emmanuel moves to Agwabi while Father Veesue Benjamin moves to Ayetwar as parish priest.

            Others are Father Martin Tsegba of All Saints’ Parish Tsenge – Ugba who will now assist at St. Mary’s Parish Katsina-ala, Father Daniel Tongov of Tor-Donga moves to assist at Agwabi; Father Michael Aondofa Dzer of St. Peter’s Parish Gbor goes to assist at Cathedral while Father Ferdinand Ngugban of Cathedral moves to assist at St. Peter’s Parish Gbor.

            Father Emanuel Yegh Gondo of Agwabi Parish will now assist at St. Margaret’s Catholic Parish Tor-Donga, while Father Felix Mer Gbagir of St. Anthony’s Parish Zaki-Biam goes to assist at Chito. Father Iornyagh Isaac of Chito moves to assist at Kyado, while Father Christopher Utov of St. Paul’s Parish Kyado is on sick leave.

Affected priests to report to their new places of assignment immediately.

Bishop Wilfred Chikpa Anagbe cmf, was nominated coadjutor Bishop on July 8, 2014 and consecrated on October 4, 2014 and became the Local Ordinary of Makurdi diocese on March 28, 2015 the very day the late Bishop A.A. Usuh resigned.  Bishop Anagbe cmf, however took canonical possession after the public presentation of his Cathedral on July 25, 2015.

passport

Most Revd Wilfred Chikpa Anagbe

The title of this article was inspired by what I had written on Bishop Anagbe’s golden jubilee birthday.” When the Holy Father on July 8, 2014 appointed Monsignor Wilfred Anagbe cmf, bishop and coadjutor of Makurdi diocese, to many it looked ordinary, but within months of his episcopacy,  God has revealed that there is something extraordinary about Bishop Anagbe who is today April 2, fifty years old.  This young and dynamic Claretian priest, took over the diocese of Makurdi at a difficult moment in its history: Makurdi as the mother diocese of so many dioceses within the province is reduced to a small geographical expanse of land, with a teeming flow of refugees on every side and a sick bishop who is retired.  The seat of the diocese is located in Makurdi, the state capital and that makes the seat a hub of political, social, cultural and religious activities that require the leadership of the bishop.  We have taken a helicopter view of the activities of Bishop Anagbe since October 4, 2014, to unveil the extraordinary and significant development that his appointment brings not only to the Church of Makurdi but the whole province.” (The Prophetic Apologist, Moses A. Iorapuu, 2015)

Excellent and near perfect funeral for his predecessor

One outstanding characteristic of great leaders is their ability to handle ticklish administrative issues with great refinement without seeking to be protagonists and in accepting criticisms in stride.  Bishop Anagbe despite pockets of dissenting voices and people who are never satisfied even by themselves, has silenced every doubting Thomas in and around Makurdi who thought they knew better how the ailing Bishop was to be treated and eventually how and where he was to be buried.

He bore the financial burden of his predecessor, which ran into millions and he made sure he gave him a funeral ceremony that no bishop in this country has ever been given.  The magnificent and perfect organization that added to the solemnity of Bishop Usuh’s burial will remain a reference point in this country for years to come.  Those who were busy writing their objections to the plans have chosen to hide in the silence of their ignominy instead of standing firm and admitting their ignorance.

 Catholic schools and education

Bishop Anagbe had demonstrated the same enthusiasm Bishop Murray had towards Catholic schools and education.  He demonstrated extreme patience and dexterity in solving the crisis of St. John Bosco College, Aliade.  He used his funds of the Cathedraticum to build Our Lady of Consolation College for IDPs.  He has restored the Junior Seminary, now known as Divina Misericordia Seminary, Makurdi, but at its Mount Saint Michael’s temporary site, Aliade.  He has sponsored some students of the diocese at Veritas or Catholic University of Nigeria, Abuja.  He also established both primary and secondary schools at the new mission of Aondona.  The Bishop dealt a master stroke at the lingering crisis that brought shame on the Church at St. Joseph’s Secondary School, Nyiman.  With great finesse he is working to restore the dignity of Catholic education and ensure that Catholic schools are affordable and enviable, centralizing everything from uniforms, school fees, admissions to employment, thus knocking out the arbitrary administration of Catholic Schools by individual principals.

bishop-wilfred-anagbe-welcome-by-cheeful-parishioners-in-one-of-his-pastoral-visits

Bishop Wilfred Anagbe welcomed by cheerful parishioners in one of his pastoral visits

Every Pope appoints like-minded bishops who will help impact the future of the world through their personalities as they shepherd the flock in their territories.  Bishops are not appointed locally like we do local elections or politics.  Bishops are appointed by the Pope.  Here is Pope Francis, who prefers a church of the poor than a Church of the rich; here is a Pope who tells priests and bishops to shun careerism, here is a Pope who takes care of the poor  in Rome, He makes sure they have a shower and a place for their rest within the Vatican and he  has placed the condition of immigrants permanently on world radar.

Anyone who followed Bishop Anagbe closely in these past two years will testify to the distinct and excellent personality this bishop represents.

Bishop Anagbe in two years has gone round the whole diocese; his unscheduled visits to parishes on Sundays or weekdays to help priests in their pastoral commitment have become a trademark.  His presence at funeral Masses for deceased parents of priests and religious is unprecedented.

During all his pastoral visits the enthusiasm and excitement of the people that greeted him was of a superstar and celebrity.  The people came sometimes kilometers to welcome his and he would abandon his vehicle and trek with them.  That enthusiasm has not waned as he continues this missionary zeal of opening up the hinterlands with missions and encouraging priests to be closer to the people: Howe, Mbalom, Yelewata, Aondona, Torkula, Ullam and many others.

 Pastoral Centre and Tom Avee Doo

Those who have not been to Pope John Paul II Pastoral Centre Makurdi for a long time are sure to miss the place if they want to go there:  The place has a new look!  There is decent accommodation and the conference halls fitted with new equipment.  The extension wing of the Pastoral Centre is almost completed.  The tennis court is finished and there’s enough parking space for guests.

The Tom Avee Doo Tailoring Institute has also taken off, giving employment opportunities to many youths who want to learn fashion and design; and uniforms are being made for Catholic Schools, to ensure uniformity in Catholic identity.

The Agricultural farm at Aondona is beyond description; anyone who visits the farm is amazed with the Bishop’s passion for mechanized farming and the ingenuity at establishing a farm equal to what is found in developed countries.

By Sr. Julie Ambrose, SND

President Mohamed Buhari has launched “Change begins with me!” What does that mean to me? What does it mean to you as you read this article? Many people are saying that it is up to the Government to do something about improving conditions in the country – but let us look at ourselves. Is there anything I can do? I am reminded of Jesus parable in St Luke’s Gospel (chapter 6 verses 41 and 42) “Take the plank out of your own eye first, and then you will see clearly enough to take out the splinter that is in your brother’s eye” Each of us needs to look at his/her own life and say “What can I do to make Nigeria a better place?

Here is one Idea by which I am reminded of Pope Francis’ wonderful encyclical, “Laudato Si -On the Care, of our common home.  “Are we really caring for Our Common Home? When I look around Makurdi I weep when I see all the rubbish dumped by the side of the roads and scattered around in so many places.

People drink water or eat food, then drop the packaging just anywhere. We can start a campaign against this practice by each one of us always putting all rubbish into containers provided – or if there is no container nearby – taking our rubbish home and disposing of it correctly. If I throw something into a container and I miss the container, do I go back, pick it up and place it correctly? I see much rubbish scattered near containers. If I see someone throwing rubbish down, do I suggest putting it in the correct place?

There are not sufficient containers in the city and they are not emptied regularly! What could we Catholics do about this? Could we organize a “Clean up Makurdi campaign” Could the C.W.O., the C.M.O. and the C.Y.O. each start to mobilize their members? Could we have a demonstration or March to show our concern? Could we ask Radio Benue to cover our initiative? Could we ask our elected representatives in the House of Assembly to be involved? Could we inform His Excellency of our concern? Perhaps we could interest His Excellency the Governor in starting recycling plants for plastics, paper and metal as has been done in some other States. With such facilities in place Benue would become a cleaner and healthier place to live in.

Let us remember what our Head of State said “change begins with me!”

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