Ben Ezechime, Enugu
There is currently an unholy war going on in Enugu State between the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion and the Catholic family over the candidacy of Barr. Chijioke Edeoga of the Labour Party (LP) and Barr. Peter Mbah of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The politicisation of the governorship election slated for Saturday March 11, began immediately after the Labour Party swept the votes in the Presidential and National Assembly elections across the state.
The tsunamic victory which was aided by the influence of Mr Peter Obi, a core Catholic and the change mantra, led to accusations and counter accusations by the winning political party supporters and the ruling party in the state, the PDP.
The overwhelming success of the Labour Party also brought in the wake politics of hatred, ethnicity, mudslinging, campaign of calumny, fake news and fake videos flying all over the places.
Every statement coming from any opposing group is viewed with suspicion, deliberately misinterpreted and outrightly twisted to favour a particular divide against the other.
The chief among the rivalries being the ruling party which now sees itself as fighting to retain its status and not to lose again in the forthcoming polls.
Rumours were rife last week that Mbah reached out to Catholic priests in Enugu and other parishes to woo them to vote for him but not without some alleged inducements which divided the priests, as some rejected the Greek gift while some accepted.
He was also alleged to have told the priests that he as a Catholic deserved their votes while his main opponent, Edeoga is a member of the Anglican Communion.
In a recent press release signed by a Bishop nominee of the Anglican Church Enugu North Dioceses, Hon Edwin Chijioke (JP), he accused the Catholic Bishops of Enugu Dioceses, His lordship CVC ONAGA and His lordship John I Okoye of Awgu Dioceses of politicising the issue of who becomes the next Governor of the state.
According to the statement: “a few days ago all the Catholic Priests in Enugu Dioceses were summoned to an emergency meeting at Nchatancha in Enugu, where the Bishop of Enugu Dioceses and Monsignor Obiora Ike, who travelled all the way from Europe addressed the priests on why they should go back to their Parishes to convince their flock to vote for Peter Mba of PDP who happens to be a Catholic as against Barrister Chijioke Edeoga who is an Anglican, forgetting that the last two Ex Governor’s were Catholics without any complaints from the Anglican church.”
Hon Edwin went down memory lane to remind the Bishops that the Anglican Church came into the Eastern Nigeria twenty eight years (28) before the Catholic Church came and was welcomed with open arms and given some parcels of land to start their activities.
He reminded the Catholic church that Voters across the country last week massively Voted for Peter Obi not on the basis of his religion but on the basis of his antecedents while he was the Governor of Anambra State.
“But here in Enugu the Bishops are bringing sentiments into governorship election,” he said.
He noted that all these will not stop the Labour Party Candidates from sweeping the votes on Saturday as Ndi Enugu State have spoken with one voice that they want a new leadership in the state as the last Saturday’s election has proved by retiring heavy weights in Enugu Politics.
The Statement urged voters across the State to come out en masse like they did in the Presidential/National Assembly election day.
He said this was in line with the words of Mr Peter Obi during his World Press Conference last Wednesday where he asked the Obidients to come out on Saturday and vote for the Governorship Candidates and Candidates for the State Houses of Assembly across the country to consolidate on the victory the Party won last Saturday.
Ikengaonline also learnt that some parishioners in Enugu recently shunned a Rev. Fr campaigning for Mbah in the church.
According to a parishioner who pleaded anonymity, it was near pandemonium at the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, New Haven, Enugu, when the parish priest (names withheld) attempted to cajole the parishioners who had come for the day’s Station of the Cross, into voting for the PDP and its governorship candidate in the state, Peter Mbah.
According to her, trouble started when the event ended and the priest quietened the congregation to address them.
Hell was, however, let loose after he said “Otito dili Jesu“, (Glory be to Jesus) and then started saying things most of those listening were not in any position to accept.
According to another source, Edith Ukwa, “we were already hearing the rumour that the Bishop had allegedly collected something in order to use the priests to condemn Edeoga and the Labour Party and promote him (Mbah) to our worshippers in the diocese.
“So, as soon as he began to talk in certain ways, telling us how the church wants to support their own, we got suspicious and very uncomfortable.
“And immediately he said Chijioke Edeoga was Anglican and we should not vote for an Anglican but Peter Mbah who was Catholic, all hell broke loose.
“People angrily shouted ‘No!’ ‘No!’ ‘Father! Don’t go there!’ ‘Don’t tell us how to vote!’ ‘We will vote for Labour Party,” “Papa! Mama! Pikin!’ etc., as many angrily stormed out of the church premises,” she said.
Another parishioner who witnessed the incident told Ikengaonline that, it was a show of shame and wondered why the Bishop and the Church, because of money, will encourage division among the body of Christ.
“What happened was not just bad, it was selling the conscience of the Church, as what the Bishop had done was worse than what Judas did to Christ,” he said.
“If anyone should mention PDP and Peter Mbah’s name in the Church, it is to advise them to come and confess their many sins before God and apologise to the people for Ego Ndi Enugu.”
In the same vein, another member of the Church, Mrs Helene Agbo, said: “What is most disturbing in all of these is that, these people are encouraging these corrupt politicians to keep doing their thing.
“They have carried out the worst kind of corruption in this state, which kind of church supports killers, looters and those who kept Enugu the way it is today through bad leadership?
“Maybe the Catholic Church has been turned from the Church of God we all worship, to the Church of Satan where the love of money is above salvation and truth. Tufiakwa!”
Ikengaonline also learned that there was also a similar incident at the Holy Ghost Cathedral, Ogui, Enugu, where the congregation shouted down the priest and walked away in rowdiness as against the solemnity with which they departed at the end of such service in the past.