Soludo marks One year in office at New Aguleri Catholic Diocese
…As Catholic Bishops Warn INEC, Police Others Over Manipulations.
By Uzo Ugwunze
Governor Chukwuma Soludo of Anambra State has marked his one year in office in the presence of God and in the company of over 43 Bishops and 3 Cardinals who came for the Canonical Erection of the Catholic Diocese of Aguleri and Installation of the pioneer Bishop, Most Rev. Dennis Isizor.
Also, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria has warned the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure that all results are uploaded into its portal in real-time to ensure a credible fair and peaceful process as the country holds Governorship and House of Assembly elections, March 18, 2023.
The Nigerian Police and other security agents were chided for their failure to guarantee the security of voters and the electoral officers during the Presidential and National Assembly elections contending that they should not allow a repeat of such brigandage in the next election.
In his remarks, Governor Soludo described himself as very privileged saying that exactly a year today March 17, 2022, Bishops from Catholic Church, Anglican Church, Pentecostal and other denominations prayed for him at his office before commencing the Herculean task of steering the wheel of Anambra State governance.
Soludo recalled his various achievements within a year of pleading with Ndi Anambra to vote for All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) candidates in the State legislative elections which is the only election taking place in Anambra State to help him accomplish his manifesto of a prosperous and liveable State.
“It gladdens my heart that during my one year in office, we have a new Catholic diocese and a new Cardinal. I also gladly welcome the first APGA Governor and the Labor Party Presidential candidate, my brother and friend, Mr Peter Obi here on this great and solemn occasion,” Soludo said.
However, the President Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria Arch Bishop Lucius Ugorji who spoke at the installation of the new Bishop and Canonical Erection of the Catholic Diocese of Aguleri expressed dismay that INEC failed to honour its promise of conducting a free fair and credible elections.
“We urge INEC to upload the results from the polling units to the portal in real-time in order not to experience what happened in the last Presidential election where the Chairman of the Commission proceeded to publish the results without waiting for the results from the polling units”
“During that election, the results were manipulated, and doctored a development that didn’t reflect the wishes and aspirations of the Nigerian voters who desired a new Nigeria”.
“It was in the same election that thugs denied voters their rights to vote for their preferred candidates and were forced to vote for the candidates that are not their choice before the presence of the security operatives who failed to protect the voters and the electoral officials,” he said.
Ugorji urged Nigerians to come out as they did before to ensure that they cast their votes and make sure that their votes count in the Governorship and State Assembly elections.
Earlier in his homily, the Catholic Papal Nuncio Anthony Guido Filipazzi said that what is significant about the new Diocese is that this was one of the Parishes where Blessed Fr Michael Iwene Tansi worked as a Priest adding that today his home Parish has become a Diocese.
He further noted that the personality of Tansi has to do with spreading the gospel of Jesus ‘Christ as a priest adding that it got to the level of becoming a Monck and left the life of prayers.
Filipazzi admonished the members of the new Diocese to ensure that it doesn’t end as the only Diocese adding that there is no limit to service in God’s Vine Yard and that the gospel of Christ has been the spiritual driving force towards the continued existence and survival of the church against all the challenges.
The new Bishop of Aguleri Diocese Most Rev Isizor noted that even though the Diocese appears Independent it would continue to rely on the assistance and guardians of the Onitsha Arch Diocese urging Most Rev Valerian Okeke to continue to help them when called upon.
Isizor further urged the Anambra people to continue to support Gov Charles Soludo at all times warning that the state needs peace and not anything that would overheat the polity.
Moreover, former Vice Chancellor of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University (COOU), Prof. Fidelis Okafor who was flanked by Provost, Nwafor Orizu College of Education (NOCEN) Dr Ifeyinwa Osegbo encouraged people to come out en masse and vote their conscience despite the flaws experienced by INEC in the 2023 presidential election.
Prof Okafor further advised Bishop Isizor to emulate the qualities of Jesus Christ as a good shepherd, taking care of the flock under him and expanding the kingdom of God through evangelism.
The highlight of the occasion was the appointment of a new Rector for the proposed New St Paul’s Seminary to be immediately relocated to the Igbariam community.