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NewsReel 6/11/14 - Re: APGA A Catholic Party Or A Party For The Catholics?

NewsReel 6/11/14 - Re: APGA A Catholic Party Or A Party For The Catholics?

[ Masterweb Reports: Press Release by Alliance For Equity And Justice ] - We read with disgust, the above-titled advert which appeared in the Sun Newspaper of October 30, 2014. A thorough perusal of the advert shows that it is the continuation of the war against Mr. Peter Obi, now hiding under the cloak of religion.
 
In the said advert, they tried to portray Mr. Obi as a religious bigot whose Cabinet and other posts in his government were occupied by 80% Catholics. The accusation is totally false and was calculated to diminish him among Nigerians. People have chosen to attack him unjustly because he has chosen to be most humble, peaceful, and principled instead of descending to their vain arena.
 
We shall take the points they wickedly raised seriatim:
 
A.POLITICAL APPOINTMENT
 
It is not in doubt that the most important political appointment  under Mr. Peter Obi was held by  Prof. Stella Chinyere Okunna, who tripled, to the irritation of many, as the Chief of Staff to the Governor; Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning; as well as the Chairman, Good Governance Group. Prof. Okunna is an Anglican. She always travelled with Obi when he was the Governor and even after he left office, for example, on the 22nd of September 2014, she travelled to the USA with him, where Obi addressed a special programme on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which was part of the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.
 
The vision of Obi’s Government, which was a huge success, hinged on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The person at the centre of it all was Mrs. Vivian Nwandu, the permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, who became Mr. Obi’s Special Adviser on MDGs soon after her retirement. Mrs. Vivian Nwandu was a member of the Good Governance Group and, in fact, the de facto Deputy Chief of Staff. Mrs. Nwandu is an Anglican.
 
Kindly peruse through the list of Obi’s Cabinet and the denomination they belonged to and see how it was 80% made up of Catholics as those that sponsored the advert said.
 
1.      Mr. Oseloka Obaze, Secretary to State Government                              Catholic
2.      Stella Okunna,Chief of Staff and Comm. for Economic Planning/Budget                           Anglican
3.      Peter Afuba, Comm. for Justice and Attorney General                           Catholic
4.      Azuka Enemo, Comm. for Local Government                                           Anglican
5.      Lawrence Ikeakor, Comm. for Health,                                                       Anglican
6.      Henrietta Agbata, Comm for Women Affairs                                           Anglican
7.       Callistus Ilozumba, Comm.for Works                                                       Catholic
8.       Edozie Aroh, Comm. for Youths and Sports,                                           Anglican
9.       Sebastian Okoye, Comm. for Environment                                             Catholic
10. Ohamobi Chike, Comm for Transport,                                                     Catholic
11.  Chibunna Okoli Akirika , Comm. for Lands                                          Anglican
12. Engr. Patrick Obi,    Comm. for Housing,                                               Catholic
13.  Ngozi Okoye,      Comm.  for Finance                                                    Anglican/Pent
14. Emeka Nwankwu, Comm. for Utilities                                                   Catholic
15. Uju Okeke,         Comm. for Education,                                                  Catholic
16. Okoli Christopher, Comm. for Science and Tech,                                 Anglican
17. Ndubisi Menakaya , Comm. for Agriculture,                                         Anglican
18. Vivian Nwandu,      Special Adviser on MDG,                                         Anglican
19. Godfrey  Muotolu, Special Adviser on Chieftaincy Matters,               Catholic
20. Emenike, Obi,          Principal Secretary to the Governor                     Catholic
21. Oby Nwankwo,        Perm. Sec. Govt. House,                                          Anglican
22.Ferdinand Obi          Permanent Secretary/closest aide                          Anglican
 
 
B.CIVIL SERVICE/EMPLOYMENT
 
Further, those that sponsored the advert said: “It was in his tenure that the option of one’s denomination rather than religion was included in the State’s employment questionnaire to detect non-Catholics.” This is absolutely a lie. This shows that those that sponsored the advert simply sat down to concoct whatever they thought would damage Obi’s legacy that is celebrated worldwide. Anambra State employment form does not have any column for one’s denomination. To appreciate Obi’s sense of equity, you are again invited to peruse through the list of Members of the Civil Service Commission under Mr. Obi:
 
1.      Mrs Ngozika Melifionwu (Chairman)                               Catholic
2.      Mr George Asuegbu Ijezi   (Secretary)                             Anglican             
3.      Barr Gabriel Onyeozili (from Obi’s own town)              Anglican
4.      Dr (Mrs) Kate Obioji                                                         Catholic
5.      Mrs Pauline Ndibe                                                            Catholic
6.      Mr. Shedrach Onuigbo                                                       Anglican
 
 
Six of them jointly conducted the interview with Dr. S. Ononihu, (Fmr. Perm. Sec. Civil Service Commission), who is also an Anglican, in attendance. We are aware that one’s denomination was not part of the interview questions.
 
 

Those that placed the advert also said that over 80% of Judges in Anambra State were Catholics, here are the statistics: 

 
Chief Judges during the Tenure of Mr. Obi:
1.      Justice Chuka Okoli      (met on assumption of office)            Anglican
2.      Justice Nri Ezedi           (appointed by Obi)                              Anglican
3.      Justice Emeka Nzegwu (appointed by Obi)                             Anglican
4.      Justice Paul Obidigwe   (appointed by Obi)                             Anglican
5.      Justice Peter Umeadi     (appointed by Obi)                              Catholic
Anambra State Judiciary has 18 Judges. The under listed, 10 in number, belong to Anglican faith, while the rest belong to Catholic and other faiths:
1.      Justice Ijeoma Onwuamaegbu                                      Anglican
2.      Justice   O.M Anyachebelu                                            Anglican
3.      Justice J.I Nweze                                                            Anglican
4.      Justice O.C. Amaechina                                                Anglican
5.      Justice P.C Obiora                                                          Anglican
6.      Justice V. N Agbata                                                       Anglican
7.      Justice G.C Anulude                                                       Anglican
8.      Justice Ike Ogu                                                               Anglican
9.      Justice C.C Okaa                                                             Anglican
10.Justice Otti                                                                        Anglican
 
Under Mr. Peter Obi, Customary Court of Appeal became functional in Anambra State. He appointed the first two Presidents of the court thus:
1.       Justice Chinwe Amaechi                                                       Anglican.               
2.       Justice Samuel Okoye                                                             Anglican
 

 
 The Magistrates Cadre has far more Anglicans than Catholics and other denominations put together.

We do not know about some other establishments since their denomination were not part of recruitment. We know those enumerated through investigations.
 
 



 It will be recalled that Obi started his partnership with the Church on health at Iyienu Hospital owned by the Anglican Communion. The hospital benefitted more than other missionary hospitals from Government support under Mr. Peter Obi.
 

He equally supported other Anglican hospitals that did not fall under the original hospitals slated for assistance, namely, Faith Hospital and Maternity owned by the Anglican Diocese of Awka. Another one is the   Amichi Diocesan Hospital. He was, in fact, the one who encouraged the Bishop to start the School of Nursing.
He also assisted hospitals owned by the Pentecostal fellowship, an example being Jesus the Physician Hospital at Awka.
 
 
In his partnership with the Churches to build and rebuild institutions, Obi built 10 maternities and four of them were for the Anglican Church and are located in:
1.      Umueje, Anyamelum L.G.A
2.      Awba-Ofenmili, Akwa North L.G.A
3.      Ihiala, Ihiala L.G.A
4.      Umunze, Orumba South L.G.A
 
E. RETURN OF SCHOOLS
 
On the return of schools, there was no way any particular denomination was favoured. Schools taken over by Government in 1970 were all gazetted and it was those schools that were returned. Anglican Church benefitted more from some local Authority schools that were also returned to them. In few places there were disputes, Government set up a Committee to look into it. Are the sponsors of the advert saying that Government should have pretended there were no issues? Would this have brought peace?
 
 
Following the heroic return of schools,  before he left office, Anambra State Government under Mr. Peter Obi, gave to Catholic and Anglican Churches over 2 Billion Naira each to rehabilitate those schools. His Government continued to pay the salaries of both tutorial and non-tutorial staff. This is now being adopted as a model across the globe.
 
 
Today, schools in Anambra come first in all external examinations. This is what Anambrarians should be celebrating rather than condone people who vilify the man who was the architect of it all.
 
 
F. CONTINUED SUPPORT TO THE CHURCH
 
Even as he is no longer the Governor, Obi has continued to relate cordially with all Anambrarians irrespective of religion. Since leaving office, he has attended all events organized by the Anglican Church and has continued to offer them support believing it is for the good of Anambra people and not because of the denomination they belong to. Again, see his support to Anglican Dioceses since he left office:
1.      Anglican Diocese of Aguata      5 Million for faith-based micro credit scheme/vehicle
2.      Anglican Diocese of Ihiala         3 Million for faith-based micro credit/vehicle
3.      Anglican Diocese of Amichi      3 Million for faith-based micro credit/vehicle
4.      Anglican Diocese of Niger West   3 Million for faith-based micro credit/vehicle
5.      Anglican Diocese of Mbamili      a bus for their newly established secondary school
6.      Other Anglican/ Methodist Dioceses and some other religious                                                         denominations in the state benefitted
 
G. THOSE SENT TO THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR POLICY AND STRATEGIC STUDIES
 
Among the Five persons Obi sent to the Nigerian Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) at Kuru, Plateau State during his tenure, only two were Catholics.
 
H. ON APGA AND DR. CHIKE OBIDIGBO
 
Those that sponsored the advert also said that Obi made sure that Dr. Chike Obidigbo lost out as an APGA gubernatorial candidate because he was an Anglican. We are aware that it was Mr. Peter Obi that persuaded and invited most of those that contested under APGA, namely, Mr. Oseloka Obaze, Chief Paul Odenigbo, and Barr. Chinedu Idigo, Hon. Uche Ekwunife, Hon. Emeke Nwogbo and Chief Willie Obiano to contest. They agreed that they would support any person who won the primaries. Obi did not interfere in any of the processes and he believes that what turned out at last was the will of God.
 
I.   ANGLICAN BISHOPS ON OBI
 
Those who sponsored the advert said Obi took politics into the Church. We do not know what they mean by that.   Anambra State is better today because Mr. Obi collaborated with organizations that have the progress of the State at heart, and one of them is the Church. Obi partnered with the Church through return of their schools to them, the rehabilitation of their health facilities, among others. Since those who placed the adverts claim to be Anglicans, it is better to see Obi through the prisms of Anglican Bishops, all of who, like other religious leaders, worked closely with him. Their opinions about Mr. Peter Obi:
His Grace, Most Rev. Dr. Christian Efobi, Archbishop, Province on the Niger, in referring to Obi, resorted to a biblical quote: “When the righteous are on the throne, the people rejoice.”
 
For the Anglican Bishop of Onitsha, Most Rev. Dr. Owen Nwokolo, “What Anambra is witnessing under Obi is a revolution, the likes of which the State has not witnessed in the past.”
 
According to Bishop Ephraim Ikeakor of Amichi Diocese, “Obi has done very well. His return of school to the Churches has made the difference in education. His collaboration with the Church is yielding fruits. Any person who says he has not done well is a blatant liar.” 
 
The Anglican Bishop of Ihiala, Most Rev. Dr. Raphael Okafor, during the first session of the Second Synod of the Diocese at St. Andrew Church, Lilu said: “His Excellency, Mr. Peter Obi, CON,  the former Governor of Anambra State will always be celebrated in the State. We cannot forget him and his Government, which was a Golden Era in this State which we hope will continue.”
 
At St. John’s Anglican Church, Umueze-Anam, while presenting an award to Obi, the Diocesan Bishop and Synod President, Rt. Rev. Dr. Henry Okeke, said “the award became expedient given that it was the last Obi would attend our synod as governor. He is a friend of the Diocese and he is being honoured in recognition of his contribution towards the success of the Diocese since inception as well as the development of Anambra West as a whole.”  
 
At the 1st Session of the 29th Synod of Anglican Diocese on the Niger at St. Thomas Church, Oraukwu, the Bishop of the Diocese, Right Reverend Professor Godwin Okpala said, “I thank Mr. Peter Obi whole-heartedly for always identifying with affairs of the Church. God will continue to bless and uplift him for transforming the entire State. He has set a standard others will strive to emulate.” 
 
The Anglican Bishop of the Diocese of Niger West, Rt. Revd Prof Anthony Nkwoka at Archbishop Patterson's Seminary,  Igbariam said this of Obi: “We shall remain prayerful at all times for  God to give the State a Governor that will be like Gov. Peter Obi when his tenure expires. I have followed the Governor's politics over the years and I see in him essential godliness that is absent among Nigerian politicians. By returning schools to the missions with sincere apologies and providing funds for their rehabilitation, Obi has left an indelible legacy for generations unborn." In his own remarks about Obi, the Anglican Bishop of Awka, Rt. Rev Alexander Ibezim, during his visit to the Comprehensive Secondary School, Nawfia  said:  “ development under Peter Obi in all sectors, especially education is marvellous. I pity those that will come after him as it will be difficult for them meeting up with the standards Governor Peter Obi has set. Obi’s example in governance is worthy of emulation for building institutions, unlike the past governors of the state that built individuals.”
 
What other verdict by Anglicans about Mr. Peter Obi should be more valid than those of My Lord Bishops? This shows that the publication might not have come from Anglicans, but politicians that are seeking ways to destroy others and society.
 
K: PUTTING WORDS INTO PEOPLE’S MOUTH
 
The sponsors of the advert went on to put words into the mouth of people like the late Archbishop Albert Obiefuna and Mr. Callistus Ilozumba, all in the bid to sell their lies. Likewise, they wrote about the Pope summoning Francis Cardinal Arinze with specific directives to “catholicize the South-East”, with such assurances that one would think they were part of the meeting between the Pope and the Cardinal. When has this madness come to brandishing the name of the Pope carelessly? The same Ilozumba was Obi’s Commissioner for Works, who supervised Obi’s revolutionary work in road construction. Were some of the roads we built reserved for Catholics or Anglicans?
 
L: CONCLUSION
 
Religion is among the critical things dear to people. History has shown that once a group of people acts out of religious belief, they take leave of their reason and could act blindly. This is exactly what those who placed the advert want to achieve – to sow seeds of discord among Anambra people.
 
In order to create maximum effect on the people, the sponsors of the spurious advert concocted all manner of lies and presented them to the public without qualms. A close scrutiny of the publication shows that it is the handwork of politicians whose aim is far from protecting the interest of any denomination or encouraging good governance in the state. These hollow politicians by all means seek to diminish Mr. Peter Obi by making him appear bad in the eyes of Nigerians, especially now that political activities are gradually on the ascendancy.
 
Not an iota of truth was contained in the said advert. It is baffling that a group of men would seat down and write such falsehoods and dish it out to the public. Besides creating disunity when and where it is not necessary, they are simply doing violence to the society their children will live in. 
 
We can categorically say that Obi remains one of the best in leadership. Our organization is ready to defend good leaders like him. We appeal to those trying to bring such people into disrepute to realize that they are destroying the society and not those they attack unjustly.
 
What a man plants, he should reap!
 
Signed
 
Alliance For Equity And Justice
 
*Photo Caption - APGA logo