The State of the Unity of Mbaise: Vatican Saga and the Impediment of Rev Fr. Peter Okpalaeke, the Challenge of Nde-Mbaise - Part 1
The State of the Unity of Mbaise is Strong and Waxing Stronger every moment than ever before. If anyone out there is still in doubt of the Unity of Mbaise, following the auspices and dictates of Canon Law, Code 382, as Oha dum Mbaise, agbako aka and as of today April 7, 2013 (exactly four months after the euphoria of being appointed Bishop-elect on December 7, 2012), and impeded the Bishopric of Rev. Fr. Ebere Peter Okpalaeke, this ought to be lesson Number One. Lesson Number Two to prove the staunch Unity of Mbaise will be that no outside Bishop not of Mbaise son will ever occupy the Mata Ecclesia Cathedral of Ahiara Diocese to replace Bishop Chikwe. This is our stand and this was the reason Mbaise impeded FR. PETER OKPALAEKE in the first place. Therefore, we hereby send a loud and clear message to Rome: Should the Vatican ever dream again of imposing an outside Bishop on Mbaise, Rome should then know that Mbaise will definitely excise herself from the Roman Catholic Church; form her own Mbaise Catholic Church and appoint, and ordain for herself from among her more than 500-Strong priests, a Bishop of the Episcopal See of Ahiara Diocese. Mbaise has faithfully served the Roman Catholic Church and Vatican for over 100 years and produces the largest number of Priests anywhere in Africa and most of the world and what does she receive from Vatican? An Imposition of Bishops from other lands and clime! Is it not an anomaly to see that today, Mbaise cannot boast of a Bishop of her own for her own Diocese? What an arrant injustice from the Vatican! It's only fair that a clergy son of Mbaise be appointed and ordained Bishop of Ahiara Diocese. If not, Mbaise will unanimously in a chorus unified voice, declare to the Vatican: “to your tents, Oh Israel! We have no portion” in the Vatican!!
An injustice was done to the people of Mbaise when Rev. Fr. Ebere Peter Okpalaeke, was appointed the Bishop-elect of the Ahiara Diocese over the more than 500-strong clergy sons of Mbaise! The Collegiate of 500-strong priests who held origins from Mbaise were literarily passed over, rejected, and adjudicated as not qualified, and therefore not worthy and suitable to be ordained the Bishop of Ahiara Diocese. Umu nnah, ihe nkea wu aru n'iru Chukwu Na mmadu! Aru emeh, tufiakwa!! And for over 100 years, Mbaise Catholic community has been grooming these more than 500 priests for salvation of souls for Christ and spreading the gospel of the Good News wherever they go. And yet, the Vatican has failed to recognize this fact each time it comes to sending a Bishop to Mbaise!
And so, on December 7, 2012, an injustice was done to the people of Mbaise when Pope Benedict XVI erroneously announced and appointed Rev. Fr. Ebere Peter Okpalaeke of Awka Diocese, the Bishop-elect of the Ahiara Diocese Mbaise, to occupy the seat of the peoples' Catholic Church, the Mata Ecclesia Cathedral – built by Nde-Mbaise. On that day, the unity of Mbaise was on the line, questioned, and put to the very first acid-test of unity. However, on January 12, 2013, the people of Mbaise after studied examination, and evaluations of how we got to that unfortunate, ill-advised, and ill-timed Papal announcement of December 7, 2012, and after series of soul searching, staked their lives- both young and old, man, and woman and answered that question with a resounding and thunderous chorus sound of YES we are unified! And make no mistake about it; the Unity of Mbaise is never in the doubt! Thus, on January 12, 2013, Nde-Mbaise (the people of Mbaise) in a show of solidarity Unity sent a loud and clear voice to the Vatican that never before had been said, “That we the people of Mbaise, unanimously, unconditionally, and vehemently oppose the appointment of Fr. Peter Okpalaeke as the Bishop of Ahiara Diocese. In his place we demand that a son of Mbaise be appointed and ordained a Bishop from among the more than 500 ordained sons of Mbaise clergies!
People of the world, what could be wrong in asking that one of our own sons lead us to Christ? People of the World, what could be wrong in asking that the Catholic Church of Mbaise be led by an Mbaise Priest, ordained Bishop for Ahiara Diocese? Absolutely nothing! When one can count up to 10 Bishops from 1961 till present, all coming from Awka or Anambra and yet none coming from among more than the 500-strong Mbaise Priests, one can definitely see the hands of unwholesome and unholy ecclesiastical politics of the odious type. And yet the Vatican sees nothing wrong in this purposefully lopsided ecclesiastical political injustice in the imposition of Okpalaeke of Awka Diocese on Ahiara Diocese, and says none of the 500-strong Mbaise priest whose origins are of Mbaise is qualified to be a Bishop! Tufia Kwa, God forbid bad things! Do you blame Mbaise for impeding Fr. Okpalaeke?
Today, Sunday, April 7, 2013 is a happy moment to announce and tell the people of the world that to those who doubted and questioned the unity of Nde Mbaise, the state of the Unity of Mbaise people is not in question. Rather Rev. Fr. Ebere Peter Okpalaeke now impeded, lives as evidence of that strong unity! Contrary to distracting popular opinions, the Unity of Mbaise as a people is rather strong and waxing on stronger than ever before January 12, 2013! Never in the history of Igboland and Nigeria at large has anything this extraordinary tested and proved the unshakable unity of Nde-Mbaise, east of the Niger. Thanks to the Vatican's Pope Benedict XVI ill-advised announcement and appointment on December 7, 2012 of Rev. Fr. Peter Ebere Okpalaeke of Awka, as the “Bishop-elect” of the Ahiara Diocese, who, today, was successfully impeded by the very same Nde-Mbaise previously, erroneously, and prematurely written off, and tagged as dis-united people! And today, Rev. Fr. Ebere Peter Okpalaeke stands impeded as the strongest testimony of that staunch and the unmistakably strong unity of Nde-Mbaise!
And so goes the saying that one should not touch and play with the Lion's tail whether in sleep or dead! For so long – years uncounted our distractors all over the world have derided us, the Mbaise people as a people with no “unity” and with no good repute. For no just cause and underserved or understandable reasons, Mbaise has been relegated upon, demeaned, and railed so much upon, disrespected, and has experienced it all that one can begin to ask in a somewhat warped Anambaraic dialect, ife nke-a, kedu ife aga kpoya? (What do we call this for goodness sake?) Well, contrary to popular opinion and view, and much to their consternation, January 12, 2013 has come and informed the world all over that those days are gone for good! The significance of January 12, 2013 in the unity of Mbaise cannot be mistaken or forgotten in the annals and chronicles of Mbaise, and thus must be elevated to the highest status of Mbaise Unity Feast! Yes, Unity Feast Day of Nde Mbaise!! (Unity Feast Day of the people of Mbaise!!!) January 12, 2013 was the day Mbaise people planted their feet on the ground and drove an iron rod into the ground to say to the whole world, from Anambra to Vatican through the Nuncio in Abuja of Zungeru (from A-Z) that enough is enough. We cannot take it anymore! And April 7, 2013 was the cementing date of that Unity; both dates deserve being elevated to a Unity Feast Day status - Mbaise, your choice.
Yes, indeed, on Saturday, January 12, 2013, did the people of Mbaise show a force of solidarity unity when both the laity, the ordained, Catholics, Protestants, agnostics, Muslims, atheists, man, woman, young, and old, friends, foes, and well-wishers did in deed troop out en-masse and gathered at the St. Brigid's Catholic Church Ahiara and rallied in support of Mbaise against the injustice done unto them by Rome's Vatican Papacy's imposition of Fr. Peter Okpalaeke as the bishop-elect of Ahiara Diocese against the more than 500-strong Mbaise priests.
By imposing Monsignor Okpalaeke on Ahiara Diocese against the many 500-Priest sons of Mbaise, the Pontiff and his advisers either advertently or inadvertently, literarily repeated the more than 2000 year-old question that Nathanael had asked Philip concerning Christ, thus: “Nazareth! Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46). And that's the question that have been asked of Mbaise from time immemorial and today, just like Philip urged Nathanael to “come and see,” yes, I dare the distractors to come to Mbaise and see that Mbaise has the Unity to even impede a Bishop-elect! Gone are the days when people took Mbaise for a ride, not anymore!! It has always been the case as foretold by the scriptures that the days belonged to the thief, but just one single day belongs to the owner of the house. Mbaise has taken the flacks all these eons of years and today, both April 7, 2013 and December 7, 2012 will go down in infamy as the rude awakening days on which day Mbaise was jolted out of her deep slumber and just like during the second world war, the highest ranking Japanese Army officer told his junior officer that by bombing Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, USA, that they've just awoken the sleeping giant, and so has the Pontiff's attempted imposition of Rev. Okpalaeke, awoken and coalesced the seemingly non-existent or laisser-faire type of unity into a titanium type of force that even today, challenged the Papacy's audaciousness. Nde-Mbaise, please bow down and take your honor! This day belongs to you, the people, and owners of the Ahiara Mata Ecclesia Cathedral.
Let us not forget that at the end of the day, when all was said and done, we are able to see that the imposition of Rev. Peter Okpalaeke on Ahiara Diocese was after all, a blessing in disguise. First, it tested the unity of Mbaise, helped in gathering all Mbaise under one banner and helped to pass that “unity-test!” The imposition tested the unity of the Clergy themselves as it assisted them to strongly unit under the able leadership of Rev. Fr. Austin Bernadine Ekechukwu the president of Ahiara Diocesan Priests' Association. The Nuns joined forces with the clergy, the faithful laity, the Ezuru Ezu Mbaise, Ndieze, Ndi Chief, and the youths all Mbaise hands were on deck, overnight! Mbaise in Diaspora woke up and went into action. Articulate writers and various Mbaise leaders of thought and strategists from all over the world most of whom we have never heard of before, sprang up into action overnight in defense of Mbaise's forte – because what we have we own and what we own, we defend! Mbaise writers from the USA, Canada, Europe, Asia, Middle East, and all part of the world swore that the pen will not rest nor the ink dry, neither the eye sleep until this underserved injustice against Nde-Mbaise was reversed. Various concerned Mbaise leaders overseas especially here in the United Stated traveled home to Mbaise and assisted in no small measure to galvanize forces and troops on the ground. They informed the locals that, although “Agwo no n'akirika, that Mbaise in Diaspora have got their backs; that they should not fear and that we are in this one together. The crowning moment was when one fearless Mbaise leader went home and emphatically told the priests, Bishops, and Archbishops that Rev. Fr. Ebere Peter Okpalaeke was not coming to Mbaise, period! The news was that the priests and Bishops were startled at this unmistakable but emphatic public announcement. When I heard the news, boy, I couldn't be prouder of Mbaise than by this unanimous show of support and spirit of we mean business and we mean what we say!!!!
If anyone is yet in doubts of the unity of Mbaise, let that individual ask Fr. Peter Okpalaeke, the potency of the degree of unity wielded by Nde-Mbaise, as today, he stands impeded! It is as a result of the unity of all Mbaise people who were taken for granted but who rallied round one another to salvage what is theirs. And so, in the word of the late Prime Minister Churchill of Britain, what we own, we hold and what we hold, we own! The Ahiara Mata Ecclesia Cathedral is Mbaise's own. It will and must be occupied by none other than the son of the land, the son of the soil, an Mbaise priest period! Anything short of this will continue to put the Bishopric Episcopal See of the Ahiara Diocese, Sede Vacante and at logger heads with the Vatican!
And so while at some point in the years to come people may forget what happened or what led to the Vatican-Mbaise Saga and the eventual impediment of Rev. Fr. Ebere Peter Okpaleke as the Bishop-elect of Ahiara Diocese, history will never forget what we did here. History will never forget what we, as a people who were denied justice, rallied ourselves together, took the Papal bull by the horn and challenged the Vatican and the Papacy to do the right thing, to right the injustice and ordain a son of Mbaise the Bishop Episcopal See of Ahiara Diocese, Mbaise. The world will never play, joke or toy around with anything concerning Mbaise anymore. And so, let a lesson be learned from this incident that when one Mbaise is aggrieved, all Mbaise people are aggrieved and when one Mbaise is happy all Mbaise are happy. And so, Nde-Mbaise I throw it out there to you, select among yourselves, which of these historic days to declare Unity Feast Day of Mbaise, January 12, 2013 when all Mbaise rallied together to agitate that Fr. Okpalaeke be impeded or April 7, 2013 when Fr. Okpalaeke was actually impeded as the Bishop-elect of Ahiara Diocese by the people of Mbaise and let us unanimously declare which ever date selected, Unity Feast Day of Mbaise!
Mbaise, this is only but part one of our struggles. Part Two of the struggle is yet to come and so, please do not let down your guards! So keep your powder dry and your guns well-greased. The Part two and which is the most important is the actual appointment and ordination of one Nwa Mbaise, the Bishop of Ahiara Diocese. Mbaise, there will be no COMPROMISE on this! It will be an unconditional appointment and ordination of one Mbaise clergy son as the bishop of the Episcopal See of the Ahiara Diocese. No Compromise, unconditionally, no excuses, no apologies. This is the Mbaise Diaspora's Stand! So Mbaise, please brace up for this next and last onslaught. Yes Shakespeare Julius Caesar taunted the soothsayer saying “The ides of March are come” And the soothsayer adamantly responded, to Caesar thus, “Ay, Caesar but not gone.” Yes April 7 2013 has come and Fr. Peter Okpalaeke, impeded, yet it's not over until Nwa Mbaise; a son of Mbaise is Ordained Bishop of Ahiara. Any further attempt to impose any outside bishop on Mbaise people will be met with the highest unified resistance Mbaise can ever muster. If Rome and the Pontiff's Vatican or the Nuncio like, let them unleash tanks, intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear weapons, and Armageddon on Mbaise. It will not stop us until we get what we deserve. We, the people of Mbaise will not rest in this fight until an Mbaise Son is Ordained Bishop of Ahiara Diocese. It's understandable and as simple as that! Ka Chineke mezie okwu, Amen!!
Finally our many thanks goes to the many warriors and soldiers, clergies, nuns, faithful laity, Ezuru Ezu Mbaise, Ndieze, Ndi Chief, and the youths, Mbaise in Diaspora – all of Mbaise who left no stone unturned to see the glory of the day! Glory Alleluia!
Dr. Onyema G. Nkwocha
Author: “Effective Leadership in Nigeria”; “The Republic of Biafra”, & “Democracy in Nigeria.”
April 8, 2013 USA