The State of the Unity of Mbaise: Vatican Saga and Rev. Peter Okpalaeke now Titular Bishop, the Challenge of Nde-Mbaise - Part 2 and Conclusion
Once again, the State of the Unity of Mbaise is stronger and waxing stronger than ever before. Historically “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 Ecclesiae 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” unanimously united to oppose, impede, and rejected the appointment of Fr. Okpaleke. April 7th, 2013 came; Mbaise redsoundly repeated their rejection of the Monsignor. The Nigerian Council of Bishops (NCB) flagrantly brushed aside the provisions of the Canon Law and extended the date to May 21, 2013. This date was matched with an unprecedented show of community support for the continued rejection. Albeit, the said ordination took place at the Seat of Wisdom Seminary, Owerri, the NBC yet again bought itself time up to May 25, 2013 during which time Bishop Okpalaeke, the Titular Bishop would take canonical possession of the Ahiara Diocese. Well, May 25, 2013 came and jolly ride or furiously passed by whoosh! And yet there was no canonical possession – an indication that Mbaise's strength in Unity is second to none in this 21st century of community of nations! Why is Mbaise so adamant and vehemently opposed to Bishop Okpalaeke, the Titular Bishop from taking canonical possession of Ahiara Diocese? Simple: Mbaise believed an injustice was done unto them and therefore to correct that injustice, wants one of her own sons of the soil, priest, ordained the Bishop of Ahiara Diocese in the stead of their beloved Bishop Victor Chikwe, period! However, there are many who do not understand Mbaise's position and rather believe that Mbaise is disobeying the Pope. Mbaise is not disobeying the Pope doctrinally; rather Mbaise is assisting and helping the Catholic Church to live up to the provisions of its Cannon Laws which have not been properly implemented in Nigeria and in many parts of the World!
Therefore worthy Nation of Mbaise, from the outset, I believe it is proper and important that we set the record straight, clear, and correct for posterity. If there's anyone out there who believes that Mbaise was against Fr. Peter Okpalaeke, the now Titular Bishop of “EKWULOBIA” from being ordained Bishop, that person or persons completely missed the point. Mbaise is a peace, progress, and accomplishment loving nation and would not knowingly stop the progress of any individual, group or people let alone that of a Bishop! Stated categorically and unequivocally, Mbaise was not fighting against Fr. Peter Okpalaeke, the Titular Bishop of EKWULOBIA from becoming a bishop of his own and in his own rights, but rather Mbaise was fighting against CENTURY-OLD – INJUSTICES fostered on, and meted against the humble people and followers of Christ – the Mbaise Nation! We fought to correct this INJUSTICE so that our posterity will not have to go through it; so that our children and children's children will not be second guessed in giving them what rightfully belongs to them, fair and square! Who, among you readers does not like Justice? This is the question- to receive, have, and stomach injustice or not? That is the question!!
From the time of the earliest British colonizers in the 1700's-1800's to the so called appointment of Fr. Peter Okpalaeke, the Titular Bishop of EKWULOBIA, the Bishop-elect of Ahiara Diocese on December 7, 2012, Mbaise has borne the brunt of spite, both colonial administrative, Papal Roman ecclesiastical, Nigeriaic, and Anambraic hegemonic injustices of all kinds and colors one can think of. Many-a-times has Mbaise people been willfully given bad names, denied merited justices, and been relegated to the back burner of the comity of people and communities as non- important, unworthy set of people from the British Isle to Nigeria through the hallways, streets, and alleys of every nook and corner of Nigeria.
Let me illustrate one point of the injustices meted against Nde Mbaise (whether real or unfounded and then you be the judge) by taking you back to the “WELCOME ADDRESS PRESENTED TO ANAMBRA-IMO-ABIA-ENUGU-EBONYI [ANIMAEE] DIOCESAN PRIESTS ASSOCIATION BY THE AHIARA DIOCESAN BRANCH OF ANIMAEE DURING THEIR SPECIAL VISIT TO AHIARA DIOCESE ON THURSDAY, APRIL 11, 2013.” In that Welcome Address, the Ahiara Diocesan Branch of the ANIMAEE meticulously and methodically recounted for the entire world, the longtime injustices the Anambra Ecclesiastical Cabal championed by none other, than the “archangel, “Cardinal Arinze has been fostering on and perpetrated against Nde Mbaise, in the name of worshiping Jesus Christ:
“…When therefore Owerri Vicariate and Diocese were created in 1948 and 1950 with Bishop Joseph Brendan Whelan as her first bishop, Mbaise became the favourite of the new bishop. He so loved Mbaise that he used to call Mbaise people, “my beloved Mbaise people.” It would be around this period, the 50s and 60s, that young men and women from Mbaise would pour into priestly and religious vocations.
The first Mbaise person to be ordained a Catholic priest, that is, the man who opened what became a floodgate of priestly and religious vocations in Mbaise was the late Msgr. Edward Ahaji of Umuokrika Ekwerazu in 1945. In his class of 1945 that included Fr. Anthony Gogo Nwedo CSSp, who would become the first bishop of Umuahia Diocese, Edward Ahaji was a standout seminarian and later on a great priest and a foremost canonist in the Catholic Church of Nigeria. The late Bishop Mark Unegbu in his autobiography, My Life, described Msgr. Ahaji as “one of the best priests that ever went through our seminary. He was very methodical…” As testified to during your last month's meeting in Owerri Archdiocese by one of the oldest priests in Igboland today, when the creation of Umuahia Diocese was being dreamed up, Edward Ahaji was thought to be a shoo-in. But one way or the other, he was bypassed and Anthony Gogo Nwedo was preferred. According to Bishop Unegbu in his autobiography, “just as Fr. A Gogo Nwedo's admission into the Spiritan congregation raised eye-brows, more so his appointment to pastor a diocese…There was no cry of anti-Mbaise sentiments or stereotype then when Ahaji was not selected… However, the eyes of some Mbaise priests and lay people would be opened a little more when in 1970 another Mbaise priest was bypassed in the choice of a bishop of one of the dioceses in the present-day Owerri Ecclesiastical Province. Some twelve years after Edward Ahaji was not made a bishop, another Mbaise priest was bypassed in what became an apparent “payoff” for the fight to secure the Episcopal See of Onitsha for Archbishop Arinze. It would be recalled that the venerable Bishop Whelan when he was forced out of Nigeria by the victorious Nigerian armed forces chose to handover the old Owerri Diocese to an Mbaise young priest, Fr. Ignatius Mmereole Okoroanyanwu. What Bishop Whelan did in the process was to announce to everyone including the Vatican that Fr. Ignatius Okoroanyanwu was the one he had found worthy throughout the entire diocese to take over the baton from the missionaries.
But this holy wish of the great missionary was not to be with Archbishop Arinze as the metropolitan of Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province. In a non-subtle manoeuvre, Archbishop Arinze cornered the Episcopal See of Owerri Diocese to his mentor, Fr. Mark Unegbu while blocking the will of Bishop Whelan and the missionaries that stated quite clearly that they wanted Msgr. Ignatius Okoroanyanwu to shepherd the Episcopal See of Owerri Diocese. By so doing the duo of Archbishop Arinze and Bishop Mark Unegbu deprived the Mbaise people of a bishopric of Owerri Diocese which the missionaries had arguably willed to them. Archbishop Arinze clearly seized the position given to an Mbaise man, Msgr. Okoroanyanwu, by the missionaries and used it to reward his long-time mentor for the favours he had received from him in both 1945 and 1967…”
If these are not enough injustices, take a look at this one. During the Murtala Muhammad/Olusegun Obasanjo Regime, on February 3, 1976 when that Administration created Imo State, Murtala Muhammad announced that the new Military Governor of the new State of Imo was Col. Njoku of Eziala/Umuoda Nguru. Again, this God-given-announcement for the people of Mbaise was not to be with the Nigerian Anambra-backed Cabals as night time meetings and machinations went into the highest frenzy of overdrive and two weeks later, guess who showed at the door posts of Imo State as the first Military governor? Commando Ndubuisi Godwin Kanu of Arochukwu or Aroindizuogu!
What was good for Nsukka in the appointment of the “SON of THE SOIL” by His Excellency, Archbishop Kasujja, was equally good for Nde Mbaise, by the appointment and ordination of one Mbaise Priest son of the soil. This was, is, and will continue to be our fight until the Papal Ecclesiastic powers that are in Rome decides to ordain a son of the Soil of Mbaise, the Bishop of Ahiara Diocese. This was the position the Anambra-Bishop of Nigeria –Ecclesiastical Cabal Council took in Ordaining Cardinal Arinze. Cardinal Arinze, “na' echeki kwah, oh” as Chief Njemanze of Owerri would ask Governor Ikwuech of Imo State, “Ikwuech, n'echeki kwah-oh!
All should realize that the issue and case was never and has never been against Fr. Okpalaeke being Ordained Bishop. "A pound of Flesh" was his alright. But in cutting that pound of flesh he should cut no more, no less and spills no blood. That was the unwritten deal! So we, Nde Mbaise, did not care where, how, and when he was ordained. As and so long as he did not get ordained in Mbaise - on Mbaise's soil; so long as he did not take physical canonical possession of the Ahiara Diocese and as long as he is/was not forcefully imposed on Mbaise as our bishop, and hence the “Root of David has conquered Alleluia, Period!! Mbaise has done what Napoleon could not do. Mbaise has re-written History. By this singular act alone of resisting the ecclesiastical powers that are in Rome's Vatican, Nigerian Council of Bishops, and the hegemonies of the Awka Anambra-Kasujja-Cabala-axis, Mbaise has single-handedly defeated the Goliaths and not only defeating the well-coordinated and connected Giants, but also imperceptibly opened the iron-gateways for other-down-trodden nations and communities around the world to stand up and fight INJUSTICE with the flaming light of God's own JUSTICE. And so today, Mbaise should be proud of her heroic and historic accomplishments unequalled in the annals and chronicles of Church history in Nigeria. Mbaise has opened the gateways to a new Revolution within the Catholic Church's appointments to Bishopric leadership. Henceforth, the Vatican will look into a magnifying glass of immaculate transparency when appointing and ordaining future Bishops and even think twice before imposing any bishop on any community of Catholics! Neither shall Cardinal Arinze in the next 30 years rush and ordains one more Awka priest bishop and imposes him on any other community on the face of this earth! May 21, 2013 is the Rightful day to declare "Mbaise Unity Day!!!" - A Day of Triumph!!!! A Day of Righting Century-Old-Wrongs!!!! May 25, 2013 is to be declared the day of final seal of victory over injustice!
And yes, as Shakespeare would put it in the words of the great Julius Caesar's of Veni Vidi Vici, So Mbaise, Came to Mount Injustice, Mbaise saw and met Mount Injustice, Mbaise Stooped and Vehemently, ferociously, expeditiously, gallantly, resolutely, unswervingly, so unitedly and dedicatedly, today, Conquered Mount INJUSTICE!!! And atop that new MOUNT JUSTICE, Mbaise nation has permanently holstered her flag of JUSTICE that from today to Eternity will fly forever from generation to generations to come. These many seven grueling months, Mbaise have met face to face, with the agents and hegemonic cabals of injustices both clothed in sheep's skins and the unclothed laity to wit. Mbaise did not buckle nor cower down in the face of brazen injustice. Though Mbaise has won both the battle and the war, to God be all glories, Amen!! Prof. Amadi-Azuogu rightly reminded the Nigerian Council of Bishops, thus “As Pope Celestine I insisted, no bishop should be imposed on any diocese. This was also the position of Pope Leo I. And obviously, it is also the position of Pope Francis. The use of force against any diocese is not part of the bishops' job description. On this May 21 threat, they have erred both in law and in morality.”
As I previously wrote during one of those heats of the moment capturing the emotional predisposition of Oha dum Mbaise, Mbaise had a duty and role at hand and still in continuation, therefore:
“Mbaise is doing what needs to be done to protect our own; to sustain our name; to show our posterity the way forward - not to stomach injustice in any shape or form and from whomsoever it may come. Current Mbaise sons and daughters are accountable to ndi Ichie and to posterity. Therefore we cannot, in this 21st century, let this kind of unjust slap on the face of a people, the nation of Mbaise go unchallenged and unreturned twice the former insult. Udo diri anyi ncha, Mbaise nwe nmeri!”
According to Dr. Amadi-Azuogu, “there is a new breeze blowing across the Mbaise world. We are happy with what we have accomplished. This new found pride in a Nation, so castigated even by the church hierarchy for fighting for justice, is seen not only on Mbaise faces throughout the world, but even on their lips. Hence, Dr. Onyema Nkwocha asserts: “Mbaise has single handedly righted wrongs and injustices spanning a century! Mbaise has broken ranks and made History today. There is no doubt that Mbaise has opened the gateways of Justice in the Catholic Church's leadership. Mbaise has restored our pride to eternity and for posterity!” And Prof. Edward Oparaoji proudly declared: “We won this victory because we were United like no one has seen in Mbaise in our life time- Catholics, non-Catholics all came together knowing our defeat would not only be humiliating but would leave a debilitating psychological gash. Now we don't have to worry about that, We Won! No spin can erase that!” Professor Anthony Nwachukwu has even included a future prediction in these words: “While some of us may restlessly be burning their energy to win an unjust war, Mbaise, the children of light, are 100% sure of their victory over all forms of injustice. Very soon, the world will begin to study about this group of people called Mbaise. We are special on the globe. It's God's own making. No other race can be more determined and industrious as our people. That's why most of us are not chameleonic. We stand on, and die for truth.” It has been very agonizing and unsettling for the Mbaise Nation since December 7, 2012 when Fr. Okpalaeke was surprisingly announced as the bishop elect of Ahiara Diocese. Since then the land has known no peace as the Catholic Bishops seem to be unperturbed by this sad situation. They have forgotten that peace is precious. It is considered so indispensable that Jesus offered it to his disciples in these words: Peace unto you,” Amadi-Azuogu concluded.
One final thought. If the Cannon law is anything to go by, if both priests, bishops, arch bishops, Monsignors, Cardinals, and Popes should be bound by its provisions, therefore, it's no brainer that Bishop Peter Okpalaeke, the Titular Bishop of “Ekwulobia” should and must abide by its provisions. With all the hidden truths of the Cannon law made bare by Dr. Amadi-Azuogu, even Bishop Peter Okpalaeke, the Titular Bishop, being on the side of the truth of Christ, knows the “Game is over” for him to aspire to come to Mbaise as the Bishop of Ahiara diocese. Let me ask: Can you lead a community of Christians by force? In which of the four Gospels was it stated that Christ preached in their land with, and by force against their will? Was it not even the case when Christ noticed that they would conceive to do him in, he would quietly and secretly take his apostles leave that village and go to another town to preach? So which Jesus Christ are Bishop Okpalaeke and his cabal cohort supporters representing here on Planet Earth? “Game is over” because, except if by a quintessential super miracle another set of Nde Mbaise suddenly emerges on Planet Earth, the Titular Bishop Peter Okpalaeke, will not take possession of the Ahiara Diocese. Knowing Mbaise, it is hardly inconceivable that they would fight to, and snatched victory from the mangling jaws of hegemonic and no nonsense ecclesiastical defeating powers that are, and only to turn around and surrender their sweet won victory on the laps and palms of a twice impeded and rejected Titular Bishop. Inconceivably, incomprehensible!!! The case of Ahiara Diocese can only be brought to its logical conclusion when one son of the soil of Mbaise is ordained the Bishop of Ahiara Diocese. And on this mantra, Oha dum Mbaise stands!!! Mbaise has been following the Christian faith for over 100 years. Mbaise boasts of more than 500 plus strong ordained clergies. Mbaise priests can be found all over the globe spreading the Church of Christ and among these many legions of priests, the Vatican can find at least one worthy Mbaise Priest to be ordained Bishop of Ahiara Diocese to replace their beloved late Bishop Victor Chikwe. Is this one request, too much to ask? On this position, Mbaise stands non-negotiable because Bishop Peter Okpalaeke, the Titular Bishop will not take canonical possession of Ahiara Diocese. Awka has FIVE BISHOPS, Mbaise Has Zero, and No Bishop. Therefore Mbaise needs and well deserves one son of hers be ordained the Bishop of Ahiara Diocese! To God be all the Glories!
Dr. Onyema Nkwocha, May 28, 2013, USA.