Outrage As Andy Uba Attacks Bishop Jonasbenson Okoye And Other Spiritual Leaders
The outrage arising from the gratuitous criticism of top spiritual leaders in Anmabra State by the group working for the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in the November 6 gubernatorial election in Anambra State, Senator Andy Uba, is far from over.
Anambra people from different religious traditions and political persuasions are expressing revulsion at the undisguised hostility by the controversial erstwhile senator who served from 1999 to 2007 as President Olusegun Obasanjo’s powerful Senior Special Assistant on Domestic Affairs.
The Uba camp yesterday took a swipe at top spiritual leaders in the state, including the Auxiliary Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Awka, Reverend Dr Jonas Benson Okoye, charging them with abusing the Canon Law of the Catholic Church.
In a news report sponsored by the Andy Uba Gubernatorial Council entitled “Anambra Guber: Catholic Laity Reject—Soludo”, it accused Bishop Okoye of violating the Canon Law by his purported open support for the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate, Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, a former Central Bank of Nigeria governor.
The Uba media handlers alleged that the bishop is rooting for what they called “the old order” without explaining.
Uba’s behavior is no longer normal, according to James Onukwulu, a retired director in the Ministry of Education, who ascribed the criticism to “sheer desperation for power”.
The former director said that “no person with respect for God can afford to lie against the anointed, especially when he knows he is lying for purely political reasons”.
The report by Uba media handlers also attacked a number of outstanding priests in all four Catholic dioceses of violating the Canon Law apparently for not endorsing his candidature.
The priests include Rev Fr Celestine Aniofor, Chaplain of the Laity Council of the Onitsha Archdiocese; Rev Fr Jude Mgbobukwa, Parish Priest of St Michael’s Parish, Fegge, Onitsha; and Peter Uzochukwu of St Felix Catholic Parish, Otolo, Nnewi.
Observed an APC member from Nibo in Awka South Local Government who has resolved to vote for Soludo in the November 6 election but doesn’t want his name in print for fear of accusations of anti-party activities: “Christ prays for unity in his church in The Book of John 17: 21 in the following words “all shall be one’. Therefore, Uba’s politics makes for neither reason nor rhythm”.
Senator Uba is frequently accused of playing sectarian politics by openly presenting himself as the candidate of the Anglican Church, despite founding and running an evangelical church in Abuja named Faith Miracle Centre together with his fourth wife, Pastor Faith Vedelago Uba, originally from Bayelsa State.
At the investiture of new knights at St John’s Cathedral Ekwulobia, last September 4, Senator Uba appeared in the ceremonial dress of the Knights of St Christopher, asking congregants and visitors to vote for him “because I am the Anglican candidate”.
“Senator Uba’s action is sacrilegious because he is not a knight of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)”, explained a senior official of the Council of Knights of the diocese who did not want his name revealed because he was not authorized to speak to the media on the matter.
“Andy cannot possibly be a knight of our church because he is right now in the fifth marriage, having just got engaged to beautiful Nnenna Ukeje, a former member of the House of Representatives from Abia State, even without divorcing any of his previous wives.
“In any case, Andy left the Anglican Communion several years ago, but conveniently identifies with it only when he is seeking an election”.
The attempt to play religious politics in Anambra State by some politicians has earned severe rebukes even from non-indigenes.
Richard Akinola, a lawyer and foremost human rights activist who worked closely with the late Gani Fawehinmi in Lagos State, referred to it as evil, wondering if there are serious differences between the Catholic and Anglican faiths.
It is mischievous and dangerous to play such politics, Akinola added.
The Sudan and Northern Ireland are among nations recently destroyed by sectarian politics.
Whereas some Anambra public office seekers want to draw a wedge between adherents of the Anglican and Catholic traditions, the Yoruba live in peace and harmony in spite of the almost equal division of their people into the Christian and Muslim faiths.
While the APC National Leader, Bola Tinubu, is a Muslim, his wife is a pastor with the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG).
The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, is a Muslim, his wife is a papal knight, and all their children are devout Catholics.
“It is, indeed, a supreme irony that Andy of all persons is trying to drive a wedge between the Catholic and Anglican faiths”, noted a cousin of the politician from Aguata LGA who asked for anonymity because she doesn’t want to incur his wrath.
“Andy’s first wife is from the Igbo-speaking part of Delta State, and throughout their stay in the United States Andy followed her to the Catholic Church where they also wedded, and all their children are Catholic.
“But he is now pretending to be anti-Catholic.
“Andy is, I am sorry to say, just a crass and unconscionable opportunist”.