A Papal Transfer in Nigeria, From Lafia Diocese to Jos Archdiocese

Archbishop-Elect Matthew Ishaya Audu of Nigeria's Jos Archdiocese

Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Matthew Ishaya Audu as the new Archbishop of Nigeria’s Jos Archdiocese in the Plateau State of the West African nation.

The Monday, January 6 appointment will see the 60-year-old Archbishop-elect shift from the Ecclesiastical Province of Abuja where he has been serving as the Local Ordinary of Lafia Diocese since his ordination in March 2001.

The Archdiocese of Jos, which is part of the Ecclesiastical Province of Jos comprising Bauchi, Jalingo, Maiduguri, Pankshin, Shendam, and Yola Dioceses became vacant in November 2019 following the Papal transfer of Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama to Abuja.

“Very warm congratulations to His Grace, the Archbishop-Elect, with fervent prayers for the success of his ministry among the wonderful people of Jos Archdiocese and indeed Plateau State,” reads in part a statement on the Facebook page of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria (CBCN).

“Let us all keep the Archbishop-Elect in our prayers,” the Bishops in Nigeria have stated.


Born in Tudu Uku, in the Diocese of Makurdi in Nigeria, the Archbishop-elect was ordained a priest in June 1984 as a clergy of Makurdi.  

He served as a Vice Rector in St. Thomas Major Seminary, Makurdi. 

A couple of years after becoming Lafia’s first Bishop, the Archbishop-elect was quoted by the Vatican-based Agenzia Fides as saying that his primary “concern is the good of all the people entrusted to my care, Catholics and non.”

“In my diocese there are Catholics, Anglicans, other Christians as well as Muslims. We all want to work to promote peace and prosperity for the whole community,” the Nigeria Prelate said in the 2003 interview during which he also spoke about the monthly meeting of different groups of Christian leaders as well as the government-sponsored encounters between Christians and Muslims in an effort to promote peace.

“In Lafia there are a number of different lay associations. The largest is the Central Women’s Association which has branches all over the diocese,” the Archbishop-elect said and enlisted three main groups: “Caritas functioning at parish level; Justice and Peace at the diocesan level; Health Co-ordination for the diocese which assists mainly AIDS sufferers and promotes an awareness campaign as part of the struggle to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS.”

More in Africa

In an August 2019 news media report, the Prelate’s 2018 remarks about the persecution of Christians in his country were noted, particularly his view that the attacks targeting following of Christ seem neither random nor economically motivated but purposeful. “They want to strike Christians,” the Prelate was quoted as saying and adding, “the government does nothing to stop them, because President Buhari is also of the Fulani ethnic group.”

The Nigerian Prelate who is set to become the fifth Local Ordinary of Jos is expected to be installed on March 31, 2020.

The Diocese of Jos has in previous years experienced challenges that include tribal and religious violence, events that prompted the former Archbishop Kaigama to establish the Dialogue, Reconciliation and Peace Centre in 2011 in an attempt to bridge the gap between warring communities.

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.