Pope Francis Elevates Nigeria’s Apostolic Vicariate, Appoints First Bishop

Bishop Bulus Dauwa Yohanna of Kontagora diocese, Nigeria.

Pope Francis on Thursday, April 2 elevated the Apostolic Vicariate of Kontagora, central Nigeria to a diocese and appointed Vicar Apostolic, Msgr. Bulus Dauwa Yohanna as its first Bishop.

Pope St. John Paul II erected the see of Kontagora on December 15, 1995 as a Prefecture Apostolic and elevated it to an Apostolic Vicariate in May 2002.

As an apostolic vicariate, Kontagora was assisted by priests from the Society of African Missions (SMA) to whom it was entrusted, the Holy See Press Office indicates.

The new diocese measures 46,000 square kilometres and covers Niger and Kebbi states. It has 62,788 Catholics.

Kontagora diocese is under the patronage of St. Michael, and will be a suffragan of the Metropolitan See of Kaduna.


Bishop Yohanna, 49, was ordained a priest of Ilorin diocese in January 1998. Four years later he was incardinated in the diocese of Kontagora.

An account of Bishop Yohanna’s journey to priesthood indicates that his initial desire was to become a priest of the SMA “but he discovered that the SMA Fathers as missionaries have to leave their homeland and to other countries to bring them the liberating Good News of the Gospel message.”

“Subsequently, he (Bishop Yohanna) decided to become a diocesan priest, mindful of the admonition of Pope Paul VI in Kampala, Uganda in 1969, at the closing session of the Symposium of African Bishops, that ‘it was now time for Africans to become missionaries to themselves,’” the account reveals.

He was appointed Vicar Apostolic of Kontagora and Titular Bishop of Scebatiana, Italy, on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in 2012.

The Nigerian Prelate holds a licentiate in Pastoral Theology.

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His episcopal motto is, “For nothing will be impossible with God.”

The elevation of the apostolic vicariate of Kontagora to a diocese brings the total of Nigeria’s  Ecclesiastical Sees to 55 comprising nine Archdioceses and 46 dioceses.