Long Distances, Ethnic Violence, Cultural Diversity among “greatest” Challenges of Lafia Catholic Diocese, Nigeria

Bishop David Ajang of the Catholic Diocese of Lafia in Nigeria. Credit: ACI Africa

The vastness of the Catholic Diocese of Lafia and insecurity amid ethnic violence are among the “greatest” challenges the Local Ordinary grapples with in the Nigerian Episcopal See. 

In a Monday, May 20 interview with ACI Africa, Bishop David Ajang said, “Our greatest challenge has been that of long distances between parishes and outstations.”

“I have a Diocese where people have to travel for four and a half hours to get to the Cathedral,” Bishop Ajang explained, adding, “That alone is a problem affecting evangelization work.”

Apart from distance, the Nigerian Catholic Bishop said, “We have some areas that are prone to crisis. Unfortunately, it is between local tribes.”

“Human life is so precious that any time there is a crisis that involves the loss of human life, it affects us badly,” the Local Ordinary of Lafia Diocese who doubles as the Episcopal Chairman of the Commission for Social Communications of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) said.


The loss human life, the Nigerian Catholic Bishop went on to say, “is not an isolated case; it is something that is experienced everywhere in the country today. But at least I identify with those people because they are my people.”

He also highlighted “cultural differences” as another significant challenge, and explained, “I have a Diocese that you could say has two different cultures. Lafia Diocese has a different culture from the people that are around the Mararaba area close to Abuja. So sometimes you need to be playing different roles and have different personalities.”

“If you are dealing with the people from Lafia, you look at them differently. If you are dealing with the people from Mararaba, the same diocese, you handle them differently. Otherwise, you run the risk of not understanding what is happening,” he further said.

“The mentality of the people of Mararaba and Masaka is very different from the mentality of the people I stay with back there in the village in Lafia,” the Catholic Church leader, who was appointed Bishop in March 2021 and has been at the helm of Lafia Diocese since his Episcopal Ordination in June 2021 added.

Against this backdrop, the Nigerian Catholic Church leader challenged the faithful to work together in unity to promote peace and development in his Episcopal See.

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“The development of the Church in Lafia is a work in progress and every hand must be on deck to make it happen,” Bishop Ajang said, and expressing confidence in the spirit of moving on added, “We'll keep doing our best to see how we make the diocese better; one that all of us will be proud of.”

“We must also pay special attention to the work of evangelization and bringing more people to the Catholic faith, but in doing this, we must start from within, that is, making our lapsed brothers and sisters who have not been coming to church to return to the faith,” the Nigerian Catholic Bishop said.

In doing so, he said, “we have to be united in truth and in spirit and pray that the good Lord will send helpers to our diocese because we need help to develop our Diocese in all aspects.”

Abah Anthony John is a Nigerian Journalist with great enthusiasm and interest for Catholic Church Communication and Media Apostolate. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Mass Communication from Benue State University, Makurdi, Benue State Nigeria. He has vast experience in Print,  Electronic and Multi-Media Production.