, 06 December, 2019 / 11:58 PM
The newly installed Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Abuja in Nigeria, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama has, during his installation ceremony, promised to engage the government in matters that contribute to the common good of Africa’s most populous country, weeks after the country’s President said he would support the ministry of the Church leader in his country’s capital, Abuja.
“In exercising my prophetic duty, I will respectfully seek to dialogue with government leaders about the common good; remind our leaders to remember the poor, the youth, the widows and orphans,” the Archbishop said during his installation ceremony in Abuja Thursday, December 5.
He promised to engage his country’s political leaders, reminding “them of the words of both our national pledge and anthem: to serve our fatherland with love and strength and faith; with heart and might; one nation bound in freedom, peace and unity.”
“I will pray with them and dialogue on how our youth can be better helped,” he said during the event held at the Cathedral of the Twelve Apostles in Abuja and continued, “I will continue to stress the need to protect the lives and property of all Nigerians and to provide jobs for our teeming youth used by ethnic, religious and political bigots for violence, cultism and other anti-social practices.”
In his speech, the 61-year-old Prelate also challenged political leaders to be faithful to their oath of office, “to serve rather than be served; to be closer to their people not only during election times, but to always feel their pain and agony rather than being tucked away in air-conditioned offices or travelling in jets or helicopters to avoid the deplorable roads that are left unmaintained for years or just simply poorly built.”
He went on to urge leaders to avoid the tendency to “surround themselves with weapon-wielding security personnel or trained security dogs” as it makes them “inaccessible and insensitive” to the struggles of the common people who are at risk of being unjustly treated.
The Archbishop also used the occasion to narrate how he received the news of his appointment the Apostolic Nuncio in Nigeria, Archbishop Antonio Guido Filipazzi “with trembling and trepidation,” his “mind wandering like a wild cat.”
Two days after receiving the news, he came to terms with the changes in his life and informed the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Kaigama said during the Thursday event.
“After troubled reflections on the implications of my appointment, but knowing that it is neither an office one campaigned for nor influenced by powerful god fathers, but the doing of the Lord, I called the Apostolic Nuncio on Sunday 17.2.2019 to pledge my obedience and humble acceptance of the appointment by the Holy Father,” the Archbishop narrated to the congregation that had come to witness his taking possession of Abuja Archdiocese.
In his speech, the Nigerian Prelate also thanked Pope Francis “for the confidence reposed in me by entrusting the pastoral leadership of the Archdiocese of Abuja to me.”
“I hereby renew my pledge of loyalty and filial devotedness,” he said referencing the Holy Father.
“To His Excellency the Apostolic Nuncio, I express my gratitude for your generous words of encouragement and support as I count on your fraternal collaboration as well as the support of my brother Bishops in the Abuja Ecclesiastical Province and indeed all members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN),” he added.
Acknowledging that he has always succeeded “more experienced and more gifted” shepherds, the Archbishop noted, “My predecessor in Jos, the Servant of God, Archbishop Gabriel Gonsum Ganaka, was a person I referred to as an Ecclesiastical guru.”
He added recalling his predecessors, “as CBCN president, I succeeded Archbishop Felix Alaba Job, a veteran in pastoral affairs whom I call a “mobile archive” (he does not easily forget pastoral or statistical information), and my immediate predecessor here, Cardinal Onaiyekan, an intellectual colossus.”
“I have the conviction that the Lord uses leaders to build, not by human wisdom and power but by His grace. I may not be exceptional but I assure you that we shall continue to pray and work together for social cohesion, spiritual and pastoral progress,” the Archbishop said.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa