, 08 January, 2020 / 12:28 AM
At a time when Christians in Africa’s most populous nation of Nigeria are expressing concerns about their security following targeted abductions and killings, a Catholic Bishop in the West African country has, on the occasion of inaugurating a Christian Secretariat, cautioned politicians against using their political parties to cause divisions and enmity between followers of Christ.
“People and especially politicians should stop using political parties to divide and create enmity between Christians,” the Bishop of Yola, Stephen Dami Mamza said during the commissioning of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Secretariat in Yola, Adamawa State in the northeastern region of Nigeria.
“Christians can still be in different political parties but can still be of one mind and one heart,” said Bishop Mamza during the Sunday, January 5 event.
Founded in 1976, CAN is an ecumenical body that seeks to enhance the welfare of Christians in Nigeria guided by the belief that diverse political opinions among members of society should be respected.
Speaking about the openness of CAN to Christians regardless of their political affiliations, Bishop Mamza who heads the association in Nigeria’s Adamawa State said, “This secretariat does not belong to Christians who are in a particular political party but to all Christians in Adamawa State.”
Referencing the initiative of putting up CAN’s Secretariat in the State, the 51-year-old Nigerian Prelate added, “My greatest joy about this project is the fact that this is the collective effort of the Christians of Adamawa State. This is not built by the government or individual but the collective efforts of Christians.”
Besides Christians, The Local Ordinary of Yola who has served as CAN Chairman in Adamawa State since his election in 2017 noted that people of other religions contributed towards the construction of the Secretariat.
He recalled his address following his election as CAN Chair in the State saying, “During my inaugural speech, I promised that by the Grace of God I would invite you for the commissioning of a CAN Secretariat that would be (built) under my leadership.”
“Today, to the glory of God I have made good the promise I made about two years ago,” Bishop Mamza said during the Sunday event and recalled, “We laid the foundation stone for this project on 2nd November 2018 and today, 5th January 2020 we are commissioning it. This project therefore took us 13 months only to complete it.”
He went on to share the challenges at the beginning of the project saying, “The planning and implementation of this work was a herculean task because the vision was not clear to some while others did not support it.”
“Some of my personal friends ran away from me because I requested support from them in respect of this project. As soon as I made request no phone call again,” the Church leader recalled.
However, the Bishop noted in reference to the construction of the Secretariat, “It has connected me to more friends and people I have never known before. So, I have actually gain rather than losing in terms of relationship.”
Considering his own experiences during the implementation of the project, Bishop Mamza appealed for unity among Christians and cautioned against belonging “to schisms or denominations that divide believers, nor wear their divisive names.”
“Before we can become united, we must become untied from all that divides,” Bishop Mamza advised and emphasized, “I appeal to you brothers, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another, that there may be no divisions among you.”
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