By Donald Kumun
His Excellency, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Hyacinth Iormem Alia, a Priest of the Roman Catholic Church, and the Governorship Aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), in Benue State, currently and officially working in Gboko Diocese, under the headship of his Bishop, Most. Revd. William A. Avenya, has appreciated the decision of the Bishop, to communicate to him officially, in line with the Modus Operandi of the the MOTHER CHURCH.
The Roman Catholic Church has in place a set of rules and regulations guiding the conduct of both her clergy and the laity. It is referred to as the Code of Canon Law – why His Excellency, Most Revd. Avenya, deem it necessary to adhere to the Code of Canon Law, by applying “Ex Can. 285, 3 CIC” as reflected in the Letter he addressed to his son, Fr. Alia, on May 20, 2022.
Therefore, Fr. Alia as a Law abiding Priest and a light of the world aspiring to bring positive changes into Governance as the next Governor of Benue State, wishes to inform all his teaming supporters across the State, and beyond, that though he is still a Priest of the Catholic Church, he has faithfully acknowledged receipt of the letter from his Bishop, and would gladly return to continue his Ministration after repositioning the LEADERSHIP QUAGMIRE, that has conspicuously brought him into the limelight of politics.
He pledges to his Bishop, his brother Priests, the laity and the BODY OF CHRIST, which he represents in his new place of assignment, to continue to be their AMBASSADOR as the arrow head of positive political symbolism, within the confines of the constitution of the Federation Republic of Nigeria, and the Code of Canon Law, as stipulated.
Thus, it is necessary to state here that in terms of politics, one is correct to maintain that no other Christian dinomination is involved in politics in the way and manner that the Catholic is.
This is because, Canonically, the Pope wears two caps. He presides over the Vatican which is a Country of its own, and he also doubles as the Supreme leader of the Catholic Church worldwide.
Therefore, just as other Presidents of the world, the Pope sends Ambassadors to different countries to protect the political and economic interest of Vatican. The Canon Law equally mandates the Pope to establish foreign missions just as every other sovereign nations does.
And to concretize the above claim, currently, the Vatican Ambassador to Nigeria is Archbishop Antonio Guido Filipazzi while the Nigeria Ambassador to the Vatican is Ambassador Oga Adikwu, an Idoma man from Benue State.
It is by the virtue of the Pope’s position as a leader of a country that makes it possible for him to enjoy privileges that are usually accorded to other Presidents of the world.
For instance, whichever country a Pope goes to, the jet lands at the Presidential wing of the national airport. Just like every other visiting President, he is also made to inspect the guards of honor that must be mounted for him. Like his other counterparts, he is provided with Military security; he is also received by his colleague, the President of the host country, and must also pay a courtesy visit to the Presidential House before proceeding to whichever part of the country he has an assignment to carry out .
The above happened twice here in Nigeria, even under Military leadership headed by Muslims, because, that is the standard.
It should, therefore, not sound strange with insinuations that, a body that is involved in the world of politics at such high level will have nothing to do with political leadership.
THE REASON WHY HIS EXCELLENCY CAME INTO POLITICS.
The fundamental question, however, is, what is the church’s stand on clergy participation in politics?
Like the Holy Bible, the Code of Canon Law is one document that must be interpreted in context; otherwise it looses it’s meaning and the intention of the drafters is totally missed construed.
Bearing in mind the cultural diversity of the members who make up the church and peculiar circumstances that may arise from time to time, the drafters of the Canon Law were wise enough to create a room for contextual application of the rules as it suits every given situation.
For instance, on marriage, the rule says” one man, one woman. The drafters of this law never imagined that in the 21st century, a man would still marry many wives at a time as we have it here in Africa.
Now, to solve the above problem here in Africa, this law is domesticated with an adjustment that accommodates our peculiar circumstances. The Nigerian Catholic Church says, if a man marries more than one wife, and both of them have reached certain years of age, he could pick ONE of the wives and wed in the church.
Again, the canonical recommended age for marriage is 18 years. However, in cultures where lesser number of years are stipulated for marriage, the Canon Law adjust to accommodate such perculiarity. This is what is called contextualization.
Concerning politics, the Canon Law says if a circumstance calls for a clergy participation in politics, that the Bishop of the Diocese could step in to serve the people in that capacity if such action is going to further the common good of God’s people. Or he ( the Bishop) may appoint a priest to do so. Outside this, Bishops, priests, and Deacons, should not be partisan .
Now, just as in the case of marriage and other matters, the drafters of The Code of Canon Law never imagined that in the world of man, there would exist a state where the governor will hold back the salaries , pensions and gratuities of citizens, allowing them to die slowly but surely.
They never imagined that there would be a governor who would refuse to listen to a Catholic Bishop begging for the payment of workers salaries in the way and manner that Bishop Avenya has done in Benue State.
They never knew it would be possible for a governor to stay in power for almost eight years with literally nothing to show for it by way of infrastrural development.
They never thought of a situation where a state would produce numerous raw materials with practically no industry to process them while the government plans to sale the existing state owned industries.
They never imagined that poor farmers who are not benefiting anything from the government will be made to pay cut throat taxes on their farm produce.
None of the drafters of the Code of Canon Law imagined that a State will deliberately increase school fees in government owned tertiary institutions in a way that makes it impossible for the children of the poor to go to school.
Certainly, they never knew there would be a State in Nigeria where a government would deliberately and consciously impoverish her citizens just to make them politically pliable.
The Canon Law never envisaged a State that would turn her highly intelligent youths into political thugs instead of engaging them productively just to mention but a few.
It was on the account of the above that a Benue born Catholic Priest, Rev Fr Moses Orshio Adasu stepped in to give an accurate contextual interpretation of that passage of the Canon Law concerning politics.
His footprints are permanently engraved on the political sound of Benue through his monumental achievements.
Finally, it baffles one and also creates serious suspicion that these same set of people who have never taken Bishop Avenya’s warning about salaries and none performance have suddenly started making a case as to why Fr Alia is not obeying the Bishop. Fr. Alia is an ardent Law abiding Priest of the Roman Catholic Church, and the constitution of the Federation Republic of Nigeria.
He is assuring Benue people that his victory, irrespective of the flying sponsored grips (About his Candidature), on Social Media, the “Final Bell of God’s Glory For His People”, bringing him into politics, shall ring – defining the crucial mandate that cannot be stopped by any human being including Fr Alia himself.
At the expiration of his tenure, prophetically, as the Executive Governor of Benue State, Fr. Alia will return to his Public Masses/Ministration, same as the Bishop in Paraguay, and Aristide in Haiti etc did. The Bishop’s letter was only expected, and hasn’t said that Benue people should not vote for their preferred Candidate, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Hyacinth Iormem Alia.