This weekend’s Catholic ceremony in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state, which will officially see John Ebebe Ayah, installed as the Bishop of the Uyo Catholic diocese, may be serving as a sounding bell for the commencement of subtle moves by an austere list of priests in Ayah’s native Ogoja Catholic diocese, to take over from Ayah as Catholic bishop of the diocese, www.calitown.com can reveal. Ayah had administered Ogoja diocese, since the Vatican appointed him to head the Uyo diocese in early July, 2014, .
First, our sources within the Catholic community in Ogoja say, Reverend Fathers Jake Otonko, Peter Obele Abue, Josephat Ekoh, Edward Obi, Patrick Okuta, Kenneth Egere and Kenneth Odibu, are all angling for the vacant position of Catholic Bishop of Ogoja diocese. Again, it is being speculated that the ‘hunt’ for this position has already donned an ethnic garb with the Mbube, Bekwarra, Yala and Boki Catholic communities laying claims to turns similar to the zoning arrangement in secular politics. Otonko and Abue are of Mbube extraction while Ekoh and Obi are Boki. Okuta is Bekwarra while Egere and Odibu come from Yala, all in CR’s North.
In the ensuing analysis, insider sources say, while Mbube’s Otonko who at present is the chaplain at the Nasarawa State University, Lafia, and Abue, who pastors a parish in Obudu, may have intimidating credentials for the position, “the Vatican may think differently”, as one cleric told www.calitown.com. Boki’s Edward Obi, who recently celebrated his 25th anniversary as a priest is thought to have used that high octane occasion held in Calabar “to plant himself in the psyche of indigenous Catholics from Ogoja diocese who dwell in Calabar and in their numbers”, as another source put it. Ekoh, parades credentials that are thinly visible, but is believed to be hugely committed to Church work.
Yala’s Egere and Odibu are “in the same league as Patrick Okuta from Bekwarra. They are priests with fruitful years ahead of them but then, we must begin to understand clearly that if they go along with the ethnic agitations of their people they can all be sure that non of them will be selected by the Vatican to that exalted position”. It is a squeaky submission that points to the recent ugly agitations for indigenous bishops by certain Catholic dioceses in Nigeria which has seen the Vatican ignore such agitations and respond instead with bishopric appointments outside the agitations. It may surprise few people in the end if the next Catholic Bishop of Ogoja is appointed from outside Ogoja as the intrigues build.
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