It was at the Commissioning of the Salve Regina Skill Acquisition Centre and Marian grotto at Abeokuta. An event commemorating the Opening Ceremony of the Catholic Women Organisation of Nigeria, Lagos Ecclesiastical Province (CWONLEP), 2021 Annual General Assembly on Friday, September 24, 2021. The barely one-week out-gone 2017-2021 Executives led by Hon. (Mrs.) Elizabeth Sonubi were all smiles as they proudly showcased their accomplishment of further implementing the project of the province that has passed through six leadership eras. Most Rev. Peter Kayode Odetoyinbo graced the occasion with his esteemed presence. NETA NWOSU, Editor sought the views of His Lordship, Most Rev. Odetoyinbo, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Abeokuta on issues that border on the role of CWON in the growth of the Church, governance in Ogun state and the Catholic Diocese of Abeokuta. Excerpts .
What do you think of the role CWON has played so far in the development of the Catholic Church, Nigeria?
It is like asking what is the role of Mary in our salvation, that is the way I see CWO, I remember telling them all the time that as women, they have a lot to contribute in the mission of the Church, Catholic Church just as Mary did a lot and will continue to do in the evangelisation and the Holy Father has not minced his words to emphasize what I’m saying that women have a great role to play, the Nigerian Catholic women have a great role to play in the development of the Church.
So far are you satisfied with the role the Catholic women have played in the Church?
Of course, is it their organization? Is it their vision? Is it their contribution? Is it their selflessness that they give totally to the mission entrusted to them? You can see for yourself. It is different from the men; the attitude, the approach, the focus, the objectives, the energy, the perseverance; these are all attributes and virtues of women that the CWO has put in not only in the Church but also in our country Nigeria.
Are there other areas you think that they should improve on or touch on like as regards child development, protection of the girl child, kidnapping and a host of others?
They have touched all areas because right now, they are commissioning a skill acquisition centre. What is this place meant for? It’s the skill ac- quisition centre for the girl child. They have touched all areas in the whole of Nigeria, Nigeria is so vast and Nigerian Catholic Church is so wide. See what the Catholic Women Organisation has done alone in the Lagos province; see what they have done alone in their various dioceses, I think they are doing very well. We only need to encourage them to do more, to be more committed and dedicated to the service of the Church. That’s the much I can say; they have done so well. The Commissioning of the Salve Regina Centre today in Abeokuta Diocese is a good example.
You are in Ogun State, are you satisfied so far with governance in Ogun State?
Is it governance now or you are asking me about the Church?
No, we have left Church matters, we have gone into governance.
Did you tell me that we going to go into governance in the course of the interview?
I’m sorry Your Lordship, I didn’t say that we are going to go into governance.
Well, we can, because we exist within the State, the Church exists within the State. I have always avoided condemnation, but in his own way, he feels he has done well. But from my own point of view, recently, the pensioners are crying, the roads are not made and so many other things are not done. Probably, he has more to do. The state is large, it is big, but I believe with more organization and reorientation of certain things he would do better. I know this is his first time, by the time he comes the second time he may do better. Often times, when you come into office the first time you want to stabilise, and stability depends on what you have met on ground. Probably, I see it that way that he is still trying to grapple with what he met on ground, in respect of infrastructure, payment of salaries and monuments and all other things for civil servants, workers, putting up social welfare packages for the youths, women, for everybody.
What advice do you have for the Governor to improve governance?
Like I earlier said he needs to reorganize and sit with his cabinet, reorganize and refocus because everywhere needs attention. As a Bishop I move round my Diocese in Abeokuta and I see a lot of things that have to be done especially in terms of physical infrastructure, roads, especially.
There is an issue on VAT collection, most Governors feel that it should be the responsibility of the State Government and some are of the view that it should be the Federal Government, which of these divides do you belong?
It is not only about the VAT, it is also about the resources of the state. It’s a matter of equity and justice, it is just as you have in the South – South, the South-South talking about the Niger Delta. It’s just about equity and justice. That’s all I can say.
How is Abeokuta Diocese?
They are doing well, they are doing well.
When you came in as Bishop you met the Diocese at a certain level, are you satisfied with what you have done so far as the Bishop?
Can please share your experiences?
If it is in the area of spiritual growth as it affects the Diocese, clergy, religious and lay faithful, we are doing well. In physical development, as it affects the physical structures, we have our pastoral centre, this one is part of the contribution to the Diocese of Abeokuta. We have other schools that we have built, in the area of hospitals we are trying and keeping up with the standards that we met.
What kind of future do you envisage for Abeokuta Diocese?
Well, it is a future that is bright. The laity, priests and religious are up and doing. It’s a future that is bright because now we are increasing in the Diocese, we are increasing in parishes, we have 63 parishes now, I met 32 or 33. In seven years, I have doubled it. So there are still more waiting to be created as Parishes. The lay faithful are really doing their best, I appreciate them a lot for their contributions in the Parishes, in the Diocese. I also appreciate the pious societies for their prayers and devotion. What God has done for us in Abeokuta is awesome. We still leave it in His hands, we cooperate with the spirit of God to take us to where He is leading us.