…As leaders call for peace
Residents and groups in Gashaka and Kwararafa kingdom of Taraba State, have been tasked to eschew all forms of divisive traits, and embrace peace among themselves, so as to promote growth and development in the region. The charge was given by leaders during the erection of Wukari Diocese, ordination and installation of Most Rev. Mark Maigida Nzukwein as the new Bishop, at Government Secondary School, Wukari, on Thursday, April 13, 2023. Most Rev. Charles Hammawa, Bishop of Jalingo Diocese and Chief Host on the occasion set the tone as he called for peace in his welcome remarks at the beginning of the Mass. Thanking persons who have been instrumental to the successful creation of the new Diocese and those who supported the erection and installation ceremony, Bishop Hammawa expressed the desire that the new development would usher in a reign of peace in the community. He said; “I believe the new Diocese of Wukari led by its Chief Shepherd, Most Rev. Mark Maigida Nzukwein, with the full and total support and cooperation of the presbyterium, religious, lay faithful and people of good will, will be the symbol and beacon of hope, joy, unity and peace not only to the Catholic faithful, but also to the whole of Christendom and the people of other faiths in the Diocese, Taraba State, Nigeria and beyond.”
Bishop Hammawa, advised the people not to entertain bitterness or trouble in the community, but to embrace and practice forgiveness and live together in unity, as he urged them to be at peace with all peoples, irrespective of religious, ethnic, social and political inclinations. Delivering the homily, Archbishop Antonio Filipazzi, Apostolic Nuncio, reminded the people that the gifts of a new Diocese and Bishop are meant to foster unity among the people, so that the Gospel can reach everyone and all can meet the risen and living Lord Jesus and be saved through the work of the Church, the family of God, without borders or barriers. Archbishop Filipazzi tasked the new bishop to counteract those factors which tend to disrupt unity of the Church and social harmony, as he called on priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful to be bridge-builders working with the bishop. Archbishop Matthew Ndagoso, Vice President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), representing Archbishop Lucius Ugorji, President CBCN, congratulated and welcomed the new bishop to the Conference of Bishops in Nigeria while also thanking the Nuncio for the enormous work he was doing in the country as the Pope’s representative.
He appealed to the priests and people of God to collaborate with their new shepherd in order to achieve the desired progress and growth in the diocese and peace among all persons and tribes in the whole community. In his remarks on the occasion, Bishop Nzukwein, expressed concern over the fragile peace in the community, while thanking the Pope, the Nuncio, Bishop Hammawa, all bishops, priests, religious, the lay faithful, State functionaries, traditional rulers and all present, for their support and goodwill. He said that the occasion offered the community, from the Mambila Plateau to Gashaka and the entire Kwararafa Kingdom, the opportunity to see how the reality of this same faith has been lived out over the years amid the shadow of the persistent challenges of gross intolerance that has led to series of intra-tribal, inter-ethnic and inter-religious conflicts. He said: “Consequently, beyond the euphoria of today’s unique celebration, we, the inhabitants of the newly established Diocese (that is, the Jukun, Chamba, Kuteb, Tiv, Ichen, Jibu, Mambila, Kaka, Panso, Kambu, Hausa Fulani, Ndoro, Indola, Jebou, Tigun, Badaki, Yuguben, Ibo, Ogoja among others) should take advantage of this unique occasion to calmly reflect on the sacred responsibility of seeing in the face of the other, the image of God. No matter our ethnic extraction, we are, in the first place, brothers and sisters.”