African Church Leadership Tussle worsens as South South sacks South West Bishops

Primate Emmanuel Udofia
Primate Emmanuel Udofia

Members of the African Church from the South South Nigeria threaten to breakaway should their counterparts from South West insist that Primate Udofia Emmanuel Udofia retires at 60 instead of 65



THE leadership crisis in the African Church may worsen if elders of the church fail to act quickly to stop it from degenerating into an ethnic affair. South-South leadership of the church in states within the region have reportedly issued a marching order for Bishops of the South-West origin to relocate from their states.

An inside source, who spoke with Daily Independent in Uyo on Sunday, disclosed that Bishop James Bamilede from Ekiti State, who was at Fourtowns, Uyo, and the Archbishop of the Calabar Province, A. A.  Odufuwa, have been sacked from their stations since the return of the embattled primate of the church, Bishop Emmanuel Udofia.

The source, who would not want to be quoted, confirmed that other South-South states, including Edo and Delta, have – in addition to sending home bishops of Yoruba ethnic nationality – threatened to break away if the Western provinces of the church continued with the harassment of Emmanuel Udofia, the current primate.

Daily Independent reports that Calabar and Rivers’ provinces had, during the reception of the embattled primate in Uyo, last weekend, issued a breakaway threat to the arch cathedral of the church in Lagos if the current primate of the church was not allowed to complete his tenure.

It was also gathered at the reception that Udofia was currently being threatened with sack if he failed to vacate office as primate by May, this year, when he would have turned 60 years.

But South-South members of the church are of the opinion that a new law could not have been applicable to Udofia who was voted into office based on the provisions of the old constitution.

Daily Independent gathered that Udofia, who was warmly received in a very colourful ceremony at St Stephen’s Cathedral of the church in Uyo, penultimate Saturday, had been told by the laity and clergy of the two provinces, made up of Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, and Delta states, to temporarily relocate to Uyo until the crisis was over, especially with the alleged threats to his life and that of his family by some parishioners of the church in Lagos.

The vice lay president of Warri Diocese, Ezekiel Okorode, who spoke at Dr. Udofia’s reception in Uyo, said the indignities to which the Western provinces of the church had subjected the primate were in a way, bringing victory to Calabar and Rivers provinces.

“Today is a day of victory for our provinces. We have taken a step that will not be easy to reverse. We have told those bishops from the West to go back to their people. They don’t like us, and so we can’t like them. The Western provinces must retrace their steps and apologise else it is backward never, forward ever”, he said.

Okorode said if Udofia, the only primate of African Church who is a non-Yoruba in the 118-year life of the church, could be humiliated by the Western provinces, then there was no basis for their continued pretense to be together.

Another speaker, Justice Ezekiel Enang, who is the legal adviser of Calabar Province, said the two provinces would stand by the General Council’s decision of the church that the current primate should retire at 65 years after which the new rule of retirement at 60 would take effect.

Also speaking, the medical adviser of the Calabar Diocese, Dr. Nathaniel Adiakpan, expressed gratitude to God for preserving the life of the primate to return home alive, saying that was the most important thing.

“Injustice is what is playing out in African Church today. The same people who bombarded us with calls to help them attain certain positions in the church only a few years ago are now the ones causing disunity.

“If Dr. Udofia doesn’t enjoy the support of African Church Worldwide, no other primate will enjoy our support,” he said.

On his part, the embattled primate, Dr. Udofia, said he had not relocated to Uyo, because he still considered himself the primate of African Church Worldwide, as such he would go back to the arch cathedral any time he felt like.

Udofia stressed that it was necessary to pray for God’s intervention in the crisis as he would not want his tenure to be credited with the infamous history of being the beginning of fragmentation of the hitherto unified African Church.

– Apr. 15, 2019 @ 15:09 GMT |

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