Of Rebellious Clergy and Protestant Laity

By: Akachi Odoemene  

The Vatican announced the appointment of a new bishop for the diocese of Ahiara in Nigeria on 7 December 2012. What followed was, however, an informed protracted revolt of both the clergy and laity of the diocese, rejecting the bishop-elect and refusing him "canonical possession" of the diocese. The incident clearly revealed gory "church politics" which has been attended by widespread criticism, both of the ‘politicization’ of, and Mbaise people’s reactions to such church appointment, the later particularly so as it was considered to be an affront to the Papacy. This paper explores the origins, nature and dynamics of the debacle which was triggered by the episcopal appointment to the Ahiara Diocese seat, which ultimately engulfed church leadership beyond the diocese. It argues that, far from being a cause for the localization of the bishopric position, the crisis was essentially due to a deep-seated resentment over a compromised and abused appointment process, as well as perceived victimization and marginalization within the church. This is underscored, as the paper argues, by what is believed to be a political machination of “neo-Nri hegemonic control” of the church leadership, particularly in Igboland. In exhibiting the Ahiara debacle as a typical crisis of leadership, the paper interrogates and critically analyses the desperate acts, charged commentaries, as well as seemingly deliberate vindictive attitudes of the church leadership in relation to the crisis. The paper also suitably argues that the Ahiara debacle unmistakably and appositely mirrors the leadership crisis in the wider Igbo, nay Nigerian society.

Ahiara Crisis, Nigeria
Religious Community and Socialization
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Akachi Odoemene

Senior Lecturer and Ag. Head of Department, Department of History and International Studies, Federal University Otuoke, Nigeria