By Jonas Longyem, Abuja
The governor of Benue State, Hyacinth Alia who is a suspended priest last week got the worst humiliation of his life when the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria (CBCN rejected his request to address them during their 2nd Plenary Assembly in Abuja for the year 2023.
Gov. Alia had through some priests from Benue State who are his friends, sent a request to the CBCN organizing committee to include his name as one of the guests to address the conference. However, when the list was being scrutinized by the leadership of the CBCN and Alia’s name was sighted among other guests, the Bishops immediately asked that the name be removed from the list.
The Bishops strongly frowned at Alia’s attempt to sneak into the conference when he had been suspended by the church. They used the opportunity to warn that as a priest who is suspended, Alia was not qualified to attend their meeting even as an observer. The Bishops further stated that any priest who has been suspended remains disrobed.
The Bishops didn’t stop at barring Alia from stepping his foot into the conference but also included the warning in the communique that was issued at the end of the Abuja assembly. The communique stated unequivocally:
“For a new and better democratic society, the prelates recommended a radical conversion among all politicians, while encouraging lay Catholics with talents in politics, not to shy away. However, they strongly condemned the Catholic clergy contending for political offices in the country, to avoid being sanctioned.”
After his humiliating rejection at the Bishops conference, sources close to governor Alia said he was planning to take a huge amount of money to the conference to plead with the Bishops to intervene in his case at the governorship tribunal, where judgment is being awaited.
Some days ago, there was a media report that governor Alia had convinced the Archbishop emeritus of Abuja Diocese, His Eminence John Cardinal Onaiyekan to help him beg some influential Nigerians to save him from sack at the court. The news went viral and many people advised the respected Bishop to distance himself from the Benue state governor.
This latest desperate move by governor Alia to win the support of the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria will no doubt spark reactions across Benue State and elsewhere.