As clock ticks on pope’s ultimatum, Nigeria diocese is in tumult

As clock ticks on pope’s ultimatum, Nigeria diocese is in tumult

Following a dramatic show of papal authority in Nigeria, with Pope Francis demanding that all the priests of Ahiara diocese write him a letter pledging their loyalty and promising to accept the bishop the pope has appointed, the matter seems far from resolved. Some priests seem willing to go along, while others are submitting a half-apology, and others are even calling for the pope’s resignation.

ROME – With the clock ticking on Pope Francis’s threat to suspend the priests of an entire Nigerian diocese, the matter seems far from resolved, with many clerics still insisting on revolting against a bishop appointed by Pope Benedict XVI back in 2012, even calling for the pontiff to resign, while others are supporting the pope’s strong stance.

On June 8, Pope Francis issued a seemingly unprecedented threat, giving the priests of the diocese of Ahiara a 30-day deadline: Either write to him promising “total obedience,” or face suspension.

The crisis began when Benedict appointed Bishop Peter Ebere Okpaleke to the diocese in southern Nigeria. He doesn’t belong to the majority Mbaise group, and as such, he’s been rejected by members of the clergy and the laity who want to see “one of their own” appointed to a position of leadership.

However, many local observers believe the conflict started much earlier, some going so far as to say the seed was planted when men who “should not have been ordained” became priests.

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“The situation in Ahiara is not unique to Ahiara. It is a situation you may find in any diocese where a few priests, who ought not to have been ordained in the first place, escaped detection at the seminaries,” said Doctor Mark Nwoga.

After becoming priests, he argued, these men become “disobedient to their bishops, materialistic and violent.”

Nwoga, a dentist and professor by profession, is one of the lay people on Mbaise who’s in favor of Okpaleke taking possession of the diocese of Ahiara. For him, the decision to support the bishop was an easy one: “I am one of the Catholic laity trying to live and practice our Catholic faith. My involvement with those welcoming and planning the installation of our bishop was a consequence of this basic reality.”

In the case of the Ahiara diocese, he said, the rejection of the papal appointment of Okpaleke was reportedly originated by three “politician” priests who “contaminated the hearts and minds of other priests and laity.”

The priests who’ve revolted claim the Vatican is discriminating against them, never creating a bishop among them despite the many vocations to the priesthood coming from the diocese.

When Francis announced that he expected for them to write a letter apologizing for their behavior and promising loyalty to the pontiff, including in the matter of episcopal appointments, they originally responded saying that the request was false.

They claimed it did not come from the pope but from those supporting the bishop, including Cardinal John Onaiyekan of Abuja, the national capital, who was appointed by Francis as administrator of the diocese in 2013 in an attempt to resolve the crisis.

When the Vatican posted the papal message on its website, they had no choice but to accept that it came from the pope. Since then, they’ve responded in various ways: there are those who are going to comply, those who are signing a letter promising obedience but rejecting Okpaleke, and those who are calling for Francis’s resignation.

Some have even called on Imo state governor, multimillionaire Owelle Rochas Anayo Okorocha, to help them fend off Vatican sanctions. The politician confirmed this himself, through a press statement. When the crisis began, he had urged the rebelling priests to accept the papal mandate.

Since the crisis began, the diocese has been severely affected, beginning with the fact that for the past five years there have been no confirmations or ordinations, since both are reserved to the bishop.

Last week, Francis welcomed Onaiyekan, Okpaleke and several other priests and lay people who support the bishop in a Vatican meeting. However, Crux has learned that the side opposing the bishop was invited to select five representatives to take part in the same meeting, but ignored the pope’s invitation.

A letter which circulated via email and WhatsApp and which was sent to Crux, calls the invitation, extended through the papal representative in the country and Onaiyekan, a “‘nuclear assault’ like the one that ended the Second World War.” Written before the meeting with Francis, the letter calls the trip a “Trojan horse ride to Rome,” since at the time they believed the bishop was going to be installed in Ahiara from Rome.

Crux also obtained a draft letter that is being circulated among the priests in Ahiara, addressed to “Most Holy Father Pope Francis,” and titled “Apology.”

Written in a fill-in-the-blanks style, those who chose to use this letter will in fact, express their fidelity to the pope and the Church, apologize for rejecting the episcopal appointment, and promising to accept whomever he decides should be the bishop of Ahiara.

However, each of those who sign this draft version, will also send a warning to Francis: If he were to insist on the same bishop, “I plead in filial confidence and trust that in conscience, I may not willingly work well with him as my bishop in the diocese. Nevertheless, his personal safety in the diocese may be at stake.”

They argue that the scandal surrounding the appointment has created divisions in parishes, diocesan organizations and the presbytery, while “starving the diocese of sacraments for years.”

This, they say, has produced animosity, hatred, grief and tensions “among Catholics and non-Catholics alike.”

Crux has contacted several of the priests and laity who oppose Okpaleke, but attempts to get their reactions to Francis’s request have gone unanswered.

However, a statement signed by Chijike K Ndukwu, who’s been active on several on-line forums on this issue, calls for the pope’s resignation: “I really think that Pope Francis should resign as the successor of St Peter. The reason is that he failed to squarely fit into the position of Peter in this matter.”

Ndukwu writes that they would have a better chance to be heard by the head of the Italian mafia, accuses Francis of scattering the people of the diocese, and calls for the pope to apologize to the diocese as he recently did, in the name of the Church, for the role Catholics had in the Rwandan genocide.

Nwoga, on the other hand, defined the pope’s request as “good news,” welcomed “but long overdue.”

Answering to Crux’s questions via email, he said that this “firm declaration” had been expected three years ago, to help “nip the scandal to the people of God.”

Yet he doesn’t resent the fact that it took so long: “The church being wiser and more experienced preferred to exhaust all the charitable options. We now pray that those led astray during the crisis of disobedience would have a change of heart and return to the Catholic ways of obedience and love for our mother the Church.”

He believes the rebellion began with three priests, who slowly but steadily caused the uproar. As per his recollection, the original response by the diocese to Okpaleke was jubilant. The mood changed at the lobbying of the Association of Diocesan Priests who paid “nocturnal visits” to other priests, to convince them of their cause- having a local priest appointed as bishop.

The fact that Okpaleke is from another region is in keeping with a long-standing Vatican tradition, applied almost exclusively in Africa, to purposely appoint a bishop from another ethnic group or tribe to showcase the universality of the Church. For this reason, some observers believe that one way of solving the issue is to appoint a priest from the region as bishop in another diocese, or as an auxiliary in Ahiara.

It is unclear at this point how many of the estimated 130 priests in the diocese are going to comply with Francis’s request. Nwoga told Crux that some of them have “always been loyal to the Holy Father and his appointee.”

The rest, can be divided between a “small political lobby group of priests who are looking for loopholes in the directive, and determined to continue resisting,” and the majority of the priests in the opposition, who have “been victims of deception from the political group, and made to believe that an indigenous priest would be appointed only if they held out a little longer.”

In this latter group, Nwoga said, “there is progress.”

According to Church law expert Claudia Giampietro, the only similar recent precedent of what is going on in Ahiara happened in Sierra Leone in 2011. On that occasion, Benedict appointed a bishop to the diocese of Makeni, who was rejected for ethnic reasons.

The difference, however, is in that situation Francis didn’t threaten to suspend the priests of the diocese, but entrusted it to an Apostolic Administrator and eventually appointed another person.

Regarding the possibility of the pope going forth with his threat, Giampietro explained that it’s technically possible.

“The Roman Pontiff can suspend a priest a divinis, as he’s the Supreme Legislator and he can ask the priest for an explicit and personal adherence to his disposition in extraordinary cases,” the canon lawyer told Crux.

The suspension, which is a censure intended for the clergy, prohibits the celebration of the sacraments in public, unless it’s to attend to the needs of a faithful in danger of death.

However, Giampietro said, “If the priests defy the suspension and try to have independent authority, they are automatically excommunicated.”



Seven Ways Social Media Has Changed Customer Service


The power of social media cannot be underestimated by any serious brand or organisation especially when it has to do with customer satisfaction and engagement. It has completely changed interaction with customers. So, how has social media revolutionised customer service?

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  1. Public and open interaction with customers

Today, customers can have public and open interaction with any brand whether they have complaints or not. There is nothing that is hidden anymore.

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2. Variety of options

Customers do not need to dial any number to reach customer service. With social media, they now have options to engage businesses. There is Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to help resolve any issues. This is because many organisations now have social media presence.

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3. Ruin a brand’s reputation

If you want to destroy or ruin a brand’s reputation, you should take to social media. You can do this when such an organisation is unresponsive and refuse to take action on your complaints. A tweet will prompt them to act because they want to protect their image.

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4. Take advantage of influencers to build your brand

There are now social media influencers that can help you promote your brand or social media campaign. This can give you more traction and reach.

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5. Provide instant help to customers

This is the ultimate way social media has changed customer service. It has made it easier to provide instant and immediate assistance to customers. It is presently possible for brands to quickly respond to inquiries, questions and complaints.

6. Announce policy changes

News organisations now follow the social media accounts of brands so that they will get firsthand information and announcements. So, no organisation needs to go through newspapers or television to announce policy changes. You can share a post on social media and the media will pick it up.

7. Deal with different customers at the same time

With social media, you can deal with different customers at the same time. This is why social media is a department under Public Relations in some organisations.

Why nobody knows how many Nigerians there are

NIGERIA is Africa’s most populous country, a designation it wears with pride. It had more than 182m citizens in 2015, according to the World Bank, and is poised to have the world’s third-largest population, behind India and China, by 2050. But that figure and the extrapolation are based on Nigeria’s 2006 census, which was probably exaggerated.

Parliamentary seats and central government money are handed out to states based on population, giving politicians an incentive to inflate the numbers. In 2013 the head of the National Population Commission (NPC), Festus Odimegwu, said that neither the 2006 census nor any previous one had been accurate. He resigned soon after (the then-government said he was fired).

Nigerian Senate

Counting Nigerians has caused controversy since the colonial era. The country was stitched together from two British colonies: a largely Christian south and a Muslim-dominated north. In the lead-up to independence in 1960, the British were accused by southerners of manufacturing a majority in the north, which they were thought to favour. In 1962 unofficial census figures showed population increases in some south-eastern areas of as high as 200% in a decade. The full data were never published and northern leaders held a recount, which duly showed they had retained their majority (their region had apparently grown by 84%, rather than the originally estimated 30%). This politicking led to coups, the attempted secession of what was then known as the Eastern Region and a civil war.

The north-south divide has remained salient; there is still an unwritten rule that the presidency should alternate between a northerner and a southerner. Allegations that the north has manipulated its way to a majority continue. The censuses of 1973 and 1991 were annulled. In 2006 arguments flared when 9.4m people were counted in the northern state of Kano, compared with just 9m in Lagos, the commercial capital. The Lagos state government conducted its own, technically illegal, census and came up with 17.5m (probably a vast overestimate). A new national census has been repeatedly delayed. It is now scheduled for 2018, but the NPC’s estimate that it will “gulp” 223bn naira ($708m) may mean the count is put off indefinitely.

Even by other methods, Nigeria’s population has proven tricky to pin down. Africapolis, a French-funded research project, used satellite mapping to estimate the population of towns and cities in 2010. It found several cities, mostly in the north, had hundreds of thousands fewer people than the 2006 census counted. But even those data are not entirely trustworthy: it later transpired that the researchers had underestimated urbanisation in the densely populated Niger delta. Until there is an accurate, impartial census it will be impossible to know just how many Nigerians there really are. That means government policy will not be fully anchored in reality and it will not be possible to send resources where they are most needed.




Enugu, the coal city state, is an industrious state located in the southeastern part of Nigeria. The city name is derived from two Igbo names which when translated mean “hill top”. This was done because of the state’s hilly geography (it indeed has a lot of hills). There are a number of geographic and cultural attractions Enugu has to offer that are unfortunately unknown to a reasonable number of people.

We share 4 attractions you probably had no idea were in Enugu.

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  1. Silicon Hill

America has ‘Silicon Valley’ and Nigeria has a ‘Silicon Hill’. The Silicon Hill is a stunning natural attraction in Enugu state that gives a breath taking view of the state from the hill’s summit. It’s one of Enugu’s major tourist attractions, which sees tourists, fun seekers and even students exploring the site to experience its natural beauty. You may or may not climb to the top of hill, it depends on you. The site also has a lovely background for taking beautiful pictures. It’s located near the Nkpologu campus of the Enugu State University of Science and Technology.

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2. Ngwo Cave and Waterfall

Adventure seekers will very likely have a field day at this interesting natural attraction also located just outside Enugu state. To get to the cave, one would have to go through a cluster of Pine Forests and this is where a tour guide is essential, because the path to the cave is not well defined and one can get lost (but that won’t happen if you can simply get a tour guide). The cave itself is built of solid limestone and offers a stunning view of said limestone and a waterfall dripping from above the cave, which forms a beautiful plunge pool. Lovers of adventure and nature are sure to enjoy this site.

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3. Milken Hills

This is a famous tourist attraction in Enugu state. You should scold yourself if you never knew this attraction existed and was in Enugu state. The attraction is located in Ngwo Vilage of Enugu State. There is a 4.8km long road constructed along the road surrounding the hill which makes it accessible. The hills are great for mountaineering, boasts of stunning panoramic views of the city’s metropolis and is a beautiful natural sight to behold.

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4. Ani Ozalla Lake and Shrine

Nigeria’s very own crocodile habitation. It’s a natural lake located at Ozalla in Nkanu West LGA near Enugu. There’s also a shrine there and it’s believed that the crocodiles there are goddesses who appear from the lake at the command of the chief priest to take offering from supplicants.

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Religious tourists and fun seekers might not particularly find this place appealing, though they can choose to ignore the shrine and enjoy the natural beauty and sights of the lake. It’s a natural lake with numerous crocodiles so be careful to adhere to all your tour guide says and only go to places permitted by your tour guide. Overall, it’s a safe and naturally beautiful site.

Seven Things You Should Never Do This Upcoming Eid


The celebration of the end of the Holy month of Ramadan is drawing near. It is called Eid Al-Fitr. A day where all Muslims troop to the praying ground in different parts of the world including Nigeria to offer prayers. On this day, there are certain things you are not expected to do on the day so that you will get the utmost reward.

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  1. Taking too many Selfies

There is nothing wrong with taking selfies. However, do not overdo it by taking pictures every minute and splashing it on your social media pages. Eid celebrates the end of Ramadan, reflect and ensure you do not return to the bad habits you have dropped.

2. Food bingeing

Granted, you have the tendency to food binge at the end of Ramadan especially in the morning of going to the prayer ground. Just eating Date is enough and then after you return you can eat. In summary, do not over eat.

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3. Appearing dishevelled

You are supposed to wear your best attires on the day of Eid and men are allowed to use perfume. This will reflect the fact that you are celebrating. However, dressing shabbily and looking dirty is not really encouraged.

4. Returning to your bad habits

Some persons are just waiting for the morning of Eid to return to their bad habits. They take and do all sorts of things that are prohibited in Islam. So what is the essence of your abstinence from all these things during Ramadan?

5. Fasting on the day of Eid

You are not allowed to fast on the day of Ramadan. It is highly prohibited and not permissible. If it is just water, you should drink.

6. Sleeping during Eid

Eid is all about celebrating the festival with your family, relatives, and friends. Instead of spending it by sleeping and doing nothing, go out, to visit your relatives and spread the joy of Eid. For those whose family and relatives live quite far away, they can lodge in a hotel where they get an extra 50% off on all hotels with code EIDNG50 if they book on Jumia Travel.

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7. Forgetting to give Zakat al-Fitr

Zakat is a payment made annually under Islamic law on certain kinds of property and used for charitable and religious purposes, one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Zakat al-Fitr is money, food, or similar items given to the poor as a charitable act to celebrate the end of Ramadan. The purpose of the Zakat al-Fitr is to prevent people from begging during the celebration. It must be given on behalf of all Muslims, young and old, male and female. It is also obligatory to give it before the Eid prayer, and not permissible to delay it until after the Eid prayer.

‘Hallelujah Challenge’ – Why Nathaniel Bassey’s online praise session matters for Nigerian music

Imagine a daily 30-minute show by Psquare for an hour on Instagram or Facebook for one month.

Nathaniel Bassey

Nathaniel Bassey

Imagine 50,000 people in a space, singing and screaming their hearts out. They are led by one singer, who is in charge of proceedings. That’s what is happening every night in Nigeria now.

Gospel singer Nathaniel Bassey is killing it. He is doing what no other Nigerian musician has done at his level of success with his trending Hallelujah Challenge.

The Hallelujah Challenge, a 30-day prayer and praise time from 12 am to 1 am throughout the month of June 2017. It is led by Nigerian gospel artiste, Nathaniel Bassey.

It is a live Instagram session where followers tune in to worship God in fellowship. #HallelujahChallenge is currently the most widely circulated praise and worship movement on social media.

In 10 days, it racked up an impressive 32,000 participants who logged in for the one-hour session.

In 10 days, it racked up an impressive 32,000 participants who logged in for the one-hour session.


What started as a speculative and inventive way to utilize social media for praising God via music, has become a growing movement changing the face of worship. Starting off at less than 5k people, the event has grown rapidly. In 10 days, it racked up an impressive 32,000 participants who logged in for the one-hour session.

The Challenge is a mandate from God, and I am just a vessel,” said Nathaniel Bassey, convener of the Session during a Live Brief. “Beyond all the miracles and testimonies, God is doing something eternal – something that will outlive generations.”

On June 11, 2017, the Hallelujah Challenge recorded its highest numbers. Over 50,000 people came together to make it a reality and give Nigeria its largest online praise worship session. That’s outstanding.

And seeing how much people are hyped about it, it can only grow. Popular Nigerian celebrities joined in, as musicians and actors including Funke Akindele, Kcee, Don Jazzy, Chioma Akpotha and many more joined in. D’banj in complete D’banj fashion registered his presence with a comment which read: “Suddenly”.

Popular Nigerian celebrities joined in, as musicians and actors including Funke Akindele, Kcee, Don Jazzy, Chioma Akpotha and many more joined in the Hallelujah Challenge.

Popular Nigerian celebrities joined in, as musicians and actors including Funke Akindele, Kcee, Don Jazzy, Chioma Akpotha and many more joined in the Hallelujah Challenge.


There is a lesson in there for Nigerian musicians. The main attraction here is spirituality. Nigerians are gathering to join an online worship praise session for God. Gospel music is the leading tool here and forms the medium with which the people offer up these praises.

Secular artists can learn from this. They have enough star-power, influence and fan base to make this a thing. Social media continues to provide more tools for endless connections between fans and their idols. These tools are underutilized by mainstream Nigerian artist.

Imagine a daily 30-minute show by Psquare for an hour on Instagram or Facebook for one month. The Okoye twins show up, choose one song from their catalogue, talk about the entire song, sample opinions and get people to comment. If well-organized, the brothers will successfully inject new life into their profile.

It’s simple.

Popular Nigerian celebrities joined in, as musicians and actors including Funke Akindele, Kcee, Don Jazzy, Chioma Akpotha and many more joined in the Hallelujah Challenge.

Popular Nigerian celebrities joined in, as musicians and actors including Funke Akindele, Kcee, Don Jazzy, Chioma Akpotha and many more joined in the Hallelujah Challenge.


With the advent of live streams on social media, the possibilities of fan interaction just got broadened. There’s a spectrum of activities and activations that can happen. Our artists need to employ people to generate inventive ways to utilize them for profit.

What’s next? The first live stream-only mega concert on Facebook?





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The period of Ramadan is a period in which Muslims turn towards their spiritual communities in a time of heightened spirituality. To help deepen your understanding of this spiritual period, we share five things you probably didn’t know about Ramadan.

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  1. Aside Fasting, It’s also a Time for Spiritual Reflection

For many muslims, as much as Ramadan is a period of fasting for them, it’s also a time for deep spiritual reflection and personal growth. It’s not just about fasting. Fasting helps to afford the peace of mind that allows them spiritually reflect and think clearly and rationally without being clouded by overwhelming emotions or distractions. It offers an opportunity to forgive, let go and focus on what’s most important.

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2. Muslims Don’t Only Abstain From Food and Water

During Ramadan, Muslim also abstain from bad habits; they don’t just fast from food and water. The fast is not just about denying the body food and water, it also involves a taxing challenge of avoiding bad behaviours like loss of temper, ill speech etc. The point of this is to demonstrate submission to God and keep the mind ‘focused on a spiritual plane’.

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3. Ramadan is Often Called the “Month of the Qur’an”

Ramadan is often referred to as the month of the Qur’an because during this time, Muslims try to recite as much of the Qur’an as they can. Typically, Mosques will frequently recite a sizeable portion of the Qur’an each night.

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4. Many People Give More to Charity During Ramadan

One of the Five Pillars of Islam is giving money to charity. It is not unusual to see an increase in this practice among Muslims during Ramadan more than any other month of the year.

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5. Muslims Would Appreciate You Not Feeling Bad For Them

Ramadan is not a period of suffering; it’s a period of spiritual reflection and growth for the Muslims. As a result, Muslims typically appreciate if you don’t feel sorry for them, as they are not suffering. Though fasting can make them tired and sleepy, the benefit and value of the season for them is much more satisfying and thrilling.