A seeming high religious tension that has been threatening to erupt in Anambra state over the years may have reached boiling point as Gov Peter Obi’s administration winds down its last bend.
The worrisome situation is more manifest because of the Islamic sect-Boko Haram’s murderous insurgency in parts of the country
which has been threaten peace and cohesive co-existence nationwide.
Records show that the crisis took root from an overbearing influence of the Catholic Church on other religious denominations in the affairs of the state, including the recent hand-over of some schools in the state back to their original owners.
But central to the whole dispute was over the ownership of Bishop Crowther Memorial Primary School, Onitsha which is located beside the Basillica of the Most Holy Trinity, Onitsha.
While similar church-owned schools have since been handed over back, the Obi administration, buoyed by the influence and bravado of his Catholic faith bigwigs in his administration chose not to return the school to the Anglican Church.
The presiding Archbishop of Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province, His Grace Most Rev Val Okeke in a letter ref ABH/365c/232, dated May 26, 2008 to the then Bishop of the Niger Province, Anglican Communion, Ken Sandy Okeke, had while trying to justify their being averse to having Anglicans hold fellowship within the primary school pointed out that against norm for a contrary faith to be sited near a Basilica.
Unfortunately, the Anglicans were the ones who gave the entire Basilica premises to the Catholics in the early days of the arrival of Christianity in Onitsha, a point yet to be controverted. More so when Catholics have to the knowledge of the Obi administration continued to hold services within the premises of various schools in the state.
Crisis however broke out recently when the signboard bearing the Bishop Crowther’s name was pulled down by unknown persons and replaced by another strange name. Also it was discovered that nearly 300 (three hundred) other schools owned by the Anglican Church, other churches or the communities had been handed over to the governor’s Catholic faith. When protests started pouring in, Gov Obi set up a reconciliation committee headed by a distinguished retired Chief Judge of the state, Justice Goodwin Ononiba, a Catholic.
A member of the committee, Mr Nnamdi Udechukwu revealed to reporters that the committee submitted a report without input from other members.
When the secretariat of the Diocese of the Niger Province, Anglican Communion was contacted, the chairman of the Anglican Laity Council Chief Chuba Oranusi said they have taken the matter up with the state government.
Commissioner for Education, Dr Uju Okeke told journalists that she was aware of the Bishop Crowther issue, but was not informed of the latest crisis. She assured that she would immediately bring it to the notice of the governor for action.
She also said she was not in the picture about the statistics of the composition of the state Executive Council under Obi which was put at 68.42% for the Catholics, against 31.58% for the combined Anglicans and others.