By Ifeoma Ezenyilimba
The Justice Development Peace and (Caritas) Commission (JDPC), Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province, on Sunday, March 1, flagged off the 2020 Annual Lenten Campaign, at St Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral, Awka, with the theme: ”Democracy and Good Governance in Nigeria: The Desired Change”.
The Lenten Campaign which was a national programme of the Caritas and JDPC Nigeria, was held simultaneously in all the Catholic Provinces and Catholic archdiocese/dioceses of Nigeria.
Leading in the concelebrated Holy Mass for the flag off, in Awka, the Chancellor of Awka Diocese, Very Rev Fr Francis Chidume, said the JDPC was a very important Commission in the life of the Church. Rev Fr Chidume, who represented the Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev Paulinus Ezeokafor, urged all to support the JDPC in her mission of charity in society. He noted that the Commission was in dire need of support to its charity projects that cut across hospitals, correctional centres, schools and even for the displaced in society.
The Catholic Diocese of Awka, through the chancellor, donated in support of the JDPC, Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province charity projects.
In his homily, the Chairman of JDPC, Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province and Director, JDPC, Catholic Archdiocese of Onitsha, Rev Fr Dr Edwin Udoye, decried what he described as the pitiable retrogressive state of Nigeria due to bad governance.
He charged the government to rise up to its responsibility of good governance and security of life and property, and political parties to have good ideologies that would promote Nigeria. This was even as the homilist charged the citizens to do their part, checkmate their representatives and the government in power, for that desired quality representation and better Nigeria.
Rev Fr Udoye, who based his reflections on the theme of the Lenten Campaign, identified poor health system, high rate of unemployment, spate of killings, endemic corruption, insecurity and poor quality of education as some of the negative influences which he said had negated governance, as well as hindered positive change in Nigeria.
The homilist insisted that election should be free and fair, and winners should be determined by votes cast in polling units, and not in courts where the highest bidders were often declared the winners. Fr Udoye advised the electorate against giving in to the tricks of vote-buying politicians, who he described as criminals that would, if they made it to elective positions, steal the money meant for public development.
The JDPC Provincial Chairman charged the electorate to live up to their after election responsibilities of checkmating the governors, chairmen and political representatives through regular interface and town hall meetings, as well as asking questions about constituency and state projects at all levels.
Recalling the Aba Women’s Riot of 1929 which brought about positive change, Fr Udoye charged the citizens to rise up and protest against bad governance so as to bring about the desired positive change in Nigeria. He observed that when good democratic system of government, proper governance, good politicians and effective judiciary system with the right personnel were in place, positive change would be achievable.
Speaking to Fides, the Director of JDPC, Catholic Diocese of Awka, Rev Fr Simon Anigbogu, urged all the faithful of the diocese to participate actively in the JDPC Week that would hold in all the Catholic parishes. Fr Anigbogu, enjoined all to obtain and make good use of the 2020 Lenten Guide which, he said, treated extensively the theme of the campaign.