The Archbishop AJV Obinna of the Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri on Sunday, February 18, 2018, took a swipe at Governor Rochas Okorocha in his 2018 Lenten message to the Catholic faithful, lamenting the incessant demolition of markets and people’s properties by the Okorocha government, even as he said that Governor Okorocha is inflicting pain and suffering on the people of Imo State.
The Archbishop also cried out againat what he said was anti people policies of the government, praying God to console the people in the face of biting hardship and poverty in the state.
In his letter which was read in all the Catholic parishes and stations in the Archdiocese and recieved with emotions from worshippers, the Archbishop said it was due to the demolition of the Ekeukwu Owerri by the state government in August 2017 and the dislocation of the traders that he did not conduct his annual new year Mass with the traders at the market, noting that the demolition denied the people the opportunity to partake in the Eucharistic blessing they usually get from the Mass.
He further prayer God to console those whose shops and means of livelihood were destroyed by the government.
He said: “My heart also goes out to persons and communities whose landed properties have been forcefully taken over, as well as those in the allied services whose jobs have been adversely affected. I also think of our workers, retirees and pensioners whose wages and entitlements are unjustly slashed, delayed or not paid at all. I equally remember all those who are inconvenienced by the dispossessions, dislocations and demolition inflicted upon you all.”
The Archbishop also condemned some actions of the state government that did not factor in any consideration for the people for the people whose businesses have been dislocated and property destroyed, to cushion the effects of the government’s action.
He called on the faithful to use the Lenten period to pray to God for consolation, assuring that God would hear their prayers, adding that God is always ready to attend to his own people in the tine of need.
“As we begin this year’s Lenten season, I exhort all of you to take heart and not to despair in the face of these sufferings. Our over-caring heavenly Father never abandons us, for He is ‘our strength, our health in weakness and our comfort in sorrow’ … For those who trust Him, everything works unto good… As in the first reading and responsorial psalm of today’s Mass for the first Sunday of Lent, let us renew and hold firm to our covenant with God who promises to redeem us from our misery and hardship.
“My dear people of God, people of Imo State, I wish to reassure you that my priests and I share your agony and groans and will continue to pray for you and to assist you in whatever way we can. Take heart, it shall be well; God has not abandoned you. Begin afresh, and our all-knowing Father will restore you and will bless the work of your hands”, he said.
He also charged all Christians to bear the current suffering with equanimity, reminding them of Jesus Christ who died on the cross.