A Catholic priest, Fr. Hycinth Iroma Alia, in Gboko Diocese Benue State, is warming up to be the gubernatorial candidate of APC in 2023.
His campaign is strong and the priest is now a partisan politician that will raise 20 million Naira to purchase a form . He will need another estimated 500 million to one billion naira for effective electoral campaign. He will visit and bow down to kings, Sheiks, Imans and influential personalities in Benue state. He will strike deals on sharing of power among the power brokers. And if he wins, he will seat down and begin to sign contracts , make appointments and who knows, make compromises so that he will not be impeached.
A priest, Benard Okoli tried this in the past and it did not end well with him. He was the first indigenous Catholic priest of Amichi in Anambra state. He believed so much in cultural revival and wanted to take the highest NZE NA OZO title in his town. He will be inducted into the group as a red cap chief that will wear red cap with feathers in public, a rope on his leg, a fan made of cow skin on his right hand and an elephant tusk on his left hand. The man who was the leader of the group was his uncle, UMEAKUNNE. He told the priest point blank that he will never allow him to join them . He reminded him that he was at his ordination ceremony where Archbishop (now Cardinal) Francis Arinze told them to always remind the priest not to stain their white clothes by joining any group that will belittle or destroy the priesthood which is a divine vocation. His pleadings fell on deaf ears. His uncle stepped aside for his deputy to initiate Fr Benard into the Nze na Ozo group. Two years later, Fr Benard left both the priesthood, Catholic church and Christianity and joined African Traditional religion.
Historically, priests were elected to public offices before the canonical ban was set in place by Pope John Paul II in 1980. Canon law says “clerics are forbidden to assume public offices which entail a participation in the exercise of civil power” (Canon 285.3). Furthermore, “clerics are not to have an active role in political parties and in the direction of labor unions unless the need to protect the rights of the Church to promote the common good requires it in the judgment of the competent ecclesiastical authority” (Canon 287.2).
On 17th December 2018,
Nigeria’s Catholic Bishops directed priests and people of consecrated life not to be involved in active partisan politics nor publicly support any politician or political party, as this is against the Church’s teaching, Canon Law, and policy.
I really don’t know who is advising the priest . Can’t he see a lay Catholic to support and mentor to be a governor? What if the Muslims bring out an Islamic Sheikh to challenge him?
I will advice Rev Fr Hyacinth Alia of Gboko Catholic Diocese in Nigeria suspend his political journey to be the governor of Benue State and face his priesthood. He can’t eat his cake and have it. A lot of garbage will be thrown at him and the church during campaign which will stain his priestly garments as the uncle of former Fr Benard Okoli rightfully predicted.