By John Austin Unachukwu
Plateau State Governor Simon Lalong has commended the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja and the outgoing Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Jos, Archbishop Ignatius Ayua Kaigama
He described Archbishop Kaigama as a thorough-bred spiritual leader who has discharged his pastoral duties with excellence, compassion and passion.
He added that the cleric was also interested in unifying all faiths and fostering reconciliation among people of different affiliations.
Lalong said: “We can remember vividly the role you played in facilitating the enactment of the legislation to outlaw same-sex marriage in Nigeria despite the enormous pressure and blackmail mounted by some Western Governments using aid as a bait. The same energy you exerted against disproportionate emphasis on contraception is still fresh in our minds.
“On this, we in Plateau State can testify that we have tasted your compassion and confirm your genuine efforts to foster peace and build understanding among people of different religions, tribes and political persuasions.
“For the many years that our State was embroiled in widespread conflict that caused so much havoc, God used you in many ways towards halting the situation and reconciling people to the point that today, we have substantial peace in Plateau.”
He recalled the cleric’s “great work as the Founder of the Dialogue, Reconciliation, and Peace Centre as well as the Chairman of the Plateau State Inter-Religious Council for Peace and Harmony which you started with the late Emir of Wase, Alhaji Haruna Abdullahi. The sacrifices of your years of toiling and perseverance have saved lives and rebuilt shattered hopes among many of our people.
“On the national stage, the Archbishop’s interreligious work as a founding member of Nigeria’s Interfaith Activity and Partnership for Peace has facilitated the creation of a credible and trusted platform for dialogue between people of different faiths as well as stemming tension between Christians and Muslims.”
According to him, “Archbishop Kaigama has been fearless in standing up for the truth and for the Christian Faith in all the assignments he has been given either as President of the Nigerian Bishops Conference; President of the Episcopal Conference of West African Catholic Bishops or the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria.
“These are just some of the few things we can mention that have endeared you to our hearts in Plateau State as you have consistently prayed for us and led the Catholic Faithful with dignity and the fear of God.
“All through our dark days, you never rested on your oars as a spiritual father whose mission is primarily to teach and preach the gospel, bring people to God and above all encourage people to love to one another.
“For me personally as Governor of Plateau State, you have been the shoulder to lean on when it seems there is no solution to very serious challenges. You have not only given me and my Administration a listening ear, but also prayed for me and given me Godly counsel. I am very grateful Your Grace.
“That is why I said earlier that this is a day of mixed feelings because if wishes were horses, we would appeal to the Vatican to allow you stay longer with us on the Plateau. But we cannot change the calling of God in your life and all we can do is to pray for you that you will achieve greater things than you did while with us here.
“Your Grace, you have re-enforced in my heart an indelible virtue that will stay with me forever, which is to treat people with dignity and fairness irrespective of their differences. This you have told me severally including during my Election Victory Thanksgiving Service at COCIN Headquarters Church where you told me that my victory was not for one religion, denomination or tribe.
“This counsel has guided me thus far and has largely helped in the attainment of the peace we are enjoying today. My assurance to you and all is that I will not depart from this path as we continue to pursue our Rescue Agenda for Plateau State” Lalong stated.