After God in Heaven, the next most influential symbol of authority on Earth is Government. Government, through the Judicial Arm, has the Power of Life and Death. That is why Government is not reserved for all comers.
Because of characteristic sensitivity attached to Government, knowing that any faulty communication emanating from it could generate serious consequences, even to the extremity of outbreak of wars, Government, on its own, created what is known as Protocol Department. The Protocol Department Coordinates, Processes and Facilitates Government’s Official Communication.
One of the characteristic features of Government Communication is its refinement. No Official Communication of any responsible Government is ever laced with crudeness or vulgarity. This is why when a new Government is elected, one of the first things that is arranged for it is an Executive Retreat. The Retreat is calibrated in such a way that at the end of it, the yet-to-be-refined rustic nature of the new appointees will be knocked out. Finesse is the attractive beauty of Official Government Communication. It is dexterity that can never be bought at either Ariaria International Market, Aba or Ochanja Market, Onitsha.
Last Sunday, 10th September, 2023, the Anglican Bishop of Aba Diocese, RT Reverend Christian Chiodoadigh Ugwuzor, had, during the third session of the Diocesan 17th Synod, appealed to the Governor of Abia State, Mazi Alexander Otti, to pay adequate infrastructural attention to Aba as the commercial hub of the State. He also urged the the Governor to reconsider his stand on Public Servants dismissed by the Otti Administration. It has to be noted that it is during Synods that a Church Authority could officially express its views on a divergent number of issues bothering the society, to Government. It is a long time tradition that dates back to the early 18th Century AD, through the Church Missionary Society, CMS, Lagos.
Of course, the Bishop is like a father to the depressed and voiceless in the society. What he has done through the 17th Synod is an appeal, which acceptance or not is purely the discretion of the Governor.
Where there is refinement in Government, such an appeal does not even require official response. If a specific Road like Port-Harcourt Road is worked upon by the Government after the request, that becomes a form of Communication. The Bishop and the Church would see and appreciate it. The same thing would apply to the dismissed Public Servants. In such a case, the Governor could take the Bishop by surprise one Sunday to worship in the Church, during which he could jovially inform the Bishop that he has implemented some of the requests he had made at the 17th Synod of the Church. As always, the Bishop would thank him and also pray for him. This does not call for altercations.
No matter what one would think, the Church is a Sacred Institution. That is why no matter what a Priest says on the Pulpit, no Member challenges him.
It was, therefore, sacrilegious for Governor Alexander Otti to have, in an Official Communication in response to the Appeal of the Anglican Bishop of Aba Diocese, to have captioned his response as an ‘Attack By The Bishop Because He Refused To Reinstate His Daughter’.
What type of reckless childishness is this from a State Governor? Assuming, without conceding, that the Bishop had ever made such a request or, even, requests, is it dignifying of a Man of such status to come as low as to this infantile Outburst? This is unexpected, undignifyiny and unacceptable.
An insult to the Clergy by a Governor is an avoidable yet self-destructive insult to the entire Christendom. It is a very costly mistake capable of hunting and hurting him for a very long term to come. An experienced image maker conversant with sensibilities of Government Protocol, like former erudite Chief Press Secretary, Godwin Adindu, could not have allowed the Governor to be misled into this type of murky ditch. As the late Yoruba sage, Adegoke Adelabu, would have loved to describe this situation, it is a ‘Penkelemesi’ that only time will unveil the gravity of its consequences. This is more so, when it is also believed that the Governor accords no iota of respect to the Catholic Bishop of Aba Diocese, His Lordship, Bishop Augustine Ndubueze Echema. Certainly, the Governor needs some re-orientation and psyco-sociological behavioural amendments.
Having said so, I do not think the Anglican Diocese of Aba should waste its precious time replying to tantrums by officials who have unfortunately proved themselves as toddlers, on this Appeal.
Sir Don Ubani is a former Commissioner for Information and Strategy in Abia State and writes from Asa.