In Nigeria, ethical questions about the renovation of a church

The Anglican Church of Nigeria has been caught up as a bit player in what might be evidence of government corruption, or might be an instance of a public spirited Italian construction firm doing its host country a good turn. (We aggregate. You decide. Or not.)

The Vanguard reports:

PRIMATE of All Nigeria (Anglican Communion), the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, Sunday challenged critics of President Goodluck Jonathan over the renovation of Otuoke Anglican Church by Ghitto Construction Company to remove the log in their eyes first before looking for the specks in another person’s, warning them to stop making provocative remarks. ….

He said: “It is not an issue, that church, I can renovate it myself, it was already built and the renovation of church can be done by either Ghitto or anybody; people are looking for problem where there is none. The President doesn’t have to have a friend to renovate that church, since if anybody volunteered to do it, those people will receive blessing from God.

“Those who are pointing to the renovation of the church, let them search their midst, there are logs in their eyes, not the speck in somebody’s eye.”

But writing for The Nation, Bolade Omanijo says:

Contrary to what the President, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Primate of the Anglican Church would have us believe, there is more to this donation than meets the eye. There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that it was offered as a lubricant to the federal government. Or, can the Minister of Works turn down a bid from the contractor that made such a big donation to the President by subterfuge?

The most disappointing of all the responses is that explanation by The Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh, Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion). I thank God that I am an Anglican and no one could therefore accuse me of being irreverent or being contemptuous of the church leadership. I hold the church leaders in high esteem. I respect the Primate and the process that brought him to that exalted seat. I have watched from afar his humility and the way he has been unobtrusive in the course of duty. He might not have sounded as passionate as his great predecessors, The Most Revds Abiodun Adetiloye and Peter Akinola; he might not have been as vocal on national and international issues that have cropped up in recent times, but he is as deserving of respect as they were ( and still are).

I felt very disappointed that the Bishop of Enugu, the Right Revd. Emmanuel Chukwuma who said he was speaking for the Primate, literally told those who had queried the donation to keep quiet. He, by that act, took up the responsibility of defending the President in the matter. Was he privy to the negotiations? Is he in position to understand the motives of the contractor?

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