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I am Igbo by DNA – Bishop T.D Jakes

The Leader



Renowned American preacher, Bishop T.D Jakes of the Potter’s House, has said that his ancestors are Igbo, from South-East of Nigeria. He said the DNA study he conducted with few other famous black American reviews that several of his friends too where from Nigeria; spread across the ethnic regions.

The bishop disclosed this in an exclusive interview with the BBC Igbo.

Speaking at the interview Bishop Jakes said:

“Mine was traced back to West Africa, to Nigeria and particularly Igbo. My ancestors were Igbos. It’s indescribable. It gives something that we the African-Americans don’t have, which is roots.

“It gave me an understanding of my roots. It was interesting to see how similar my personality is to how Igbo people are described. They’re described as hardworking, industrious and innovative.

“They have strong business acumen. I deeply relate to that. It explained to me; it’s odd that I was never born there, yet, see so many traces. I’ve always had strong business acumen.

“I’ve been aggressive in business. Although I’ve been known for the faith aspect, I have several companies and I’ve owned my own resources. My children all started studying ancestry about Igbos, and even more about Africa. I’ll like to reconnect with our brothers and sisters over there.

“When I’m in Nigeria, I eat fufu and jollof rice. I have those kinds of experience. I’ve had more than I can name. I go to Accra in Ghana and Lagos quite often.

“What I know about the food is that it’s almost always hot and spicy. I ate it before but the food over there is so hot it makes your head sweat. And I like it.

“One of the tragedies of the slave trade is not just that we were taken from our home, culture, people, and food. We lost our history. African-American history is taught over here from boat landings.

“And we assumed a name that does not define us. Jakes is a German name that only signified who owned my ancestors. To reach beyond the boats in chains to touch a soil where I’m from…

“To understand that my ancestors were something before they were a slave is extremely gratifying. It really confirms why I have such fascination about the continent of Africa.”

Get more information from the BBC Igbo Interview with Bishop T.D Jakes on the video here.


People-oriented Constitution, way out of Nigeria’s political delimma – Political Analyst

The Leader News Online



People-oriented Constitution, way out of Nigeria's political delimma - Political Analyst

In the recent months, there have been a lot of criticisms against the continued dependence on the military-fashioned 1999 Constitution, which most Nigerians have come to regard as the major challenge to efforts to move the country forward.

They believe that Constitution, a product of the myopic and selfish interests of the powers that be in that era, lack foresight and proper understanding of the multi-ethnic and multi religious diversities of our people.

A Political Analyst, Dr. Moses Ajeka, who spoke recently to The Leader in Owerri over that flawed constitution, insists that until this anti- people’s Document is jettisoned, “we would continue to get it wrong in terms of political participation of the masses”. 

The analyst, who holds a PhD in Political Science and also a security expert, having retired from the public service with the rank of superintendent of police, blamed the present Constitution for the turmoil, crisis, and other forms of insecurity plaguing the nation.

“It is time for a political re-thinking if our nation is to move forward economically and politically. We can no longer do without a new constitution. This is the time to usher in a very powerful constitution where everybody, no matter from which part of the country he/she hails from, will be an active participant in the socio-political and economic scheme of things.

Dr. Ajeka queried: “Is Nigeria the same today as it was before or soon after Independence or even during the post war years? The world is changing, life is dynamic and change is the only thing permanent in nature. How do you expect such an oriented constitution as the one we are operating to remain relevant till today?”

He regretted how some sections of the country are treated as chaff, as if they don’t belong or have anything good about them. The political scientist recalled how for many decades, major tribes like Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba, dominated the leadership of the country in all sectors. Such exclusive governance, he said cannot continue in the present time. What about the Tivs, Igalas, Kanuris, Ibibios, Itsekiris? A new constitution will ensure that adequate recognition is given to all these as it will get them well represented in the scheme of things. 

Dr. Ajeka condemned the ill-treatment given to retirees by various state governments who fail to pay their pensions and gratuities as and when due but politicize and rather use endless verifications exercises as a delay tactics.

“A situation where a person who has served his nation for 35 years or more cannot afford food to eat or medications for his health in old age is simply in human,” he said.

The security expert also blamed the state of insecurity which has so tarnished the image of Nigeria, mainly on youth unemployment. What is the population of youths and how many of them are able to earn a living? Dr. Ajeka who attributed all of this to bad governance called on government to take advantage of the abundant fertile land in Nigeria, which is so favourable to agriculture to sponsor mechanized agriculture. In addition to providing jobs for youths and boosting foreign exchange earnings, it will also put an end to insecurity. Our industrial sector can be accelerated if only the political class stops their nepotism and operate policies that would encourage economic growth.   

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The Leader News Online




“St. Valentine Preached And Championed True Love”

Rev. Fr. Dr. Cosmos Edochie
(A Canonist and member Archdiocesan Tribunal)

The Leader: Fr, Sunday is feast of St. Valentine, can you let us know more about his person, what he did and what he stood for.

Fr. Edochie: We are talking about St. Valentine. He was a human being like every one of us, but he chose to become a priest. On February 14, around the year 270 A.D., Valentine, a holy priest in Rome in the days of Emperor Claudius II, was executed. Under the rule of Claudius the Cruel, Rome was involved in many unpopular and bloody campaigns. The emperor had to maintain a strong army, but was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join his military leagues. Claudius believed that Roman men were unwilling to join the army because of their strong attachment to their wives and families.

To get rid of the problem, Claudius banned all marriages and engagements in Rome. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the Decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. Valentine was arrested and dragged before the Prefect of Rome, who condemned him to be beaten to death with clubs and to have his head cut off. The sentence was carried out on February 14, on or about the year 270.

The Leader: Fr, in a morally perverse society like ours, where youths engage in sexual immorality every 14th February in the name of celebrating Lovers Day, what do you say to youths?

Fr. Edochie: St. Valentine was opposed to immoral lifestyle and upheld chastity of life to the fullest as against what we have today where youths engage in sexual escapades and fantasies in the name of love. St. Valentine preached and championed true love and not immoral love, which today is popularly called “Lovers Day”.

The Leader: Fr, how do you see the feast and its celebration in our clime?
Fr. Edochie: In our clime and time today, we have really misconstrued St. Valentine’s intension and what he did and see it as an opportunity to mess around and desecrate our bodies which is the temple of the Holy Spirit (Cf. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20), and there are consequences for desecrating our bodies (the temple of the Holy Spirit), “If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple (Cf. 1 Corinthians 3:17).

The Leader: As a priest what do you advice the youths on their mundane approach towards the celebration of the feast of St. Valentine?

Fr. Edochie: As priests, everyday and particularly on feasts of St. Valentine, it is my point of call and duty to tell the youths who abuse this day the intension of St. valentine. He frowned against living in immorality, opposed it and gave his life for it, and that is the supreme sacrifice which Christ talked about; “Greater love has no one than this: for a man to lay down his life for his friends (Cf. John 15:13). So Valentine’s Day is not a day of immorality, but a day to show agape love typical of John 13: 34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. The bible says, “God is love” (Cf. 1 John 4:7). If God is love can God live in immorality? So anyone living in immorality is contradicting the commandments of God.

Can you celebrate God in immorality? The answer is NO! Youths should learn and understand that love is different from infatuation, marriage is a union, contract and a covenant and before youths venture into it, they should strive to know and understand each other very well and not love at first sight. Away from that, youths who have the culture of engaging in sexual immorality on this day and always, St. Valentine also calls on them to stay away, he also calls on married couples to live and respect marriage chastity and be faithful to their partners. Lastly, all and sundry should keep salvation in mind, which will help them live holy lives, because without holiness of life no eyes shall see God (Cf. Hebrews 12:14).

“Feast of St. Valentine is not a day for sexual fantasies and escapades”

Barr. Sir. Paul C. Onumajulu Jnr. (KSJI)
(Owerri based legal practitioner and human rights defender)

The Leader: What do know about the celebration of the feast of St. Valentine?

Barr. P.C. Onumajulu: To your question about the celebration of St. Valentine otherwise called “Lovers Day”, I will take it from the perspective of a married man. I have been married for the past eight years precisely on 28 September 2013 to Dr. Mrs. Chikodili Onumajulu. It is important that the parties to any marriage love themselves, but there is more to marriage than love, you must have dedication. You must have respect, you must have commitment and responsibility, it is not enough to love your wife or your wife to love you. But there is a limit to what love can endure and eventually turn to frustration.

The Leader: What role does forgiveness play in marriages and relationships?

Barr. P.C. Onumajulu: Forgiveness is very necessary in love, as well as tolerance. Marriage is a union of two different people coming from different orientations and backgrounds. Where there is love and understanding, you don’t need to wait for there to be forgiveness. In other words, to forestall the event that will bring about asking for forgiveness, you must tolerate, because once you tolerate you won’t count wrongs anymore. Don’t forget for there to be forgiveness, there must be a sin. For you not to be counting wrongs, you must therefore learn to live and tolerate the inefficiency and inadequacies of your spouse. In my eight years of marriage, I have never raised my hand on my wife, any day I do that, that is the end of the matter. So one must always be guided.

The Leader: Generally among youths what does the feast of St. Valentine connote?

Barr. P. C Onumajulu: Again I say, the feast of St. Valentine gives this connotation of immorality among youths, regrettably the feast of St. Valentine has over decades been misconstrued for a day of sexual escapades among youths, when they lodge in hotels, they invite women (even among married men and women) which is very wrong. There is joy and gain in waiting for sex till you get married. I have better understanding now as a married man compared to my mindset as a bachelor. Love is not sexual fantasies and escapades. While I admit that youthful exuberance is behind this, but it is not the best. It is important we start from our families to tell our children who St. Valentine was, what he stood and died for, so that when they grow, this wrong notion and misconstruing of the feast of St. Valentine (Lovers Day) as a day for immorality and sexual escapades must have been drastically reduced.

“Everyday Should Be 14th February- And True Love Is Sacrifice”

Miss Uche Aluka (Staff Assumpta ICTDS)
The Leader: When you hear about feast of St. Valentine and its appendage Lovers Day what comes to your mind?

Miss Uche Aluka: For me, true love is sacrifice just like St. Valentine did. He gave his 3Ts, (Time Talent and Treasure) for the sanctity and sacredness of marital union. Basically, he did it for those whom he knew can’t reward him in any way. He did that because he had love in him and by so doing loved them. So I am of the opinion that everyday should be February 14 and that love, is a sacrifice.

The Leader: Do you have any disappointment on the way youths celebrate the Day?

Miss. Uche Aluka: It is actually disappointing that we have lost the real sense and meaning of what we celebrate every 14th of February, and in the bid of such frivolities many of our youths and young people waste their lives, it’s unfortunate.

The Leader: Uche, what is your advice to your fellow youths?

Miss. Uche Aluka: My advice to youths is that they should be careful the way they celebrate the feast bearing in mind that corona virus is in town. They should cut down their expectations and unholy desires for nothing is worth dying for except the word of God. In a normal sense, everyday should be February 14, because we are called to love everyday and I mean agape love both singles and married. St. Valentine died protecting the love of married couple. So sad our youths have refused to learn, understand and adhere to this.

“Marriage Is A Union Of Not Only Two Lovers But Also Of Two Good Forgivers”

Engr. Christopher Chukwuka Ezeji (Chukas)

The Leader: Sir, what do you know about St. Valentine?

Engr. Christopher: St. Valentine was killed for protecting the love and sanctity of married couples. In itself, love is a very holistic word, but sad enough in our own time it has been subjected to various forms of abuse. For us to understand what love is we must draw it from God who is love himself and out of love he created us. The manifestation of his love for us was proven beyond doubt when he sent his only begotten son to die for us while we are still sinners whereas, some translations will say while we are still his enemies that St. Valentine tried to replicate God’s kind of love by giving-up his life in the course of upholding the sacredness of Christian marriage

The Leader: What is expected of married couples during the Feast?

Engr. Christopher: This is the kind of love married couples are expected to carry on in their matrimonial homes. Just as God did not spear his only son but sacrificed him for our sake, couples must therefore learn to make sacrifices as a manifestation of the love they have for each other which goes beyond mere words, and feelings. When we learn to do so, it becomes a way of life for us.

The Leader: Sir, in a morally perverse society like ours, where youths engage in sexual immorality every 14th February in the name of celebrating Lovers Day, what do you have for them?

Engr. Christopher: In many forum and fora, I have always told youths that sex which they christened fun (fornication) is morally wrong. As a Christian and a catholic who grew up just as they are growing up in this same perverse society where immorality is in conflict with civilization, I do tell them that sex is worth waiting for, because when you get in to marriage you will understand that there are more to marital obligations than the conception of sex. There are things that matter most in life not sex of which our youths out of ignorance and uninformed opinions celebrate and indulge in on every 14th February. They should focus on what the future holds for them in a country where the leaders have no plan for them, come to think of it, after sex what’s next?

The Leader: Furthermore, concerning priorities, again what do you say to the youths?

Engr. Christopher: As a way forward and to save the future, like myself, every couple should make their children their friends, open up to them, educate them on the virtues and the moral teachings of the church, by so doing we will secure a better future that will not be morally perverse like the present generation.

The Leader: How much and how well do you understand the love of God on us?

Engr. Christopher: The love and relation of God towards us is something akin to a child’s play. For instance, whenever we sin and are ready to approach the confessional for the sacrament of reconciliation, God in the person of the priest (Alter Christus) is already seated waiting for us to return and be accepted. Even when we leave the confessional promising not to sin again, God in his wisdom knows we will come back and he is ever willing to forgive us even when he is aware of what we have planned to do and how we intend to do them. This beyond what words could fathom is the proof of his love for us. From this we should be able to borrow a leaf for the love he dispenses and show same to others.

The Leader: As a married man, what is marriage?

Engr. Christopher: Marriage is a union of not only two lovers but also of two good forgivers. One who is not ready to forgive should not venture into marriage, because you are dealing with a human being and human beings err. Just as God forgives us when we repent of whatever sins we may have committed, in the same way you should be ready and willing to forgive your partner even before he or she wrongs you. This is the only way it works, if you are not a good forgiver, then don’t venture into marriage.

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How we revived Assumpta Press/The Leader after Biafran war – Msgr. Theo Nwalo (First Nigerian Editor)

The Leader News Online



How we revived Assumpta Press/The Leader after Biafran war - Msgr. Theo Nwalo (First Nigerian Editor)

It was an informal meeting. Our Associate Editor, Emeka Ani, had accompanied Rev. Fr. Alex Okoro to thank Rt. Rev. Msgr. Theophilus Nwalo for a favour he (Msgr. Nwalo) did to him which contributed to his being a Catholic priest. During the interactive session at Holy Trinity Parish Oru, Ahiara, where Msgr. Nwalo is in residence, the 82 – year – old priest narrated his experience during and after the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970) and his encounter with Assumpta Press, Publisher of THE LEADER Newspaper.

It was at this point that our Associate Editor requested him to throw more light on his role to revive Assumpta Press/The Leader after the war. As if he was waiting for the question, he “sprang up” from his seat, in a manner that belied his age, went to his room and handed to me a document titled. “My Encounter with Assumpta Media,” by Rt. Rev. Msgr. Theophilus Akujobi Nwalo.

We publish below excerpts from the 92 – page document. It makes for interesting reading.


One day in June 1971, Bishop Mark Unegbu convened a meeting of the Owerri diocesan presbyterium. I attended the meeting from the Holy Ghost Scholasticate, Awomamma, where Okpala Junior Seminary was in temporary exile. As was his wont, every item on the agenda of any meeting was “sub secreto” — a secret that would be sprung at you. As a result no one had any opportunity to prepare in advance to make as much contribution as he could if things were otherwise.

On the next item at the meeting, he announced his intention to immediately revive THE LEADER newspaper. It must be edited by one of us priests. He called for flomination. Immediately Fr Benedict Agumanu rose up with his nomination: “I nominate Fr. Nwalo as the editor”. There was chorus of approval. Another nomination? There was none.
It was a shock for me, and I rose and offered plausible reasons to extricate myself from the job and for them to look for a better alternative.

My objections and reasons for non acceptance were flatly rejected. Said Bishop Unegbu: “your brothers have spoken”. When later I met him privately, he calmed my fears and told me he would bring in an experienced journalist who would show me the ropes.

Staff of Assumpta Press Owerri during a send-off ceremony in 1965

Later someone asked why the priests found me an overwhelming favourite as a potential editor of THE LEADER. The response was to dig into my past. Though I never contributed articles in any of the seminary magazines (junior or senior), I felt that they were watching my track records. Even in my elementary school days, my teachers were so confident in me that they assigned me to mark the attendance register of my class, mark (assess) my fellow pupils’ exercises/ homework and keep other pertinent records. All through my Minor Seminary days, I was secretary to all the societies (associations) I was involved in, including the LEGION OF MARY. This also became my hallmark in Bigard Memorial Seminary.

After my ordination, my fellow priests insisted on an encore, and immediately elected me as secretary to our Owerri diocesan Priests association, a post I held till the end of the war in 1970. Additionally, I was the Secretary to the Diocesan Administrator, Msgr. Ignatius Okoroanyanwu who piloted the affairs of the diocese till Sept. 1970 when Bishop M. 0. Unegbu took over. And I held that post for a while under bishop Unegbu before returning to my primary assignment — the seminary. This is most probably why no one opposed the editorship burden imposed on me.

Grappling with Tough Situations
Now as editor, I have to move in uncharted waters. With what do I begin? How do I move reasonably ahead? As recorded elsewhere, I was no stranger to Assumpta Press (Printer of THE LEADER). As the war approached Owerri by August 1968, Assumpta Press was evacuated in haste. What were left behind were destroyed or burnt by the Nigerian soldiers who eventually occupied the Assumpta Cathedral complex.

The Assumpta Printing press employees soon re-assembled after the war, wishing to get back into business by urging we re-start/revive the press no matter how skeletal the operation. In their zeal, they scoured the printing press area in search of moveable types that were scattered by the invading Nigerian soldiers. It was like looking for a pin in a hay stack. Very painstaking though the exercise, it yielded a modicum results as some types were recovered, just enough to start some skeletal printing jobs. The Administrator, Msgr. Okoroanyanwu encouraged the priests to bring their printing needs (Sacrament cards etc) to Assumpta printing press. The painful rehabilitation of the press continued slowly but steadily.

Meanwhile, the parish priest of St. Gregory Amaigbo, Fr. Jude Thaddeus Ezeji (late Msgr. J. T. Ezeji of Ahiara) brought an alarming report to the Diocesan Administrator, Msgr. Ignatius Okoroanyanwu to the effect that we were in danger of losing our printing press equipment. The Hidelberg flat bed printing machines and other press materials that were hurriedly evacuated to Amaigbo before the fall of Owerri in 1968 were being cannibalized by some criminal elements in the area.

The only safety guarantee was to repatriate them to Owerri. We quickly engaged the services of R.T. Briscoe Company, Aba for the repatriation exercise. I was part of the team that lifted the machinery from Amaigbo and reinstalled them at Assumpta. It was a two-day operation. I took charge of the second day operation, having carefully observed the procedure from the company. It was quite laborious and delicate exercise: loading, transporting and unloading such heavy and delicate machinery. Thanks to God. The whole exercises were successful.

With the return of those machines, we were challenged to step up the rehabilitation of the press, though the return of THE LEADER was not yet in the front burner. This was the situation of Assumpta Press at the interim of Msgr. Okoroanyanwu’s nine-month administration till the arrival of Bishop Mark O. Unegbu as the bishop of Owerri diocese (Sept. 1970).

On arrival, Bishop Unegbu quickly set things in motion to reenergize the then “fastest growing diocese in west Africa”. He set his eyes on the completion of the Carmelite Monastery (at Owerri) the first in West Africa; the completion of Assumpta Cathedral (the symbol of the people’s faith); the re-energizing of the Assumpta Press and its off-spring: THE LEADER. It must be noted that there were then three noted catholic presses and publications in the country: viz the Claveranium press at Ibadan (publisher of INDEPENDENCE newspaper); St. Theresa’s press Calabar (publisher of CATHOLIC LIFE monthly magazine) and Assumpta press (publisher of THE LEADER). Of all these, THE LEADER was pre-eminent.

Incidentally, THE LEADER was the oniy one based in the then East Central State of the country: the area that was the major theatre of the war. After the war (January 1970) despite the so-called “No Victor, no Vanquished” declaration of General Gowon, this devastated area of the country continued to be area of contention (Political, territorial, educational, economic, and even spiritual).

With the then Administrator of the East Central State, Mr. Ukpabi Asika, a stooge of the conquering forces, the tilt was heavily in favour of the conquering forces. Ukpabi Asika was riding roughshod over the people still lying prone from the effect of the Nigeria! Biafra war. He used the state’s media (Renaissance Newspaper, and Radio) to his advantage. He lambasted the Church (especially Catholic Church) at every turn. He openly sponsored those with ideologies antithetical to Catholic! Christian morality.

In the school system, his arrogant Commissioner of Education, (the infamous Mr. Offiah Nwali) ensured that he made nonsense of moral and educational principles and their gains from the Catholic Church (despite the fact that he would have been wallowing in ignorance but for the special sacrifice the Church made to bring him up). For him it was a virtuous act to bite the finger that fed him. The Churches were robbed of their schools and the new government school systems paid lip service to religious/moral instruction of the children. The situation, I believe, informed Bishop Unegbu on the great and immediate need to revive THE LADER.

Before the expulsion of the missionaries at the end of the war (Jan. 1970), THE LEADER did not venture out in secular news publication, except some occasional column of World News in Brief. Given the post war realities, I felt that THE LEADER should break out of that mold. If done, it would not only stand up for the Truth and good guidance of the people, it would also gain wider readership circle. And so, I plunged into it and events proved me right. The editorials which I wrote at my first and second tenure as the editor are a good indication of the problems we handled at the period.

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