By Ifeanyi Olannye
The House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) is set to elect a new Primate for the Church, two senior bishops confirmed to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Asaba.
Rt. Rev. Justus Mogekwu, the Anglican Bishop of Asaba, told NAN the tenure of the current Primate, Most Rev Nicholas Okoh, would end by March 2020.
According to him, Okoh was elected Primate of the Church in September 2009 and presented in March 2010.
He said under the Constitution of the Church, a successor Primate would emerge at least six months before the expiration of the tenure of the incumbent.
Mogekwu, whose Diocese is hosting a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Church, hinted that the Episcopal Synod of the Church would likely meet on the margin of the meeting to take a decision on the matter.
“We are hoping that the election of a new primate will take place during this meeting and the exact date we are not sure yet but most likely Thursday.
“Nobody applies for this position (Primate) but nominations are done prayerfully though you cannot rule out persuasions.
“But the point is that we pray about it.
“I think the most important quality is that such a person must be evangelical and committed to the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“We also have this problem of the new move in the Anglican World – ‘Gays.’
“We cannot accept that. So, whoever is going to be Primate must be ready to affirm our stand according to the Bible standard without looking left or right,” he said.
The cleric explained that the Standing Committee is the highest decision making organ of the Church and convenes twice a year.
Also speaking on the issue, the Rt. Rev. Gbenga Babatunji, Bishop of Osun Diocese, said the ‘big news’ that could emerge at the end of the meeting at St Peters Cathedral Church, Asaba would be the election of the 5th Primate for the Church.
“The Standing Committee works for the Church of Nigeria and comprises House of bishops, clergy and House of Laity.
“It works for the General Synod, it is in charge of the administration and the running of the Church of Nigeria.
“There are other matters that will come up in the meeting and I also guess that this meeting may elect the next Primate.
“If a new Primate emerges, then that will be the big news from this meeting, though it has not been announced.”
NAN reports that a highpoint of the gathering of Anglicans in the capital of Delta was the consecration of six new bishops and presentation of a new Archbishop of the Province of the Niger on Tuesday.
The new bishops are: Foluso Taiwo for the Diocese of Oke-Osun, Gbenga Babatunji for the Diocese of Osun, Geoffrey Ibeabuchi for the Diocese of Umuahia, Seyi Pirisola for the Diocese on the Coast, Benjamin Okeke for Orlu Diocese and Ndubuisi Obi for Nnewi Diocese.
While Bishop Alex Ibezim of the Diocese of Awka was presented as the new Archbishop of the Ecclesiastical Province of the Niger
NAN also reports that the Primate, Nicholas Okoh presided over the consecration ceremony which marks the beginning of a week long activity as the members of the committee arrived Monday.
Mogekwu, while congratulating the new bishops cautioned that coming into the bishop fold was a call to duty and a battle field.
“Every ordained man of God should know that it is a warfare and that there is a battle to be fought.
“They must not look for personal comfort or gratification because there are lots of temptations that you must face as a bishop. They must live a life of self denial,” he said.