SPEECHES AT THE INTER-FAITH FAREWELL BANQUET IN HONOUR OF ARCHBISHOP IGNATIUS A. KAIGAMA
Speeches at the inter-faith farewell banquet in honour of Archbishop Ignatius A. Kaigama, by the Executive Governor of Plateau State, Rt. Honourable Dr. Simon Bako Lalong.
ADDRESS BY RT. HON. (DR) SIMON BAKO LALONG, EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF PLATEAU STATE. GOVERNMENT HOUSE LITTLE RAYFIELD, JOS, 27TH NOVEMBER, 2019.
2. May I begin by appreciating God Almighty and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ for this opportunity to address you at this very significant event that evokes mixed feelings.
3. I say mixed feelings because it is a moment for celebration and at the same time a moment for painful goodbye to a man who is a father, friend, peace builder, reconciliator and above all God’s servant.
4. We are gathered here this day to bid farewell to His Grace, Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama who has been in Plateau State shepherding God’s people in the Catholic Church for the past 19 years.
5. Your Grace, from the day His Holiness, Pope John Paul II appointed you as the Archbishop of Jos Archdiocese, you never looked back and indeed you buried yourself among the people of Plateau State, serving not only the Catholic Church, but all denominations and other faiths.
6. In the period spanning 19 years, one can safely say you have seen it all. This is more so when we add your years of journey to priesthood at the St. Augustine’s Seminary here in Jos. By all standards, you are Plateau and Plateau is you. We give God all the glory.
7. Your Grace, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, like many people in Plateau State and elsewhere, I was not surprised when the Holy Father, Pope Francis appointed you as the Coadjutor Archbishop of Abuja Archdiocese. We believed then as we still do today, that it was through the leading of the Holy Spirit.
8. In the many decades of tending to the Lord’s flock in the various appointments, Archbishop Kaigama has discharged his pastoral duties with excellence, compassion and passion. Indeed he has demonstrated the fact that he is a thorough-bread spiritual leader that is always interested in unifying all faiths and fostering reconciliation among people of different affliations.
9. 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 religious, tribes and political persuasions.
10. 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.
11. We recall the great work you have been doing 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.
12. On the national stage, the Archbishop’s work as a founding member of Nigeria’s interfaith Activity & 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.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. 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.
16. 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.
17. 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.
18. 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.
19. We are deeply sure that while in Abuja, you use every privilege and opportunity to speak for Plateau State when the need arises. The work you have started here especially regarding peace and reconciliation will not die, rather, it will receive greater impetus.
20. In our human frailty, we believe the experiences Your Grace has gathered over the years would equip you for the task ahead, and it is our earnest prayer that your next destination in the service of God will be somewhere higher than where you are heading to.
21. 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.
22. 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.
23. I will like to use this opportunity to thank all spiritual fathers on the Plateau for their continued prayers and support to our administration. We are indeed grateful and will not let you down.
24. Finally, let me appeal to our spiritual fathers across all religions to exercise great restrain in using the pulpit for politics and attack on government. Because of the huge responsibility you carry as God’s representatives, there are many ways you can reach government with observations, suggestions or criticisms without necessarily sounding inciting or misleading.
25. Our doors are always open to receive constructive criticisms and we remain ready to explain our decisions and seek counsel on various issues, as well as make adjustments where we see reason.
26. Let’s continue to work together in building a better Plateau for this generation and the next. We must at all times THINK PLATEAU AND ACT PLATEAU.
27. I thank you for your attention and God bless you.
Rt. Hon. (Dr) Simon Bako Lalong
Executive Governor Plateau State and
Chairman, Northern Governors Forum.
27th November, 2019.
JAMA’ATU NASRIL ISLAM
Plateau State Headquarters
Address: No 90/11 Mallam Yusuf Street, P. O. Box 3319 or 927, Plateau State, Nigeria.
In the Name of Allah the entirely Merciful and especially Merciful.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I adopt the protocol that has already been established.
I stand here before you with mixed feelings to say my farewell/goodwill message for a rare gem and an icon; His Grace, Most Reverend Dr. Ignatius Kaigama, the outgoing Archbishop of Jos Archdiocese. The entire people of Plateau State will forever remember you for the role you played well in restoring peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims in our State.
You have redefined the way religious leaders perceived peace and unity; you have replaced the word “Disharmony” with “unity and love”. You have selflessly mentored many interfaith and religious leaders, and with your large and open heart; you have set a solid foundation of communal/interreligious harmony for the future generation yet unborn.
The Jama’atu Nasril Islam as well as all the good people of Plateau State appreciate all efforts you put in to have a peaceful and harmonious Plateau State.
As they say; life is dynamic and change is constant in every work of life, we are certain that you will enlighten minds about religious tolerance and harmony wherever you go next.
We know that you are going to light up lives wherever you go.
We will miss your magnanimous personality.
We pray that progress, success and fame will follow you wherever you go and wish you success in all your future endeavors.
Wassalamu Alaikum Warahmatullah
HRH Alh. (Dr) Muhammadu Sambo Haruna FITD,
Emir of Wase.
REV DR. SOJA BEWARANG’S GOODWILL MESSAGE AT THE INTER-FAITH BANQUET ORGANIZED BY THE PLATEAU STATE GOVERNMENT IN HONOR OF HIS GRACE, MOST REV. DR. IGNATIUS A. KAIGAMA ON WEDNESDAY, 27th NOVEMBER, 2019
1) Greetings on behalf of CAN and the entire Christian Faithful in Plateau State in the words of;
Isaiah 32:16-18 Justice will dwell in the desert and righteousness live in the fertile field. The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.
2) Apologies from some Church leaders who are unavoidably absent. ECWA President is in Germany, COCIN President at a Conference in Lagos and Archbishop Benjamin Kwashi just drove in and has visitor to host.
3) We congratulate His Excellency, Governor Barr. Dr Simon Bako Lalong for a successful hosting of his colleagues and presentation of the 2020 budget. May the Lord provide the resources to enable achieve your desired developmental and social services to Plateau people.
4) We thank His Excellency for organizing this well-deserved Banquet in honor of His Grace, Most Rev Dr. Ignatius A. Kaigama, the outgoing Archbishop of Jos Archdiocese. When Governor peace and Archbishop peace meet certainly there will be hope, development, co-existence and peace.
5) Time will not or rather the organizers of this get together will not allow me enough time to say much on the faithful and sincere commitment of His Grace to the church and successive governments of Plateau.
6) Since from the time of Dariye, His Grace has been a stabilizing peace builder. He has since 2001 build a strong bridge of peace for Plateau people to cross over and co exists.
a) One sentence to summarize Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama is that: He is a godly, conscientious man and an icon of peace.
b) Within the Church, he is committed to the unity of the Church irrespective of denominational realities. He frowns at divisive tendencies that may tear the church apart, or pitch one denomination against the other.
c) His interest in the people and successive governments of Plateau State is demonstrated in the way he has partnered with other Church and Muslim leaders to provide well informed and sound advice to the State Governors and Presidents of Nigeria since the commencement of the democratic experience on trial since May 1999 to date.
d) Archbishop Kaigama is bold to speak truth to power, he is not afraid to declare the truth in his interactions and contributions in meetings. He does so without offending others through maturity and wisdom. As a person I have valued his contribution greatly.
e) Through the Dialogue Reconciliation and Peace Centre (DREP) he has demonstrated by modelling what Inter-faith Dialogue is all about. His hosting numerous peace meetings to promote peaceful co-existence among different faiths and ethnic nationalities on the Plateau will remain one among his enduring legacies as the Catholic Archbishop of Jos Archdiocese.
7) CAN Plateau would have been without a Secretariat were it not because of his efforts.
8) As he will be installed 5th Dec. 2019, CAN and the entire Church in Plateau wish him God’s divine guidance, wisdom, blessings and His presence as he moves on to serve as the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja and who knows beyond Abuja to Rome.
Abuja is not very far and since your successor has not emerged, we are still together. As you will eventually leave, may you establish a Centre for Dialogue, Reconciliation and Peace at a National Level for National peace in our country and beyond.
The Lord will go with you in Jesus name. Amen.
Rev Dr. Soja Bewarang,
CAN Chairman, Plateau State.
GOODWILL MESSAGE ON THE OCCASION OF THE STATE BANQUET ORGANIZED FOR HIS GRACE ARCHBISHOP IGNATIUS KAIGAMA BY THE PLATEAU STATE GOVERNMENT ON WEDNESDAY 27th NOV 2019 BY REV FR. BLAISE AGWOM (DIRECTOR) DREP CENTRE, JOS
Your Excellency, the Executive Governor of Plateau State and your spouse,
Your Excellency, the Deputy Governor of Plateau State,
Your Grace, the Archbishop of Abuja and Apostolic Administrator of Jos Archdiocese,
the Speaker of the Plateau State House of Assembly.
Please, for want of time, permit me to stand on the protocol already established.
I stand here in humility on behalf of the governing/advisory board, management, staff and indeed all stakeholders of the Dialogue, Reconciliation and Peace (DREP) Centre, namely, our respected community and religious leaders, to express our deep gratitude and appreciation to His Grace, Most Rev. Ignatius Ayau Kaigama for his selflessness, generosity and love for the people of Plateau.
From the day you took charge as the metropolitan of Jos, you had a very clear vision and mission along site your primary responsibilities as a priest. It was to guide, reconcile and unite the people of Plateau. You went round the whole state preaching the message of peace, through dialogue and reconciliation to our people. This you did with consistency and precision for almost two decades.
You have compiled your state-wide interventions into a book titled, “Peace, not War”, for information and reference purposes.
You concretized your love for humanity, unity and for peaceful coexistence by single-handedly securing a vast land and constructing a beautiful peace Centre and donated it to the citizens of Plateau State as a gift.
The Centre provides a very quiet, serene and peaceful environment where people can meet for dialogue and mediation. A place where broken hearts are healed and relationships are mended.
Under your fatherly guidance, our respected religious and traditional leaders have been meeting there every three months to interment in conflict situations and for dialogue meetings aimed at supporting government in her effort to make Plateau a peaceful and a united state.
Though well deserved, the news of your transfer to the FCT came to us as a shock and we already feel like orphans without your fatherly presence, direction and support. We are however strengthened by the strong bond created by our consistent collaboration and the assurances of the deep love you have for DREP and for Plateau. We hope you will not turn your back on us, and we pray that you will continue to extend your generous support to DREP, your brain-child, so that the Centre will succeed in achieving her set goals and objectives.
Your Grace, we are indeed grateful to you.
I wish to also express the appreciation of DREP to our humble, gentle and peace-loving governor, Rt Hon. Barr. Simon Bako Lalong, for this wonderful initiative of organizing a state banquet for a well deserved ambassador and icon of peace. That was very thoughtful of you. As collaborators, we wish to appreciate you for your effort and initiatives as a government towards the promotion of peace and reconciliation amongst the citizens of our dear state. Your peaceful disposition as a person, is a great incentive to peace.
I wish to use this medium Mr Governor, to share with you the impression of some expatriates about you, when they met you for the first time. This happened on the 2nd of April, 2019, the day I led a delegation of some visitors from the United Kingdom, Mr Geoff O’Donoghur, and Mr Attallah Fitscollen, both project directors of the Islamic Relief Worldwide and the United Kingdom’s Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, to pay you a courtesy visit in your office here in the new government house. After the visit, we went back to DREP Centre for debriefing and they said to me and I quote: “Fr, you have a very peaceful governor. The moment he entered to receive us, we saw an aura of peace and serenity around him. He must be a very peaceful and humble man.” Mr Governor, I am sharing this with you so that you will know that people see what you are doing and they appreciate you. I am saying this so as to encourage you to continue in that spirit.
Finally Mr Governor, I will end with a humble request to Your Excellency. This request is not new to you because we have discussed it with you and even your subordinates times without number. The Archbishop himself has discussed it with you too. It is about the road to DREP Centre.
The condition of that road has been affecting our activities negatively. His Excellency the Deputy Governor is here and he can testify to that fact. There was a day he was coming to represent you at a function organized by DREP and a truck got stocked in the middle of the road, blocking everybody from using the road including His Excellency. They had to drive him round through Rayfield Resort before he could reach the Centre. Many of our visitors couldn’t reach the Centre and they turned back in frustration and that affected the activity for that day.
There was a day also, when we received a visit from the U.S. Ambassador, and he said to me, “Fr, you have got a very beautiful place here but the road leading to this place is a potential source of conflict.” And I said to him “Your Excellency, Mr Ambassador, the road is already an existential source of conflict.” This is because often times our visitors quarrel with tricycle drivers when they see the condition of the road. It’s either they double the fares, or they turn back half way. Our visitors are left with no option than to complete the journey on foot or turn back.
Since His Grace has made such a huge sacrifice for the people of Plateau, may I humbly plead with you to complement the generosity of the Archbishop by declaring a state of emergency on that road and also include it in your priority list of projects for urgent execution. It may also not be out of place to extend the street lights to the Centre.
Your Excellency, the SGS, Professor Danladi Atu is a Senior Researcher and consultant at the Centre, he can furnish you with all the information you need about the Centre.
So, on behalf of the Chairman of the Advisory Board, Engr Paul Gunat and his vice, the Galadiman Wase, Alhaji Mustapha Umar Galadadima who are both here present, I wish to thank the Archbishop for almost two decades of collaboration, his fatherly care and support. You have a heart of gold.
Indeed, THE DREP FAMILY WILL MISS YOU.
Have a beautiful evening.
Rev Fr. Blaise Agwom,
Director, DREP Centre.