From Everest Ezihe, Owerri
Following outcry by some religious group in Imo State over the age-long seizure of schools built by their religious groups,Senator Hope Uzodimma has expressed the willingness of his administration to return some of the mission primary schools to the original owners – the Church.
Governor Uzodimma disclosed this when he received the body of Anglican Bishops of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province led by the Archbishop, His Grace, Most Reverend Bishop David Onuoha in audience at Government House, Owerri
Responding to the Bishops’ request that primary schools be returned to the Anglican Church, the Governor said government is willing to do so but that certain issues such as teachers’ welfare, affordable cost and benefits to the parents and school owners needed to be fine-tuned.
The Governor however said he will soon set-up a joint committee to work on the Bishops proposal noting that the Church and the government have enjoyed many years of mutual relationship, and that as partners in progress his government is ever ready to work with the Church.
Governor Uzodimma said while the Church deploys persuasion to positively impact the society morally, the government on its part relies on policy formulations and implementations to also positively impact the society.
He commended Archbishop Onuoha and his team for coming to visit him, congratulated him on his elevation and leadership style that have endeared him to the Church and humanity and urged him to keep up the good works.
Earlier, the Bishops told the Governor they were at the Government House to inform him that the Anglican Communion, Owerri Province, now has a new boss in the person of Archbishop Onuoha who also doubles as the Bishop of Okigwe South Anglican Diocese.
They said they came to honour the governor in line with biblical injunctions, pray for him and support and encourage him.
They commended the Governor on his approach to executive policies and programmes since assuming office, especially his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic which they said made it possible for the Church in the State to receive palliatives from the government of Imo State.
Archbishop Onuoha reiterated that the Church has always maintained a strong relationship with the government based on their symbiotic responsibility to the society.
On behalf of his brother Bishops, he made a passionate request to the Governor that primary schools originally owned by the Anglican Church be returned to them, saying it will help rebuild the moral decadence in the society.
They commended the governor’s fight against corruption and fraud in the payroll and pensions system in the state, but appealed that efforts be facilitated to conclude the process for the benefit of all.
While reiterating their earlier assurance of continued prayer, support and partnership with the Governor and his administration, they advised him to “always be close to God.”
“Endeavour to rule in righteousness, reign in holiness, and serve God to please the people,” Archbishop Onuoha told the Governor.
The Bishops thereafter presented a symbolic Holy Bible to the Governor.
Ten of the 12 Bishops of the Province were present at the visit.
The Deputy Governor, Prof. Placid Njoku, the Speaker Imo State House of Assembly, Chiji Collins, and other top government officials and lawmakers were present at the event.