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Power and job creation require urgent attention Msgr. John Aniagwu

We Bank on God – Rev Fr. Anthony Eboh 26-28»



...turning lives to Christ

Child trafficking: Modern slavery monster The Power of the Miraculous Medal Getting hired when you are over age 40

Please, accept Okpaleke – Catholic bishops plead with Ahiara Clergy, Laity

Vol. 1 No.104, 2015


Vol. 2 No.104, 2015


Publisher/Editor-in-Chief Njoku Remigius Chukwuemeka 08023165432; 07080129333 Editorial Advisers Robert Ogbuagu Anikwe Isaac Okorafor Stanley Egbochukwu Chinedu Anamelechi Prince Cookey Onyekachi Nwosu Barnabas Eke Consulting Editor Emma Anyagwa Graphics/Designs Kelechi Okoro-Emmanuels Marketing Reginald Onwuchuruba 08033672751 Andrew Kelechi Njoku

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Online Editor Owotoke Bamidele Francis Contributors Mark Oguh Chidi Nduka Ajah Msnr (Dr) John Asuqor Aniagwu Msgr Francis Ogunmodede Rev Fr Innocent Ikazobor Opogah Rev. Fr. Anthony Mario Ozelle Rev. Fr Anthony Nwosu Rev Fr Anthony Eboh Rev Fr Iuvenis Iheme Rev Fr. Bournaventure Ashibi Rev. Fr Kingsley Idaewor Rev Fr Michael Afrifa Rev Fr Melvis Mayaki Rev Fr Samuel Umana Rev Fr Kenneth Eze Rev Fr Benedict Okolo Rev Fr. Nicholas Ibeneme Valentine Agwulonu Romanus Egbulefu Denis Marie Okechukwu Nwobu

Getting hired when you are over age 40 PAGE 14-15»

Making Customer Service Your Business Strategy in 2015

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We Bank on God

– Rev Fr. Anthony Eboh

PAGE 26-28»

...turning lives to Christ

©Copyright all rights reserved

Published by Economic News Associates Ltd Suite B2, Glory Shopping Complex, 229 Ikotun- Idimu Road, Council Bus Stop Idimu, Lagos, Nigeria. Phone: 07080129333 e-mail: info@nigeriancatholicreporter. com Website: nigeriancatholicreporter.com

Vatican Roundup PAGE 16-17»

Pope confirms 48 prelates as voting members of October synod

The Power of the Miraculous Medal: The story and the Testimony PAGE 34 Foods that are killing you PAGE 36 Nigerian Catholic Reporter


Vol. 2 No.104, 2015

Editorial Suit

Welcome to year 2015.

T Remi Emeka Njoku

he year 2015 has been predicted to be a difficult year. The reasons for this negative prediction are not far-fetched. International oil price has dropped to below $50/barrel. Oil is the main driver of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). GDP measures the size of the economy. The revenue base of the Nation is highly skewed towards oil revenue. Little wonder then that the current southward trend in international oil prices is impacting negatively on the economy. A downturn in the economy definitely affects general consumption and purchasing power. This will impact aggregate demand. Therefore, businesses will normally witness slowdown in sales and profitability in a period of recession like this. In this edition, you will find Mark Oguh, a Fellow of Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and a Financial

Nigeria is ranked as one of the poorest countries of the world. Its poverty coupled with a high rate of unemployment, massive devaluation of the local currency, civil and political unrest, are some major internal factors responsible for a high rate of migration, which paves the way for human trafficking.

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Management Expert’s report on keys to attracting and retaining quality customers in and out of recession. In this edition also, we present you with a cover choice on the phenomenon of human trafficking, particularly in Nigeria, which has, in recent years assumed alarming proportions and hence receives unprecedented global attention. Although, there is a lack of accurate data, it is reported that in West and Central Africa, over 200,000 children are trafficked annually, while in West Africa alone, an estimated 35,000 women and children are trafficked every year for commercial sexual exploitation. Nigeria is ranked as one of the poorest countries of the world. Its poverty coupled with a high rate of unemployment, massive devaluation of the local currency, civil and political unrest, are some major internal factors responsible for a high rate of migration, which paves the way for human trafficking. Within Africa, Nigeria is the largest single source of trafficked young girls to Europe and Middle East. A recent survey reveals that the country is responsible for more cases of trafficking of teenagers into Europe for forced prostitution than any other African country. Our regular features, interviews and columns will impress you to no end. We thank you all our readers for your patronage in 2014 and wish you a prosperous 2015.


Vol. 2 No.104, 2015


Baby sales is a sin to humanity

hank you Nigerian Catholic Reporter for this revealing story published in your last edition. This a fast business that is going on unnoticed all around us. What Nigerians should understand is that nobody is against formal adoption of motherless babies. But it is a sin against God and humanity breeding babies like cheeks for sale. Worst still is the commercial use of ignorant young girls as breeders. This concerns all of us because it our children that are being exploited in this unholy business. It could be any body’s daughter. We read in the newspapers recently how soldiers from 144 Battalion, Asa, in Ukwa West Local Government Area of Abia State rescued 14 pregnant teenagers and eight children from a motherless babies’ home at Umunk-

peyi Nvosi in Isiala Ngwa South Local Government Area. Also arrested by the soldiers, according to news reports, were six young men, who claimed to be staff of the home, and two girls, aged 16 and 25 while the proprietress of the home, Mrs. Nma Charity, was said to be at large. It was gathered that Mrs. Charity who claimed to be running a government-approved home, engages in child trafficking and hiring of men who impregnates the teenage girls. Sources told newsmen that on delivery, each girl got N20,000, while their babies were sold for between N80,000 and N150,000 for females and males, respectively. One of the suspects, who was caught at Eke-Akpara in Osisioma Ngwa Local Government Area, while trying to steal a baby, confessed that he had been in the business with Mrs. Charity for a long period, stating that his role

May God grant success to the work of your hands


laud the efforts you are making to help promote the Catholic faith especially within the Archdiocese of Lagos. May God reward you accordingly. I believe the Parish Priests will be ready to support your initiative as appropriate. Kindly engage them in discussion of the areas you wish to ask for collaboration.


As you contribute towards the growth of the Church and the work of evangelization, may God grant success to the work of your hands. With every good wish and prayers. Yours Faithfully, Alfred Adewale Martins Archbishop of Lagos.

was to steal a child and deliver it to her, who in turn sold it to her customers. The report further stated that acting on the confession of the suspect, the Commanding Officer 144 Battalion, Lt. Col. Omolori Rasheed, ordered his men to raid the home where about 14 pregnant teenagers and six young men were arrested, while the proprietress of the home was away at the time of the raid. Breeding babies for sale could be happening in our communities, around our homes, and around our offices. Let us all be vigilant and report all suspects to the police or the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and Other Related Matters (NAPTIP).

Dr Ben Obumneme Abuja.

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ad’’ ve ‘’b le lea ad people le peop b ood’’ politics, ood peop g ‘’ Whenle to play s which g peop ake law will mobey must 40-43» PAGE

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Vol. 2 No.104, 2015

The Question

Should the West take on Nigeria’s terrorists?


Bishop Oliver Doeme, Catholic Bishop of Maiduguri Diocese


“The situation is very dangerous and very disturbing, because once they capture Maiduguri…then you can be sure that all of the areas around will easily fall to them. ...military intervention, not diplomatic, is needed, because we are dealing with a group that has lost all rationality and kills people at will… whether they are Christians or Muslims, they kill them indiscriminately, ...dialogue cannot happen in such cir-

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“The West should bring in security – land forces to contain and beat back Boko Haram. A concerted military campaign is needed. Most of the territories in the Diocese of Maiduguri are now controlled by Boko Haram. The group has destroyed 50 Churches, and many more churches have been deserted. Of the diocese’s 46 priests, 20 have been displaced, many to the neighboring Yola diocese. The January 7 razing of Baga revealed the Nigerian military’s ineptitude. Senior officers who failed to do their job properly should be sacked

cumstances. When we lack political unity, religious unity, ethnic unity, then it is easier for Boko Haram to penetrate and achieve the kind of negative results they are achieving ...the solidarity seen in France after the attack on Charlie Hebdo, which killed 17, is what is needed in Nigeria. ...To go beyond politics, beyond our narrow religious confines, beyond our narrow ethnic groups and really uphold the common good and speak out against evil, against terrorism, against inhumanity and be together as one people. This is what we desire now”.

as a lesson to the others. Among the soldiers, there were sympathizers with Boko Haram – some of them were even Boko Haram members and many of them just ran away. The threat we face presents a very bleak future for the Church. Many of our members are scattered and others have been killed. In some areas there are no Christians any more. But the Church belongs to Christ. The Church will remain strong and many of our people have returned after their land has been taken back by the Nigerian soldiers. The most important thing is to pray for our people. I know people are praying for us and I am very grateful. I want people to pray the Hail Mary. Our mother Mary has been championing our cause. We have a lot of devotion to the Blessed Virgin”.

Ignatius Kaigama, Archbishop of Jos and President of the Nigerian Catholic Bishops’ Conference

Vol. 2 No.104, 2015


The month of February Though the shortest month of the year, February is rich in Liturgical activities, for it typically begins in one Liturgical Season (Ordinary Time), ends in another (Lent), and contains the Feast of Presentation (February2) that bridges two other seasons (Christmas and Easter). The small Christ-child is still in His Mother’s arms, but already she is offering Him in Sacrifice. The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord recalls the Christmas’ mystery of Light except that now, the baby Jesus is “the light of Revelation to the Gentiles who will save his people from their sins.” Candles, symbolizing Christ our Light, will be carried in procession this day, as will be the Paschal candle during the Easter Vigil Liturgy. As the month progresses, the Liturgical colour changes to purple signaling our entrance into the penitential Season of Lent. By accepting the cross of blessed ashes on Ash Wednesday (February. 18), we plunge ourselves into the spiritual exercises of Lent – Fasting, Prayer, Almsgiving, Penance and Mortification – laying our thoughts and prayers on the heart of Mother Mary. She who offered her Son in the Temple and on the Cross, will teach us how to deny ourselves, take up our Cross daily, and follow after Jesus, her Son.

Sterling qualities Knights must possess – Fr. Ibeneme Humility, mercy, honour, sacrifice, courage and generosity have been listed among qualities a Knight must possess. Rev. Fr. Nicholas Ibeneme (CM), first priest member of the Order of Knight of Columbus in Nigeria made this revelation while delivering the keynote address at the Order’s Feast Day celebration in Lagos, recently. The other qualities he listed are hope, faith, justice and self-control. “Each of these concepts is important in itself, and every one of these virtues is an admirable quality, but when all of them blend together in one person, we discover the value, and power, of chivalry today. Modern-day knights should strive to keep these virtues alive in their own hearts, but, perhaps more importantly, they should work to bring these wonderful qualities out in the people they see every day — at home, in the office, at school or on the street corner,” he stressed.

New Administrator for Shedam Diocese Following the passing away of Most Rev James Daman OSA, the Catholic Bishop of Shedam, Rev Fr Raymond Gofut has been elected as the new administrator for the Diocese. The election of Gofut, a priest of Shedam diocese, was done by the members of the College of Consultors of the diocese in line with the prescriptions of the Canon Law.



Live above the unhealthy signs of times, Archbishop Adewale Martins tells Laity at AGM By Romanus N. Egbulefu


he Lagos Archdiocesan Laity Council held her 16th Annual General Meeting (AGM) with the Theme “Religious Corruption and the Gospel Values:The Catholic Church Perspective” on Saturday 17th January, 2015 hosted by Isolo Deanery at St John Catholic Church, Igando, Lagos. The pontifical Mass was celebrated by the Archbishop Metropolitan See of Lagos: His Grace Most Reverend (Dr) Alfred Adewale Martins, DD with a good number of other Catholic priests in attendance. The Archbishop during his homily expressed joy to celebrate the second AGM Mass since he assumed office as the Chief shepherd of the archdiocese on 4th August, 2012 and wished the meeting fruitful deliberations. The keynote address was delivered on behalf of the Archbishop by Very Reverend Father Matthew Ogunyase – Dean, Isolo Deanery. Commenting on the theme of the AGM, he said that it was very significant at this transition period hence the need to ensure that everybody live above the detrimental signs of times so as to support the decorum of the Holy Mother Church in whose evangelical mission the congregation has been called to participate in. He lamented that the Nigerian society was a multi-religious society accommodating diverse forms of faith. That the Christian denomination is so divided that care needed to be taken in order not to fall prey to the dishonesty of false preachers. He described the Laity as the foot soldiers of the universal Church; that the clergy look up to the lay people to ensure that their preparedness to answer the call to service was a readiness to bear witness to the light of Christ in our world. Very Reverend Father Matthew Ogunyase representing the archbishop further said that he believed that in the midst of so many religious organizations that exist in Nigeria, many people still seek the authentic message of the Gospel.

Nigerian Catholic Reporter


Vol. 2 No.104, 2015

By Romanus Egbulefu


atholic Men Organization of Nigeria (CMON) has called on all political aspirants to do away with foul language, not to see election as do-or-die affair and charged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a free and credible election at the forth - coming elections in the country. CMON also appealed to Nigerians to obtain their Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) to ensure they perform their civic duties and elect credible leaders. This was made know at a press briefing organized by CMON at St. Agnes Catholic Church, Maryland, Lagos, recently. According to the National President of CMON, Dr. Adedeji Adebajo, “All we are appealing for is for INEC to conduct a proper election. In other parts of the world, conducting elections is an easy affair but in Nigeria, it has been taken as a do-or-die affair, which it should not be. We are appealing to our politicians not to make theirs do-or-die. Someone must win and someone must lose and we must be able to accept defeat and congratulate whosoever wins”. “We also appeal to politicians to please respect the peace agreement. We pray they make their electioneering campaigns non-violent, civil as we do not want to have any more foul language filling the air. Our politicians and their representatives should show maturity, respect themselves as individuals and personalities because it is not good for our psyche and our politics,” he said. The National President also

Do Away with Foul Languages - CMON Urges Political Aspirants

L-R: Jimmy Abegunde (KSM), President, Ijebu Ode Diocesan CMON; Dr Basil Adedeji Adebajo, National President CMON; and Mr. Calistus Okechukwu Orjinta, Provincial President, CMON, during the CMON Press Conference in Lagos, recently. stressed the need for Nigerians to obtain their Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) which he described as the citizen’s power to decide who rules the country, while also enjoining Nigerians to “look, listen and properly appraise aspirants before voting”. “We do not want anybody to be biase and that is why the Catholic Church will not dictate or impose candidates for members but we want equity, justice and good governance.

We can only tell our people to look, listen and make wise judgments and be able to select the right man to do the right job.” he said. Dr. Adedeji Adebajo who regretted that over 1.5 million Nigerians have been turned into refugees in the country charged the Federal Government to do everything necessary to end the Boko Haram insurgence and nationwide strikes in the health and judiciary sectors.

Knights of Columbus in membership drive


atholics faithful have been invited to join the Knight of Columbus. President of the of the Order, Sir Benjamin Opia made the call at the celebration of 2014 Feast Day of the order at Christ the King Catholic Church, Akowonjo, Lagos. According to Sir Opia, memberships is open to Catholic faithful who are married according to the Catholic faith and are communicants; do not

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belong to any secret cult and transacts a genuine business for living. “Knight of Columbus is a Catholic family fraternal and beneficial Order founded in 1882 by Venerable Michael MC Givney, an American priest whose cause for sainthood is being processed,” Sir Opia explained. “The main work of Knight of Columbus which was first established in Lagos Archdiocese at Christ the King Catholic Church, Akowonjo, the

home of the Vincentians, “is service to one and service to all,” with the main focus as faith, community fellowship, youth, family and respect for life,” he went further to explain. He enjoined interested Catholics to call 08035314002 for information or check the Order’s website www.knightofcolumbus.com.ng. Meetings hold at De Paul School, No. 60 Igbonedion Street, CKC, Akowonjo, Lagos.

Vol. 2 No.104, 2015



Why 2015 elections must be successful By Msgr Gabriel Osu


he prayer that should be on the lips of every patriotic Nigerian these days is that the forthcoming national election must be successful. This is important because the signals in the air are not very heart warming. There is so much tension in the air. Political violence has taken the centre stage as the campaign trains of the various parties continue to coast across the country canvassing for electoral votes. We must pray because some ungodly elements are bent at truncating our democracy at all costs. We need to be vigilant because while millions of God’s children are burning prayer candles for the peaceful outcome of the forthcoming election, the children of darkness are plotting day and night how to draw back the hands of the clock. Only recently, a day after the president visited Maiduguri on campaign, the Boko Haram members unleashed mayhem on the hapless citizens of the state, sending many to the great beyond. And now there is so much confusion whether election should hold in that part of the country, including

Adamawa, Gombe and Yobe State where the people have been turned into refugees or not. We must pray because at this time and age, thousands of our brothers and sisters have fled to Cameroon, Chad and Niger to take refuge. Surely, we need divine invocation now, than ever before. So much is at stake for us this February. Just close your eyes for a minute and imagine the country, the biggest black nation, in crisis. God forbid! The whole of West Africa and indeed Africa as a whole would literary be shut down. Imagine Nigerians flowing from Lagos into Benin, Togo and Ghana to seek refuge. The attendant catastrophe would indeed be catastrophic. It is better imagined. May that not be our portion! Only recently, and mindful of the need to shun violence, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev Dr. Alfred Adewale Martins cautioned politicians to desist from indulging in violence, and disruption of lives and property, saying that such unruly conduct, if not checkmated, was capable of truncating the forthcoming election. He described the reported violence in several parts of the country is unfortunate and misguided, adding

that such retrogressive acts of aggression leading to loss of innocent lives and properties does not augur well for democracy. “I feel very pained to hear and read of the several cases of violence recorded in parts of the country allegedly perpetuated by some supporters of the leading political parties. A situation whereby campaign vehicles of opposing parties are set ablaze, to the extent of causing bodily harm on others is unacceptable and barbaric. Violence would never get us anywhere. And so I call on the leaders of the various political parties to call their men to order to forestall an imminent breakdown of law and order.” The US Secretary of State, John Kerry equally re-echoed this fact in his recent visit to the country to meet with leaders of the political parties. This visit is quite instructive considering that some few years ago, there were rumours that the US had predicted the breakdown of the country in 2015. Now is the moment of decision. Perhaps Kerry’s visit should further serve as warning and a wake-up call to all of us, the politicians inclusive, that this house called Nigeria must not fail. This should remain our prayer.

Nigerian Catholic Reporter


Vol. 2 No.104, 2015

Please, accept Okpaleke

– Catholic bishops plead with Ahiara Clergy, Laity The Leader News Online


he Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Owerri Ecclesiastical Province, rose from her meeting in Owerri, January 21, with another passionate appeal to priests and lay faithful of the Diocese of Ahiara, to accept Bishop Peter Okpaleke. In an emotion laden statement issued at the end of their meeting, the bishops said: “Given that it is the prerogative of the Pope to freely appoint Bishops (Can. 377 paragraph 1) and considering that there can be neither appeal nor recourse against the judgment or decree of the Roman Pontiff (Can. 333 paragraph 3) and to avoid setting an unhealthy pastoral precedent, we earnestly appeal to you our brothers and sisters to allow the Bishop given to you to take canonical possession of the Diocese so that the Holy Father may more freely exercise his pastoral solicitude for Ahiara (cf. the letter of Cardinal Parolin dated 9th December 2014 delivered by the Personal Delegate of the Pope, His Eminence, Peter Cardinal Turkson)”. The Bishops said they had followed with deep pastoral concern the unfolding events since the appointment of Most Rev. Peter Okpaleke as Bishop of Ahiara Diocese on 7th December 2012 by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, adding that they were aware that Pope Francis later on confirmed the appointment. “We also know that Fernando Cardinal Filoni, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and Pietro Cardinal Parolin, the Secretary of State, have appealed to the Clergy, religious and Laity of Ahiara Diocese to submit to the Supreme Pontiff and allow Bishop Okpaleke to take canonical possession of the Diocese and commence his Episcopal

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Bishop Okpaleke ministry”. They also recalled that the bishops of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province as well as members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria had at various times appealed to the clergy and lay faithful of Ahiara to obey the Holy Father and accept his appointment. The statement was signed by six Bishops of the Province – Most Rev. Anthony J.V. Obinna, Archbishop of Owerri, Most Rev. Lucius I. Ugorji, Bishop of Umuahia, Most Rev. Augustine T. Ukwuoma, Bishop of Orlu, Most Rev. Solomon A. Amatu, Bishop of Okigwe, Most Rev. Vincent V. Ezeonyia, Bishop of Aba, Most Rev. Gregory O. Ochiagha, Bishop Emeritus of Orlu and John Cardinal O. Onaiyekan, Apostolic Administrator of Ahiara. They commended the faithful of Ahiara Diocese to Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace and to the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church.

Archbishop Obinna

We also know that Fernando Cardinal Filoni, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and Pietro Cardinal Parolin, the Secretary of State, have appealed to the Clergy, religious and Laity of Ahiara Diocese to submit to the Supreme Pontiff

Event Diary

Vol. 2 No.104, 2015


Chief & Chief (Mrs) F.C. Ozoma receiving a plaque from the Parish Priest, St. Anthony’s Catholic Church Gbaja, Very Rev. Msgr. Bernard Ayodele Okodua at the closing ceremony of “Year of the Family”

Outgoing Chairman, St. Thomas Onilekere, Folusho Adekoya presenting a plaque to Archbishop Adewale Martins supported by Rev. Fr. Innocent Opogah, Director of Lay Apostolate Centre

Executives of Lagos Archdiocesan Council, Association of Sacred Heart of Jesus & Immaculate Heart of Mary cutting 2014 Enthronement Cake

Rev. Fr. Nicholas Ibeneme; Very Rev, Msgr. Philip Hoteyin and Rev.Fr. Remigius Okere at 2014 Secred Heart Enthronement.

(2nd L) - David Omonkhomion Achioya, President, Lagos Archdiocesan Council, Association of Sacred Heart of Jesus & Immaculate Heart of Mary, at his 70th Birthday flanked by executives of his Council

Executives of Secred Heart, Epe Deanery at 2014 enthronement.

Rev Fr Hilary Ibe; Rev Fr Chris-Angelo Otuibe and Rev Fr Paul Ohaeri at the Memorial Service of Nze Vitalis Chikere at St. Jude Catholic Church, Amuzi, Mbaise, recently.

Family of Nze Vitalis Chikere at his memorial service at St. Judes Catholic Church, Amuzi, Mbaise, recently

Blessing of the tomb of Nze Vitalis Chikere at Amuzi, Ahiazu-Mbaise, recently

Beneficiaries of 200 wheelchairs donated by Rev. Fr. Cannis Enyiaka at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Ahiara East, Ogbe

Rev. Fr. Thaddeus Uwakwe, Parish Priest, Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Ahiara East, Ogbe and Rev.Fr. Cannis Enyiaka at the event where wheel chairs, clothing materials and bicycles are donated to the needy

CMON National Executive Membersat a recent press briefing on the state of the nation in Lagos, recently

Nigerian Catholic Reporter


Vol. 2 No.104, 2015

With Oguh Mark, FCA

Personal Finance


he year 2015 has been predicted to be a difficult year. The reasons for this negative prediction are not farfetched. International oil price has dropped below $50/barrel. Oil is the main driver of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). GDP measures the size of the economy. The revenue base of the Nation is highly skewed towards oil revenue. Little wonder then that the current southward trend in international oil prices impact negatively on the economy. A downturn in the economy definitely affects general consumption and purchasing power. This will impact aggregate demand. Therefore, businesses will normally witness slowdown in sales and profitability in a period of recession like this. When the going gets tough, it is said that the tough also gets going. The key to attracting and retaining quality customers in and out of recession remains great customer service. Passion for excellent customer service should be at the Centre of your business strategy this year. To be effective, the business strategy must be communicated to every member of staff, internalized and shared by all and sundry from the man at the gate to the Managing Director. The first step towards guaranteeing great customer service that exceeds customers’ expectation is team spirit. If all departments and staff do not work with each other as one team pursuing the same goal, it will be difficult to achieve harmony in how customers are treated. Production/operations departments and Sales and marketing department must share same attitude and behavior towards the customers. While businesses must strive to offer the best products and services than the market/competition, ability to deliver such promises must be ascertained. It is

better to under promise and over deliver, than to over promise and underdelivered. Consistency in quality service implies that businesses always keep their words. Effective customer services demands investment in people and machines. There should be no cutting corners if you truly want to consistently deliver quality to your clients. Just like individuals should improve their talents if they want to succeed, businesses must sharpen

Making Customer Service Your Business Strategy in 2015

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themselves by the use of technology to improve on service delivery. An upgrade of your production infrastructure may be necessary to meet the current taste of your clients. Training staff to use the new technology to improve service efficiency is imperative. In addition, staff must be trained on good customer service and engagement. In today’s world, the use of social media as the fastest means of customer engagement cannot be over-emphasized. How you communicate through social media should concern you as a business owner. The company can easily suffer reputational

damage if unwholesome messages are released through such platforms using the company’s identity. Facebook is one platform that you must be careful about. As a businessman, you must appreciate the true value of a customer, which Andrew Reid says goes beyond their wallets. Customers are willing to provide attention, data and opinion that will go a long way to drive quality customer service if the business will understand the true value of the customer. How do you deal with customer Complaints? Do you just consider such customers as troublesome ones? Do you in-

Vol. 2 No.104, 2015


seek first to offer consistent and reliable customer service, and every other thing shall be added on to you

vestigate their complaints and quickly get back to them? Truth is; it is only customers that love you that will complain about poor services. Others will simply take a walk. Research has shown that one dis-satisfied customer will certain cost you eight others. Customer preferences and tastes are dynamic. This must be closely monitored and responded to. The market and the entire business environment change with time. You must offer the type of product and service that is consistent with today’s demand. Otherwise, your offering will be out of tune with today’s realities. Richard Branson

(founder of Virgin group) says “if you wish to win in business, make sure the customer wins also”. You must ask the question about what customers’ needs your product/service are meeting? How do these products/services serve the customers’ needs? Branson says if you get into business only to make money, you won’t. But if you try to make a difference, you will find success. Business success reflects in sales volume and profitability – sustainable ones at that. What the foregoing means is that you must not set profit target as an end in themselves. The mantra should be to “seek first to offer consistent and reliable customer service, and every other thing shall be added on to you”. You have got to build sustainable relationships if you are to attract the greater share of customers’ value. There are two surest ways of doing this: Be personal and customize your services according to key customers’ needs and preferences. Some businesses treat customers as mere nominal phenomena. They forget that customers are not just data as delivered by CRM vendors, but humans with both social and psychological features. Time is gone when we think that one-size-fits-all service models still work. There is need for personalized services. Bespoke services are the in-thing if you want to make a difference in the market place. Most people make the mistake of focusing only on financial gains in every encounter with customers. Experts ad-

vise that in pitching for any sales contract or customer acquisition exercise, focus more on what the client stands to gain by buying your product or service, rather than beclouding your mind with the inordinate quest for profit. In the bid to secure sales and profitability, most sales people fail to even understand what the client’s pain-point is. This is a sure way to deliver the wrong solution. But if you pay attention to the major reason why the client is looking for a new service provider or product, you will gain insight into how best to serve the new client. Just as no idea is a virgin, every new customer you have has been someone else’s customer before you. A satisfied customer will not only guarantee repeat buys, but will also give you referrals to friends and associates, thereby maximizing the life-time-value of such a customer. This year, can you measure the sales and profits from existing customers? Remember we said in our last edition of this column that whatever goal that you set must be measured. Setting goals on customer satisfaction is crucial this year 2015, and the best way to measure this should be sales from existing customers, which includes repeat buys. You also need to track the value of referrals from existing customers.


Mark Oguh, a Fellow of Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and a Financial Management Expert wrote in from St. Anthony’s Parish, Gbaja, Surulere, Lagos. Contact mark.oguh@ gmail.com

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Vol. 2 No.104, 2015


Getting hired when you are over age 40


any people are having hard time landing a job in this difficult economy. But some over 40 are finding it even harder. Employers need talented workers, but when you are over 40, they have serious concerns about whether you are up to doing the job and giving them their money's worth. In this era of mass unemployment, age has become a critical factor to weed out many applicants. As a resultof this, many otherwise experienced and talented job seekers, have lost out on job opportunities because of their age. Why does age discrimination happen? Besides reasons already mentioned, younger hiring managers may feel uncomfortable telling someone older what to do (like bossing around their parents). They may also feel that someone older is not as technologically savvy or as physically and mentally "quick" as someone younger. They may even suspect that you'll be out sick more often than someone younger. Frequently, an older worker is viewed as having higher salary expectations and, therefore, being more expensive to hire and retain. So, how do you handle the situation? Today's job market is most likely quite different from the last time you

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went after a new job. The process has changed. The younger competition is growing, and self-marketing is more important than ever before. If you want a new job, you can find one. You will change your approach though, because you need to move out of the pack to get noticed. You must be proactive in your efforts. In today's job market, these three things need to happen: • Know the exact job you want to be hired for. You must advertise what you can do for the employer and not expect them to figure out where you would fit in. • Tap into the "hidden job market" in order to find better job opportunities • Use proven ways of better selfpromotion that will get a prospective employers' attention. Here are some key guidelines to point you in the right direction: • Networking is a must-use component for success. Gone are the days when you were sent to events and told "to work the room". Networking is now very strategic and effective. More than 63 per cent of all jobs last year were found through contacts according to the Department of Labour. Cultivate your network. Join LinkedIn and post your professional profile. Attend professional meetings and conferences. • Discuss RESULTS! Employers care most about the results you've

achieved in your most recent positions. Documenting these accomplishments and results achieved will demonstrate to hiring managers you got a lot of initiative and you apply it daily -not just eight years ago. Use some enthusiasm in your voice when you discuss your skills and past accomplishments. Be sure your resume is loaded with past results, process/systems improvements, and ways you may have saved time or made money for your previous employers. • Focus your resume on your future and the job you are seeking. Don't make it a laundry list of everything you've ever done. Most jobs that you had more than 10 years ago shouldn't be included because they aren't relevant. • Change the "Education" section of your resume to "Education and Training" and put your most recent training first. Include the year and the source for each entry. This shows that your skills are up-to-date. List your degrees following the more recent

Vol. 2 No.104, 2015 you worked with younger people on an equal basis or where you followed a younger leader. • Focus on your experience and excellent attendance record. • Look peppy and energetic. Walk into the room with a brisk step, and sit straight and alert in your chair. • Dress for success. Looking competent and confident goes a long way toward convincing others that you are. • If you are asked what salary you expect, respond by asking for the salary range. When you hear the range, say that you are sure that you fit within the range, even if you aren't completely sure.

The salary negotiation

training. • Be selective if you have had a lot of jobs in the past 20 years. Include only those that demonstrate the skills, experience, and/or industry knowledge you have that are directly relevant to the job you are seeking. • Limit your resume to no more than 2 pages. You only want to include the most relevant jobs, anyway. And, a longer resume is much less likely to be reviewed. • When you must give your salary requirements to be considered, specify a range, and indicate that your salary expectations are appropriate for someone with your experience and "fair in today's market."


The following recommendations are critical for that interview with the younger manager: • Describe situations where

Salary negotiation has cost many job seekers their dream job but following these you can avoid the disappointment: • Try to postpone salary discussions until you have been offered the job. When they've offered you the job, you are in a much stronger position to explore options and to negotiate your starting salary. • Don't turn down a job because of the salary range until you've explored other ways to "sweeten the deal." • If the salary isn't high enough, think of how you might negotiate a better "total package" with things of value to you: the amount and timing of your first raise, more vacation time, lower health insurance co-pay, a company car, free parking, spousal travel on business trips, free tuition for your kids, etc.

Old boys can learn new tricks

Some employers think it’s more difficult for people middle-aged and beyond to learn new things. It’s a bias that’s unfortunate. Research shows that a significant per cent of people continue to learn and learn aggressively well into their 50s and 60s. Overcome this mind-set by demonstrating learning agility. You want to make sure the person knows that you are committed and have been committed to lifelong learning, are open to new experiences, are not set in your ways and have curiosity. Transmit this in conversations whether you’re being interviewed or networking. This works best if it’s really true. This strategy also works if you’re looking for a position outside your


industry. Take time to reflect on your career and the skills and experiences that are transferable, and make it clear how you can think creatively to apply that learning in new and different ways. Walk the talk by using the time between gigs to pick up or enhance some skills. Do some extra education that was either put off or just felt you didn't need (and) includes certification. Those acronyms are a tiebreaker, and that is what recruiters search on.

Be on top of technology

There’s also a perception that middle-aged workers are less on top of new developments in technology and society. In other words, fresh and younger people are more in tune with what’s new and hot than people over 40. Of course, this isn’t necessarily true at all. Luckily, there are many ways to show you’re up on things. Using social media is one way to demonstrate you are tech-savvy as well as your ‘withitness.’ If you are an expert, then you should have a blog. Take the time now to develop one, and keep it up when you do land [a new job], and use the other social media channels to point to it. And don’t forget to include the URL on your resume.

How’s your attitude?

Although it might be hard to do, presenting a positive mental attitude also is important. In this market, you’ve got to be technically qualified and be smiling, positive. Recruitment experts are of the view that job seekers with positive energy will be more likely to find jobs, because people are drawn to engaging, positive people. One thought that might help: There are employers who value experienced employees. You bring a good professional network, historical perspective and a depth of experience younger candidates can’t. "Personally, I would hire a person in the age group of 40 to 60 in a heartbeat if they fit the qualifications posted for the job,” says Eric Edie, owner of e-Edie's, an IT and startup business consulting firm in Richville, New York. “This group is at that age of maturity, (is) level-headed, puts thoughts before actions and honestly does a much better job. They are also the group that will be there early and leave late if there are deadlines and work needs to be accomplished."

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Vatican Round-up

Pope confirms 48 prelates as voting members of October synod Agency Report


ope Francis has ratified the elections of prelates from bishops’ conferences around the world to participate in October’s global meeting of Catholic bishops, confirming selections of 48 prelates from six continents. The papal confirmations, announced in the Vatican’s daily press bulletin, means that the prelates will be able to

participate and vote in the discussions at the next October’s meeting, known as a Synod of Bishops. The Synod, which is focused on issues of family life and has attracted hopes that the Church might alter some of its pastoral practices in that area is the second of two called by Francis for 2014 and 2015. The 2015 Synod is to be held October 4-25 at the Vatican on the theme: “The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and Contemporary

World.” It follows the 2014 Synod, held on the theme: “Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization.” The earlier Synod, known as an extraordinary synod, mainly involved the presidents of the world’s bishops’ conferences. The upcoming synod, known as an ordinary Synod, is to be much larger, involving the elected representatives from each of the bishops’ conferences.

. . appoints new Cardinals, signaling shift from Rome toward emerging countries


ope Emeritus Benedict XVI greets current Pope Benedict at a ceremony where 20 men were elevated to cardinal within the Catholic Church. Reuters Pope Francis has created 20 new cardinals, nine of whom hail from the emerging world, as he tries to balance a College of Cardinals that disproportionately favors the U.S. and Europe. New cardinals were named from Vietnam, Panama, Myanmar and Tonga, the Polynesian nation’s first ever. In a ceremony within St. Peter’s Basilica, the 78-year-old pontiff elevated the men to cardinal, placing the square, red

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biretta on their heads. The new “Princes of the Church” were selected from a wide range of countries. The first pope from the Americas gave no new cardinals to the U.S. and few to Europe during the last ceremony in January as he tries to better represent countries more densely populated by Catholics. “All of us, myself first,” should be guided by St. Paul’s famous First Letter to the Corinthians, beginning with the phrase “Love is patient, love is kind,” Pope Francis said, according to the Catholic News Service. A focus on what love means is important, the pope said, because every Christian ministry “flows from charity, must be exercised in charity and is ordered toward charity.”

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI also made a rare appearance at the ceremony. Pope Francis’ choices “reflect his concern for the poor,” the Wall Street Journal said. The choices also reflect “his desire to give greater voice to local churches and his support for clerics working close to the faithful.” While the cardinals’ most important job is electing a new pontiff, they also advise popes. As the Argentina-born Pope Francis seeks to push forward reforms expected to take place this year, and shift decision-making away from the Roman Curia, the Vatican administration, known for its political nature, that has been involved in a number of scandals. Cardinals called for a “shake-up” of the

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Quote The names confirmed as ratified by the pope for participation in next October’s Synod do not comprise a final list of prelates who will participate in the Synod, as the Pope is yet to confirm elections of members from many other countries. The pope is also expected to name a number of prelatemembers at his own initiative. The 2014 Synod saw some 190 prelates participate in the discussions.

Curia when Pope Francis was elected in 2013. The pontiff is readying an overhaul of the administration to begin this year. Pope Francis is scheduled to visit the U.S. in September, with Washington, New York City and Philadelphia on his itinerary.

The 20 new cardinals

• Archbishop Dominique Mamberti (France) • Archbishop Manuel Jose Macario do Nascimento Clemente (Portugal) • Archbishop Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel (Ethiopia) • Archbishop John Atcherley Dew (New Zealand) • Archbishop Edoardo Menichelli (Italy) • Archbishop Pierre Nguyen Van Nhon (Vietnam) • Archbishop Alberto Suarez Inda (Mexico) • Archbishop Charles Maung Bo (Myanmar) • Archbishop Francis Xavier

The pope is also likely to ask the council of 15 prelates who guide the Vatican’s Synod office to participate in next October’s event. Republishing the final document of the 2014 Synod as the starting point for the 2015 Synod, it was sent by the Vatican’s synod office along with a series of 46 questions to seek input from Catholics at “all levels” about how the Church should respond to sometimes-difficult questions of modern family life.

Kriengsak Kovithavanij (Thailand) • Archbishop Francesco Montenegro (Italy). • Archbishop Daniel Fernando Sturla Berhouet (Uruguay) • Archbishop Ricardo Blazquez Perez (Spain). • Bishop Jose Luis Lacunza Maestrojuan (Panama) • Bishop Arlindo Gomes Furtado, (Capo Verde). • Bishop Soane Patita Paini Mafia (Tonga) • Archbishop emeritus Jose de Jesus Pimiento Rodríguez (Colombia)* • Titular Archbishop Luigi De Magistris (Italy)* • Titular Archbishop Karl-Joseph Rauber (Germany)* • Archbishop emeritus Luis Hector Villalba (Argentina)* • Bishop emeritus Julio Duarte Langa (Mozambique)*

“Father is a universal word, known to all. It indicates a fundamental relationship that is real and ancient as the history of mankind. Today, however, we have reached the point of affirming that ours would be a ‘society without fathers.’ In other words, in particular in western culture, the figure of the father would be symbolically absent, to have vanished. … At first, this was perceived as a form of liberation: freedom from the fathermaster, from the father as the representative of a law imposed from the outside, from the father as the censor of the happiness of his children and an obstacle to the emancipation of the autonomy of the young. Indeed, in the past, in some cases authoritarianism, indeed even oppression reigned in some homes; parents who treated their children like servants, who did not respect the personal needs of their growth, fathers who did not help them to embark on their path in freedom, to assume their own responsivities for building their future and that of society

* Cardinal emeritus, without voting rights

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W country?

hat would be your recommendation to Christians in the face of the present economic crunch in the

Christians should keep on praying to God that He would turn our situation around and that the economy would improve. We should also pray that the managers of our economy will do the right things with our resources by channelling resources where they would benefit the masses more. Specifically more attention should be paid to job creation to ensuring that people are gainfully employed. Another area that requires the urgent attention of the managers of our economy is the power sector. Electricity is a key factor to development. If we have steady power supply, a lot of people can be selfemployed. They can create their own businesses, production will increase, and industries will grow and employ more people. It is quite unfortunate that a lot of par-

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ents are out of jobs today. Many of them cry to us here every day for all manner of assistance especially in the areas of provision of school fees for their children and wards, payment of house rent; sometimes for things as basic as feeding, which is heart wrenching. We cannot do much as a Church. We do not have the type of resources that are available to government to be able to help these people. We do the little we can, but I must confess that we can only do very little. One would wish that governments at all levels would channel our resources towards meeting the needs of the people in the two areas that I have mentioned – power and employment.

What is your advice to the youths?

Youths cannot do anything when there are no opportunities for them. There are very limited opportunities for them to get employment, or to gain admission to higher institutions. We can only plead with them not to react in negative ways

by going into crime. In a situation like this when opportunities for young people are severely limited, the temptation for them to go into crime is very strong. It is very easy for some unscrupulous people to recruit them into fraudulent practices or into more criminal practices like armed robbery, kidnapping and even cultism. For the ladies they could be swayed into prostitution. Our youths should do all they can to resist the temptation. They should stick to the straight and narrow path until it should please God to improve the conditions of living for everyone. They should not use their skills in the faces of the challenges they are facing to deviate into criminal activities. They should continue to resist all temptations and look up to the Lord. But like I said, it behoves on those who are in charge of the economy of our nation to create an environment where the youths can be gainfully employed. An idle mind is the devil’s workshop. If our young people are not gainfully employed it can

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Power and job creation require urgent attention - Rt. Rev. Msgr. (Dr.) John Aniagwu

Rt. Rev. Msgr. (Dr.) John Kanebi Asuquo Aniagwu is Vicar General, Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, Episcopal Vicar Ikeja Region and Parish Priest of St Leo’s Catholic Church Ikeja. In this chat with Nigerian Catholic Reporter, he talks on the problem of unemployment, the power sector, job creation and poor funding of education in Nigeria. He also counselled Christians on how to vote in credible leaders into offices and how to cope in a distressed economy. be very difficult to get them to stay on the straight and narrow path. The truth of the matter is that the opportunities for young people to be gainfully employed are very limited. Some go as far as obtaining Masters and Doctorate degrees and yet there are no employment opportunities for them. This is unlike in our days when there were employment opportunities for us even before we finished school.

What is your advice for those who run our educational institutions? Good education is necessary for the development of people and nations. Government owes the duty of providing basic education to the people. UNESCO has even provided that for any nation to develop, it must as a matter of routine commit at least 26% of its annual budget to education. Nigeria is not meeting this commitment and therefore education is suffering. If leaders and rulers can devote more resources to education then there

will be better education in the country especially for the poor ones who cannot afford private education. People who can afford private education either in Nigeria or abroad have no problem but it is the masses who cannot afford private education that are having problems. As a result, they attend schools that are poorly equipped and poorly staffed. The result is that when they come out they are not educated. They are actually illiterates. It is for those in authority to commit adequate fund to education. The nation can afford good public schools that are properly equipped and employ the right staff.

How should Christians react in the face of this kind of challenges?

Christians should pray that God will intervene in our affairs by giving us the right kind of leadership, as we pray in the Catholic Church – “leaders who care for us and who would lead us in the path of peace, prosperity and progress.” Nigeria

has never been blessed with such leaders. As Christians we should go on praying that God would give us such leaders in the immediate future, not in the distant future. As Christians, our greatest weapon is prayer. During elections, Christians should go out and vote massively to see whether they can elect credible leaders. The sad thing here is that in Nigeria so far, our votes have never been allowed to count. If they are going to give us free and fair election we should go out and vote according to our conscience – for leaders that can really help solve our nation’s problems, forgetting ethnicity, language and even religion. If we have a broad minded person contesting for Presidency that we believe will not be a religious bigot, I wouldn’t mind voting for him even if he is not a Christian. But if it is someone that I see may want to favour Islam over Christianity, I will not vote for him.

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Events Diary Vol. 2 No.104, 2015

Vol. 2 No.104, 2015


Sunday 21st December 2014 was a day of thanksgiving and merry making for the Parish Priest of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, Oke Shasha Lagos, Rev Fr. Anthony Eboh, the Church Council and the entire parishioners. It was a day the fathers, mothers, youths and children of the Church rolled out the drums to celebrate the first year anniversary of the Church after it was elevated to the status of a parish on December 18, 2013. Nigerian Catholic Reporter was there to capture it in pics

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Vol. 2 No.104, 2015


Child trafficking:

Modern slavery monster The nefarious activities of those who traffic in human beings, particularly children, appear to be on the rise in the country. And, the practice, unfortunately has gained prominence owing, perhaps, to the level of poverty and dwindling moral standards in the land. Nigerian Catholic Reporter


kaette, 15, from Cross River State cuts an innocent look but pitiable sight as she sat with forlorn looks in front of a dingy room that has been her abode since she was forced to follow a woman she knew only as ‘Auntie’ to Lagos in search of the proverbial greener pasture. It was a misadventure that has permanently altered the poor girl’s perception of her world. That was about a year ago. The Auntie, who had convinced her mother to allow Ekaette come with her to Lagos with a promise that within a few weeks she would be sending money home with which to fend for the rest of the family, ended up introducing her to prostitution in a most cruel way. Four days after arriving Lagos, Ekaette was told it was time she started earning her pay. The poor little girl, who was barely 14 years old when she left home, was taken to a grimy brothel in the backwoods of Ojuelegba, where ‘Auntie’ instructed that she must open her laps to men for a fee. She narrated her story in tears. “It was a terrible experience for me. The first man, who came to me was hurtful and didn’t

Vol. 2 No.104, 2015 give me anything even after he forced his way. Left with no choice, I had to cope with the job because I had to survive. I couldn’t even find my way back home, should I get anybody to borrow (lend) me the transport fare,” Ekaette told this reporter rather sadly. However, the said Auntie abandoned Ekaette when police came to raid the home. Before then, rough men, who flocked the brothel had savagely abused her. Since then, she has been from one open bar to another within the metropolis, fending for herself. Incidentally, Ekaette’s is not an isolated case. In many homes, including those of the influential in the society across the nation, it is replicated as maids, more fashionably called house helps. They may not be unfortunate prostitutes in the mould of Ekaette, but they, nevertheless, undergo debasement and personal de-humanisation as victims of sexual abuse by their mistresses’ husbands or children. They are the young women and children, who are exposed to forced labour by their heartless and exploitative traffickers. The captors prey on the ignorance, self-worth and vulnerability of victims, who, often times end up enduring harsher lifestyles away from the promises of “milk and honey.” Indeed, the realities on ground have shown that traffickers have continued to devise ways of recruiting their victims, particularly from poor, rural communities where there is high rate of ignorance and poverty, which is creating limited opportunities for work and sometimes, survival. Today, children are being recruited and trafficked to earn money for others by begging or hawking goods on the streets and sometimes forced to sell their bodies at night. Many of them are also exploited by the elite,


who initially promised helping them get lucrative jobs abroad. Hence, every year, hundreds of them are separated from their parents, legal guardians or habitual caregivers and sold as mere commodities. The picture usually painted before unsuspecting victims starts with the promise of a better life, good jobs, better education and regular income. The parents are taken in and the children persuaded. Many of them leave home willingly with excitement. By the time they realise the futility of the promise made to them at recruitment, it would have been too late to rediscover themselves. They would have lost everything, including but not limited to their self-esteem. At present, girls and boys are trafficked internally from poverty-stricken areas to places of relative opulence. The trade also boom within the West and Central African countries. The children in this instance are used for domestic services and sexual exploitation. This has equally assumed an international dimension as it now involves cross-border dealings. John Okwuose, a temporary guardian of a 16-year-old sex worker “liberated” recently by the Nigeria Police in Lagos, said, “the incident of trafficking is not different from the slave trade of old, which saw many able-bodied Africans ferried across the Atlantic to Europe and the New World. There are others, who likened trafficking in humans, particularly teenage girls to the 21st century slavery coming more than 200 years after the abominable practice was abolished by the League of Nations in 1926. Traffickers, according to reports, force their victims into prostitution, pornography and child labour. While some victims end up in seamy places in Europe, especially Italy and Spain, others are taken to West African countries to work on plantations, reminiscent of the evil days of the slave trade. In some cases, parents are said to connive with middlemen to send their children to distant places to raise money to meet some of their needs. Another variant of this trade is

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when victims are kidnapped, drugged and transported against their wish to unknown destinations. A pointer to this is the sheer number of people, who have simply disappeared without any trace. The victims of this dehumanising trade provide cheap labour and source for gratification of desires and fantasies for the privileged. She flew to Heathrow in September 2011 before spending several weeks at the house of one Obadiaru, in Brockley, South East London. The victim was then provided with a false passport and throwaway mobile phone and sent to Milan where immigration officials turned her away. They conned the innocent 23-yearold into flying to Heathrow on a bogus passport with the promise of education, a job and a new home. But, instead she was raped, beaten and subjected to a ‘juju’ ritual before being sent to Italy where she was destined to be pimped out on the streets as a prostitute. The victim’s terrible ordeal was only uncovered when officials in Milan spotted her forged passport and sent her back to London where she was saved by police. Her experience is typical of many other Nigerian victims. The phenomenon of human trafficking, particularly in West Africa, has, in recent years assumed alarming proportions and hence receives unprecedented global attention. Although, there is a lack of accurate data, it is reported that in West and Central Africa, over 200,000 children are trafficked annually, while in West Africa alone, an estimated 35,000 women and children are trafficked every year for commercial sexual exploitation. Nigeria is ranked as one of the seven poorest countries of the world. Its poverty coupled with a high rate of unemployment, massive devaluation of the local currency, civil and political unrest, are some major internal factors responsible for a high rate of migration, which paves the way for human trafficking. Within Africa, Nigeria is the largest single source of trafficked young girls to Europe and Middle East. A recent survey reveals that the country is responsible for more cases of trafficking of teenagers into Europe for forced prostitution than any other African country. Italian authorities estimate that over 10,000 Nigerian prostitutes work in Italy, many of them victims of trafficking. Other factors responsible for

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trafficking are the desperate search for better opportunities, gender imbalance and discrimination, high levels of illiteracy, a taste for adventure, family instability, the breakdown in value systems and inadequate implementation of laws and policies against human trafficking and forced labour. In Nigeria, experts have blamed failure of state to criminalise the traffic in human persons over the years, especially as they say the country remained a source, transit and destination point of trafficked persons. But, the scourge, which the United Nations (UN) statistics put at a staggering $32 billion business globally, according to many, would perceptively be tackled only when all stakeholders agree to work together. Two hundred years after the abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, the trafficking of African children continues unabated. This is one of the most horrific violations of a child’s right. The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has defined trafficking as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation.” Reasons for trafficking children include: sexual exploitation, forced labour and/or slavery, domestic servitude, forced marriages, illegal adoptions, and even forced organ removal or human sacrifice. UNICEF has estimated that over 1.2 million children worldwide are trafficked each year. The highest rates of child trafficking in Nigeria, according to research by NAPTIP, are found in the Niger Delta region. Children become vulnerable to be-

ing trafficked for a number of reasons, with the root causes being poverty and lack of opportunities, corruption and instability and/or armed conflict. In some instances, their parents pay for them to be taken to another country, in the hope that they will gain employment and a better life abroad. Alternatively, children may be sold to traffickers by their parents, or kidnapped by such groups. Street children are particularly susceptible to becoming trafficking victims, as are children, who suffer from other forms of discrimination. In the Niger Delta region, for instance, children, who have been stigmatised as ‘witches’ are extremely at risk as they are usually rejected by their families and communities, and often live on the streets with no-one to care for them. However, there seems to be a ray of hope in arresting this trend in the country. The new Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Bill seeking to repeal and amend the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act of 2003 is being considered by Nigeria’s Parliament. The new bill had been in the National Assembly and was passed by the Senate recently. It stipulates stiffer penalties for offenders than the existing law. It also seeks to stop human trafficking in Nigeria and prescribes a minimum of seven years imprisonment or a minimum fine of N1 million for offenders.

Culled from New Telegraph hhtp/www.newtelegraphonline.com/ Child trafficking:

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Special Focus



Our Lady of Perpetual Help Shasha, marks one year anniversary

unday 21st December 2014 was a day of thanksgiving and merry making for the Parish Priest of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, Oke Shasha Lagos, Rev Fr. Anthony Eboh, the Church Council and the entire parishioners. It was a day the fathers, mothers, youths and children of the church rolled out the drums to celebrate the first year anniversary of the Church after it was elevated to the status of a parish on December 18, 2013. Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, Oke Shasha, Lagos is a product of a merger in 1999 of St. Vincent Catholic Church, Bammeke, Shasha and St. Augustine Catholic Church. Fourteen years after, the union is celebrated as a parish. St. Vincent Catholic Church came to existence on 14th June 1992 and has since remained an outstation even after the merger in 1999. Its premises converted to a school which still bears the name, St. Vincent Nursery, Primary and Secondary Schools. Also St. Augustine Catholic Church was sited at St Augustine’s Nursery and Primary School, Idimu-Titun, as an outstation of Christ the King Catholic Church (CKC), Akowonjo with the first mass celebrated there on 21st December 1995. It did not come to the parishioners as a surprise, however, when in November 2013, after the usual procession of the feast of Christ the King, the Parish Priest of CKC Akowonjo, Rev Fr. Anthony Nyong

(CM) announced to the congregation that Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Oke-Shasha has been elevated to a the status of a quasi-parish, by the Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos, Archbishop Alfred Adewale Martins (DD). In a quick preparation for the inauguration that took place on 18th December, 2013, the Church Pastoral Council headed by the vice-Chairperson, Mrs. Lilly Kenfuni Egbi (JP) appointed Sir Philip Nwawu (KSJ) to head the inauguration subcommittee charged with the responsibility of raising fund and organising the ceremony. In the same vein, a building subcommittee headed by Linus Dunia and the logistic committee headed by Mr Patrick Ezeakacha were charged with the responsibility of tidying up the parish priest’s residence and environment. December 18th, 2013 (inauguration day) would go down in the history of Our Lady of Perpetual Help as the happiest day for the parishioners. Activities for the day started with a brief inauguration ceremony and reception of the new parish priest Rev Fr. Anthony Eboh at CKC Akowonjo. This was followed by a motorcade procession to the new parish at Oke-Shasha in the company of the Church Council; Rev Fr. Anthony Nyong (CM); former station priest of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Rev Fr. Iuvenis Iheme (CM); Rev Fr. Edem (a senior Vincentian Priest); Sir Justin Odefa, PPC vice-Chairman, CKC Akowonjo; chairmen of CMO, CWO, Laity Council and PPC of CKC, Akowonjo and; represen-

tatives from St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Ifako led by Allan William and many other parishioners. Rev Fr. Anthony Eboh celebrated his first mass as parish priest of Our Lady of Perpetual Help after brief activities marking his arrival to the parish. Sunday, 22nd December 2013 was specially fixed for the celebration of the elevation of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Oke-Shasha to the status of a parish by the Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos, Archbishop Alfred Adewale Martins on 18th December, 2013.

PARISH INFORMATION LOCAL ORDINARY: His Grace, Most Reverend (DR) Alfred Adewale Mertins D.D. PPRIEST-IN-CHARGE: Rev Fr. Anthony Eboh SUNDAY MASSES: 6:30am & 8:30am WEEKDAY MASSES: Monday – Friday: 6:00am Monday – Friday: 6:30pm (excluding Tuesdays) Saturday: 7:00pm OTHER MASSES: 1st Saturday: Mass for CWO 2nd Saturday: Mass for CMO 3rd Saturday: Mass for Youths CONFESSION: Immediately after Morning Mass Daily INFANT BAPTISM: 3rd Saturday of Every Month WEDDING: Every Saturday except 3rd Saturday of the Month PARISH PRIEST OFFICE: Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday 9:00am – 1:00pm E-Mail: olphcathparish@gmail.com

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Interview Rev. Fr. Anthony Eboh is the pioneer Parish Priest of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, Oke-Shasha, Lagos. He was ordained for the Catholic Diocese of Umuahia but is on mission in the Archdiocese of Lagos. Precisely, this is the third parish he is serving in Lagos. Before now, he had served at St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Ifako-Agege, and St. Brigid Catholic Church, Ijesha, where he tried so much to make the people of God realize what it means to build up the mystical body of Christ spiritually and physically. Rev Fr. Eboh and the entire parishioners of Our Lady of Perpetual Help have every reason to thank God for giving him the opportunity to serve as the pioneer Parish Priest of the young parish and especially for the remarkable success story recorded in the spiritual and physical development of the parish. For these reasons, Sunday, December 21, 2014 was set aside for the celebration of the first anniversary of the parish. In this interview with Nigerian Catholic Reporter, Rev. Fr. Eboh reveals the secrets behind the overflowing joy and unity among parishioners in the parish.

We Bank on God

– Rev Fr. Anthony Eboh The Parish where everyone wears a smile – the secret First, the secret is prayer. Another reason is that when a priest knows the reason for his calling, he has no option than to make the people of God happy. I normally tell people that if they want to know the spirituality of a parish, they should look at their priests. Their spirituality entails who their priest is. We thank God today for making us happy as we celebrate the one year anniversary of our parish.

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You have always been posted to rural areas, is it by choice? Actually as a seminarian, one is trained to be a missionary. There is nothing like option in the posting of priests. One goes where he is called to go so long as there are souls there. It is not whether there is electricity, good roads, or wonderful amenities. No! Once there are souls there, a priest is bound in conscience to answer the call.

How does it feel pioneering this parish? It is very challenging and at the same time very encouraging. It is challenging because a lot of structures have to be put in place. In most cases, the pioneer priest provides the rudiments of what it takes to be a Catholic else, the subsequent priest will suffer for it. That is why I am putting in much effort to ensure I give parishioners correct orientation. Having been carved out of the mother-parish, many of them may still be thinking it

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as a result of that, a lot of things were not in place. We have so much work to do but it has to be gradual and prioritised. When I arrived here, the greatest challenge we had was the flooding of the entire parish compound. It was quite impossible for me to start erecting any structure on the compound, not even the fencing. Today the flooding has been controlled and the fencing of the compound completed. We will soon embark on other projects as directed by the Holy Spirit. I believe my parishioners have the ability but it is a matter of challenge. My first one year here was a great challenge for me and the entire parishioners. I thank God they took up the challenges and today everybody is happy.

Coping with many parishes around

Talking about many parishes around, you know there is always a brotherhood in the Catholic ministry. The essence of having these parishes around is just to make the word of God available at the doorstep of every individual. Many people may start to think we are becoming like Pentecostals where every nook and cranny is proliferated with Pentecostal churches. It is a mode of evangelisation. There are choices, you either belong or you go to the other side. It is not a challenge, we are of the same fold. The most important thing is that the Catholic Church is growing and the work of evangelisation is expanding too.

Remarkable growth in the population of parishes today is often attributed to the charismatic nature of the parish priest. Are you a charismatic priest?

would be business as usual. But it is my duty and responsibility as the pioneer Parish Priest to show them the way, to give pastoral structures to them, and make them realise what it takes to be a parish. That is what we have been battling with for the past one year. We are thanking God today that we are gradually getting it right. Many of your parishioners are calling for further structural development projects. Do you have the capacity to handle more projects? As a missionary, I am ever ready for anything. I believe in what God can do

for me. I strongly believe that God will do it for us. Since I assumed duty here as the parish priest, all the projects we initiated have been successfully completed. I have plans for the continuous development of the parish. Anyone of the projects that is sanctioned by God, we will embark on and we are sure He will provide the means for the successful completion. What are the parish’s priority projects? Primarily we have to put this place in order. This parish was an out-station and

I do not know what they refer to as a charismatic priest because every priest is charismatic by his vocation. Chrism means gift, unless you tell me that some priests have no gifts. If you come from that point of view every priest is a charismatic priest. On the day of every priestly ordination, there is always the invocation of the Holy Spirit which means that the gift of the Holy Spirit has been given to the priest. Therefore, every priest is a charismatic priest. It is not about noise making. I believe that when you do what you are supposed to do, God will take control. The power comes from God, not the priest. Conversion does not come from the persuasiveness of the preacher but through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit that inspires the scripture also inspires the hearer to be converted. It is not about shouting and making noise. Pray quietly, have a com-

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munion with God and He will do the rest.

The secret of preponderance of miracles in the parish

We are being blessed with miracles in this parish. Childless couples are being blessed with children. Parishioners are being blessed with meaningful means of livelihood, their business are experiencing growth. I told you it is the hand of God in action. It is about submitting to the will of God and having faith in God. Testimonies are still coming because I know that God still dwells with His people. Just like Isaiah will tell us, His name is Emmanuel which means God is with us. He never deserted us, he is still with us. So, if He is still with us, He works within us. Therefore, His people must be blessed because they are seeking Him in truth and spirit.

Drift of Catholics to other Churches

The Catholic Church has structures and at the same time spirituality to follow. Often people anchor their failures on something or someone. When Adam ate the forbidden fruit, he blamed God saying “it was the woman you gave to me�. Someone who wants to deviate from the faith must find a reason. The Catholic Church has all it takes for salvation and to reach the kingdom of God. So, those who are running up and down for miracles in other Churches should realise that the Catholic Church has put everything in place for every soul. In the Catholic Church we have four statutory bodies: the Catholic Men Organisation (CMO), the Catholic Women Organisation (CWO), the Catholic Youth Organisation of Nigeria (CYON) and Missionary Childhood Association (MCA). These stages capture every segment of human life. You graduate from MCA to CYON and to CMO or CWO. At every stage the Church has stipulated spirituality. So if you are faithful, coupled with other societies in the church, I do not see the reason why anybody should run from one Church to another looking for solution where there is none.

Do you believe that the family is under siege?

Personally, I believe that the family is under siege. This is because there are some contemporary issues threatening the family. Take for instance the issues of gay marriage, homosexuality, lesbianism, abortion, single parenthood, artificial insemination, genetic engineering and others. These are traits to family life. The family is the nucleus of the society. Anything that touches the family touches the society. If the fam-

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ily is good, the society is good and if the family is bad the society is also bad. All these are western influences aimed at putting into extinction the idea of family. We are luckier that here in Africa we still cherish the family. That is why we still have extended families, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts etc. Presently, the family is under siege because of a lot of contemporary issues raging on. You can still hear people talking about gay marriage which negates the law of procreation. The only thing that can save us is prayer, looking up to heaven and asking God to intervene in the family. That should be the prayer of every faithful.

things that are contributing to the down fall of education. Finally, the curriculum of Nigerian education and the inconsistencies in curriculum designing have done much harm to the educational system in the country. There is immediate need for us to go back to the philosophy of educational and form our education curriculum consistently.

What is your message to the younger generation and parents?

This is very important. The Archdiocese of Lagos has just concluded the Year of the Family. In Ecclesiastical setting, we say the family is a domestic Church. This means that the family is where one begins to know God. The first knowledge Mass failures and down fall of one has in life is to try to make distinceducational standard in Nigeria tion between good and evil. Once you can This is as a result of misplaced values do this, it means you have the knowledge or put the other way round confused of God. Training begins from the famvalues. We have misplaced and confused ily. If parents are not conscious of their our values. People are no longer interrole in the family, it will affect the whole ested in education which goes beyond system – the society, the Church and schooling. Education is the transmission the country at large. My advice is for of worldwide traditions and cultures parents to take their parenting responfrom one generation to the next in morsibility seriously. Nowadays, you see ally accepted manner. People are no career parents, who are never there for longer interested in knowledge. They the children. When do they have time to are interested in certificates and can train these children? We have a situation pay anything to get it. The structure of where even day-old-babies are registered our country as well as the global strucwith nannies. Parents should take seriture does not even encourage education. ously their responsibilities in the families Hardly do employers again bother about because there is no substitute to parental technical know-how. They ask for grades care. and certificates. I will also advise the younger generaSecondly, teachers are not helping tion to go back to societal values, our matters. It is not as if they are ecclesiastical values as contained in the not teaching but the Ten Commandments. This is because methodologies are whatever is done outside value may not faulty. It takes a lead to good success. When you base good teacher and your action and utterances on values a good student to you are building on a solid foundation. make a good reNothing will pull down your foundation. sult. Therefore, My advice if the teacher to them is teaching is to hold well and the tenaciously methodology those values We are being blessed is not good and live enough, defiup to their with miracles in this nitely there parental parish. Childless couples must be a responsibiliproblem. ties. are being blessed with Thirdly, children. Parishioners nowadays parents are being blessed with encourage meaningful means of their wards to cheat during livelihood, their business examinaare experiencing growth. tions. They pay for their wards to pass examinations. These are the

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We are one united and happy family It’s the spirit of oneness - Mrs. Roselyn Mayen Okeke

- Mrs Lilly Kenfuni Egbi (JP)

Mrs. Roselyn Mayen Okeke is Laity Council Chairperson,

Mrs Lilly Kenfuni Egbi (JP) is the Vice-Chairperson, Parish Pastoral Council (PPC). “Our trust is in the Lord. We are happy because we have a dynamic parish priest who is adequately providing what was lacking in our spiritual lives. Our spiritual lives are not the same any more. We are happy because the priest is always there for us. He is a listening and caring father. He tells us that money is not everything and that having Christ is more important. Things are really working out well in this parish. We are one united and happy family. Before his arrival here, all the rain water in the estate was flowing into this Church compound. We kept complaining but nothing was done about it. As soon as he came the successful checking of the flood was his first project. We gave our maximum support knowing that whatever we gave was going to be used in the parish to the glory of God. He has also been engaging us in a lot of activities aimed at our spiritual growth. These are things of joy”.

We have a dynamic parish - Sir Philip Nwawu (KSJ)

Sir Philip Nwawu is the General Secretary, Ipaja Deanery Catholic Men Organisation (CMO) and Chairman, Holy Family Society, “In this one year, all parishioners under the leadership of our dynamic parish priest have been working very hard to give our young parish a good status. I must tell you, our parish priest, Rev. Fr. Eboh is God sent. He is a transformer and a builder. He has greatly transformed this church. Within a spate of one year he has done a lot for this church. We were a family before he came, but the very day he arrived here, he announced his vision of making this parish one great family and that is what we are today. That spirit has been guiding us.

The Parish in one year Actually for a very young parish, it has been very wonderful, especially the area of flood control. Since the Parish Priest came in he has actually done a lot and also has the lay faithful of the Church. We want to thank God for that. What would you attribute to the successes registered so far? It is the spirit of oneness. We have this unifying slogan here: ‘One Great Family.’ We do everything like one family. This is a village family Church. We all know ourselves and we believe in one another. That is what has kept us on.

Be steadfast and continue to pray as one great family - Basil Oparah Bro, Basil Oparah is Liturgy Chairman. “Our parish is just one year. But I tell you, even though our recognition as a parish was long overdue, it has not been very easy. I can recall when we were still an out-station of CKC Akowonjo, our liturgy was the best within this area. What we have tried to do within this one year is put a step forward and we have been doing well by the grace of God. I am convinced that what is happening in this parish is not man’s design. It is the Lord’s making. We are doing very well”. My message is for them to be steadfast and continue to pray as one great family. We have a priest who has encouraged us to organise different programmes aimed at the spiritual growth of the parishioners. The church is growing under the leadership of our able parish priest. We have worked together and we have seen that having our own parish and a priest closer to us makes things a lot easier for us. Today we are happy because we can manage our resources with our priest. Although we have always been happy here, we have added joy. For the younger ones, I enjoin them to develop self-discipline and passion to serve God”.

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We identify with one another here Our parish priest is doing very well - Chief Greg Umelo

- Maxwell Okoroigwe

Chief Greg Umelo is the Chairman of Catholic Men Organisation (CMO), Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, Shasha, Lagos.

Maxwell Okoroigwe is the President of the Board of Lectors and Secretary of Liturgy Committee, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, Shasha

“The CMO has remained the pillar of this Church. We have a lot of men in this Church but a registered population of a little above a hundred. We work and cooperate with everybody in this Church including the parish priest. Our slogan here is one big family and indeed we operate here as one big happy family.We identify with one another in every circumstance, big or small. This started when we were an out-station of CKC Akowonjo. Then we were feeling somehow marginalised. We came together here and decided to work as a family and this helped us greatly to achieve a parish and that has been guiding us in all other things that we do”.

“I am happy that under my leadership we were made a parish and our population has been on constant increase. Most important is the spirit of togetherness that exists among parishioners especially among those of us in the liturgical arms”. Message to parishioners and Parish Priest I call on all parishioners to remain focused. As a young parish, we have a lot of challenges but if we remain one great family that we are today, we will achieve greatness. To my parish priest who has been doing very well, I commend and remind him that he needs to do more. With our support he will set a great record in this parish.

God blessed us with a hard working God is involved in all we do here parish priest - Samuel Egwuekwe - Mrs Florence Igwubor

Mrs Florence Igwubor is the President of Catholic Women Organisation (CWO), What is the secret of the joy that flows in the parish? The secret is Our Lady of Perpetual Help. She is a great mother, a great intercessor, a mother that meets us at every point of our needs each time we call on her. Then God blessed us with a hard working parish priest. He is a rare gem. He is a peace maker and always calm. My prayer is that the good Lord that has given him to this parish will continue to uphold and strengthen him. I wish him long life in the vineyard of the Lord. I also pray that the spirit of oneness continues to dwell among us all. To the young ones I enjoin them to hold on to God and avoid distractions.

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Samuel Egwuekwe is President, Catholic Young Adults Association (CYAA), and Chairman, First Year Anniversary Celebration Organising Committee “We are celebrating because after several years as an out station, we were on 18th of December 2013 made a parish. To crown it all, God blessed us with a wonderful parish priest who has worked assiduously to elevate the status of the parish and grown the parishioners spiritually. Our parish priest charged the Young Adults to execute this first year anniversary celebration and we are excited that we did not fail. We are looking forward to making it an annual event. We are also using this opportunity to celebrate Christmas for the children. You can see it is a happy celebration. God is involved in all that we do here.

Event Diary

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CMON Isolo Deanery Holds Monthly Meeting

The February 2015 Monthly General Meeting of the Catholic Men Organisation Nigeria (CMON) Isolo Deanery held at St Lawrence Catholic Church, Isheri-Olofin, Idimu Lagos. Pictures show cross sections of members at the meeting. Pix by NCR Digital Concepts.

L-R: Chief Ambrose Aka; Chief Vincent Umeh; Rev Fr. Michael Afrifa and Engr. Fred Akhetuame

R-L: Sir Ignatius Obinani and other CMON Isolo Deanery executives

Cross section of CMON members

Some parish CMON executives

Members of the Catholic Men Organisation, Isolo Deanery

Some CMON Parish chairmen

CMON Finance Desk

CWO Memebers presenting a song

Cross section of CMON members

David Enato , Christopher Okonkwo and other members

L-R: Barr. Samuel Odenore; Mr. Tony Nwosu and other member

Cross section of CMON members

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Testimony Rv. Fr. Nicholas Ibeneme

The Power of the Miraculous Medal: The story and the Testimony


n 1830 the Blessed Mother appeared three times at the motherhouse of the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul on the rue de Bac in Paris. She manifested Herself to the humble postulant Sister (now Saint) Catherine Labouré. Here is how the Saint described the encounter when the Medal of the Immaculate Conception was revealed: “Her feet rested on a white globe ... I saw three rings on each of Her fingers, graduated in size, the largest one near the base of the finger, one of medium size in the middle, the smallest one at the tip set with gems of proportionate size, some larger and others smaller ... the larger gems emitted greater rays and the smaller gems smaller rays that streamed upon the white globe at Her feet. I could not express . . . what I saw, the beauty and the brilliance of the dazzling rays ... An oval frame formed round the Blessed Virgin. Within it was written in let-

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ters of gold: ‘Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee’ ... At this instant the tableau seemed to turn, and I beheld the reverse of the Medal; a large M surmounted by a bar and a Cross; beneath the M were the hearts of Jesus and Mary, the one crowned with thorns, the other pierced by a sword. Twelve stars encircled the whole. Then a voice said to me; ‘Have a medal struck after this model. All those who wear it will receive great graces; they should wear it around the neck. Graces will abound for those who wear it with confidence.’” The front of the Medal represents Mary Most Holy standing on the earth, Her foot crushing the head of the serpent, and Her hands outstretched in a gesture of motherly compassion to all who ask Her assistance. The prayer reflects Her title as the Immaculate Conception defined infallibly twenty-four years later on Dec. 8, 1854 by Venerable Pope Pius IX in his encyclical Ineffabilis Deus. The rays of light from Her hands symbolize the

graces She is eager to bestow on those who wear Her Medal and pray to Her. Within two years, having been given the approval of the Archbishop of Paris, the first medals were made and distributed in France. Immediately blessings began to shower down on those who wore it and it quickly became known as the ‘Miraculous Medal’. In just a few years, millions were being distributed. No sacramental of the Church had made such an impact on the Church since the Rosary had routed the Albigensians and the Turks. It works miracles literally and seems to specialize in the impossible, the conversion of the hardened sinner, and the care of the hopelessly ill. With the exception of the Holy Cross, no other Christian symbol was ever so widely multiplied, or was ever the instrument of so many marvellous results. Graces given to those who ask for them Our Lady said to St. Catherine, “Come to the foot of the altar ... There graces will be shed upon all, great and little, who ask for them. Graces will be especially shed upon those who ask for them.”

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Some of the graces that St. Catherine suggested that people should ask of God included: The grace of a cheerful disposition, the grace to recognize and accept the trials of everyday life as blessings from God; to be contented with one´s state in life; to understand and appreciate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and especially ‘to love God as much as Our Lady wants me to’. St. Catherine Labouré, Intimate with the Mother of God St. Catherine Labouré, who stated that she saw Mary “in flesh and bone” and had the privilege of kneeling at Her knee and resting her hands in Our Lady´s lap, a favor not granted to any other seer, was born during the ringing of the Angelus on May 2, 1806. Her earthly mother died when she was only nine years old. She was witnessed to have embraced a statue of the Mother of God and saying “Now you will be my Mother!” and fostered a lifelong desire to see Our Lady. It was the constant petition of her prayers and she was serenely confident it would be realized. St. Vincent de Paul visited her in a dream when she was eighteen and she

entered the order he had established on January 22, 1830 at the age of twentythree. St. Catherine considered the apparitions in proper perspective, not as a personal favor to herself (though in a sense they were) but rather as a general boon to mankind. She only considered herself as “an instrument” and she made her confessor promise to keep her identity secret, a secret kept even from her fellow religious for forty years. St. Catherine also had the gift of prophecy, and one of her prophecies yet to be realized concerns a great triumph of Our Lady: “Oh, how wonderful it will be to hear, ‘Mary is Queen of the Universe ... ‘ It will be a time of peace, joy and good fortune that will last long; She will be carried as a banner and She will make a tour of the world.” The simple and powerful heaven-sent prayer of the Miraculous Medal is usually said three times together: “O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee.” Just a couple of months ago, people have been testifying to the favours received through the blessed mother. One lady (name withheld) was suffering from partial


paralysis. She had taken so many medications but to no avail. She was to pay hundreds of Thousands of Naira to undergo an operation at LUTH (Lagos University Teaching Hospital) but when I came in contact with her, I prayed for her and gave her the medal. It was a miracle! Gradually she started recovering till got well completely without paying a dime. Another man committed an offence that warranted his expulsion from work but when he cried for God’s intervention, I gave him the medal and the prayer, “O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee”. After facing the panel, he was given just a month suspension instead. He was so grateful to our blessed Mother for her help. There are lots of favours like healing of fibroids and other sicknesses through the power of the medal. It is not a magic wand but a simple gift from God through our blessed Mother. It must be received with faith. I, therefore, encourage all including non-Christians to embrace this gift from God. Give to the elderly, the sick, the unloved and the dying.

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Family Health

Foods that are killing you …You are what you eat


ndeed you are what you eat physically, mentally and spiritually. Man is a tripartite or triune being of spirit, soul (mind) and body. If we want to be up to par spiritually, mentally and physically, we must feed our spirits, minds and bodies with the right diets. Some people live to eat, but we should eat to live. We should not dig our graves with our teeth (what we eat). In this piece, I am focusing on the mental diet. However, let me mention something in passing about physical diet. Your body responds mentally, physically and spiritually to your food habits. Your food could heal, cure, elevate moods, improve memory, and make the brain sharper? Food has been discovered to be the greatest natural pharmacy that is available to human beings Dr. Jay Milton Hoffman wrote a book entitled, “The missing link in the medical curriculum which is food chemistry in its relationship with body chemistry.” If your biochemistry is messed up, it will affect the functioning of your mind and ultimately your spirit. What you eat and drink and how you combine them, to a large extent, affect your biochemistry. Now let us turn our attention to mental diet. What is mental food? It is the sum total of all influences that affect the way you think. If these influences are positive, they will help you realize your full potential. If they are negative, they make you go down to the nadir of your existence. In

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other words, they will be the mental foods that are killing you. One word actually defines our mental foods: ENVIRONMENT. There are three components of the environment, namely YOUR OBSERVATIONS – what you see around you; YOUR ASSOCIATION – the company you keep; THE TEACHINGS YOU IMBIBE – the books you read, the music you listen to, the movies you watch, the information you get from internet, etc. They will determine your habits, attitude and personality. Experts agree that the person you are TODAY – your personality, ambition and present status in life are largely the result of your psychological environment. In order to avoid mind foods that poisonous and so can kill you, do the following:

diocrity. You are what you think you are. If you think you are first class, you are. If you think you are inferior, you are. If you think you are mediocre, you are. Ralph Waldo Emerson said that, “The ancestor of every action is the thought.” So, if you think first class, you ultimately act first class. If you think inferior, you eventually act inferior. If you think mediocre, at the end of the day you will act mediocre.


The Devine Manual says that, “In a multitude of counselors there is wisdom.” So, get counsel from those who have succeeded. If you have to consult those who have failed, find out why they failed and avoid the pit fall.

Just as the physical diet makes the body healthy or unhealthy, the mental diet or mind foods make the mind healthy or unhealthy. A healthy mind produces a healthy life. An unhealthy mind produces a defective or mediocre life. Select the environment that will make you first class.


Throw off the many suppressive forces from the environment that suggests that you cannot be the best in your field. Absolutely reject surrendering to defeat or me-


Avoid small-thinking people or those who keep saying, “It’s impossible. It can’t be done.” Search out people whose vision align with yours and interact with them.



You can’t afford to go any other way. In the long run, going first class actually costs you less than going second class. Develop an instinct for quality. People instinctively rate you for quality. Culled from MANUFACTURING TODAY

Vol. 2 No.104, 2015 St. Thomas Catholic Church, Onilekere, Ikeja, recently organised three spectacular events: the sentforth of its Assistant Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. James Mary Chiemenem SDV and reception of his successor, Rev. Fr. Jeff Nwoke SDV; and the commissioning of members of Man of Order & Discipline (MOD) by the Lagos State Command.


(M) Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. (Dr) Daniel Nwankwo (L) Rev. Fr. Jeff Nwoke SDV and Rev. Fr. James Mary Chiemenem SDV (R)

(M) Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. (Dr) Daniel Nwankwo Brig .Gen.(L) Rev. Fr. Jeff Nwoke SDV and Rev. Fr. James Mary Chiemenem SDV (R)

Baale of Onilekere and his Olori

Priest and some commissioned members

commissioned members

Commissioned members

Commissioned members

PPC Vice-Chairman, Sir Egbe and wife, Lady Egbe commissioned Patrons of MOD

Rev. Fr. James Mary Chiemenem SDV and the Children’s Choir which he founded

Rev. Fr. Jeff Nwoke SDV and Rev. Fr. James Mary Chiemenem SDV flanked by (R) CMIO Chairman, Barr. OC Ijoma and (L) COM Secretary, Mr Enyinnaya

Priests in joyful mood

Priests in joyful mood

Commissioned members on parade

Rev. Fr. Jeff Nwoke SDV and Rev. Fr. James Mary Chiemenem SDV flanked by the Parish Pastoral Council

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Dear Kiddies, From this edition, we will be presenting to you, in series, ‘A Catechism of Christian Doctrine’ as approved by the Archbishops and Bishops of England and Whales, and directed to be used in all their Dioceses. The first three kids to answer correctly the accompanying questions will receive free copies of the following edition of Nigerian Catholic Reporter. Kindly answer the questions at the bottom page and send your answers to Info@nigeriancatholicreporter.com.

A Catechism of Christian Doctrine ( 1 ) Faith in God

1. Who made you? God made me. 2. Why did God make you? God made me to know him, love him and serve him in this world, and to be happy with him for ever in the next. 3. To whose image and likeness did God make you? God made me to his own image and likeness. 4. Is this likeness to God in your body, or in your soul? This likeness to God is chiefly in my soul. 5. How is your soul like to God? My soul is like to God because it is a spirit, and is immortal. 6. What do you mean when you say that your soul is immortal? When I say my soul is immortal, I mean that my soul can never die. 7. Of which must you take more care, of your body or of your soul? I must take more care of my soul; for Christ has said, ‘What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and suffers the loss of his own soul?’ (Matt. 16:26) 8. What must you do to save your soul? To save my soul I must worship God by Faith, Hope and Charity; that is, I must believe in him, I must hope in him, and I must love him with my whole heart. 9. What is faith? Faith is a supernatural gift of God, which enables us to believe without doubting whatever God has revealed. 10. Why must you believe whatever God has revealed? I must believe whatever God has revealed because God is the very truth, and can neither deceive nor be

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deceived. 11. How are you to know what God has revealed? I am to know what God has revealed by the testimony, teaching, and authority of the Catholic Church. 12. Who gave the Catholic Church divine authority to teach? Jesus Christ gave the Catholic Church divine authority to teach, when he said, ‘Go therefore, make disciples of all the nations’. (Matt. 28:19)

The Apostles’ Creed

13. What are the chief things which God has revealed? The chief things which God has revealed are contained in the Apostles’ Creed. 14. Say the Apostles’ Creed I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and was buried; he descended into hell; the third day

he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven; is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit; the Holy Catholic Church; the Communion of Saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and life everlasting. Amen.

This Edition’s Questions: Kindly answer the following questions and send your answers to Info@nigeriancatholicreporter.com. 1. How is the Apostles’ Creed divided? 2. What is the first article of the Creed? 3. What is God?

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Profile for Francis Toke

NCR March magazine  

The Nigerian Catholic Reporter is a print and web news source that is dedicated towards the propagation, protection and promotion of the Chr...

NCR March magazine  

The Nigerian Catholic Reporter is a print and web news source that is dedicated towards the propagation, protection and promotion of the Chr...