Peace is here with us; given to us freely without paying for it; nonetheless, we must work out this peace as reflected in Christ Jesus because God brought this peace to us without our cooperation; and He (God) cannot make this peace remain with us without our cooperation as we in yearn and long for this peace which the world seems difficult to give.
It was Sunday 15th January, 2023 at the Nicon Luxury Hotel, Abuja when the crowd witnessed the arrival of the renowned Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese Most Rev. (Dr.) Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah at the usual yearly Peace Concert of Rev. Fr. Daniel Ogbeifun (aka Fr. Deo). It has become so much a concern having to always recognize the presence of Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah at any given occasion. This is because of the fact that it is considered a privilege to witness the erudite and fearless Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah speak on any given occasion due to the high expectation from his fans and of course those who are beneficiaries of his social justice campaign in Nigeria.
As Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah walked into the hall and was ushered to his seat; there was so much side comments from every angle as many began to whisper to one another saying; Bishop Kukah is here! Bishop Kukah will hit the Government again today….. These were the side comments and positive expectation from the people who were at the venue of the Peace Concert. Was Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah the only Catholic Bishop who graced the occasion?Not at all! Yet, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah did not shatter the expectations of those who had high expectations of him. Before unraveling what Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah said it will be appropriate to recognize every other Churchman present at the event that was titled “Peace is Possible”.
We also had the presence of His Eminence John Cardinal Onaiyekan (The Emeritus Cardinal Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja) who was present also at the event. Also, at the event was the Auxiliary Bishop of Abuja Archdiocese Most. Rev. (Dr.)Anslem Umorem and many other priest and religious who galvanized the occasion with the galaxy of their presence to attend such a significant event organized by Rev. Fr. Daniel Ogbeifun. The virtual presence of another Churchman graced the occasion is the person of Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu a Nigerian Prelate of the Catholic Church who represents the Holy See at several International Organizations in Geneva. He has worked in the diplomatic service of the Holy See since 1994. He has been an apostolic nuncio with the title of Archbishop since 2012.
The question one keeps pondering on is the fact that why will such an event attract a huge high ranking Church personality to such a concert. This is not just a concert; but, a Peace Concert. It is indeed a concert to evangelize the Nigerian State on the possibility of Peace in world and in particular Nigeria; ours is a Country in dire need of Peace and these Churchmen have consistently understood how important Peace is to Nigeria in a society where everyone is searching for peace; and yet, seems very elusive. No wonder, the Auxiliary Bishop of Abuja Archdiocese Bishop Anslem Umorem considers the event as most necessary in our time and thanked Rev. Fr. Daniel Ogbeifun and his team for coming over to Nigeria to stage this event. The Auxiliary Bishop in fact made it known to Fr. Daniel how important the event will be for future generations. The interesting aspect of the event that the Auxiliary Bishop appreciated was the fact that Fr. Daniel left the comfort of America and came down to Nigeria to organize such a concert to as to speak to the Nigerian condition. He came to share and experience the Nigerian condition just as Jesus Christ came down from heaven to share in the human condition. He went further to say that God would have just sat on the throne in Heaven and save humanity; just as Fr. Daniel would have just be in faraway America to organize the Peace Concert. Yet, discomforted himself and made every sacrifice to put this event together in a very risky zone were the fear of kidnapping is the beginning of wisdom. This indeed was a great risk for the sake of Nigeria Fr. Daniel Ogbeifun undertook just to experience the Nigerian condition as reflected in his speech at the event.
Furthermore, His Eminence John Cardinal Onaiyekan in his usual simplistic style of communicating to his audience was very analytical and critical on the concept Peace. Although, the Cardinal, as one coming from the background of Inter-religious dialogue accepted the fact that peace is possible and tasked everyone on the need to accept the responsibility of making Peace possible. Cardinal John Onaiyekan in his speech at the event understands also the fact that Peace is in itself a gift from God; and this was brought to us in the world in the person of Jesus Christ who is the Prince of Peace. Hence, according to Cardinal Onaiyekan Jesus is a gift to humanity who himself is Peace.
Peace is here with us; given to us freely without paying for it; nonetheless, we must work out this peace as reflected in Christ Jesus because God brought this peace to us without our cooperation; and He (God) cannot make this peace remain with us without our cooperation as we in yearn and long for this peace which the world seems difficult to give. Therefore, His Eminence John Cardinal Onaiyekan a Biblical Theologian and scholar went back into scriptures to reflect on words of the one who sent him (Jesus Christ) to say “Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9). Hence, he admonished that the event must reflect that we are children of God only if we are peacemakers.
In a virtual presentation, Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu was classical in his thoughts as he made reference to the Holy Father as reflected in so many Church documents. He was very optimistic on the possibility of Peace in the world and charged everyone to make peace beginning from the home. He reiterated the Second Vatican Council on what he emphasized as the ‘domestic church’ where the family must understand the importance of peace as a necessary ingredients towards enthroning peace in the world. The Papal Nuncio and Archbishop admonished the Nigerian youths and encouraged them to be optimistic about Nigeria despite the lingering threat to peace. He went further to say that peace is the most sought after product in the world if only people will make the right decisions. The Papal Nuncio and Archbishop use the opportunity of the events to pray for Nigeria and the whole world. He prayed that the war between Russia and Ukraine shall cease for peace to reign.
As the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah climbed the stage to speak as invited by the Master of Ceremony (MC) he took a different turn. He questioned the possibility of Peace in the world. His question as to the possibility of peace is borne out of his training as a Philosopher. The discipline Philosophy he said taught him more to ask questions; as such, when he writes people tend to accuse him of not providing solutions. Nevertheless, he made it known clearly that most times the answers are in the question; and only those will critical minds will be able to give answers to his question. Therefore, according to Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah the possibility of achieving peace might only be in the grave; because, only there can we achieve absolute peace. Hence, he posed the question saying, does that mean that we should not strive for peace? He at this point interrogated the concept of peace the concert seeks to achieve; and only then can we understand how to go about achieving peace. The Bishop of Sokoto went further to critically put in perspective the relative understanding of the term peace; and he did not deny the realities surrounding conflicts, wars, crisis, and violence as an integral part of human societies. He therefore, rather sought out possible ways of ameliorating these evils that bedevils our nations at a time like this. Hence, he posed the question again thus: Is Peace really Possible?
The event did not only witness Churchmen as listed; but, the presence of the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development was part of the event Her Excellency, Mrs. Pauline Tallen, a former Deputy Governor of Plateau State. She again, came in a very simple but gorgeous style and was ushered to her sit. The minister was so glad to be part of the event and thanked Fr. Daniel for putting this event together towards peace in Nigeria. Mrs. Pauline Tallen said that the event was timely considering the upcoming elections in Nigeria and prayed that Nigeria will embrace peace for the good of the electoral process. Amongst those present was the representative of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Honorable Geoffrey Onyeama ably represented by Ambassador Samson Itegboje, Ambassador Nkem Nwadibia ably represented by Madam Comfort Erugo, the former Inspector General of Police Mike Okiro who was represented by Mr. Bello Premier and other dignitaries well present.
During the event Fr. Daniel launched a new musical album in addition to other music albums that are well documented online. During the events other popular gospel artists featured in the events. More so, prizes were won and token given to young talented Nigerian youths who distinguished themselves for special award as they showcased their talents as part of the commitment in ensuring that Nigerian talents do not waste. This again puts the awardees in the limelight as to the need for them to show more commitment in using their gifts and talents for the good of society.
Rev. Fr. Daniel Ogbeifun (Aka Fr. Deo) is a Catholic Priest of Buffalo Diocese, New York – United States of America. He is very passionate about the Nigerian Project; and hence, Peace is Possible.