Abbe emerges new Primate of African Church
• Outgoing Primate Absent At Convention
The Provincial Archbishop of Ibadan, the Most Revd Julius Osayande Abbe has emerged the new Primate of the African Church Worldwide, at the church’s just concluded primate advisory board/executive committee/general committee meeting/conference, held in Ifako, Lagos.
Abbe, an indigene of Edo State, polled a total of 111 votes to defeat the Archbishop of Lagos Province, the Most Reverend Julius Oludotun Oluseye, who polled 45, while the Archbishop of Calabar Province, His Grace, the Most Rev. Augustine Odufuwa, polled 28 votes.
However, the outgoing Primate, His Eminence, Bishop Emmanuel Udofia was conspicuously absent for the two days the convention lasted, confirming the constitutional misunderstanding between him and the Church.
The Guardian learnt that he allegedly abandoned his office and relocated to Akwa Ibom, prior to the official end of his 10-year reign, which ended on April 31, 2019.
The bone of contention, The Guardian gathered, was that Udofia and some South South church leaders wanted the outgoing Primate to be allowed to finish his tenure, when he clocks 65, as spelt out in the old constitution of the church, before the new law, reviewed in 2014, which stipulates 60 years.
Sources in the church claimed the outgoing Bishop was duly informed on the need to study the new constitution properly before appending his signature, but he informed them that he was satisfied with it.
However, the Primate was said to have vacated his residence in Lagos and moved to his hometown in Akwa Ibom State, where he was directing the church’s affairs until end of April.
The Bishop of Ibadan North Diocese of the Church, Rt. Revd. Abiodun Ebenezer Ademola, told The Guardian at the convention that contrary to rumour the misunderstanding surrounding the primate seat has nothing to do with ethnicity, but purely constitutional.
“If you look at the new Primate, he is an indigene of Edo State, Southsouth, which is a confirmation that this is not about ethnicity. Also look at the margin of the election result, where he defeated the two candidates who are of the Southwest origin with a landslide,” Ademola added.
The Director of Mission of the church, Rt. Revd. Jeremiah Tunji Okunlola said from the outcome of the election, it was evident that the issue has nothing to do with ethnicity because clergymen from Southsouth and Southeast, especially from the former primate’s Ikot Okoro Archdeaconry were present during the electoral process and convention.
In his acceptance speech, the new Primate, Abbe described his appointment as a very high honour bestowed on him.
He said: “Though I may not deserve it, but I don’t know what you might have seen in me…Today God has shown us favour and mercy and has put me in the exalted position. I count it a rare honour, a rare privilege that I will be so-called to serve in this capacity.”
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