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Mmaku Catholic Centre: A Legacy Destroyed By Its Beneficiaries (Part 2): Know Who You Are Dealing With-Do Not Offend The Wrong Person

Mmaku Catholic Centre: A Legacy Destroyed By Its Beneficiaries (Part 2): Know Who You Are Dealing With-Do Not Offend The Wrong Person

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In his best selling book, “The 48 Laws of Power”, the author, Robert Greene postulated the 19th Law of Power as follows: “Know Who You Are Dealing With – Do Not Offend the Wrong Person”. 

And in his summary point on that 19th Law, Greene warned thus: ” There are many different kinds of people in the world, and you can never assume that everyone will react to your strategies in the same way. Deceive or outmaneuver some people and they will spend the rest of their lives seeking revenge. They are wolves in lamb’s clothing. So choose your victims and opponents carefully, then never offend or deceive the wrong person”. 
Secondly, Robert Greene also postulated the 47th Law of Power as follows: “Do Not Go Past The Mark You Aimed For; In Victory, Learn When To Stop”. 

Summarising his point on that law, the author said: “The moment of victory is often the moment of greatest peril. In the heat of victory, arrogance and overconfidence can push you past the goal you had aimed for, and by going too far, you make more enemies than you defeat. Do not allow success to go to your head. There’s no substitute for strategy and careful planning. Set a goal, and when you reach it, stop”. 

There’s no doubt that in their naivety to the game of power, some Ezioha and Agunese youth who led the last stroke of attack that finally sank MCC, were in full contravention of the two above quoted laws of power. (Law 19 & 47 of the 48 Laws of Power). We shall come back to analyse this in details later on.  But let’s first examine the events that preceded this horrendous attack. 

Recall that after decades of overseeing the activities of MCC as the founder, Fr Innocent Udeafor at a point decided to hand over the management of MCC to the Catholic Diocese of Awgu headed by its Bishop, Most Rev Dr John Ifeanyichukwu Okoye. 

Shortly after the takeover by the Diocese, the rift between the Bishop and another Mmaku indigenous priest, Rev Fr James Ani erupted. Although this article does not to want to dwell on the impasse between the Bishop and Fr James because that is a story for another day; however, the bottom line is that Fr James ended up forcefully occupying St Theresa’s Catholic Parish Mmaku against Bishop’s directives. 

As the impasse escalated and got dirtier, Fr James sympathizers cum supporters amongst Mmaku people increased in number and momentum, especially the youth. While the Bishop fought with the instrumentality of government authority and agencies like the police, Fr James fought with the instrumentality of sympathetic propaganda hinged on marginalization and injustice against him and Mmaku as a people. 

Emboldened by his increasing support base, and having successfully captured St Theresa’s Catholic Church and its Parish House, Fr James set out to also capture Mmaku Catholic Centre. Hence, he got the signatures of some Mmaku indigenes and filed a suit against the Bishop, claiming ownership of MCC on the basis that the land on which MCC  was built is a collective land owned by Mmaku people; and that the Bishop cannot lay ownership claim on a property in Mmaku land. 

As all these were going on, one fateful day, some Ezioha and Aguenese youth wielding dangerous weapons, and believed to be acting on the instance of Fr James, stormed MCC with violent attack, chasing away pupils, students, teachers, nurses, doctors, bakers, farmers and all workers and managers of Mmaku Catholic Centre (MCC), ordered everyone to vacate the centre with immediate effect and then locked up the place. Their mission is simply to stop the activities of MCC, end Bishop’s control over it and by so doing prove to him (Bishop) that he cannot be in Awgu and still be controlling  a property in Mmaku land. 

That singular action by some Ezioha and Aguenese youths, proved to be the last stroke that broke the camel’s back as it finally sank MCC, and left it in its present ruins. This is because when the news of the attack went viral, most parents withdrew their wards from the school for security reasons. But to those Ezioha and Aguenese youths, they felt they have dealt with the Bishop and have won. Little did they know that in their so-called ‘victory’, they have broken two critical Laws of Power (Law 19 & 47) as postulated by Robert Greene which I highlighted earlier in the introductory part of this article. They have offended the wrong person and they have gone past their mark. 

Let’s do a critical analyses of their actions and juxtapose it with what Robert Greene warned against when he said in Law 19, “Know Who You Are Dealing With – Do Not Offend the Wrong Person”. 
First, do the Ezioha/Aguenese youth really know (identified) who they were dealing with? The answer is capital ‘NO’. 

To me, they were fighting sheepishly.  If your anger is against the Bishop and he is the one you are dealing with, you should know that attacking MCC built by Fr Udeafor would amount to offending the wrong person. And that’s why I asked in part 1 of this article, where was the voice of reason in Ezioha people when that decision was made?

Secondly, did they go past their mark? The answer here is YES. 
It’s important to understand that Mmaku Catholic Centre is different from St Theresa’s Catholic Church, Mmaku. These are two distinct institutions with their respective perimeter fences demarcating their boundaries. While MCC was solely built and owned by Fr Innocent Udeafor: St Theresa’s Catholic Church, Mmaku is a parish built by Mmaku Catholic faithful but under the control of the Catholic Bishop of Awgu Diocese just like every other Catholic Church in Awgu diocese. 

When Fr James Ani and his loyalists succeeded in dislodging the parish priest sent by Bishop to head St Theresa’s Catholic Church Mmaku at that time; and successfully foiled all attempts by the Bishop to reclaim the parish and eventually ensured that Fr James took total occupancy and control of St Theresa’s Catholic Church and its Parish House; one could imagine that in their over-rated and over-celebrated sense of victory against the bishop, they made themselves vulnerable to arrogance that goes with victory. 

Thus, they failed to heed to the warnings of Robert Greene who said, “The moment of victory is often the moment of greatest peril. In the heat of victory, arrogance and overconfidence can push you past the goal you had aimed for, and by going too far, you make more enemies than you defeat. Do not allow success to go to your head. Set a goal, and when you reach it, stop”. 

Unfortunately, Fr James and his loyalists reached their goal, but failed to stop. Hence they went too far and by so doing have made more enemies than they defeated. Come to think of it, if the root cause of Fr James’ impasse with the Bishop is that the Bishop sent him out of his former parish in Inyi Achi due to some alleged dispute with his parishioners and asked him to proceed on four months leave without giving him a parish, and now some Mmaku people who bought into his injustice narrative have succeeded in installing Fr James as a parish priest in Mmaku, his own hometown. Shouldn’t that be enough for Fr James and his loyalists? What else do they want? Why should they desire to also have MCC for themselves? 

These are really critical questions to ask because it’s on record that the invasion of MCC by some Ezioha and Agunese youths didn’t happen just once. Reports had it that there was a time they came and even disrupted students writing WAEC exams in the Centre. It was also on record that Fr James severally harassed people including seminarians working at MCC, threatening them to either be loyal to him or risk being attacked. 

It was also on record that Fr James sued the Bishop challenging ownership of MCC. One wonders what would have happened if Fr James had won the case. Would he have taken over ownership of MCC? Is that how Fr Udeafor’s investment would have become his own just like that? Moreover, what is the interest of those Mmaku indigenes who jointly appended their signatures and joined Fr James in the suit? Were they hoping to become co-owners of MCC?Indeed, it’s obvious that there was a deliberate move by Fr James and his loyalists to cross the mark, and one wonders what was their motive?

Nonetheless, in all of this, I have two worries; first is that what baffles me is that some Ezioha youth who reacted to my first article on this subject attributed their attack on MCC as an interventionist move to safeguard the centre from the Bishop whom they alleged was mismanaging the Centre and stealing its equipment and facilities. But I likened their excuse to a man who sighted a snake on top of his roof and decided to set his house on fire just to kill the snake.  He would end up a homeless man. Wouldn’t he?

If truly the Ezioha/Agunese youths wanted to save MCC from the alleged Bishop’s mismanagement, looting and theft, it would have been more heroic for them to storm the Bishop’s house in Awgu, cause a scene there by demanding immediate return of all MCC stolen equipment/facilities. Otherwise, attacking MCC and stoping all commercial activities by locking up the place can be likened to a man who drank poison in order to kill his enemies. 

My second worry is that up till now, it appears the perpetrators of that action are yet to realize that their actions carry grave consequences. Offending the wrong person in a game of power has dire consequences that can go beyond one or two generations, and that is why Robert Greene warned seriously against it.  Please pick up the book ( 48 Laws of Power) and read, I guess you will understand better. 

Did they care about Fr Udeafor, his emotions and how he feels about the whole development? What could be more devastating than seeing one’s lifetime achievements ruined in a twinkle of an eye. Or is it because he’s a priest, you think he doesn’t have emotions nor feel pain?  Honestly I think Fr Udeafor deserves an unreserved apology from the entire Ezioha community for allowing their youth lead that attack on MCC. That to me should be the first step before other moves towards restoring and reviving MCC would be undertaken. 

In Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart”, when Ikemefuna was being led to be killed, one elderly man called Okonkwo aside and told him not to lay his hand on the boy because he calls him (Okonkwo) father. If there’s anyone to lay a destructive hand on MCC, it shouldn’t be any Ezioha person because the Founder of MCC is a son of the soil of Ezioha, not a stranger; and Ezioha as the host community remains the primary beneficiary of MCC.

In fact, it is expected that even if Agunese youth loyal to Fr James muted the idea to attack MCC, Ezioha youth should be the one to rebuke and resist such an attack. This questions the leadership of Ezioha youth; this questions the leadership of Ezioha Community and also questions the leadership of Mmaku-Ugwu automous community whose king is from Ezioha town. Else, one wonders if this is a conspiracy of some sort.

Finally, suggesting a way out of this quagmire, I have three suggestions: First, I strongly opine that Ezioha as a community should humbly own up to their mistakes and approach Fr Innocent Udeafor this January for apology and seek his forgiveness. Luckily for them. He is in the country now and will be in the villa this New year. They should cease this opportunity to meet and apologize to him; discuss and reason with him and then join their hands in solidarity and support for all his plans towards resuscitating MCC. Doing this should be a turning point that will usher in every other good efforts towards restoring and reviving MCC and even St Theresa’s Catholic Church as well. 

And going forward, Ezioha as a community should acknowledge that divinity has bestowed on them the natural role of being a rallying point for the entire Mmaku people considering that the first primary school in Mmaku was built in Ezioha; so also the first Catholic Church in the whole of Awgu diocese (St Theresa’s Catholic Church, Mmaku); the first Mmaku Health Centre and also Mmaku Catholic Centre in question. All social and religious gatherings involving all the seven villages in Mmaku are usually held at Ajaba Field in Ezioha. Hence, it’s expected that Ezioha community and their youth should play their natural role in Mmaku with all sense of pride and responsibility. 

This is very important because in the words of Pastor W.F Kumuyi, “No man ever fails, until he fails on the inside” and the great Ikemba of Nnewi, Dim Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu rightly pointed out that, “The more empty the leadership, the more relaince on primordial forces”.  The leadership role that God has vested on Ezioha Community as a rallying point for Mmaku people is one that requires reasoning, visionary leadership, intellect and diplomacy; and as such shouldn’t be left to primordial forces or naivity.

Secondly, the highest decision-making body in Mmaku, be it Mmaku Improvement Union (MIU), Ozuzugboligbo Mmaku or the 3 Igwe in Council of the 3 autonomous communities in Mmaku should as a matter of urgency deliberate over the collapse of MCC and take immediate steps towards resuscitating the centre. Even if this entails meeting with the Catholic Bishop of Awgu Diocese and Fr James Ani, we should take the bull by the horn because the Igbos say that “Agbakata eze nkiti, otu ubochi ekpuru nkata gwa ya okwu”. Enough is enough! 

This move is important because in all honesty, no government whether federal, state or local will build for Mmaku people the kind of edifice and supper structures that Fr Innocent Udeafor has built for Mmaku people in MCC. If you doubt me, look back to the days of Hon Uchenna Ekwe as a member of Federal House of Representatives or that of late Augustine Chukwuobasi as Executive Chairman, Awgu LGA.  Or other Mmaku sons who have occupied one top political position or the other. What did their political regimes bring to Mmaku if not fights and divisions? I think we should count our teeth with our tongue and advise ourselves right on how to protect our own because ‘nkemjika’. 

Thirdly, the purpose of this article is not to smear anyone, but to awaken the consciousness of our people on the need to restore MCC. Already, I like the reactions that the first part of this article has generated since it was published. I also appreciate some individuals who have chatted me personally or sent me private email, expressing their readiness to connect together and form a network of concerned individuals willing to work together towards the restoration of MCC. 

I think we need more of such volunteers who are ready to connect and act as a pressure group to demand and work not just for the restoration of MCC but also for purposeful leadership in Mmaku aimed at correcting some societal ills bedeviling our various communities in Mmaku. The existence of this like minds as a critical watchdog of our society will do Mmaku some good. So if you are interested, feel free to volunteer for this course by contacting the author via email, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. Long live Mmaku Catholic Centre! Long live the greatest son of Mmaku, Fr Innocent Udeafor!! Long live the entire Mmaku people!!! Mmaku shall be great again!!!. 

In part 3 of this article, watch out for an Exclusive Interview with Rev Fr Innocent Udeafor, Founder of MCC as he shares his experiences in building and running MCC even from overseas, especially what informed his decision to hand over MCC to Awgu Catholic Diocese even while he is still alive, including his account of incidents that led to the collapse of MCC. Watch out for Part 3, coming out soon!

Witten by: Sylvanus Offorka Obasi, A Lagos-based Journalist, Content Creator & Social Entrepreneur 
Email: platformreporters@gmail.com

 
   
     

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