In his quest for lasting peace on the Plateau, the Catholic Archbishop of Jos, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, utilized the occasion of his Pastoral Visit to St. Gabriel’s Parish, Jebbu Bassa, to intercede and plead for forgiveness, reconciliation and peace between the Fulani and the Irigwe communities in Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State.
It was a colourful celebration which marked the 25th anniversary of the presence in the Archdiocese of Jos of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI), a missionary religious congregation. The celebration was presided over by Archbishop Kaigama, with over two thousand persons in attendance, 380 candidates were conferred with the Sacrament of Confirmation by the Archbishop, and 76 couples wedded previously by the Parish Priest, Fr. Gabriel Obi (OMI).
In view of the conflicts in Bassa Local Government Area which had caused injuries and lost of lives, hundreds rendered homeless and property destroyed, the Archbishop in such of lasting peace invited the Chairman of the Local Government, Hon. Sarah Bali, Traditional leaders and representatives of both the Fulani and Irigwe communities to the pastoral celebration.
Present at the occasion were the Bassa Local Government Chairman, the National Secretary General of Gan Allah Fulani Development Association of Nigeria (GAFDAN)– Alhaji Saleh Bayari, accompanied by the Secretary of the same association in Plateau State, Alhaji Damina Shuaibu and Alhaji Sule Woje who is the Chairman of the association in Bassa Local Government Area.
Giving the occasion the deserved historical veracity was the 98 year elder, Ardo Dodo Alle – the Ardo of Buhit Bassa; the Ati Asubagun Timothy, a retired ASP who represented the paramount chief of the Rukuba kingdom, the Utu Ugo Kiche- Ati Adamu Adiwu and the District Head of Igbak, Ati Sunday Itara Ajina. These prominent leaders in accord with the Archbishop prayed for God’s mercies and forgiveness for the unfortunate atrocities in the land which have claimed many lives and property.
Speaking so eloquently on the need to live as brothers and sisters from the same Creator and children of Adam and Eve, the National Secretary General of Gan Allah Fulani Development Association of Nigeria– Alhaji Saleh Bayari, pleaded for forgiveness and reconciliation from parties concerned. He implored the affected parties to embrace peaceful co-existence and to avoid further shedding of innocent blood. While assuring calmness on the side of the Fulani youths who were involved, Alhaji Bayari challenged the Irigwe leaders (in absentia) to also talk to their youth to avoid acts of provocation and violence.
Hon. Sarah Bali, Chairman Bassa Local Government Area, in his remarks stressed the need peaceful coexistence in order to achieve meaningful development in the area. Ati Asubagun Timothy, the Rukuba Chief and the 98 year elder, Ardo Dodo Alle – the Ardo of Buhit Bassa, enjoyed all parties bury their differences and work hard to right the wrongs.
The occasion lasted for more than five hours, amidst cultural dances, Biblical recitations, presentations of gifts to the Archbishop.
The Silver jubilee celebration of St. Gabriel’s Parish, Jebbu Bassa will remain unforgettable in the minds of some of the OMI priests who came from Cameroun and other parts of Nigeria to grace the occasion.
The first indigenous priest of Bassa (Fr. Peter Uchu, a lecturer with the Catholic Institute of West Africa, Port Harcourt, and some diocesan priests and female religious were also present. It was a pastoral visit with a difference, as it expressed the spiritual and the social dimensions of the mission of the Church – notably as the celebration fell on the World Mission Sunday 2017.
By Fr. Alexander Dung – Communications office, Jos.