The Oasis Reporters
December 27, 2017
The Name “Muhammadu Buhari Road”, Removed. “Assumpta Avenue”, Stays.
The attempt by the Rochas Okorocha led government in Imo state to rename Assumpta Avenue to Muhammadu Buhari Road suffered a huge setback owing to the noticeable anger amongst the teeming catholic faithful in the state.
Today in a Press release, the government swiftly reversed itself and went back to status quo.
ASSUMPTA AVENUE OWERRI STAYS
This is to inform the public and particularly the highly respected body of Roman Catholic Faithfuls in Imo State and beyond that OKPORO UZO ASSUMPTA or ASSUMPTA AVENUE Owerri stays.
At all material times, it was never the intention of the Imo State Government to rename the said strategic road which spans from ASSUMPTA CATHEDRAL (beginning from the HOLY FAMILY statue built by the Rescue Mission Government) and terminating at Warehouse House Roundabout Owerri.
OKPORO UZO ASSUMPTA or ASSUMPTA ROAD AVENUE is symbolic for both religious and historic reasons in Imo State and these facts are not lost on the Government and people of Imo State.
All inconveniences occasioned by the initial oversight or error of wrongly installing a street sign suggesting a renaming of the street is highly regretted.
Imo Must Be Better.
Prof Obiaraeri N.O.
Honourable Commissioner For Information, Imo State.”
In an earlier report, titled “IMO GOVT CHANGES MARIA ASSUMPTA AVENUE, OWERRI TO MUHAMMADU BUHARI ROAD, the Catholic Archbishop Of Owerri diocese was said to have Summoned an Emergency Meeting to discuss the situation.
1. Dear Brother Knights & Ladies, I am reporting officially to you this matter of urgent national and particularly CATHOLIC concern: The change of Maria Assumpta Avenue, Owerri to Muhammadu Buhari Road by the Imo State Government.
2. I said officially because at the invitation of His Grace, Archbishop Obinna of the Owerri Catholic Archdiocese, I joined a high-level meeting that he chaired on the matter after Mass on Sunday, December 24, 2017 at the Maria Assumpta Cathedral, Owerri, Imo State. I therefore have the mandate of the meeting to alert the KSJI at the national level and also to brief the KSJI SSP and SSP Ladies Auxiliary. The decision was that all Catholics in Nigeria should be alerted which is why in this post here, however, I shall deliver some reserved details directly to the SSPs KSJI & Ladies Auxiliary.
3. An imposing/conspicuous brick-board has already been erected directly facing the entrance of the Maria Assumpta Cathedral, Owerri to herald this new MUHAMMADU BUHARI ROAD.
4. For those who know Owerri very well, Maria Assumpta Avenue is the expressway in front of Maria Assumpta Cathedral, leading to Owerri City Centre from Owerri – Port Harcourt Road and also intersecting Owerri – Onitsha at the entrance of the Cathedral. It is a strategic road that channels all traffics from Port Harcourt and Onitsha directions into Owerri City. Maria Assumpta Avenue is as old as the Maria Assumpta Cathedral itself.
5. Maria Assumpta Cathedral is not only the greatest man-made structure in old Owerri, and perhaps still so in modern Owerri and therefore is of monumental historical significance to Owerri people in particular and Imo State in general but it is also a CATHOLIC edifice of a ‘world heritage’ status. To now locate such an edifice on a road that bears the name of an Islamic leader has been interpreted by the Church as a desecration of the Catholic Faith and by extension, Christianity and what it holds dear the most.
Ironically, the roundabout at the entrance of the Cathedral where the new name of a road was erected has a giant monument of the Holy Family.
6. Maria Assumpta Cathedral is not just for the Owerri Archdiocese but it is also the headquarters of the Owerri Ecclesiastical Province which extents to Abia State.
7. Catholics in Owerri, especially parishioners of the Cathedral, had a sad Sunday and boiling is the right word to describe the feeling of the Church right now. His Grace the Archbishop of Owerri in his homily described the development as an insult to the Catholic Church, a slap on the face of the Holy Family, and a disrespect to Holy Mother Mary whose name is on the Cathedral.
8. Therefore, logical reactions have been planned and Catholics nationwide are required to be part of the action, but most importantly not to work at cross-purposes. Rather, they are to seek accurate information/updates and work in accordance only with the Church. As I remain a member of the Archbishop-led Committee, I will do what I can to send in updates here when necessary. Our SSPs will also be direct leaders in this struggle and will equally provide leadership and information as they deem necessary.
9. For the avoidance of doubt, the Catholic Church is not opposed to naming ALL the roads in Owerri after His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, if the will make the Imo State Governor happy and help his political aspirations, BUT it can never be the Maria Assumpta Avenue. Therefore, the reaction of the Church has nothing to do with politics or even Islam but simply the preservation of its own Faith and heritage.
St. John the Baptist… Pray for us.
SIR STEVE NWOKEOCHA,
Ist TRUSTEE, KSJI ABUJA GRAND COMMANDERY.
So all is well that ends well, as Assumpta Avenue remains what it has always been. The name change has been nullified by the state government.