Timothy Olanrewaju, Maiduguri The Northern Nigeria Writers are holding their national conference in Maiduguri, Borno State capital to elicit interest in the growth of literature and reading in the northern region. Chairman of the occasion and President, Nigerian Academic of Letters, Prof Olu Obafemi in his remarl said the Maiduguri conference was the 4th edition…
I first met him in the twilight months of 2004. It came shortly after I had listened to his debut music album and been completely enthralled by the Pentecostal virtuosity that dripped from the sing-along, meaning-laden lyrics, the dance-inducing rhythm, the deeply-satisfying harmony and the nightingalic melody of the songs. It wasn’t long before the Catholic priest became my live studio guest on our compelling (now rested) breakfast television series, Bush House Nigeria.
When he breezed into the studio at 8.15 for the 9 o’clock programme, his looks and urbanity, coupled of course with the sound of his music resonating in my mind’s ear, forced me to joke, “but you don’t look like a reverend father.” As recently as four months ago when he played host to me on his live radio show in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, he taunted me back with that light-hearted remark.
For nearly a decade and a half, this multi-talented Catholic priest, worshipper, counsellor, songwriter, singer, dancer, philosopher, broadcaster and author has afforded me the type of friendship that the Bible says far transcends bad brotherhood. He belongs among a few reverend fathers of the scores I ever met that never once directly or indirectly betrayed that status.
Having been born Catholic myself, defecting only in the mid-90s to Pentecostalism, the sheer availability, humility and irreligiosity of this humane padre began to minister to me about reverting to Catholicism. Although I could talk with ‘Father Patrick’ on anything, and he me, I never raised this contemplation with him. But, I did mention it a couple of times to Mrs. Bush.
‘Father’ and I shared moments of laughter, and of prayers. When I moved to Abuja in 2009 and he got posted hereto several years after, he would invite me to his residence and parish to discuss his ever expanding plans. At the time, Bush House Nigeria was also on Kapital FM every week day; so I sold him the idea of using the station for his programme.
To this day, his Grace Family weekly broadcast still runs on the Abuja station. When he was re-transferred back to his native home state of Akwa Ibom, of course, I was on hand once or twice to meet minds with him. I love his set-up and work rate. Whether as preacher or presenter, his love for and connection with people is phenomenal.
Normally, our phone calls are quite businesslike. But, that of last June wasn’t. Then, boooom! He gave me the heads up and wanted me to take my time before reacting. I said no. In a world where true friends are a rarity, spontaneity and total support are the dividends that a good one must enjoy. This is partly the reason I didn’t need to think before supporting Rev. Fr. Patrick Henry Edet’s holy audacity to drop out of Catholic priesthood and indeed the church. This is partly the reason I support him going forward and always would.
The other half centres on who the reverend gentleman is. Since August 3, 2017, when he broke the news of his laicisation, the water passing under the bridge has transmogrified into a whirlpool. My Facebook post on the development continues to draw a steady stream of commentators nearly a week on. Clearly, an alarming majority support him.
But, there’s also the tiny minority (mainly people who never encountered ‘Father Patrick’) who are hysterical and judgmental. Thankfully, he had spoken of them and even forgiven them in advance. So, all is fine. Here’s the thing, though: the ex-Reverend Father and ex-Catholic who wants to be addressed henceforth simply as Reverend is fantastically-catholic. That’s why I love him. And, that’s why he would succeed whether the devil likes it or yes!
To be sure, I know some big-time Christian leaders I would never have supported if this were about them. I say this because standing with Rev. Patrick Henry Edet should not be misconstrued as a vote against the Catholic Church, which, with such iconic priests as Archbishop John Cardinal Onaiyekan, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah and Father Ejike Mbaka, among others, remains rock solid in Nigeria and globally. No, this vote comes naturally because the departing father is truly called of God.
Rev. Patrick Henry Edet is genuine, selfless and without a doubt knows why he left and where he is headed. This decisive vote pulled out of our friendship memorabilia is cast in belief, not sentiments. The world should watch out for the impact that his Grace Family Ministries would make with truly non-denominational, crowd-pulling meetings nationally and internationally. I wish him well.
God bless Nigeria!
NTA, would you please sit up?
Who watched NTA-International live broadcast of the Senate sitting penultimate Wednesday? While that census is going on, let me give you a defining feed-forward. I am a great fan of the network, which has positively affected our people, in more ways than one.
NTA excites me the way the station has refused to be bogged down by the nearnationwide cynicism, especially among the political elite, against it. Even the federal government has been most uncharitable to the network, just as it has been to every other federal media outfit.
However, beyond refusing to be denigrated as the country’s broadcast museum, the network must immediately up its game.
For instance, the Senate reporter that fateful Wednesday who struggled with his tenses has no business on such a beat. Ditto the director and cameramen who were not present-minded enough to pan the cameras away or kill the audio when the Senate president was being distracted or the chambers turned rowdy.
NTA should realise that it is being monitored beyond its imagination!