Awka Diocese in the Map of the World and Catholic Church
The Catholic Diocese of Awka was carved out of Onitsha Archdiocese, as the papal bull for its erection indicates, on 10 November 1977.
The Catholic Diocese of Awka was carved out of Onitsha Archdiocese, as the papal bull for its erection indicates, on 10 November 1977. The bull for its erection clearly states its geographic perimeters. As at the time of its creation, it was composed of three local governments of the old Anambra state of Nigeria, namely, Awka, Njikoka and Aguata Local Government Areas (LGAs), and two towns, Ugwuoba and Akpugoeze in Oji River Local Government Area.
The whole area that was created Awka Diocese used to be the old Awka District, during the colonial times. After the colonial period, the successive government of the Nigerian nationalists divided the district into Awka and Aguata Council Areas (Divisions). Hence, the political map shows that the boundaries of the diocese correspond with the old Awka district and cover a land mass of approximately 1718 square kilometres. A travel through time and space gives a glowing picture of physical and human development that are associated with the area, the proposed diocese and people.
In present terms, the ever-increasing turnsin the development of local government authority in the country has progressively increased the number of local government areas that constitute the diocese. The number has increased from scarcely more than three to some eight Local Government Areas, namely, (1) Awka South (Awka), (2) Awka North (Achalla), (3) about half of Dunukofia (Ukpo), (4) Njikoka (Abagana), (5) Anaocha (Neni), (6) Aguata (Ekwulobia), (7) Orumba South (Umunze), (8) Orumba North (Ajalli), and the towns of Ugwuoba and Akpugoeze in Oji River Local Government in Enugu state.
Awka town itself as the seat of the diocese has had great fortune of increasing exposure to, recognition of, and benefits from the irresistible western modernisaton. Prior to creation of the diocese, Awka is known for its iron smeltering and smiting. Colonial government founded it as one of the districts of its administration. It had the presence of the colonial establishment for the district administration, of Anglican Church and of the Catholic Church. Each of these three establishments had their competing schools in the town. The colonial administration and the immediate post colonial government of the nationalists left it with only one single tarred road that ran through the centre of about half of the town.
This single road ran from Onitsha to Enugu – making Awka/Amawbia approximately about half the way either to Onitsha in the South or to Enugu in the North. Put simply, Awka was a quiet and sleepy town. The high rising profile of the town could be traced back to its status as the headquarters of Christian dioceses and that of a socio- political capital town of a state (Anambra). Without doubt, the creation of the present Anambra State of Nigeria on 27 August 1991 made Awka town to take a definite turn in its status as the headquarters of both the civil and religious authorities. Accordingly, its status as headquarters of a district, local government and state capital has had increasing impact on its physical, structural and demographical developments over the years. Its prospects, and the fact that it is where most people are, more than justified its status as the headquarters of a catholic diocese.
The apostolic bull in its citation makes clear the status of Awka. The diocesan centre or the cathedral, as the names of catholic dioceses around the world usually illustrate, became Awka. On 7 December 1977, Vatican announced the appointment of Msgr. Albert Kanenechukwu Obiefuna as the bishop-elect of the new diocese.
Thus, the diocese was inaugurated formally with the ordination and installation of its premier Bishop on 5 February 1978. With the formal inauguration of the diocese, St. Patrick became the patron saint of the cathedral and of the diocese. The apostolic bull for its erection was at the fourteenth year of the fifteen years of the Pontificate of Pope Paul VI and at the tenth year of the episcopacy of Most Rev. Dr. Francis A. Arinze (the then Archbishop
of Onitsha and the metropolitan of the old Onitsha ecclesiastical province).The full blare of the reality of a diocese dawned more on the new bishop, priests of the diocese and the faithful after the formal inauguration of the diocese. But then, Awka has assumed a place in the catholic map; a place that must exist and that must fulfil its mission.