Bishop Ezeofor : The man on a rescue mission
By Chris Okeke
Some understandable degree of excitement currently greets the imminent enthronement of Bishop Chukwudi Ezeofor as the Bishop of Aguata Diocese.
The prevailing atmosphere of ecstasy and euphoria all over the Aguata Diocese over his enthronement may not be forgotten in a hurry by Christian faithful there. The taste of the pudding, they say, is in the eating. His triumphant entry from his erstwhile diocese of Ogbaru says it all as over five hundred of the laity laid siege to welcome their Bishop who came in a convoy of numerous vehicles into the St John Cathedral, Ekwulobia, his new abode.
The man, Bishop Samuel Chukwudi Ezeofor, was born nearly 51 years ago in Onitsha to Ichie and Mrs. Noel Ezeofor of Ezioko village of Oko in Orumba North local government area of Anambra state. His home church is St. John the Divine Church Oko in Aguata Diocese of the Anglican Communion and he is the Second Bishop of Oko extraction, and the third Bishop from Aguata diocese.
In his early days, Bishop Samuel was so committed to the church that he was one of the few people selected and sent by the church to be trained in 1979 under the auspices of the Anglican Prayer Association, APA. He was also later trained as an officer of Boys’ Brigade at the Dennis Memorial Grammar School, DMGS, Onitsha in 1982.
Bishop Samuel began his academic and educational life in Oko Primary School, Oko and was later transferred to Central School, Oko in Primary Three. He passed his primary education in 1979, later proceeding to the Aguata High School, Aguata for his secondary school education. He later proceeded to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka where he read Religion with special bias in Biblical Studies and Biblical languages. He graduated in 1990 with first class honours degree of the university.
His resume, indicates he served in Ibadan and later enrolled in University of Ibadan for his master’s degree. Samuel studied the Old Testament and came out in 1992 as the best graduating student of that department. He proceeded to Immanuel College of Theology, Ibadan for his Diploma in Theology which he concluded in 1994. He came out of the college with the best result of the year and the only distinction grade of the year. He bagged his doctorate degree in the year 2000. Today, he has become the good ‘face ‘and ambassador extraordinaire of not only his community, Oko, but the entire Aguata diocese.
In his interaction with yours truly, I asked him of his rooky days as a Bishop when he assumed duty at Ogbaru. The Lord Bishop chuckled. I had also sought to know what the diocese looked like before they came. “Well, it is not our making that the light of the gospel has gone into the whole of Ogbaru. We know how the place was when we came. Spiritually, the whole place was in a kind of darkness. But through the preaching of the gospel, light has really shone into the place. It’s like the Bible saying that when Jesus came into the place of Zebulan and Nathan, the people who sat in darkness saw light. That is exactly what has happened and it translated into the physical development. Churches are planted into the different places. Structures are raised and coming into Atani which is the city of the diocese and the local government headquarters, you could see the new Cathedral church; The Basilica of Saint James the Great Cathedral and the women ministry project, called the Emmanuel Castle of Refuge. There is a seminary at Atani for the boys and a convent at Okpoko for the girls.”
Lissome and cheerful with manners polished to high gloss, Chukwudi Ezeofor, a choir and EFAC boy, who bootstrapped himself to become the first missionary Bishop of Ogbaru diocese, has effortlessly become an enduring example of what notable church leaders should be – respectful, responsible, responsive, and result–oriented.
Samuel Chukwudi, possesses an abundance of hard-to-find qualities. Colleagues and his subordinates are often amazed at the extent to which he delves into facts while performing his celestial duties. He takes each issue and works it to death to get to the right perspective, the right result. He also has an unusual ability to dive straight to the heart of the matter. Even in light-hearted matters, Chukwudi can sometimes be a grind. Hardly one to raise his voice, his words are forever measured, precise and direct. But he occasionally stings, especially when he thinks no one is prepared to listen to reason or logic, when he thinks he has entered a logic-free zone and needs to jolt his audience back on track. Those who have had the rare privilege of listening to an angry Chukwudi know his words can be weighty and fatherly.
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On his message for his new flock he says, “We want to see Christ in everybody and in every community because he is the foundation and chief corner stone of our lives, of our homes and families. Anything that is not laid upon that foundation will not stand. I see the foundation as a primary stone laid; so, it should reflect in the life of everybody. I also see the foundation stone as a direction stone, so our lives and families and communities should take their direction from Him. I also see that foundation as an instructional stone. He should instruct us. Basically, I want to see Christ in everyone. Clergymen should represent Christ and people should see Him as foundation of our lives”.
With his achievements since working in the vineyard of God, you would be hard pressed to find anyone, today, who has questioned whether Bishop Chukwudi Samuel Ezeofor has put his education and versed training to good use or how his talent and abilities stack up in his chosen career.
So far, it has been a very fruitful and disciplined life, and we know it will remain so for the rest of his episcopal work. Bishop Chukwudi Ezeofor has the indisputable ability to stay the course. His, indeed, has been a life of hard work; a life worth emulating. Please raise your glasses for the fresh-minted Bishop of Aguata Diocese.