Nov. 2 (PREMIUM TIMES) – Newly appointed Cardinal and Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Onaiyekan, will arrive Nigeria Saturday from the Vatican in Rome.
Pope Benedict XVI had on October 24 appointed Archbishop Onaiyekan and five others as cardinals.
According to a statement by Oluyinka Akintunde, the Special Assistant (Media) to the FCT Minister of State, the new Cardinal would be received at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, by the President of the Senate, David Mark, and the Minister of State for Federal Capital Territory, Olajumoke Akinjide.
Also expected to welcome Mr. Onaiyekan at the Abuja airport are Catholic faithful and some residents of the Federal Capital Territory.
He will then proceed from the airport to Our Lady Queen of Nigeria pro-Cathedral where he will celebrate the Holy Mass.
Born on January 29, 1944, Archbishop Onaiyekan is the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja and former President of the Christian Association of Nigeria. He was President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria and Bishop of Ilorin.
Mr. Onaiyekan was born in Kabba, in what is now Kogi State, to Bartholomew and Joann Onaiyekan. He attended St. Mary’s Catholic School in Kabba from 1949 until 1956, Mount St. Michael’s Secondary School in Aliade, Benue State, from 1957 to 1962, and SS. Peter & Paul Major Seminary in Bodija, Ibadan, from 1963 to 1965.
He completed his religious studies in Rome in 1969, and was ordained priest on August 3 of that year.
He taught at St. Kizito’s College, Isanlu in 1969. He became rector of St. Clement Junior Seminary in Lokoja in 1971. He finished his Licentiate of Sacred Scripture in 1973 and earned his doctorate in 1976. He became Vice Rector of SS. Peter & Paul in 1977.
In October 1980, Pope John Paul II gave Mr. Onaiyekan a five-year appointment to the Pontifical International Theological Commission. In November, he joined the International Catholic/ Methodist Dialogue Commission.
He was ordained bishop on January 6, 1983, and became the Bishop of Ilorin, Kwara State. In 1990 he became Co-Adjutor Bishop of the Diocese of Abuja, and when the diocese became a Metropolitan in 1994, Mr. Onaiyekan became the Metropolitan Bishop of Abuja.
Archbishop Onaiyekan was named Pax Christi International’s 2012 Peace Laureate.
He is known for his peace and reconciliation work across the increasingly bitter Christian/Muslim divide. in Nigeria.