REVERED clergyman, Cardinal John Onaiyekan has retired as the Archbishop of Abuja Diocese.
A letter by the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja signed by its Chancellor, Sebastian Musa, announced Onaiyekan’s retirement.
A copy of the letter sent to The ICIR said Pope Francis has accepted the retirement of “His Eminence John Cardinal Olorunfemi Onaiyekan as the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja.”
The letter also announced the appointment by the Pope of Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama as the new Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja.
Onaiyekan was consecrated as Auxiliary Bishop of Ilorin, Kwara State, and titular bishop of Thunusuda on 6 January, 1983 by Pope John Paul II.
He became Bishop of Ilorin in 1984 and in 1990 he was named Coadjutor Bishop of the Abuja. When that diocese became an Archdiocese on 26 March, 1994, Onaiyekan became its first archbishop and has served in that position until his retirement.
During the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, and especially during his second term between 2004 and 2007, Onaiyekan spoke out against the regime for its failure to support democratic principles and its corruption.
Speaking in a service in his cathedral in 2005 with the president in attendance, he called on Obasanjo to resist the temptation to stand for a third term, which the Nigerian constitution did not allow, and asked him to “resist the deadly temptation to want to remain in power perpetually by hook or by crook.”
His stance was credited with saving Nigeria from the imposition of a dictatorship. He was created a Cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI in a consistory on 24 November 2012.
As Cardinal-Priest he was assigned to the titular church of San Saturnino.