Pope Francis has ratified the appointment of Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama as the new Catholic Archbishop of Abuja.
This follows the Pope’s acceptance of the retirement of His Eminence, John Cardinal Onaiyekan who clocked the retirement age of 75 on January 29, 2019.
Kaigama on March 11 earlier this year was announced by the Pope, who was represented by Apostolic Nuncio to Nigeria, Archbishop Antonio Guido Filipazzi, in Abuja during the opening ceremony of the first plenary meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN).
Filipazzi then named Kaigama as the Coadjutor archbishop of Abuja and administrator of Jos archdiocese, where he served as its chief Shepherd in the last 19 years.
The Chancellor of the Catholic Archdiocese, Abuja, Rev. Sebastian Musa, said on Saturday in a letter to the “Clergy, Religious and Lay Faithful” of the Archdiocese that the Pope has approved the retirement of Onaiyekan and ratification of Kaigama with immediate effects.
“The Holy Father, Pope Francis has accepted the retirement of His Eminence, John Cardinal Olorunfemi Onaiyekan as the Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja and has appointed Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama as Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja with effect from this announcement,” Musa said.
Daily Trust reports that Kaigama, who is currently the Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Jos and immediate past President of the CBCN, is a priest of Jukun origin from Taraba state.
Born on July 31, 1958, Kaigama studied for the priesthood at St. Augustine’s Major Seminary in Jos, and Rome respectively.
In 2000, Kaigama was appointed by Pope John Paul II to succeed the late Archbishop Gabriel Ganaka as Archbishop of Jos.
The new Abuja Archbishop Kaigama was ordained on June 6, 1981 and was appointed Bishop of Jalingo by Pope John Paul II, before he was later consecrated as bishop on April 23, 1995.
Some of the diocese leaders in a joint statement thanked God for the gift of John Cardinal Onaiyekan, Archbishop emeritus of Abuja, for his untiring services to the Church and especially for his inspiring leadership in Abuja province.
“The Cardinal performed one of his memorable functions in Makurdi yesterday November 8th 2019. At the 25th priestly anniversary and 5th Episcopal anniversary of Bishop Wilfred Anagbe CMF of Makurdi Diocese, he announced the appointment of Monsignor Stephen Beba as a Papal Chaplain, the first indigenous priest to be appointed as a Monsignor.
“And today November 9th 2019 the news of his retirement is received. This is symbolic. The Cardinal attended St Michael’s Secondary School, Aliade, Benue state, Nigeria and records show that no student has yet surpassed John Onaiyekan’s best record. Makurdi Diocese must therefore have some special influence in defining everything about Cardinal Onaiyekan from his beginning to the end,” they said in the statement.