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3 things that helped me overcome temptation from women – Catholic Rev. Fr. Izegede in an interview


The priest in charge of St. Gabriel, the Archangel Catholic Church, Okpanam, Delta State, Rev. Fr. Barnabas Izegede, speaks with MATTHEW OCHEI about clocking the age of 40 and his new academic achievement

What inspired you to become a priest?

My inspiration to become a priest came from the love I have for God. I have always loved to serve God and His people.

At what point in your life did you begin to have that feeling; primary school?

Not in primary school, actually. Becoming a priest never crossed my mind as a child. I actually started serving mass when I finished secondary school. I was just inspired to become a priest. I was even surprised such inspiration came.

What are some of the most memorable moments in your priesthood journey so far?

One was the day of my ordination and the early mass I have celebrated. It was very memorable. Another is my 40the birthday/PhD thanksgiving. It was another day very special to me that I cannot forget.

You look very handsome. How do you resist temptation from women?

Sincerely, it is a big temptation but through prayer and discipline, I continue to overcome. Though, the challenge gets stronger every day – the higher we go, the more temptations – I give glory to God for upholding me because it has not been easy. As one that everybody is looking onto, I should have a good record, and I am conscious of who I am and where I am going.

What are some of the things you used to do that becoming a priest has stopped you from doing?

Well, there is no great difference, so to speak, between my life now as a priest and what I used to be. The fact is that I am still human. However, being a Catholic priest that everybody looks up to, I just became a little more prudent. I have followers; I’m preaching Christ, so, practically, I try to be a better version of myself as a man of God and as a respectable person in society. I eat, have a bath, play, etc, just like every other human being.

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There have been many cases of kidnapping of Catholic priests around the country. Does this trend worry you?

I don’t have any fears because God is there for us. I wake up every morning and pray for protection and His own always get substance.

You recently bagged a PhD.  What has been your motivation?

It is an interest. I love education; I like to engage in arguments that will end in responsible freedom. I like academic work.

As someone with interest in education, what is your view on the imbroglio between the Academic Staff Union of Universities and the Federal Government as regards the ongoing strike?

What the lecturers are asking for is fairness and they are feeling that the government is not listening to them. So, we encourage government to be more responsive. We know it is not easy for government; we are praying for those in government but they have to be more responsive. That is very important.

At the same time, strikes must be matched with ethics. Some strikes are actually not necessary.  I commend ASUU and other labour unions and I encourage the Nigeria Labour Congress to stand more with ASUU. They should be sincere. The things they are asking for should be ethical.

They should make sure that their civil disobedience is not politicised. Because sometimes you see that even among the ASUU members that are fighting for a cause, there is politics. They should ensure that their demands are reasonable and not outrageous.

What are your thoughts on the worsening security situation in the country

Everybody should be vigilant and live a simple lifestyle in order not to call unnecessary attention to themselves. Most importantly, everyone must be prayerful. I believe that with a buoyant economy, crime rate would reduce in our country.

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What advice would you offer parents in view of the fact that most of those engaging in crimes are young people?

The solution is for the teaching of morals to be stepped up, not just in the homes but also in schools and in church. Parents need to do a better job. A toddler seeing his father beating his mother will want to practise it in out there; just as a child seeing his mother gossiping or father smoking will think it is the normal thing to do. I advise that parents should make out more time for their children.

Ritual killings in the country have reached an alarming height. As a priest, what do you think could be the way out?

Ritual killings should be blamed on moral decadence. If you have conscience, you wouldn’t want to kill your fellow man. We will keep doing our best, to use the words of Jesus Christ to speak to the consciences of our brothers and sisters. They may believe they have valid reasons for doing what they are doing, but the prefect word of God is against it. Nobody will encourage any form of killings, not just ritual killings. We will continue to ask God to touch their hearts. Some are blaming it on economic hardship, but the question is: should that make us go into ritual killing? Parents have to do more. The family is the first school, the church is the second.

Another round of general elections is around the corner, talking about 2023. What kind of leaders do you think Nigerians should elect?

Every adult knows what is good. I will not be in a position to begin to tell Nigerians the kind of persons they should elect. All I will say is let morality, decency and truth guide everything we do.

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As Catholic priests, we are not partisan; and as a social and political philosopher, all I can do is to prescribe. So, I am prescribing for Nigerians to, first of all, get their PVC, and when the time comes vote conscientiously.

Do you have fears concerning the elections?

I don’t have any fears. I’m a Catholic priest, if you give me work anytime, anywhere, I will do it conscientiously. So, let conscience guide whatever we are doing.

At 40, what are your aspirations?

Well, I have got my PhD at 40; a lot of people have spoken good of me, positive things. I desire  that God give me the grace to be a better version of the things said about me.


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