Catholic Bishop of Yola diocese, Most Rev. Stephen Dami Mamza who doubles as the state chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), has disclosed that he got the inspiration to build houses for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in his sleep.
In order to address the accommodation challenges facing the 86 households taking refuge at St Theresa’s Catholic church since 2014, the Bishop conceived the idea of building the houses at Sangere Marghi.
” When this idea came into my thought, I never knew that it will materialize. As a matter of fact, I was actually sleeping.
” I wake up one day and said these IDPs that we are taking care of, for how long shall we continue to take care of them because we are also getting tired and the donors are saying that we hear that there are no IDPs in Nigeria any longer,” he said.
The Bishop who made the disclosure at a press conference in Yola, Saturday, to mark his 25th ordination anniversary as a priest and 10 year ordination as a Bishop, thanked God for the life and multitude of bounties he has bestowed on him, praying God to give him more strength and grace to continue serving him and humanity.
” I was ordained Catholic priest 25 years ago and I was ordained Bishop 10 years ago. I thank God for the kindness. I never thought I will stay as a priest for 25 years. He has done so many things. I had tried my best, I can still do more better,” he said.
He noted that at the peak of the Boko Haram insurgency when seven local governments in the northern senatorial zone were overran, the church deemed it fit to accommodate thousands of displaced people from the two religious faith.
” When northern Adamawa was overran by Boko Haram, in 2014, a lot of people came into Yola looking for shelter and also looking for food and we decided to make our doors, our schools, our cathedral and all the facilities open.
” I instructed that anybody that wants to put up here, let them be allowed and be given food items, money and whatever is available. That is where we actually started.
” And at the peak of that insurgency, when seven local governments in northern Adamawa were occupied, by Boko Haram, within St Theresa’s Cathedral, we had over 3,000 people staying.
” But every two weeks we used to have people from the neighbourhoods coming to collect food. We used to plan for 7,500 families that is what we used to plan that time besides the 3000 that we used to have in the Cathedral.
” But as God has it, in 2015 some of the local governments were recovered and most of the IDPs have to go back. Unfortunately, some of them went back and lost their lives. They were also killed because their homes were not safe but the ones we still have in St Theresa’s Cathedral are those that actually live around the edges of Sambisa which is part and parcel of Sambisa forest and for them to go back will be suicidal.
” That is why we said if they wish to stay, we will allow them to stay, they are staying from 2014 up till this moment when we shall by the grace of God be moving them to their new homes.
” We are actually moving 86 households and we have also others that we take food to them,” he said.
Mamza who thanked Missio Germany for the overwhelming support they gave in the realization of the gigantic project noted that the building consists of schools and worship centers to accommodate the two religious faithfuls for which the houses were built for.
He noted that out of the 86 households that will be given the houses, 14 are Muslims necessitating him to also seek for funds to build a mosque for the Muslim faithful.
He added that he also ensured that the estate was equipped with a befitting school because there is no good school within the Sngere Marghi neighborhood that is good enough for the children.
” We have sent the children of the IDPs to better schools, some are in our schools while some are in unity schools.
” That is why we built a school in the housing estste so that the children can also get good education,” he said.