Bigard Memorial Seminary Enugu was agog with students from different higher institutions of learning in Nigeria, as she hosted the 2017 National Association of Philosophy Students (NAPS) Convention and the World Philosophy Day. The events which lasted from Friday 17th to Sunday 19th November 2017 brought together representatives from the following institutions: Pope JohnPaul II Major Seminary, Awka; SS. Peter and Paul Seminary, Bodija; St Joseph’s Seminary, Ikot-Ekpene; University of Nigeria, Nsukka; Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki; University of Lagos, Lagos; and various other academic institutions of philosophical studies.
Following the arrival of the participants on Friday evening, the weekend program was begun with the Vespers at 7:00pm at the Seminary Main Chapel. The next activity, held in the seminary Auditorium, started at exactly 8:30pm. The night’s program featured a round table discussion where all participating institutions were ably represented by a contributor. The round table discussion with the general theme “Imparting African Values on Today’s African Child” saw the contributors exploring the various African values every child should be endowed with in the process of nurture. Hence, participants unanimously decried the rampant drop in the well-known African values such as respect for elders, humility, proper dressing code and living a dignified life, in the activities of many young Africans today. After the discussion, questions from some participants were duly attended to. The night’s program was brought to a close with the closing remark and prayer said by the NAPS moderator, Rev. Fr. Vitalis Ukwuaba.
In the morning of Saturday, November 18, 2017, the NAPS program started, after Holy Mass, with an opening prayer led by Rev. Fr. Osita Asogwa at the Seminary Auditorium at exactly 9:00am. The prayer was immediately followed by the national anthem and Bigard anthems led by the Fans for Jesus. In his opening remarks, the Head of the Department of Philosophy, Rev. Fr. Vitalis Ukwuaba, expressed his thankfulness to the Rector of Bigard, the representatives from the University of Ibadan, the philosophers from various institutions and seminaries, and the seminarians of Bigard, for honoring the NAPS convention with their presence.
The Rector of Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Albert Ikpenwa, in his address, pointed out that in a world subjugated by great scientific advancements, solution to human problems cannot be left to positive science alone, since the meaning of life, love, justice and even the concept of God can never be adequately addressed by the use of positive sciences alone. He explained that there is a crucial need for philosophical studies, since they lead to a deeper understanding and interpretation of the person, and of the person’s freedom and relationship with the world and with God.
After the Rector’s address came a keynote address by the Bigard NAPS president, Mr. Joseph Akpan. He meticulously brought into consciousness of all the devastating nature of the political structure of Nigeria and highlighted the need for a critical philosophical application of the unity of opposites of Heraclitus for a better and reliable system. Hence, he noted that it was as a result of this necessity that the paper presentation was aligned towards this angle of thought from Heraclitus.
The paper of the day entitled “Politics And Conflicts In Nigeria: Re-Living The Heraclitean ‘Unity Of Opposites’ For Sustainable Socio-Political Engineering In Nigeria” was presented by Rev. Fr. Anthony Etuk, a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Uyo. He carefully posited the philosophy of unity of opposites of the Ionian philosopher– Heraclitus. According to him, these opposites are not contradictory, but contraries which can co-exist. In his analogy, the opposites could be likened to the different ethnic groups in Nigeria, where these ethnic groups do see themselves not as contradictories, but as contraries which can peacefully co-exist with each other. Explaining further, he posited that if the ethnic groups misconstrue one another as rivals and enemies, then Nigeria will have no ground for improvement as ethnicity will continue to eat deep into the country’s welfare.
Rev. Fr. Dr. Humphery Uchenna Ani, one of Bigard’s Formators, responded to the paper. His response was divided into three phases: thesis, anti-thesis and synthesis. In the thesis, Fr. Ani acknowledged that ethnicity has so much to offer to the development of a people and a nation. In his anti-thesis, he argued that failure of a society should not be blamed on ethnicity; rather blame should be on citizens who are unable to properly harness the gifts of ethnicity. He argued that ethnicity would make each ethnic group look into herself and re-awaken the latent potentials within her, a process that would result to individual development of the ethnic groups, and general development of the country. In the synthesis, the respondent agreed with the paper presenter that ethnicity will allow individuals to develop a sense of identity, cultural renaissance and common consciousness.
Still on the attempt to clarify the points in the paper, questions were raised and were critically tackled with emphasis on the unity of ethnic groups without neglecting the self-consciousness of each group.
The occasion was brought to an end with the induction of the first year philosophy students into the National Association of Philosophy Students (NAPS), the awarding of prizes to the participating institutions, and a closing prayer led by the Rector. Adding flesh to the weekend program, a football match between Philosophy students of Bigard Memorial Seminary Enugu and Pope JohnPaul II Major Seminary Awka was played at the Bigard FIFA field at 4:00pm. Bigard team turned victorious with 2 goals to 1 against the visitors.
On Sunday, November 19, 2017, the weekend program was concluded with a thanksgiving Mass. The HOD Philosophy Department and NAPS moderator of Bigard, Rev. Fr. Vitalis Ukwuaba, who presided over the Mass, dwelt on ‘talents’ during his homily. According to him, talents can be used, misused or underused. In his words, “While some talents are natural, others are cultivated and groomed.” He urged all never to cultivate negative talents, but to cultivate talents proper to their vocations in life.
After the Holy Mass, photoshots were taken in front of the Seminary Main Chapel, after which the visitor departed to their various institutions.