Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu, held her annual NAPS weekend from Friday, January 13 to Sunday, January 15, 2022 with the general theme: “Game of Thrones in Nigerian Politics: The Childbirth and Betrayal to Populace/Citizens.” The event which is usually a festival of ideas and philosophical discussions is usually graced by philosophy students across the nation both from seminaries and secular universities alike and this year was not an exception. The visiting philosophy students were officially received at the seminary auditorium during the night session on Friday.
The night session began at exactly 8:45 pm with the opening prayer said by Rev. Fr. Dr. Benjamin Ezulike. The opening address to officially mark the beginning of the weekend was given by our Vice Rector I Rev. Fr. Dr. Kelvin Udenwagu. He welcomed all present to the event. He also reflected on the general theme of the weekend stating that it is something which incites keen interest and should be a cause of concern to all. The highlight of the night session was the roundtable discussion/debate between Bigard Memorial Seminary Enugu and Pope John Paul II Major Seminary Okpuno, Awka. The theme of the debate was: “Have we become more or less happy in this Age of Technology?” While the seminarians from Pope John Paul II Major Seminary were of the view that technology has been more of a help to mankind than it is harm, the Bigardians posited that technology with its pseudo promises has been more of harm than good for us.
At the end of the debate, there was a philosophical drama that centered on the practical relevance or usefulness of philosophy. Following this were the vote of thanks and closing prayer by Rev. Fr. Dr Aloysius Ezeoba and Rev. Fr. Kevin Asogwa respectively.
The event continued the next day at the seminary auditorium. After the opening prayers was the ushering of guest to the high table. The opening remark was given by the vice Rector II Rev. Fr. Dr. Kingsley Anagolu who emphasized the supremacy and importance of philosophy as a discipline. This is because according to him, all other disciplines have their roots in philosophy. This he said explains why the highest academic qualification in all disciplines is: Doctor of Philosophy (Ph. D). He also said that philosophy has a part to play in the politics of our country and advised all to make effort not to go home empty handed. The opening remark was followed by the breaking of kola-nuts by the Rector Rev. Fr. Dr. Albert Ikpenwa.
The key note address was then presented by the Head of Philosophy Department and the Moderator of NAPS, Bigard Chapter, Rev. Fr. Dr. Humphrey Uchenna Ani. In his address, Fr. Ani remarked that philosophy as a discipline raises more questions than it is interested in their answers and thus invited us to make a critical reflection on how philosophy can help salvage the present Game of Thrones in Nigerian politics. This was followed by the induction of the new philosophy students by the Head of Department of Philosophy and the Moderator of NAPS, Bigard Chapter, into the body of NAPS through the traditional oath-taking ceremony.
This was followed immediately by a paper presentation by Rev. Fr. Chinenye John Oluoma, a priest of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja and a very popular social media homilist and preacher. The paper which was anchored on the general topic “Game of Thrones in Nigerian Politics: The Childbirth and Betrayal to Populace/Citizens.”
He started by exposing the coinage “Game of Thrones” as a movie series and the history surrounding it before then adapting it to the political brigandage and gimmick played by our politicians. He stated that the assertion ‘When two elephants fight that it is the grasses that suffer’ is not only false but also fallacious; since for him the grasses are less manipulated and used up when the elephants are fighting, for being herbivorous animals they cannot eat and brawl at the same time. Thus, applying this to our political situation he advised that the best thing for us to do is not to be caught up in the game of thrones played by these politicians for it is of no benefit to us whatsoever. They should fight their own battles or otherwise make do with their own children as touts or ballot box thieves. He also said that the greatest sign of charity is the enthronement of justice which we can only do by knowing the reasons behind the game of thrones played by these politicians and hence the cause of our problems.
For him, philosophy has a critical role to play. He reechoed the earlier assertion by the HOD by stating that ‘philosophy is all about asking questions and giving answers until there is no more question to be answered and an answer that cannot be questioned.” Fr. Oluoma stressed that, philosophers should become and also help others become people who continue to question the intentions and decisions of our politicians until we are able to discover the smokescreen that covers their truest intentions. By this we cease being victims in the perpetual game of thrones that takes place in the Nigerian polity.
He also stated that another way that philosophy can help checkmate this game of thrones is by adopting the ‘Game Theory’ which is the science of strategy adapted from the study of possible moves of the politicians and ensuring that they are checked. This can be done by the philosophers ensuring that adequate institutions and systems are built to checkmate excesses to power. He ended by presenting some philosophical aphorisms of which included that posited by Plato that ‘if a society is to function, it is either kings become philosophers or philosophers become kings.’
At the end of the presentation, Rev. Fr. Dr Aloysius Ezeoba responded to the paper. This was followed by questions and contributions by the audience.
As entertainment, there was a wonderful rendition by the Bigard music department. The Rector, Rev. Fr. Dr. Albert Ikpenwa gave the closing remarks where he reiterated the points of the paper presenter and stated that we should be more active than passive to the political problems we have in Nigeria. He also agreed with him on the importance of having good systems, for while good men may come and go, a reliable system will always remain.
The NAPS program also included presentation of certificates to all the participating institutions.Later in the evening, there was a football match between the Philosophy students of Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu and St. Bernard’s Seminary Hostel, Nchatancha, Enugu. The match ended 5: 1 in favor of the host seminary.