John Onaiyekan

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His Eminence
John Onaiyekan
Cardinal, Archbishop of Abuja
His Eminence John Cardinal Onaiekan.JPG
Archdiocese Abuja
See Abuja
Appointed 7 July 1990 (Coadjutor)
Installed 28 September 1992
Predecessor Dominic Ekandem
Other posts Cardinal-Priest of San Saturnino
Ordination 3 August 1969
by Auguste Delisle CSSp
Consecration 6 January 1983
by Pope John Paul II
Created Cardinal 24 November 2012
by Pope Benedict XVI
Rank Cardinal-Priest
Personal details
Birth name John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan
Born (1944-01-29) 29 January 1944 (age 72)
Denomination Roman Catholic
Previous post
  • Auxiliary Bishop of Ilorin (1982–1984)
  • Titular Bishop of Thunusuda (1982–1984)
  • Bishop of Ilorin (1984–1990)
  • Coadjutor Bishop of Abuja (1990–1992)
  • Bishop of Abuja (1992–1994)
Coat of arms {{{coat_of_arms_alt}}}

John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan[pronunciation?] (born 29 January 1944) is the Roman Catholic Cardinal Archbishop of Abuja[1] and a Cardinal. He was previously President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria and Bishop of Ilorin.[2]

Education and teaching career[edit]

Onaiyekan was born in the town of Kabba, in what is now Kogi State, to Bartholomew and Joann Onaiyekan. He attended St. Mary's Catholic School in Kabba from 1949 until 1956, Mount St. Michael's Secondary School in Aliade, Benue State from 1957 until 1962, and Ss. Peter & Paul Major Seminary in Bodija, Ibadan from 1963 until 1965. He completed his religious studies in Rome in 1969, and was ordained as a priest on 3 August of that year.[2] Ahmadu Bello, Premier of Nigeria's Northern Region, had offered him a scholarship to study abroad.[3]

Onaiyekan taught at St. Kizito's College, Isanlu in 1969. He became rector of St. Clement Junior Seminary in Lokoja in 1971. He finished his Licentiate of Sacred Scripture in 1973 and earned his doctorate in 1976.[2] He became Vice Rector of Ss. Peter & Paul in 1977.[2]

Catholic Church appointments[edit]

In October 1980, Pope John Paul II gave Onaiyekan a five-year appointment to the International Theological Commission. In November, he joined the International Catholic/ Methodist Dialogue Commission.[2]

Onaiyekan was consecrated as Bishop of Ilorin, Kwara State on 6 January 1983. In 1990 he became Coadjutor Bishop of the Diocese of Abuja, and when the diocese became a Metropolitan See in 1994, John Onaiyekan became the Metropolitan of Abuja.[2]

Onaiyekan was elected to the position of Vice-President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) in 1994, and President of that organization in 2000.[2]

Archbishop Onaiyekan was named Pax Christi International's 2012 Peace Laureate.[4]

On Tuesday, 18 September 2012, Archbishop Onaiyekan was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to serve as one of the papally-appointed Synod Fathers for the upcoming October 2012 Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization.[5]

He was created a Cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI in a consistory on 24 November 2012.[6] As Cardinal-Priest he was assigned the titular church of San Saturnino.

On Thursday, 31 January 2013, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Cardinal Onaiyekan to serve as a Member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) and as a Member of the Presidential Committee of the Pontifical Council for the Family.[7] He will hold these memberships until his 80th birthday.

He was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2013 papal conclave that elected Pope Francis.

Cardinal Onaiyekan was appointed by Pope Francis as the Apostolic Administrator ad nutum Sanctae Sedis of the diocese of Ahiara in Imo State, eastern Nigeria on Wednesday, 3 July 2013.[8]

CAN Presidency[edit]

He won the election for the position of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) President on 19 June 2007 with 72 votes over Anglican Primate Peter Akinola who had 33 votes.[1] His Vice President was Daniel Okoh, President of the Organisation of African Instituted Churches.[9] However, he was not re-elected. In 2010 he was succeeded by Ayo Oritsejafor.


  • "The Priesthood in Pre-monarchial Ancient Israel and among the Owe-Yoruba of Kabba: A Comparative Study", unpublished dissertation (1976)
  • "The shariah in Nigeria: a Christian view", Bulletin on Islam & Christian-Muslim Relations in Africa (1987)

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
William Mahony
Bishop of Ilorin
20 October 1984 – 7 July 1990
Succeeded by
Ayo-Maria Atoyebi
Preceded by
Dominic Ekandem
Archbishop of Abuja
26 March 1994–present
Religious titles
Preceded by
Peter Akinola
President of the Christian Association of Nigeria
19 June 2007 – 5 July 2010
Succeeded by
Ayo Oritsejafor