The activities of Portuguese Augustinians in the sixteenth century in Eastern Africa, and particularly in Warri, seeded the first Augustinian presence in Nigeria.
Centuries later, the Irish Augustinian Provincial Chapter of 1936 decided to look for a mission territory in Nigeria. In 1940 two Irish Augustinian, John Berchmans Power and Patrick Dalton, and an English Augustinian, Gabriel Broder, went to Yola in the northeastern province of Adamawa, Nigeria. They learned the Fulani and Hausa languages and began their mission. Since 1940 about 123 Irish Augustinians have gone to help build the Nigerian Church. (In fact, seven also came variously from Australia, England, Scotland, and Spain). Some remained for a year or two, and others for over forty years. In all over 2,000 years of service were given by these men to helping the Church in Nigeria. In 1953 a new mission was started in Maiduguri. Since then (and before Nigerian-born bishops were subsequently appointed), a total of four Irish Augustinians were consecrated bishops of Yola and Maiduguri.
In 1967 the Order assumed responsibility for the major seminary at Jos to prepare young Nigerians for the diocesan priesthood. At the Irish Provincial Chapter in 1974, it was decided to establish an Augustinian house of study for Nigerians. This resulted in the building of what today has become Saint Augustine's Seminary at Jos, Nigeria. In 1977 Nigeria became a vice-province in the Order of Saint Augustine. In 1995 the Diocese of Jalingo was created from a part of the Diocese of Yola. The first bishop was Ignatius Kaigama, a Nigerian who from his earliest years was educated by the Augustinians. His ordination began the final chapter in the Irish involvement in Yola, namely the total indigenization of the local church. Another page in this final chapter was the election of a Nigerian Vice-Provincial who steered the Augustinian Order in Nigeria into the twenty-first century. A Nigerian, James Daman O.S.A., assumed this position in the summer of 1997.
In 2001 the Augustinian international chapter in Rome declared Nigeria a Province of the Order. It is the first one based on the African continent in the 750 years of the history of the Order. In 2003 there were 41 professed affiliated Nigerians with Augustinian solemn vows, and four more about make solemn vows in that year. In 2003 there were also six Irish Augustinian priests working in the Nigerian Province, and the number has decreased since then. ID0783 / TWO Most of the ministries of the Province of Nigeria are parishes in economically poor districts. The Order conducts 12 parishes in Nigeria, and two in Kenya. The great majority of these parishes operate totally on finance that they themselves generate. As well, ten Augustinians work full-time in the formation and education of the seminarians, in three houses of formation in Nigeria and one in Kenya. Another Augustinian works in a centre for drug addicts, and another one works in the Apostolic Nunciature of Nigeria. A number of Nigerian Augustinians have completed higher studies, usually in Rome.
Nigeria has more than 300 languages and tribes. While the cultures differ from tribe to tribe, there are some underlying values common in most of these cultures. For example, there is a great respect for family structure. This is a great advantage for building an Augustinian sense of community and hospitality. As well, in Nigerian culture there deeply exists the urge to celebrate. Song and the dance have become an obvious characteristic in liturgical celebrations. The Augustinian spiritual tradition is now reaching more people through the Order's opening in 2009 a secondary school near the Nigerian capital city of Abuja. In all Augustinian parishes in Nigeria Justice and Peace activities are promoted. This helps to give a voice to the many poor people who have been ignored by society.
The Augustinian Province of Nigeria is being blessed with abundant vocations, and was receiving as many as 500 serious inquiries annually as far back as the year 2003. To act with financial responsibility, the Order has been accepting only 12 candidates a year, but is now doubling that number. The education of each student costs about US$2,500 a year, and in 2003 there were 81 Augustinian candidates living in the formation (seminary) program.
Link The Augustinian Province of Nigeria maintains a web site.http://osaprovnig.org