History will be made next Saturday, December 8, as Francis Cardinal Arinze, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments at the Vatican, will lead a pontifical Mass preceding special awards by the Catholic Church to Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State and two leading Anglicans in the state, Chief Obi Adimora, and Barrister Chidi Amamgbo.
The event will take place at the Christ the King Parish, Umuezeawala, Ihiala, according to the chairman of the Planning Committee, Professor Chuka Chukwube of the University of Lagos, and the secretary, Architect Martin Nwabineli, who runs a leading indigenous building firm based in Lagos, and will be chaired by Engineer Edwin Enwegbara, a hydrologist and former President of the Nigerian Water Association.
“All three persons are being recognized for working for the good of all in society regardless of social differences”, the planning committee said in a statement.
“In the case of Gov Obiano, for instance, the whole nation is proud of how he led Anambra State to give former Vice President Alex Ekwueme a most befitting funeral which lasted for days early this year despite the fact that they belonged to different political parties.
“In fact, Dr Ekwueme’s first child, Barrister Chidi Ekwueme-Onyemelukwe, was the Deputy Governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the November 17, 2017, governorship election. In other words, she ran against Gov Obiano in the election which took place just two days to Dr Ekwueme’s passage. But Chief Obiano displayed no bitterness towards the Ekwueme family.
“The governor conducted his campaign with dignity, compelling other candidates to toe his line of peaceful conduct. Consequently, Anambra became the first state in Nigeria’s history to conduct such a major election without incidents of violence before and during the elections and even after the result was declared in which Obiano won overwhelmingly in each of the 21 Local Government Areas of the state.
“For the first time in the history of Anambra State, candidates of the major parties accepted a gubernatorial election result and went on to congratulate the winner in writing.
“To cap it all, leading members of the so-called opposition parties, including gubernatorial candidates in the election who contested against the governor were present at Chief Obiano’s second inauguration on March 18, 2018. There is a lot the nation has to learn from Anambra State, especially considering how violent the state politics used to be. For instance, a sitting governor was kidnapped and followed with three days of mayhem over a mere disagreement with fellow party members in 2003 and 2004”.
The statement revealed that Adimora, an entrepreneur and philanthropist, heard informally that Cardinal Arinze had no vehicle when he was retiring as Prefect for the Congregation of Divine Worship and Discipline of Sacraments in Rome and quietly bought him a brand new Prado SUV.
“This is despite the fact that Chief Adimora has never been a Catholic and he and the eminent cardinal had never had contact with each other up to the time he donated the vehicle”, declared the statement.
“Adimora is being honored for reflecting ecumenism in truth and spirit because one of the greatest prayers by our Lord Jesus Christ is “for all shall be one (John 17:21)”.
As for Barrister Amamgbo, the statement noted that he has been assisting his Ihiala people and churches enthusiastically and without publicity.
“He has constructed a public road and awarded several scholarships and assisted the needy generally without knowing the beneficiaries”, the statement declared.
Professor Chukwube and Architect Nwabineli thanked Cardinal Arinze, who marked his 86thbirthday on November 1 and the 60th priestly ordination on November 23 in Rome, for accepting to lead the mass honouring the three Anambra persons for promoting social harmony.
“Cardinal Arinze is a highly respected global citizen, but he is ever conscious of his Nigerian roots. He is, indeed, one of the greatest brands Anambra and Nigeria have ever produced and exported”.