By C. Do Adinuba
Awka, Dec. 3, 2018 (MOI) History will be made on, Dec. 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 at Umuezeawala, Ihiala.
The Mass will precede special awards by the Catholic Church to Gov. Willie Obiano of Anambra and two leading Anglicans in the state, Chief Obi Adimora and Mr Chidi Amamgbo.
The event will take place at the Christ the King Parish, Umuezeawala, Ihiala, according to statement jointly signed by the chairman of the Planning Committee, Prof. Chuka Chukwube of the University of Lagos and Secretary, Mr Martin Nwabineli, a Lagos-based Achitect, who runs a leading indigenous building.
The occasion will be chaired by Mr Edwin Enwegbara, an engineer and hydrologist and former President of the Nigerian Water Association.
“All three persons are being recognised for working for the good of all in society regardless of social differences,” the planning committee added in a statement.
“In the case of Gov. Obiano, for instance, the entire nation is proud of how he led Anambra to give former Vice-President Dr Alex Ekwueme, a most befitting funeral that lasted days early this year despite the fact that they belonged to different political parties.
“In fact, Dr Ekwueme’s first child, Mrs Chidi Ekwueme-Onyemelukwe, was the Deputy Governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Nov. 17, 2017, Governorship Election.
“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 toward 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.
“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 once kidnapped and this was followed with three days of mayhem over mere disagreement with fellow party members in 2003 and 2004.’’
The statement said 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 purchased a brand new Prado SUV.
“This is in spite of the fact that Chief Adimora has never been a Catholic. He and the eminent cardinal have never had contact with each other up to the time he donated the vehicle,’’ declared the statement.
“Adimora is being honoured 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 Mr Amamgbo, a lawyer, the statement noted that had been assisting his Ihiala people and Churches enthusiastically and without publicity.
“He constructed a public road and awarded several scholarships, while also assisting the needy generally, without knowing the beneficiaries,” the statement also added.
Prof. Chukwube and Mr Nwabineli thanked Cardinal Arinze, who marked his 86th birthday on Nov. 1 and the 60th priestly ordination on Nov. 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 remains conscious of his Nigerian roots.
“He is, indeed, one of the greatest brands that Anambra and Nigeria have ever produced and exported.’’ (MOI)