By Uzor Maxim Uzoatu
Promoting social harmony through religion is a cherished path to tread.
It will indeed be a sight to behold on Saturday, Dec. 8, when Francis Cardinal Arinze, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments at the Vatican, stands upfront to lead the Pontifical Mass ushering in special awards by the Catholic Church to Gov. Willie Obiano of Anambra State and two leading Anglicans in the state, Chief Obi Adimora, and Mr Chidi Amamgbo, a lawyer
Ecumenism has never been as uplifting as the momentous event slated for Christ the King Parish, Umuezeawala, Ihiala, Anambra State.
The chairman of the Planning Committee of the ceremony, Prof. Chuka Chukwube of the University of Lagos, and the secretary, Mr Martin Nwabineli, and architect and the CEO of a leading indigenous building firm based in Lagos, made this bold statement on the esteemed awardees:
“All three persons are being recognised for working for the good of all in society regardless of social differences.’’
The epochal event, which will be chaired by Mr Edwin Enwegbara, a hydrologist and former President of the Nigerian Water Association will go a long way in showcasing Anambra State as the homestead of religious tolerance.
The planners of the event have laudatory words on Gov. Obiano for marshalling the ship of state in an all-accommodating manner shorn of political or religious divides.
They recall how the entire nation is proud of how the hardworking governor 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.”
Incidentally, Dr Ekwueme’s first child, Mrs Chidi Ekwueme-Onyemelukwe, was the Deputy Governorship candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Nov. 17, 2017, governorship election.
In fact, she ran against Governor Obiano in the election which took place just two days before Dr Ekwueme’s passage. Even so, Chief Obiano displayed no bitterness towards the Ekwueme family.
It’s remarkable that Gov. Obiano conducted his campaign with dignity that made the other competing candidates to toe his line of peaceful conduct.
This way, Anambra became the first state in Nigeria’s history to conduct such a major election without incidents of violence before, during and after the elections.
When the result was declared, Obiano of course won overwhelmingly in each of the 21 Local Government Areas of the state.
For the first time in the history of Anambra State, the candidates of the major parties accepted a gubernatorial election result. They crucially went on to congratulate the winner in writing.
And to top it all, the 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.
Indeed, there is a lot the nation has to learn from Anambra State, especially considering how violent the state politics used to be before the breath of fresh air known as Gov. Obiano.
Who can quickly forget that a sitting governor was kidnapped and this dastardly act was followed by three days of mayhem over a mere disagreement with fellow party members in 2003 and 2004?
It is a very interesting revelation that the other eminent award-receiver, Obi 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 then quietly bought the revered Cadinal a brand new Prado SUV.
This essential gesture 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.
Adimora is thus 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).
The final award recipient, Mr Amamgbo, earns his honour because 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 actually knowing the beneficiaries.
Prof. Chukwube and Mr Nwabineli are full of gratitude to Cardinal Arinze, who celebrated 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 personages for promoting social harmony.
Cardinal Arinze stands out as a highly respected global citizen who is ever conscious of his Nigerian roots. He towers as one of the greatest brands Anambra and Nigeria have ever produced and exported.
The Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, C. Don Adinuba believes fervently that intervolving the Catholics and the Anglicans as championed by Gov. Obiano and encouraged by Cardinal Arinze can only bode well for the Nigerian dream of the aspiration of all. (MOI)