Promoting social harmony through religion is a cherished path to tread. It is indeed a sight to behold on Saturday, December 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 Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State and two leading Anglicans in the state, Chief Obi Adimora, and Barrister Chidi Amamgbo.
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, Professor Chuka Chukwube of the University of Lagos, and the secretary, Architect Martin Nwabineli, who runs 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 Engineer 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 Governor Obiano for marshalling the ship of state in an all-accommodating manner shorn of political or religious divides. They recalled 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,” wrote the planning committee, “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.”
According to the planning committee, “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”.
It is indeed a very interesting revelation that when 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, quietly bought him a brand new Prado SUV.
Now hear this: “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.”
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, Barrister Amamgbo, earns his honour because he has been assisting his Ihiala people and churches enthusiastically and without publicity thus: “He has constructed a public road and awarded several scholarships and assisted the needy generally without knowing the beneficiaries.”
Professor Chukwube and Architect Nwabineli are full of gratitude to Cardinal Arinze, who marked his 86th birthday 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,” stressed the duo. Adding, “He is, indeed, 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 Governor Obiano and encouraged by Cardinal Arinze can only bode well for the Nigerian dream of the aspiration of all.