Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State were among the dignitaries who graced the Opening Mass of the Second Plenary Meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), held at Holy Ghost Cathedral, Ogui, Enugu, on Sunday.
Prof. Osinbajo, who was ably represented at the event by Gov. Ugwuanyi, extended his warm felicitations to the Catholic Bishops.
Conveying Prof. Osinbajo’s message, Gov. Ugwuanyi, who also extended the reverential greetings of the government and good people of Enugu State to the Papal Nuncio, Antonio Guido Filipazzi, all the Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops, disclosed: “Our Vice President, an esteemed and urbane Statesman, is widely acknowledged for his manifest practice of the Christian Faith and has requested that I convey his best wishes for a very memorable Second Plenary Meeting of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria”.
The governor, who called for a minute silence in honour of the wife of late Dr. Michael I. Okpara, the former Premier of Eastern Region, Mrs. Adamma Okpara, who died in the early hours of Sunday, pointed out that his administration, at inception, committed Enugu State to the Hands of God, adding that “we have continued to seek His Hands in all we do”.
While appreciating the Bishops for choosing Enugu State for the spiritually auspicious event, Gov. Ugwuanyi thanked “the Catholic Church and the entire members of the Body of Christ in the State and beyond for their unceasing prayers, wise counsel, support and solidarity all these years”.
He assured them that his administration will continue to serve the people of the state with the fear of God, expressing optimism that the religious event will herald blessings for the government and people of Enugu State.
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Also in his goodwill message, the Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Rev. Henry Ndukuba, who was represented by Most Rev. Buba Ali Lamido, asked “the Catholic Church to count on us as we fight the good fight” for the salvation of mankind, stressing that God will hear the message of the Church as a result of the Plenary Meeting.
At the beginning of the Mass, the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, Most Rev. Augustine Obiora Akubueze offered prayer for Gov. Ugwuanyi that God will continue to give him the strength to govern the people of Enugu State.
In his remarks, the representative of the Pope in Nigeria, Most Rev. Filipazzi, applauded Gov. Ugwuanyi for always cooperating with the Church in its work of evangelism.
In his vote of thanks, on behalf of the Bishops, the Bishop of Umuahia Diocese and Apostolic Administrator of Ahiara Diocese, Most Rev. Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, expressed gratitude to Gov. Ugwuanyi for representing the Vice President and conveying his goodwill message to them.
The Bishop equally commended Gov. Ugwuanyi for his presence at the occasion, goodwill message and hospitality, saying: “We have been privileged to have enjoyed since we arrived the Coal City. His (Ugwuanyi) developmental strides in Enugu State since he assumed office as the Governor of Enugu State are very impressive; please keep it up”.
In his address, the Chairman of the Opening Session of the Conference, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, narrated the various challenges being faced by the country and offered advice on what the Church can do to effectively engage in rebuilding Nigeria.
Dignitaries at the event include Francis Cardinal Arinze; the Metropolitan Archbishop of Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province, Most Rev. Valerian Okeke; the host Bishop, Most Rev. Callistus Onaga; the Deputy Governor of Enugu State, Hon. Mrs. Cecilia Ezeilo; former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi; the Chief Judge of Enugu State, Hon. Justice Priscilla Ngozi Emehelu; Senator Ike Ekweremadu; Senator Sir Victor Umeh and his wife, Prisca; Hon. Prince Cornelius Nnaji; and Hon. Dennis Amadi.
Others include former Minister of Aviation, Amb. Mrs. Fidelia Njeze; Secretary to the Enugu State Government and Director-General, South East Governors Forum, Prof. Simon Uchenna Ortuanya; the Deputy Chief of Staff, Government House, Enugu, Prof. Malachy Okwueze and other members of the State Executive Council (EXCO); Special Assistant to the President on Community Engagement, Office of the Vice President, Hon. Barr. Nkechi Chukwueke; the Chairman, Enugu State Traditional Rulers’ Council, HRH Igwe Amb. Lawrence Agubuzu; former Federal Permanent Secretary, Sir Chinyeaka Ohaa; the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Odengene Airshuttle Services, Chief Evarest Nnaji; and the Chaplain, Enugu State Government, Rev. Fr. Chinedu Ozoude, etc.