From: David Onwuchekwa, Nnewi
Arewa Ambassadors Congress of Nigeria (AACN) with membership from old 19 northern states, on Wednesday, in Nnewi, Anambra State honoured the Catholic Bishop of Nnewi Diocese, Most Rev. Hilary Odili Okeke with leadership award of excellence.
In his address on the occasion at the Assumption Cathedral, Nnewi, national president of AACN, Alhaji Musbaudeen Esinrogunjo, said that the group decided to honour Bishop Okeke for his philanthropic posture and immense contributions toward uplifting youths in Nigeria.
Esinrogunjo noted that his group made up of youths representatives from the 19 northern states.
He was the group identified the prelate because he had, over the years, been consistent empowering Nigerians, especially the youths, showing good leadership quality by example as a priest and ensuring national unity through his preachings and living style.
He said that many other names came up for nomination during the group’s congress in Gombe but that the group insisted on the Bishop other than the politicians who, he noted, were corrupt “busy siphoning our common wealth with their huge deposits in foreign banks.” He said it was for that reason the congress had no justification to prefer to honour politicians instead of individuals with good track records.
According to him, the award was an indication to all and sundry that the country remained indivisible, adding that peace as well as unity of Nigeria should not be compromised.
“We hereby state categorically clear without any fear or favour that your commitment so far in serving Nigeria is worthy of emulation and appreciation. We therefore call on all stakeholders, public and private office holders, people in power, managers of economy and policy makers as a whole to take a cue and emulate the rightful and progressive steps of Bishop Okeke in the making of a better nation that we all can be proud of,” the President said.
The awardee, Bishop Okeke, in his acceptance speech, said that he was overwhelmed and highly impressed by the award from the entire Northern youths, noting that the honour done to him would spur him to higher heights.
According to Bishop Okeke, “Your move to go from the North to the South in order to promote and encourage unity, peace and solidarity among all Nigerians is a very great effort at national integration. I do not in any way condemn particularity and differences. There will definitely be ethnic differences and varieties as well as political, religious and social differences and varieties. However, differences and varieties should not be conflictual, divisive or discriminatory, but should show the beauty of Nigeria.”
He called on all Christians to contribute to the welfare of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and other needy individuals in the society as he harped on the need for every Nigerian to work selflessly towards the good of the nation irrespective of tribe, religion and other sentimental considerations.