Obinna Odogwu, Awka
People from all walks of life converged on Awka, Anambra State, in honour of the new leader of the Anglican Communion in the state, Most Reverend (Dr.) Alexander Chibuzo Ibezim.
From the fringes of the Sahara to the Atlantic coastline, in attendance were men and women of valour, timber and calibre.
The event, which held at the Cathedral Church of Saint Faith, Awka, was the statutory thanksgiving service of the new Archbishop of the Ecclesiastical Province of the Niger, Anglican Communion.
Ibezim was elected as the Archbishop on July 2, 2019, at Archbishop Vinning Memorial Cathedral, Ikeja, Lagos State. He succeeded the retired Archbishop Godwin Okpala of Nnewi Diocese, Anambra State.
On September 24, last year, he was statutorily presented as archbishop at the Cathedral Church of St. Peter’s, Asaba, Delta State.
Ibezim was first elected Bishop of Awka Diocese by the College of Bishops, Church of Nigeria, during their Episcopal meeting at the Basilica of Grace, Gudu, Abuja, on July 30, 2010, to succeed Most Reverend Maxwell Anikwenwa.
Some of the top dignitaries who graced the occasion were Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, represented by his deputy, Dr. Nkem Okeke, former governor of the state, Mr. Peter Obi, and the first female governor in Nigeria, Dame Virgy Etiaba.
Others were Senator Uche Ekwunife; former Presidential Adviser on Inter-Party Affairs, Senator Ben Obi; representative of Awka North and South in the National Assembly, Chief Chinedu Onwuaso; and his Nnewi North and South counterpart, Hon. Chris Azubuogu.
Also present were former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Professor Chukwuma Soludo; Acting Chief Judge of Anambra State, Justice Onochie Anyachebelu; a retired judge in the state, Justice Kalajine Anigbogu; traditional ruler of Mbaukwu, Igwe Peter Anugwu’ and business mogul, Chief Godwin Ezeemo.
In addition, more than 45 Anglican bishops from different parts of the country, including the Archbishop of Enugu Province and Bishop of Enugu Diocese, the Most Reverend Emmanuel Chukwuma, and Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Reverend Paulinus Ezeokafor.
There were musical renditions by the cathedral choir, performance by the Brass Band of Akwa Ibom, and other musical bands, which rendered special songs and praises at the church service.
Delivering his homily, Archbishop of Kaduna Province and dean, Church of Nigeria, the Most Reverend (Dr.) Ali Buba Lamido, admonished Christians to stay strong in faith and work harder to ensure that the message of salvation from Jesus Christ was preached to the ends of the earth.
He also harped on the need for forgiveness, love, peace, unity, and all good virtues saying that those were very important factors in Christendom.
Also, Most Rev. Chukwuma advised Christian faithful to stay committed to the work of God, especially the propagation of His word and spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“I advise clergymen to be patient, committed and devoted to the work of God. The work of God is one you must know your call to serve and people must be ready to be prayerful and spirit-guided.”
When he spoke, the celebrant thanked God for His blessings upon him, his family and the church. He also thanked the members of the church for their support.
“I remain totally submissive and thankful to God Almighty for His upliftment and wisdom, which is needed to pilot the affairs of the Diocese of Awka and now Ecclesiastical Province of the Niger.
“On behalf of my wife (Mama Province) and my family, I sincerely appreciate all the spiritual and physical support given to me before, during and after my election cum presentation as the Archbishop, Ecclesiastical Province of the Niger some months back”, Ibezim stated.
The archbishop said he would not leave any stone unturned in his resolve to further spread the message of salvation which Jesus Christ has brought to save mankind from eternal damnation.
Ibezim said: “As the head of the Anglican Church in Anambra State, I will continue to spread the message of peace in our state; peace among the traditional rulers, the churches and their leaders, and all the people of this state. Without peace, there will be no progress.”
His wife, Chioma, who said that her “primary responsibility is to preach the word of the Lord and to win souls for the Kingdom” added that “my prayer is that this year, the Lord will bless the women’s ministry both in the diocese and the province.”
Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev. Ezeokafor, eulogised Archbishop Ibezim even as he prayed God to grant him the enablement to carry out his new responsibility as expected.
“It is a special call and a big responsibility. I know the enormous work before him to gather the people of God in this diocese but we are very grateful knowing his antecedents, that by God’s grace he will be able to pilot the affairs of this province.”