From Stanley Uzoaru,Owerri
Imo was undoubtedly one of the most peaceful states in the country, until lately. The serene nature of the state, which buoyed the hospitality industry there, had made the state, particularly Owerri, the capital city, a tourist hub.
However, all these faded away with the recent security challenges in parts of South-East, with Imo having the heaviest toll.
The situation was so bad that waking up every morning was followed by some thanksgiving to God for making it possible for one to see yet another day.
Perhaps, this was why the state, on Friday, July 2, went on its knees as it took the matter to God after methods applied by Governor Hope Uzodimma to quieten the situation yielded positive results. One of the facilitators of the event told Daily Sun that the state never wanted to go back to ‘Egypt’ after the storm. So, it needed a permanent solution, hence, the intervention by clerics through a prayer rally.
Chairman of Imo State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Divine Eches, who convened the Imo Unity Prayer and Praise Convention, said the theme, “In Such a Time Like This”, was carefully chosen to suit the purpose of the ‘Prayer for peace and prosperity of Ndigbo’.
Eches, in a pre-event session, told newsmen that CAN was concerned about restoration of peace in the region, though he noted that they were particular about Imo because of the turnout of events in the state.
“When there is no peace, there wouldn’t be any hotel. When there’s no peace, there’s no business; no peace, no schools, everything would be closed; and that is why we want to pray for that peace in our land now,” Eches said.
Also, state chairman of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Bishop Titus Akanabu, who also anchored the assemblage of senior bishops of Nigeria at the event, stated that the zone would never remain the same after the prayer session.
National president of CAN, Reverend Olasupo Ayokunle, led other notable clerics to the Heroes’ Square, Owerri, venue of the spiritual programme. Also in attendance were the president of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, Rev. Israel Akanji, and the executive secretary of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission, Rev. Yakubu Pam.
There was no dull moment at the rally as the likes of gospel music sensations, Mercy Chinwo and Ada Jesus, thrilled the crowd and almost brought down the heavens with their soul-stirring songs.
Veteran Igbo gospel artiste, Felix Ndukwe, also did not disappoint the crowd as he dished out his latest songs, and the governor and his entourage could not help dancing to the melodious tunes.
Ayokunle prayed for the state and those at the helm. He told Uzodimma not to panic because God had interceded for the state in quelling its security challenges.
In his message, titled: “With the Prince of Peace in the boat, all shall be well”, the CAN boss commended the governor for his dexterity in handling the challenge, enjoining him to always seek the face of God in everything he did.
“In the life of man, the storm is inevitable; when it comes, we don’t need to panic, it’s part of the existence of man, the storm comes and the storm will go. When a situation like this arises, what we are expected to do always is to have the mind to step up to the higher ground under the guidance of the way-maker.
“Mr. Governor, as captain of the boat, always hear the voice of God before you take off. You can’t reject Him, you’re a miracle governor; you can’t afford to take any step without hearing from God. Leadership is a burden, if you want to overcome, always call on Jesus and everybody must eschew violence, it is a foreign spirit”, Ayokunle advised.
Uzodimma, who did not hide his excitement throughout the duration of the prayer, thanked the clerics for their show of affection for Imo and urged them to continue praying for the state.
The governor said: “Imo State was thrown into confusion, almost converted to a theatre of war; we cried to God and he heard us. We are using the prayer rally to thank God for peace He has returned to Imo. It’s almost certain like I heard today, like a boat, it will not sink; peace has been restored today.”
In his remarks, Pam advised that nothing could be achieved by violence just as he warned those sponsoring insecurity in the country to desist from doing so.
Prelate of the Methodist Church of Nigeria, Dr. Samuel Kanu Uche, chairman (South) of CAN, Maxwell Korie, as well as top state government functionaries also participated in the event.