By Job Osazuwa
It was undiluted excitement as the management and staff of The Sun Publishing Limited, yesterday, gathered at the company’s headquarters in Kirikiri, Lagos, to praise God and give thanks for sustaining the organisation for 19 years.
The theme of the celebration was “God Never Fails.” The service afforded members of staff the opportunity to renew their hope for a better year.
The company’s annual thanksgiving service and staff award is a way of beginning every new year and committing the organisation’s activities into God’s hands for divine guidance. It has become a tradition for the company and an event that every staff looks forward to.
For the 19th time, the employees, particularly those in Lagos, didn’t disappoint, as they turned out in their large numbers to start year 2022 on a glorious note. Indeed, the glory of God was again made manifest as they all appreciated God’s uncountable blessings, grace and mercies on the company and staff in 2021.
Leading the thanksgiving was the pastor in charge of Missions and Network at the Citadel Global Community Church (formerly Latter Rain Assembly), Christian Ike. He assured The Sun Publishing Limited that it would continue to shine not only within Nigeria but across the world. He prayed that no power would be able to bring down the company or stop it from shining.
At 10.10am, the Sun’s Christian Fellowship choir set the ball rolling by charging the atmosphere with soul-lifting praise and worship songs. The staff spontaneously raised their voices to high heavens as they danced and acknowledged God’s might.
After he had taken the first Bible reading from Joshua 21, verse 43 to 45, the managing director and editor-in-chief of The Sun Publishing Limited, Mr. Onuoha Ukeh, expressed delight at being part of the workforce that witnessed another thanksgiving service.
Mr. Iheanacho Nwosu, editor, Daily Sun, read the second Bible reading from Psalms 100, verse one to five.
Ukeh stated that holding the event on a Tuesday, as against Friday, which had been the case in the past, was not by mistake. He announced that it was on January 18, 2003, that the first copy of The Sun Newspaper hit the newsstand.
Said he: “In June that same year, The Sun went daily. So, it is happy anniversary to all of us. It is the Lord’s doing. We were looking at Friday this week to hold the event but the man of God (Pastor Tunde Bakare) we invited gave us January 18. He was not aware that January 18 was our anniversary. As they say, when the spirit directs, we mortals follow.
“It has been 19 years of good news. We have seen the good, the bad and the ugly, but we are still standing and The Sun is shining. This is a tradition that started many years ago that we have religiously kept. At the beginning of the year, we gather to thank God for what He has done for us in the previous year. We commit the company into His hands to direct us and determine our fate, and God has always done it for us such that, even in turbulent times, we have overcome.
“In the year 2020, when we gathered here to thank God for 2019, the world was on lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. There was anxiety when Nigeria went into lockdown in March. But we got a message at that thanksgiving, where we were told to fear not that the Lord was with us. We didn’t fear and that year came and went and we stood still.
“Last year, a man of God came here and prayed and said that the year would be like never before. It manifested. We saw it.”
Still thanking God for His faithfulness, Ukeh recalled how the organisation, in 2021, broke a world record by publishing over 250 pages of adverts in a single day. He admitted that it was God who made it happen despite the fact that the staff might have put in their best.
On that note, with a standing ovation, he ushered in the anointed guest speaker, Pastor Ike.
The man of God apologised on behalf of his principal, Bakare, for his inability to make it to the thanksgiving service, saying the renowned pastor would have loved to be present, having benefitedfrom the immensurable goodwill of the newspaper.
He congratulated The Sun on its 19th anniversary, quoting Psalms 90, verse 12, which says: “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
He explained that wisdom is the principal thing which can locate anything planted on earth for the benefit of man.
The cleric reminded the gathering that, despite the fact that the sun has existed for thousands of years, yet it waxes stronger. In like manner, he prophesied that The Sun would never diminish, even for hundreds of years to come.
“When wisdom plants you, you have nothing to be terrified about. You do not lose sleep. You will have confidence. When the Lord connects you, nothing can disconnect you, because you are connected to the source. All that you lay your hands to do you will prosper. His thought for us is not of evil but of good and He will bring you to an expected end,” he prayed and the congregation chorused a loud “Amen.”
Speaking on the theme of the programme, he said it was undisputable that God never fails. According to him, the theme is the revelation of God’s nature, potency and power. He took the congregation to Psalm 8, pointing to how David appreciated God’s uniqueness, attributes and promises.
He said: “It’s not in God’s nature to fail and He has never failed. It is also in His nature to love us. That is why He has not failed The Sun for 19 years. There is nothing too difficult for God to do because He is supreme.”
He charged the company to sustain the tradition of always thanking God for His faithfulness. He assured them that God would continue to make His goodness and mercies available as they sail through 2022.
He analyzed Psalm 103, from verse one to the end, saying that God is slow to anger and making His mercies available to those who fear Him.
Looking at the Book of Jeremiah, chapter 32, verses 17 and 26, saying He is great and mighty, stressing that there was nothing too difficult for God to do.
He also read Isaiah 55, verses eight and 11, saying He keeps His word and promises. He assured every believer in His word that He would fulfil His promises concerning His children. He said God can never lie.
Ike decreed that the blessings that God has commanded to The Sun Publishing Limited, no power would be able to reverse them. He concluded that the future of The Sun was safe and secure, despite the challenges that might come its ways.
The employees who had displayed diligence and were described as outstanding in discharging their duties were Job Osazuwa (Most Diligent Reporter of the Year), Akeem Adesola (Most Diligent Planner), Jelili Olatunji Alli (Most Outstanding Printing Staff), Andrew Omolola (Most Outstanding Pre-Press Staff), Sunday Okolo (Most Outstanding Technical Staff), Sanyaolu Olukunle (Most Outstanding Driver), Nnenna Shuaibu (Most Outstanding Advert Executive), Samuel Udofia (Most Outstanding Advert Production Staff), Uju Chiekezie (Most Diligent Account Staff), Jane Nwosu (Most Diligent Human Resource and Admin Staff), Clementina Ayino (Most Supportive Library Staff) and Chigozie Okeagu as Most Diligent Audit Staff.
Twenty-seven staff members were rewarded, having served the company for 10 years. They included: Nwosu, the editor, Nation’s Capital and the North, Adetutu Folashade-Koyi, Omoniyi Salaudeen, Jude Okoro, Paul Nnanyereugo, Adesola, Okey Sampson, Noah Ebijie, Emmanuel Olarenwaju, Adekunle Kazeem, Saheed Salisu, Anselem Maduagwu, Oladeji Olakunle, Emmanuel Nwobodo, Albert John, Michael Mateola, Odeniyi Sunday, Helen Onyemowo Foster, Chidozie Nwawihe, Eze David Chukwu, Nwankwo Uchenna, Chukwudozie Ignatus, Ikem Felix Emmanuel, Joseph Bamidele, Olafimihan Kazeem, Ngwu Uchechukwu and Israel Akiode.
Also in attendance at the event were the editor, Saturday Sun, Tope Adeboboye, editor, Special Investigations, Chidi Obineche, deputy editor, Daily Sun, Femi Adeoti, the chairman of the editorial board, Robert Obioha, senior manager, internal auditor, Johnson Ogwumike, GM, operations, Damola Lajumoke, human resources manager, Jessica Oje-Humphrey, senior accountant, Dennis Ogierhiakhi, and general counsel, Obinna Kalu.
In the past, clerics such as Rev. Dr. Wilson Badejo (Foursquare Gospel Church), Pastor Sam Adeyemi (Daystar), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor (Word of Life Bible Church), Pastor Osondu Anyalechi (Evangel Pentecostal Church), Bishop Humphrey Erumaka (Word Base), the national/international coordinator of Christian Pentecostal Mission (CPM), Rev. Mercy Ezekiel, Pastor J.T. Kalejaye, a regional evangelist with The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Bishop Mike Okonkwo of TREM, Pastor Ituah Ighodalo of Trinity House, and Pastor Lazarus Muoka of Lord’s Chosen Charismatic Revival Movement have presided over the annual programme.