By Vincent Kalu, Henry Okonkwo and Lawrence Enyoghasu
Management and staff of The Sun Publishing Ltd, yesterday, gathered at its corporate headquarters, Kirikiri, Apapa, Lagos, to thank God for seeing them through 2016 successfully, and to thank Him for the many good things He would be doing in 2017.
Leading the thanksgiving service, with the theme “Amazing Grace,” was a firebrand minister of God, known in the Pentecostal circle, as spiritual bulldozer, Dr. Mike Okonkwo, General Overseer of The Redeemed Evangelical Mission (TREM), Anthony, Lagos.
His powerful preaching literally brought down the roof, as everyone present was soaked in the spiritual atmosphere.
Earlier, in his opening remarks, the Managing Director/ Editor-in-Chief, Mr. Eric Osagie, noted that 2016, was particularly a tough year in Nigeria’s business climate, but was full of appreciation to God for seeing the organisation and the staff through it.
He noted that in spite of the rescession, “we were able to meet our obligations and kept the organisation going. We really must thank God for his mighty hand in our affairs. We thank You God, for the life of the Chairman of the company, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu; thank You God, for the management and staff”.
The MD prayed that 2017 would be a glorious year for the organization.
He urged everyone to put in his or her best towards the upliftment of the organization, so that in the end, “we will all prosper”.
The first Bible reading, taken from Exodus 33:12 – 17, was read by Mr. Osagie, while the second reading was taken from Luke 2: 40 – 49, and was read by Executive Director, Special Duties, Mr. Bolaji Tunji.
Bishop Okonkwo, praised the entire management and staff of The Sun newspapers for their contribution towards educating and informing the country, saying that the newspaper, has over the years remained a force to be reckoned with, in the society.
He praised the management for the choice of its theme, for the thanksgiving service, noting that it was good to give “thanks unto the Lord.”
Citing some scriptures, like Psalms 92: 1; 106:6 and I Thessalonians 5:18, to buttress his point, Bishop Okonkwo, further said “what you are doing today is very good, and you have started on a very good note. When you give thanks, you release the supernatural power.
“Today we have a world where things are going from bad to worse. The devil is out to destroy and it is really fighting hard. Our economy is going crazy. It is only in Nigeria you have different dollar rates. So how then do we overcome if not for God’s amazing grace? You attract God’s grace through thanksgiving. And I pray that grace sustains you this year.”
While calling on The Sun staff to keep faith with God and continue to give thanks even in trying times, the pastor, further noted that, “when it comes to God, all predictions do not stand. He provides in the midst of scarcity. God is never overwhelmed by any situation. He will honour your faith. This year, don’t ever expect the worse rather expect the best. It is by the goodness of God that we’re where we are today. God’s goodness is our portion this year 2017, and His blessing would exceed your expectations.”
Dr. Okonkwo also reminded the congregation that the dead could not praise God, saying only the living do, and stressed that the living must be humble enough to praise and honour God, adding that, “those who think are those who thank God for His Grace and Mercy. One of the strategies of the devil is to show you the things you should have gotten, but it would never tell you the things God has done for you which is worth more than money.”
“When you go to the hospital, you would realise how important health is. When you go to prison you would understand the importance of freedom. Another is the cemetery, where this ground you walk on would now be the roof over your head.
“Companies have closed down, many have been laid-off, it is not about your expertise or a connection that you are where you are today, but, it is because God has shown mercy. The truth is that God likes it when He is appreciated even in the midst of adversities. Thanksgiving is one of the highest expressions of faith and total trust in God.
“So, Sun staff, I want to encourage you to give God thanks and appreciate Him for the little He did for you. There are so many things to thank God for; you thank Him for life, mental alertness, grace, spiritual strength and open doors. In this year 2017, I declare that God would do new things in your lives and in this organization,” he declared.
The thanksgiving, which had the trapping of a church service, started with an opening prayer, led by The Sun Christian Fellowship, where both management and staff sang and wiggled to the exciting gospel tunes of the band.
Yesterday’s event is the13th edition of the yearly affair. In the past, top religious leaders like Rev Dr. Wilson Badejo (Foursquare Gospel Church), Pastor Sam Adeyemi (Daystar), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor (Word of Life Bible Church and former CAN president), Pastor Osondu Anyalechi (Evangel Pentecostal Church) and 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) , have presided over the event.
The second part of the service was the award to staff, who exhibited outstanding performance in the execution of their work, in 2016, as well as staff who have served for ten years.
Those awarded for outstanding performance are: Features Writer of the Year, Sunday Ani; Most Creative Page Planner, Adebowale Johnson. The South East Bureau maintained its winning streak as the Most Productive Bureau.
Most Outstanding Printing Staff, Sodipo Adeola Adebowale; Most Outstanding Pre-press staff, Gbenga Adeojo and Most Outstanding Tech Staff, went to Adebisi Adebayo Afolabi.
Others are: Best Managed Production Plant, Lagos Plant; Best Performing Sales Executive, Chijioke Aliche; Most Outstanding Distribution Staff, Williams Ekezie; Most Outstanding Route Driver, Kazeem Olalekan and Most Outstanding Advert Executive, Mercy Ezeanozie.
The rest are: Most Outstanding Advert Production Staff, Peter Ogbuokwa; Most Diligent Account Staff, Uju Chiekezie; Most Diligent HR/Admin Staff, Kalu Chukwu; Most Diligent Security Staff, Emmanuel Igwe; Most Diligent Audit Staff, Nneka Maduike and Most Effective Support Department Information Technology.
The long service awardees are: Jide Awolaran, Uche A. Uche, Peter Osazupe, Olugbenga Adesina, Taofeekat Eletu Ajayi, Louis Iba and Amaechi Ogbonna.
Others are: Chiazor Michael, Ucheobi Magdalene, Amure Olaoluwa,Benson Ageh, Abanobi Chikamnele, Johnson Ogwumike, Johnson Okafor and Desmond Mgboh.
In attendance at the event were Managing Director/ Editor –in- Chief, Mr. Eric Osagie; Mr. Bolaji Tinji, (Executive Director, Special Duties); Onuoha Ukeh (Editor, Daily); Femi Babafemi (Editor Saturday); Abdulfatah Oladeinde (Editor, Sunday) and Ikenna Emewu (Editor, Online).
Others are: Obioma Ogukwe (GM, Finance), Damola Lajumoke (GM, Operations), Mrs Wale Sokunbi (Chairman, Editorial Board), Mrs Neta Nwosu (GM, Marketing/Corporate Services), Mrs Ogechi Uche (GM, Human Resources), Johnson Ogwumike (Senior Manager, Internal Auditor) and Obinna Kalu (General Counsel).
On the entourage of Bishop Okonkwo were seven pastors. They are Rev. Segun Akinbuwa; Chinedu Nkere; Okey Opah; Austin Pipi; Richard Anichukwu and Pastor and Mrs. Val Udeh, all from Zone 7 District, as well as, Monday Ojo-uwuigbe from the headquarters of the church.
See more pictures on page 43