●Show love to others, Nigerian leaders, celebrities preach
By Cosmas Omegoh
Today is Valentine’s Day. On February 14, each year, people across the world celebrate what has been termed Lovers’ Day, and many use the day to express sentiments of love to one another, building relationships and making existing ones stronger. Many engagement rings are exchanged, and damaged relationships receive opportunities for a possible rebuilding.
It is also a day of surprises – a time when many show genuine love, even to the less-privileged ones around them. Many who are in relationships remind their loved ones how dear such loved ones mean to them. Those who do this express their love through gifts and other manifest expressions of love.
Even nowadays, children have been drafted into the celebration of Valentine. In some homes, parents let their children into what it feels to be part of Valentine’s Day. They take their children out to be part of the treat.
Many schools these days have injected the fever of Valentine’s Day into their pupils. They prepare the pupils’ minds for the celebrations. They ask the kids to come to school in red and white – colours believed to be for lovers. They even go the extra mile of asking the male and female pupils to choose their valentines from among themselves. Some schools take their pupils to places of interest.
For so many people, the build-up to this year’s Valentine’s Day began weeks, if not months, before now. They began planning and expecting for the coming of this moment. They want to show their partners how much they love and cherish them. They planned and purchased the gifts they are handing out today long before now: Rings, items of clothing, cars, exquisite cell phones, furnished apartments, food items and lots more.
And for some, part of the joy of today is a pleasure trip to exotic holiday resorts overseas or out-of-the-home dinner at some choice eateries where they will sit at exclusive tables for two, whispering some infinitely sweet things to each other.
To make today memorable for many, several organisations and enterprises had geared up to take advantage of the season. Hotels, eateries and relaxation spots had primed themselves to give some special offerings, which they believed would help to give their guests some lasting experience.
But there are individuals, who, apart from giving out gifts to many, still go ahead to dish out messages of hope and goodwill. Such messages serve as a soothing balm that calms frayed nerves. Their receivers fall love in its real sense, devoid of the craze and twisted interpretations that have been associated to Valentine’s Day. Spiritual leaders, politicians and opinion moulders are in this number.
In his message to mark the Valentine’s Day, eminent businessman and former governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu noted: “Love is our most basic human value. Love is patient; love is kind. It keeps no account of wrongs. Love takes no pleasure in evil but rejoices in the truth. In the end, nothing we do or say in this lifetime will matter as much as the way we have loved one another. Therefore, let love lead; Happy Valentine Nigeria.”
Catholic Bishop of Minna Diocese, Martins Uzoukwu, in his message, advised Nigerians to show goodwill and love during the Valentine Day celebration. The bishop said this while speaking shortly after the Holy Mass in Minna last Sunday.
He urged Nigerians to demonstrate love toward their neighbours irrespective of religious, ethnic and political leanings. “Love is what is required for us to build a strong nation. We should also remember to protect our common human heritage.
“I will also advise our youths to shun excessive consumption of alcohol to mark the day. Valentine’s Day should not be used to perpetrate vices,” he said.
Uzoukwu also said it was about time the public fervently prayed for the sound health of the country’s political leaders.
“Love your leaders, for that is the only way they can be at peace with themselves and the citizenry,” he said.
Maverick artiste, Charles Oputa, aka Charly Boy, in one of his inspiring messages to single ladies on Valentine’s Day last year, said: “Few days to Valentine’s Day, and some lady out there is arrested in her thought. In her thought she has this running in her mind, ‘I don’t have a lover, I don’t think any man will want to buy me gifts or take me out on that day!’ My special advice for you young lady ‘Knock it off!!!!!!!’ Don’t let that thought make you feel like a crap.
“Valentine’s gifts and outings don’t validate how cute, sexy and appreciated you are, lady. Take away that mindset from your beautiful soul because the worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourself. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up and never give up.”
Nollywood actresses, Seun Awonusi, in a recent chat with reporters, said Valentine’s Day was a day to show and share love. She said, though, that it had always been a normal day for her, as she had never gone out of her way to commemorate the day.
“But for those who will be out having fun, I will advise that they have fun with their brain. They shouldn’t get carried away with the Valentine’s Day frivolities, such as ladies losing their dignity and teenagers overstepping their teenage abilities and bounds. We shouldn’t let it get into our heads. We should spend time reflecting on the essence of the day.”
Another actress and producer, Ifu Ennada, also advised that people should spend less time on
frivolities and instead use the opportunity to give more love to others, especially those who couldn’t pay back such acts of kindness.
To another Nollywood star, Bayray McNwizu, “Valentine is a great reminder of what true love is. It is a time to show love and kindness to people.”
Charles Inojie, an actor, scriptwriter and director, asserted that Valentine’s Day was a time to rededicate oneself to the scriptural law to ‘love your neighbour as you love yourself.’
Said he: “I have come to realise that unless you learn to commit yourself to sharing
whatever you have with others, you may never know how much your little effort could mean to others. Valentine has, therefore, become, for me, a time to do a critical self-appraisal to find out how sensitive I have been to the plight of those whom grace has positioned me ahead of.”
At 10, Believers Faith Ministry celebrates God’s faithfulness
By Vera Wisdom-Bassey
The chants of the choristers of the church reverberated everywhere around. They were chants of thanksgiving and praise. The worshippers and guests had cause to thank God largely because they were alive and healthy.
The occasion was the 10th anniversary celebration of the Believers Faith Ministry in Lagos. It was an occasion that featured praise and worship, word of exaltation and testimonies. During the occasion, the worshippers in the church, which is located in Satellite Town, Lagos, took turns to tell of God’s mercy and faithfulness in their lives.
Mr. Akudiuror Mike, a staff of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), was full of praises to God for granting him promotion after many years at the apex bank. He urged his fellow men never to look down on their wives, saying that they were truly partners in raising a God-fearing family.
He recalled how his wife encouraged him to attend a church service, noting that God affirmed at the service that the promotion that had long eluded him had been restored.
“When I got to the office that week, I got my letter of promotion. That was not all: I was sent on a one-week training. Today, I’m counting my blessings,” he announced.
A woman, Winfred Theodora, said she was saved from death after she was hit by a commercial motorcyclist. She said she instantly fell and became unconscious. She narrated that she was later revived and was very fortunate that she had no fracture or breakage on the affected leg.
For the church, it was indeed, awesome 10 years of success during which no member died. It was noted that some of the worshippers at the church were in their 80s and 90s.
Some of them trooped out, alongside other members of the church and guests, to celebrate the great things God had done for them, especially in their marriages. They danced to the rhythm of the songs, which thrilled the audience.
One of the activities marking the anniversary was the visitation to the Modupe Orphanage Home by the women in the church where they presented assorted relief materials.
One of the senior pastors of the church, Stella Obi, a mother of four, said the donation was in line with the church’s belief that no one should suffer. She said she always took it upon herself to see that people around her were carried along. She said she was always disturbed to see childless women coming to her ministry and that often gave her cause to seek the face of God on their behalf.
With pomp, Catholic priests mark anniversaries
By Jet Stanley Madu
Recently, the Parish Priest and associates of the Holy Family Catholic Church, Festac Town, Lagos, Reverend Father Simeon Odijie Eromosele Irabor and Reverend Father Leon Houessou, were hosted to a sumptuous event. The occasion was the 10 and five years ordination ceremonies of the two reverend gentlemen respectively.
The tripartite ceremony also marked the formal presentation and launch of the book, Serving God in Humility, authored by Mazi Onyema Onyenankeya. The book chronicles Fr. Irabor’s 10 years experience in his priestly vocation and features eulogies on Irabos’ humility.
The ceremony, which began with a Holy Mass at the church premises on 22 Road, Festac Town, was officiated by Reverend Father Francis Adeola Adeyemi from the Ilorin Dioceses. Reception was at the First Bank Event Centre, also in Festac and was graced by a host of priests, reverend sisters and dignitaries from far and near.
In his speech to kick-start the ceremony, the Parish Pastoral Chairman, Mr. Vincent Iwueze, said that the developmental contributions of the Fr. Irabor and Houessou towards the physical and spiritual growth of the Festac Catholic community had been immense.
He remarked that the vocation to priesthood is God’s gift to the individual who receives it and most importantly, for the church and its welfare. He said the occasion afforded the parishioners the opportunity to glorify God for the abundant grace of humility He had lavished on the celebrants.
Speaking on the challenges of serving the Lord as a priest, the chief celebrant, Irabor said being able to please God at all times, appreciating all His goodness and obedience to His Call were actual hurdles a priest truly needed to surmount.
This, he explained, was because a lot was usually expected of a priest.
“The priestly vocation is long in duration, and it is mysterious in expectation. And people expect a lot from you. So, we have to pray for God’s intervention, every time one carries out His Will in one’s life.
The young priest, who described his first decade in the service of the Lord as awesome, ascribed the wisdom to administer such large, dynamic and elite Festac Catholic community to God’s direction and having a listening heart.
“It’s with the help of God. It’s all God all the way. God is a faithful father and he has given us a listening heart. That has been the key.”
Onyenankeya, who is the Church Laity President, explained that the several unique traits possessed by the reverend gentleman, chief among which was humility, motivated him to write the book on the person of the parish priest.
“And a good number of these traits are rare in this our clime, so I felt it is right and proper to highlight such, in order to help the younger ones develop along that side.
“Another reason I did this work is to help the youths know that in life, the most important thing is to live a purpose-driven life. And then, essentially, to help raise funds for the completion of our on-going church project,” the author explained.
Chief Stephen Ndubuisi, a Knight of Saint Mulumba (KSM), led other guests to launch the book which was reviewed by Prince Chudi Nweke.
In his speech, Captain Augustine Anthony Olugbode, who chaired the event, also lauded Irabor’s humility. He urged the parishioners to use their divine endowments to build the church, praying that the celebrants would continue to show the light and be destiny shapers in their vocation.
In his charge, Fr. Adeyemi urged the celebrants to continue to be dedicated to their priestly ministry and to hold firmly to their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He enthused that, as the priests continued to minister in the Lord’s vineyard with prayer, celebration of the Holy Mass, dispensation of the Sacrament and praying the Rosary and calling on mother Mary to always assist them, they would move from glory to glory.
He also charged them to be submissive to God and be dedicated to their duties. “Once we surrender our will to God Almighty, everything will be successful, because with God all things are possible. With prayers, commitment and dedication to their work and relying on the grace of God, they’re going to be great priests. Their future is very bright,” Chief Olugbode noted.