By Job Osazuwa
It could aptly be described as the wedding of the year by all standards. It was a show that was peacefully delivered with glitz and glamour.
On Thursday, all roads led to the Catholic Church of Assumption, Ikoyi Lagos State, the venue for the solemnization and the reception at the prestigious Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island. It was a day the former governor of Abia State and a business tycoon, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, delightfully hosted the high and mighty of Nigerian society, when his delectable daughter, Catherine Ogbonneya tied the knot with her heartrob, Lawrence Iyere.
To take an accurate register of the notable people that were at event would certainly be a herculean task for anyone. One could easily lose count of the media gurus, political heavyweight, business tycoons, technocrats, religious leaders, professionals from all walks of life that graced the occasion. Foreigners from the United Kingdom, America and beyond added to those who were present added more colour to the occasion. The event was an opportunity for exchange of pleasantries between the former governor’s friends and associates and the Iyeres. The chats appeared endless between the Nigerian top shots.
Among those who graced the event were the Senate President, Abubakar Olusola Saraki, Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, the Archbishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Chairman of All Progressives Party (APC), John Oyegun, national leader of APC, Alhaji Bola Tinubu. Others were former Governor of Delta State, Emmanuel Uduaghan, former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, Senator Solomon Ganiyu, Segun Oni, Victor Ndoma-Egba, Alex Otti, Uche Ogah, Kola Oyeyemi, the Founder of Christ Embassy Church, Chris Oyakhilome.
Giants from the pen profession were not also missing in action at the church service and wedding reception. They were there in their numbers, to felicitate with one of their own, the father of the bride who is the publisher of The Sun and New Telegraph titles.
The presence of the Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of The Sun Publishing Limited, Mr. Eric Osagie, the Publisher of Vanguard Newspapers, Sam Amuka, the Publisher of Guardian Newspapers, Maiden Ibru, the Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of the New Telegraph, Mrs. Funke Egbemode and other high-ranking colleagues made the day a more remarkable one.
Eric, Egbemode and the Daily Editor, The Sun, Mr. Onuoha Ukeh were among the early arrivals at the church programme. They stood by the their boss – the former governor helping him to welcome other guests to the occasion.
Journalists from the print and electronic media were on ground to capture every bit of the event as they unfolded. Cameramen intermittently focused their lenses and their hands remained permanently on the shutters buttons for action shots.
The church service was slated to start at noon, but as early as 10am, guests were already waiting at the venue for the event to start. They had come from near and far, within and outside the country to be part of the epoch-making ceremony.
Watching an array of automobiles that competed for space at the church’s car park such as Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) of different brands, sport cars and other brands that dotted the arena and extended beyond the premises, passersby were left in an outright amazement.
It was an event that the memory would remain fresh with many of the people that attended.
When the couple filed into the church’s auditorium about 1pm, the four corners of the church reverberated with the shout of hallelujahs from the congregation.
During the thanksgiving, the bride and groom danced to the beautiful songs rendered by the church choir. The choristers, who were dressed in black and red, were simply in their best element. They sang out their hearts to the latest couple in town.
The groom was dressed in white jacket and black bow tie to match his black trousers, while his wife was in white gown. The bride’s train also wore white.
It was gathered that the couple met and began courting at the University of Buckingham, United Kingdom, where they both graduated.
Iyere who obtained his Masters degree in the United Kingdom, is a native of Irrua in Edo State. He is an entrepreneur with interests in oil and gas, real estate and trading.
Delivering the sermon, the Bishop of Umuahia, Abia State, Lucius Ugorji said the bride personally pleaded with him last year, to officiate at her wedding.
He said it was God’s love that made the bride and groom to locate themselves. He said God is the author of love and therefore charged them to deepen the good thing that God has started in their lives.
According to him, love starts from the engagement ring to the wedding ring and ultimately consecrated with endless sacrifice.
“It is love that brought the two of you together. This love mirrors the love of God in your lives. You be ready to tolerated each other and ready to forgive at all times. Fidelity is important in keeping the home from crisis.
“Be good teacher to your children because the society is built on these children. If you fail to train them in the way of the Lord, the society will suffer the consequences.
“Married life is a career that requires patience of a teacher to tutor his pupil, the humour of an artist to keep home alive,” the priest said.
Onaiyekan, who supervised the mass, prayed for the couple to be fruitful as they begin a new phase of life. He admonished them to use the union to bring honour to themselves, their loved ones and the society.
On his part, Saraki advised the couple to grow in love so that the reason for the large gathering would not be regretted by both families and friends.
Immediately after the church service, attention was shifted to the reception at Oriental Hotel. The place was completely shut down as vehicular movement came to a standstill. The security personnel at the hotel worked tirelessly in easing the traffic leading in and out of the premises as the entire parking space was filled up with vehicles.
The expansive hall was specially decorated and the look was breath-taking.
At the entrance to the hall, there were thorough scrutiny. The wide-chested bouncers, though maintained a stern look, had a tough time in maintaining decorum as many people wanted to be part of the show. They wasted no time in ensuring that those who had no business with the party were quickly directed out of the arena without leaving room for long explanation.
The Master of ceremony, Gbenga Adeyinka described the gathering as the mother of all gatherings, adding that the couple were a special breed. He begged not to observe protocol, saying that the number of dignitaries had overwhelmed him.
A popular comedian, Bright Okpocha fondly known as Basketmouth, kept the audience’s hearts warm. He cracked jokes cutting across all spheres of life. Members of the live band did justice to both local and foreign songs to keep the hall charged.
Kalu, who couldn’t conceal his joy led members of his family to declare the dancing floor open. The proud father took his time to dance with his lovely daughter as directed by the compere. Gently, he moved his body to the music of yore dished out by the live band to the admiration of all. The dancing session was immediately followed by the Iyeres.
There were assorted foods comprising local and continental. Drinks of all brands were in surplus. The ushers were everywhere practically begging guests to order whatever was at the menu. For many, it was a rare occasion worth attending.
Some youths and elders alike had a field day outside the hotel and the church. They positioned themselves, waiting to get money from the personalities. They did so by running after them and singing their praises, and many of the beggars went home smiling.