From Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
Saturday, April 24, 2021, was a day like any other day. But the families of Chief Chuka Odom, ex-Minister of State, Federal Capital Territory and Ministry of Environment, Housing and Urban Development, and Justice Moses Bello, a retired president of the Customary Court of Appeal, chose to make it a day like no other.
The Odoms and the Bellos gathered family and friends in honour of their children, Jessica Odom and Gabriel Bello, who were joined together in the sacrament of holy matrimony by the Secretary-General of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Very Revd. Fr. Zachariah Samjumi, at a concelebrated Mass, which took place at St. Gabriel’s Chaplaincy, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Durumi, Abuja.
The nuptials later dovetailed into a reception at the International Conference Centre (ICC), Abuja, where guests were treated to various delicacies, to the best of wine, while music of various kinds serenaded the hall.
Ace comedian, Okechukwu Anthony Onyegbule, also known as Okey Bakassi, held the audience spell-bound as long as the ceremony lasted as he reeled out rib-cracking jokes, combining the role of a comedian with functions of master of ceremonies.
The cream of society witnessed the two-fold event. On the list of the array of dignitaries were former President Goodluck Jonathan, who chaired the occasion; his former Chief of Staff, Chief Mike Oghiadomhe; Senate Chief Whip, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu and wife, Mrs. Ifunnaya Kalu; and former Senate President, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim.
Also present was the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo; Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen; wife of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mrs. Salamatu Gbajabiamila; ex-Governor James Ibori of Delta State; former governors of Imo State, Chief Achike Udenwa and Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha; former Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris; and a former Inspector-General of Police and the immediate past chairman of the Police Service Commission, Sir Mike Mbama Okiro.
Also in attendance were the managing director/editor-in-chief, The Sun newspapers, Mr. Onuoha Ukeh; former Director of Protocol, Ministry of Federal Capital Territory, Sir Peter Aliu; the Archbishop Emeritus of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan; former Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Chief Dubem Onyia; ex-Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba; and former Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu.
There were also the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe and wife, Nwamaka; former Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku; former Minister of State, Defence and Ambassador-Designate to Spain, Demola Seriki; legal luminary, Chris Uche, SAN, and wife, Ijeoma, billionaire businessman, Chief Terry Waya, the Deputy Chief of Mission, United States Embassy, Kathleen FitzGibbon, among others.
In his remarks, Jonathan said the day was a special day and congratulated Justice Bello and his wife, Lady Mary Bello, and his good friend, Chief Odom and his wife, Lady Adaku Odom, for the ceremony.
Jonathan also congratulated Jessica and Gabriel for pulling everyone out to the ICC to see that they have been formally joined together as husband and wife.
Jonathan said: “I think that is the main reason for me to do it, to congratulate this group of people. I congratulated the parents first because with the economic situation in the whole world and indeed, in Nigeria, and the kind of life young people are exposed to because of the social media, every father, every mother prays for their daughters and sons to get married.
“So, today is a very happy day for the Bellos and the Odoms and all of us who are their friends that are here. We should all congratulate ourselves and we congratulate our son and daughter. Congratulations!”
Focusing on comments made by Okey Bakassi that marriage brings two families together, Jonathan said it was more than that as marriage brings together, more than two families.
Citing his marriage as an example, Jonathan said: “Marriage brings more than two families together. Marriage is not just about families. I take myself as an example. I am from Bayelsa State, and my wife is from Okrika, in Rivers State. And because I married her, every Okrika person calls me my in-law. And because she is from Rivers State, every Rivers person calls me my in-law.
“And my wife’s mother is from Abia State. So, whenever I go to the South-East, not just Abia State, she is from Umuahia, every Southeasterner calls me my in-law. So, that tells you that marriage is something very serious. It is not just about one young man and one young woman getting together. It is not just about two families, it is not just the Bello family coming together with the Odom family, but it is about a group of people.
“And whenever I go for a marriage where somebody from Southern Nigeria is getting married to somebody from the North, I used to be very, very happy because the greatest problem we have as a nation is our inability to manage our diversity. You are demonstrating that as a nation, we must manage our diversity, North and South coming together.
“And I enjoyed the dances when the women were celebrating, the groom and the bride’s mothers dancing down here. Was it not interesting? That is the way we are supposed to live as a nation.
“So, my good brother, Okey Bakassi, marriage is beyond two families. Marriage is about the nation and that is why we all want our sons and daughters to get married.”
Jonathan also dwelt on the issue of who the real head of the family is after Okey Bakassi put the question before the audience. Jonathan, again, said everything still boiled down to the inability of Nigerians to manage their diversity.
Jonathan enjoined the couples to always work together, saying that the day they decided not to work together, their family will collapse.
In his remarks, Ndoma-Egba wished the couple every happiness, long life, saying that since intra-tribal marriage threatened national unity, his prayer was that the union would bring blessings to the nation.
Also, Okiro, while speaking with Daily Sun, wished the couple a wonderful life, peace, prosperity and that they have children that would look after them.
Father of the bride, Chief Chuka Odom, told Daily Sun that he was elated.
“I am happy. I wish them good luck, healthy marriage, long life and prosperity,” Odom said.
Delivery the homily during the Mass, a Priest of the Catholic Diocese of Lokoja, Revd. Fr. Ezekiel Awolumate, admonished the couple to be disciplined in every facet of their lives if they wanted to succeed in marriage.
Awolumate also encouraged the couple to imbibe the spirit of sacrifice in their marriage, noting that it takes a lot to give since giving is synonymous with sacrifice.
He further urged those in every strata of governance in the country, particularly governors and senators, and other politicians to imbibe the spirit of sacrifice as it is the only way the nation can move forward.