From Magnus Eze, Jude Chinedu and Geoffrey Anyanwu, Enugu
President of the Middle Belt Forum (MBF), Bitrus Pogu, has said North Central zone had no better option than presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi, in next year’s general election.
He stated that his people remain committed to supporting a president of South East extraction for the purpose of fairness, equity and justice.
He spoke as eminent Nigerians gathered for a colloquium in Enugu, yesterday, as part of activities marking the 70th birthday celebration of the immediate past President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo.
The ceremony was headlined by former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo as chairman, leader of the apex Yoruba socio-political group, Pa Ayo Adebanjo and presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi among others dignitaries.
Pog, in a keynote address, praised Nwodo over his role in the emergence of Obi as Presidential candidate from the Southeast, noting that by God’s grace, the LP candidate will emerge the next president of Nigeria.
“We have said it again and again that in the interest of equity, fairness and justice, the president should come from the south, particularly, the Southeast,” he said, adding that “In the Middle Belt, we are with Obi for a better Nigeria. When Obi emerges, Nwodo will stand by him as one of the persons who played a major role in presenting him to us.”
Earlier, at a thanksgiving service at St. Mulumba Catholic Parish, New Haven, Enugu, Chairman of the occasion, Obasanjo said Nwodo has contributed immensely to the growth and development of his community, Enugu State and the country at large, hence he deserves to be celebrated.
“We have come here to celebrate and make merry for what God has done for our brother. We pray that God will keep him so he can continue to make meaningful contributions to the growth of the country.”
Obasanjo noted that the age of a man does not matter much as to his achievements and contributions to humanity.
“The life of a man really begins at 70. It is not the number of years you spend here on earth, the most important thing is your positive contributions to humanity and God,” he said.
The event also featured a public presentation of a book by Nwodo: “John Nnia Nwodo Great Speeches”, part of which looked at why there should be an Igbo president in keeping with the principles of equity, fairness and morality.
Adebanjo also extolled the uncommon trait of Nwodo in building bridges and friendships across the country.
He said that Nwodo had stood out for peace and equity of all parts and ethnicities of the country, adding he had done that by words and vivid actions.
“I congratulate him for his love for humanity and progress of everybody he comes across. We thank God for his life,” Adebanjo said.
The Obi of Onistha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, said Nwodo remained a man of many parts that had contributed much in various fields of human endeavour and community development.
Achebe described him as `a great nation builder and an outstanding bridge builder” who had continued to see all Nigerians as one and the same family.
In his homily, Bishop of Nsukka Doicese, Most Rev. Geoffrey Onah, noted that God at no time did not limit the age of men, but “it is our sinful nature that brought us to this limitation”.
He said: “However, long years do not make life honourable but wisdom and fear of God.
“Age is about your investment in doing good, extending positive tidings to others and spreading your daily work towards the common good of all.”
Onah congratulated Nwodo and urged other leaders in the country to emulate his fine virtues of patients, meekness, accommodation of others and love for humanity.
In a vote of thanks, Nwodo thanked those that came from various parts of the country to grace the thanksgiving service, attend the colloquium and launch of his book – “John Nnia Nwodo: Great Speeches.”
He said his 70th birthday came at a time the country was on a crossroad of change and value re-orientation towards national progress and true unity.
Dignitaries at the thanksgiving service included Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State; Sen. Jim Nwobodo, former Governor of old Anambra and Sen. Ken Nnamani.