Tony Osauzo, Benin
Two former presidents of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Dr Goodluck Jonathan, were among the dignitaries who attended the 85th birthday thanksgiving service of the Esama of Benin, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, on Sunday at Saint Gabriel the Archangel Catholic Church in Benin City.
The church was filled to capacity with parishioners, traditional rulers, politicians, clergies, friends and well-wishers of the patriarch of the household of Igbinedion.
Delivering the homily titled “Gratitude and Thanksgiving: A fulfilment of God’s will,” Rev. Father Alfred Agbonlahor, charged the congregation to take thanksgiving which is a moral obligation of Christians, seriously in order to attract God’s blessings.
The priest who cited relevant sections of the Bible including Luke Chapter 17 verse 17 and 19, that talks about the ten leapers who were cleansed by Jesus Christ, recalled that only one returned to show gratitude.
He described the celebrant, Chief Igbinedion, as a distinguished entrepreneur and a man after God’s heart for contributing immensely to human capital development in Edo State in particular and Nigeria at large.
He also described the octogenarian as a dogged man who does not give in, in the face of daunting challenges of life.
“If there is no investment, there is no future. You have diversified your investment; even before we were born, you raised many people through your act of generosity,” Fr Agbolanhor said.
The Catholic Archbishop of Benin Metropolitan See, Archbishop Augustine, Obiora Akubeze, who presided at the Holy Mass.
Benin monarch, Oba Ewuare, II who was represented by Chief Eduwu Ekhator (The Obasogie of Benin) and Chief H. Bazuaye (the Aiwerioghene of Benin), were accompanied by Chief Sam Igbe, the Iyase (Prime Minister of Benin) to the event.
A former Senate Deputy President, Alhaji Ibrahim Mantu; former Senate Whip, Sen. Rowland Owie; Mr Parry Osayande, Deputy Inspector-General of police (rtd); former Minister of Industry, Mrs Nike Akande, and former Minister of Science and Technology, Prof. Emmanuel Emmanuel Emovon, attended the Mass.
Others present were Sen. Matthew Urhoghide, representing Edo South Senatorial district, Prince Sunny Omatseye and the Alafin of Oyo; the Ooni of Ife sent his goodwill messages.
Also in attendance were the Vice-Chancellor, University of Benin, Prof. Faraday Orumwense and his wife, Mrs Francisca Orumwense, who led members of the Governing Council of the university to the event.