By Tunde Thomas, Lawrence Enyoghasu And Vera Wisdom-Bassey
The General Overseer of the Lord’s Chosen Charismatic Revival Movement, Pastor Lazarus Muoka, came spitting fire on the enemies and pouring blessings on The Sun Publishing Company Ltd, as he delivered his message titled, “The Lord Is Our Strength and Refuge” at this year’s Thanksgiving Service of the newspaper company.
“This year shall be well with you,” as he pronounced blessings on the management and staff of the company. “Do you believe it?” he bellowed. When the staff didn’t respond quite excitedly as he expected, he said: “Well, if you don’t believe it, my faith is greater than your doubt. No matter the situation or problem, you will prevail and prosper.” The audience said a louder Amen.
“The Lord will take care of this organization (meaning The Sun),” he announced. “Success and promotion will come your way this year. God is going to do something in this company and it is going to be by miracle. God will see you through. But if there is any Achan or Amalekite among you, God is going to expose them and frustrate them. This is because your God is an omnipotent God. He will take care of you this year. No matter the evil going on in the world, health or economic, He will preserve you. If you don’t like what I am saying, say ‘Back to Sender.’ I am ready to receive it.” His audience roared with laughter.
As early as 8 am yesterday, members of the management and the staff of The Sun Publishing Ltd, adorned in beautiful attires started converging at the company’s corporate headquarters, Apapa, Lagos, for its annual thanksgiving service and award-giving ceremony, which has become a ritual in the last 17 years. While waiting for the arrival of the guest speaker, Pastor Lazarus Muoka, The Sun Christian Fellowship led the congregation in praise and worship session that helped to lift up sagging spirit.
At about 10.13am, Pastor Muoka, accompanied by a large entourage of his administrative staff. It was then that the programme which was coordinated by the company’s Senior Manager, Internal Audit, Mr. Johnson Ogwumike commenced. This was followed by first Bible reading taken from Psalm 46:1-11. It was done by the editor, Daily Sun, Mr. Iheanacho Nwosu.
In his opening remarks, the Managing Director and Editor-In-Chief, Mr. Onuoha Ukeh, implored the gathering to observe one-minute silence in memory of two members of staff, Mr. Tope Asorobi of the Advert Department, and Mrs. Blessing Okezie, a Secretary with the Editorial Board Department, who he noted, sadly passed away, last year. He noted that it is a tradition of the company that every year, “we gather to thank God, return the praises to Him for what He has done for us, as individuals, workers, and the company.”
Describing last year as very challenging he said nobody thought that COVID-19 pandemic was going to shake the world to its foundation. This, he said, was followed by the EndSARS protests that challenged the corporate existence of the country. But in all, he expressed gratitude to God for seeing the company through what he described as a turbulent year.
“In January last year during the thanksgiving service, we were admonished not to entertain any fear no matter the situation,” he said. “However, COVID-19 and EndSARS protests came, and God saw us through.
“There was no day that the Sun newspaper didn’t come out. The chairman was away, and we were under threat of takeover but the Lord said we should not fear. The Lord was with us, and we did our business, and survived.”
He further recalled the anxiety he harboured when members of the management travelled to Zamfara State for appointment with the state governor, Bello Matawalle who won The Sun Governor of the Year Award. Although bandit and kidnappers were terrorising the area, and still do, God, he said, protected them from danger and harm.
“We thank God for His mercies as we went on the trip, and came back safely. God was with us. On our return to Lagos, the governor also called to thank us for having the courage to come to Zamfara State.’’
Welcoming Pastor Muoka, Ukeh said it was a great privilege for the company to have him as the guest speaker. He described him as a great man of God who has been supporting the company in many ways. He said that there were initial doubts that he would be able to make it to the programme because of his busy schedule. He, however, added that he was elated when the cleric graciously agreed to honour the company’s invitation even at a short notice.
Describing the great man of God as a study in humility and diligence, Ukeh added that he was a successful businessman before he answered the divine call to establish a ministry. In a short citation, he noted that he was born on November 21, 1961. He hails from Orsu Local Government Area of Imo State. He was called into the ministry in 2006, since then holiness has remained his livewire. In the year 2002, he was given a great mandate of winning 10 billion souls all over the world for the kingdom of heaven. The assignment God gave him was grassroots revival, revival of the apostolic experiences and revival of heaven consciousness among believers. It was in the pursuit of the mandate that the church was founded, he declared.
In his message earlier referred to, “The Lord is Our Strength and Refuge,” Pastor Muoka took his Bible references from Psalm 46: 1,5; Psalm 23:1-6; Romans 8:31; John 1: 29; Luke 15: 31; Matthew 6:33; 11:27; Genesis 27:1; Isaiah 43:10-13; Rev. 21:8; Prov. 28:13; Exodus 12:13 and 1 Corinthians 3:21, among others, he implored his audience to hold on to the word of God, follow the Lord’s instruction, commands and lifestyle in order to receive the blessings of God, which he noted, are abundant. With a loud voice, he declared: “God will defend The Sun Newspaper Ltd, and it shall record huge success and promotions shall come on its way this year, 2021.”
“This year God will give The Sun good things,” he assured. “All of you that have confidence in Him, including the management team, God will see you through. He is able to do all things. He is our Father. God will take care of The Sun. He will never withhold any good thing from you. But The Sun must be ready to do that which pleases Him. Without God, you can do nothing.”
He called on journalists to promote the work of God through their reports because according to him, the devil fights against the media not to report what is right. “If you want God to honour you, advertise Him,” he admonished. “This is because God honours those who honour Him. Therefore in your profession, honour God. My prayer is that you should always do what honours Him. If you become His true son, He will take care of you. If you please God like Jesus did, He will please you.”
He continued: “In this organization, God will help you. If God decides to favour you no human can oppose it. One assurance I am giving all of you is that last year, you had many challenges but this year God will surprise you. He will honour you. This organisation will be honoured because they have proved that they are children of God and they shall be honoured.” According to him, God is so powerful, and does not need any power or permission from anybody to accomplish His words.
This year’s Thanksgiving Service is the 17th. In the past, religious luminaries like Rev Dr. Wilson Badejo (Foursquare Gospel Church), Pastor Sam Adeyemi (Daystar), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor (Word of Life Bible Church and former CAN president), Pastor Osondu Anyalechi (Evangel Pentecostal Church), Bishop Humphrey Erumaka (Word Base Assembly); the National /International Coordinator of Christian Pentecostal Mission (CPM), Rev Mercy Ezekiel; Pastor J.T. Kalejaye, a Regional Evangelist with The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Bishop Mike Okonkwo of The Redeemed Evangelical Mission (TREM); Pastor Itua Ighodalo of Trinity House; Femi Faseru (KICC) and Apostle Anslem Madubuko of Revival Assembly had spoken during the event.
The second part of the programme was reserved for the giving of long service awards to deserving staff who have served for ten years. There are: Quadri Samusideen A, Oluchi Goddy, Chinyere Ijioma, Juliana Oreikie, Francis Opara and John Eke. Others are: Sylvia Esajere, Onwu Ambrose, Edgal Olusgun, Juliana Taiwo, Kayo-Sanya Kayode O, Kelechi Obasi, Chidinma Martins-Igwe and Subai Ademola. The rest are: Ugonna Oji, Solomon Keshiro, Chibueze Sylvaline Olachi, Henry Akubuiro, Allison Muhydeen, Ibrahim Aransi and Suraju Rabiu O.
Commenting on the Staff Award, the MD stressed that all the workers did very well and the little success the organisation recorded last year was because of the commitment of every staff. He however, noted that some showed outstanding performance. The winners are: Omotunde Idowu Alawode, Most Diligent Page Planner; Philip Agwu, Most Outstanding Printing Staff; Okafor Ikechukwu Innocent, Most Outstanding Pre-press Staff and Odeniyi Olusola Sunday.
Others are: Most Outstanding Technical Staff; Nnenna Shuaibu, Most Outstanding Advert Executive; Temidayo Kuti, Most Outstanding Advert Production; Sunday Ogundipe, Most Outstanding Driver and Cleaning Unit (Admin) emerged the Most Supportive Dept./Unit and Ilo A. Johnson, Special Recognition Award
Management staff that attended the programme include: Managing Director/ Editor-in-Chief, Mr. Onuoha Ukeh; Iheanacho Nwosu (Editor, Daily); Femi Babafemi (Editor Saturday); Chidi Nnadi (Editor, Sunday); Chidi Obineche (Editor, Special Investigations) and Robert Obioha (Chairman, Editorial Board),
Others are: Damola Lajumoke (GM, Operations); Obinna Kalu (General Counsel /Company Secreatary); Nkiru Obeki (Business Development Manager), Jessica Oje-Humphrey (Human Resources Manager); Johnson Ogwumike (Senior Manager, Internal Audit) and Dennis Ogierhiakhi (Senior Accountant).