. . . Thanksgiving should be done through service to humanity – Fr. Anusi
By Mercy Hill
On Saturday, 26th October 2019, the popular Alex Ekwueme Square in Awka was a beehive of activities and a convergence of the crème de la crème in society as the Senator representing Anambra Central Senatorial District, Sen. Uche Lilian Ekwunife(IYOM), celebrated an interdenominational thanksgiving service in praise to God for her landslide victory at the polls during the last general elections in February, 2019.
Sen. Ekwunife who is popularly known for her great representation of her people in the House, evident in the several achievements she had both as a mother, wife and public servant, gathered people of different tribes, religious beliefs and sects to thank God for having enjoyed his benevolent gifts and successes.
Speaking during the homily at the Thanksgiving Service, the Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev. Paulinus C. Ezeokafor, represented by the Director of Social Communications, Catholic Diocese of Awka, and the Director, Fides Media Limited, Rev. Fr. Dr. Martin Anusi, said that Christians, especially leaders, should imbibe the attitude of thanksgiving, as he themed his reflection “Leadership as a Vocation’. He explained that leadership existed in two vital levels: thanksgiving for what God has done for us, and what we are able to do for others from what he has given us. The first one was explained in the first reading of the service (Isaiah 63:7-9), where the Prophet Isaiah thanked God for his loving kindness and great goodness to him and on account of others. The second, he noted, was reflected in the second reading, the first letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians (1Cor 1:3-9), where Paul recalled the glorious works of God and thanked him for the opportunity he was given to serve others.
Fr. Anusi summed these up to say that leadership was a vocation and as such it went beyond thanking God for what he has done for us, but to thank him through our good services to humanity.
He explained further that Sen. Uche Ekwunife understood that leadership was an opportunity given to her by God to serve and had come to thank Him, not only because of her victory, but also for her services to her constituency and beyond.
He then advised that leaders all over the country should imbibe such habit of thanking God constantly through their dedicated services to the people they represent.
The Archbishop on the Niger, Rt. Rev. Godwin Izundu Nmezinwa Okpala and the Bishop of Awka Diocese, Anglican Communion, Rt. Rev Alexander Chibuzor Ibezim, represented by the Bishop of Eha-Amufu Diocese, Rt. Rev Daniel Olinya, expressed joy and admiration over her good works, noting that it had earned her the love and support of her people. While he prayed for God’s everlasting covering over her and her family.
The interdenominational service had in attendance lovers and supporters of the party from across the States who came to share in her joy and celebrate God’s graciousness to the senator over the years. Admirers from other political parties were not left out as Governors and political stalwarts from other States graced the epoch occasion to celebrate the political icon.
Speaking during the event, the former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, eulogized Sen. Ekwunife. He noted that she had demonstrated her capacity as a leader and a thorough party member by bringing different leaders of thought and elder statesmen together to celebrate the historic victory.
He advised that all leaders should endeavour to use all funds available to them, to improve society.
Speaking on behalf of all the State Governors at the event, the Governor of Imo state, His Excellency Chukwuemeka Ihedioha, commended her sagacity well demonstrated in the last elections and with the involvement of all in the thanksgiving service. He added that her achievements had earned her the title ‘a man in a woman’s body’.
In her vote of thanks, Sen. Uche Lilian Ekwunife (IYOM), Adaugo-Igbo, Anyanwu-Nri Kingdom, thanked all who were present at the event, and spoke greatly of God’s faithfulness and graciousness towards her and her household. She appreciated in a special way her husband, Larry Ekwunife, who she described as a living saint. ‘He had always been supportive, not minding the negative things people say of female politicians’ she said.
She also thanked Ndi Anambra for demonstrating their unalloyed support and love at the polls during the general elections, while she promised to continuously, in her capacity, give voice to the people through her representation at the House.
In attendance at the event were such distinguished personalities as Rt. Hon Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Enugu State Governor; Hon Emeka Ihedioha, Governor of Imo State; Ahmadu Fintiri, Governor of Adamawa State; Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, Sokoto State Governor; Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki; Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege; Minority Leader of the House of Reps, Hon Ndudi Elumelu; former Governors of Anambra State, their Excellencies, Mr Peter Obi and Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife; the Deputy Governors of Ondo and Imo States, Agboola Ajayi and Rt. Hon. Gerald Irona; Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; Minister of State Mines and Steel Development, Dr Uche Ogah; the Secretaries to the Governments of Anambra and Ebonyi States, Prof. Solo Chukwulobelu and Dr. Kenneth Ugballa; former Governor of Abia State, Senator Theophilus Orji; the Clerk of the National Assembly, Muhammed Sani Omolori; former Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Kenneth Minimah, Rtd; Senators and Honorable Members of the National Assembly; Obi Gibson Nwosu, the Traditional Ruler of Awka, other Traditional Rulers and many other dignitaries.