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ANAMBRA: Archbishop Okeke rallies guber candidates, calls for ‘family spirit’

THE Metropolitan Archbishop of the Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province, His Grace, Most Rev Valerian Okeke, has charged politicians to enthrone the spirit of brotherliness in their electioneering campaign.

Archbishop Okeke was speaking during the celebration of his 68th birthday and; 40 years of priesthood with inmates at the Nigerian Prisons Onitsha.

In a holy message he titled, ‘Turning your Challenges into Blessings and Opportunities,’ Archbishop Okeke sought an end to killings and bloodshed in Anambra. He called for an end to hatred and divisive tendencies, just as he asked politicians to work for the good of the society, especially during challenging times like now.

The Archbishop also urged the prison inmates to develop themselves for future productivity, just as he encouraged indigenes to remember the historic peace for which Anambra, as a pacesetter, was known.

He begged God to bless the inmates, Anambra State and Nigeria at large.

Archbishop Okeke expressed deep passion for a new Anambra transformed into a progressive family of peoples, characterised by love, peace and harmony.

The state has been enmeshed in violence and general insecurity in the countdown to the November 6 election race.

Baring his mind with faith, hope and passion at the birthday Mass, the Archbishop condemned all forms of destructive and desperate activities. He called for the dethronement of politics of bitterness, politics of bloodletting, politics of division and favouritism, exclusion, excuses, back-stabbing and enmity, and appealed for the enthronement of the politics of family harmony, brotherliness, cooperation, development and peace, and indeed politics without bitterness in the electioneering campaigns.

Archbishop Okeke proposed a politics of societal transformation that will accentuate the greatness of Anambra and place it as a cynosure of admiration.

In an atmosphere filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit, the Archbishop gave a speech “I desire Speech/Prayer”, which came at the beginning of the Mass.

He expressed desires for a state that will be the consolation and motivation of Ndigbo; a state where politicians would take welfare of citizens as priority; where politics would be devoid of violence, bloodletting and bitterness. While charging the ruling class to embrace brotherliness and to denounce violence, Archbishop Okeke insisted that Anambra should be devoid of “do-or-die attitude and by-fire-or-by-force disposition.”

The Prelate denounced violence and destruction of whatever hue. He said, no kingdom divided against itself can stand and in no way should Anambra be counted in the generation of brother-killing Cain.

According to him, a state richly blessed with human and natural resources as Anambra is positioned by God to be “primus inter pares,” the light, by performance, not merely by name. “And this task requires the cooperation of all the stakeholders in the Anambra socio-political enterprise,” he said.

The Archbishop’s message was received by the ruling elite in that state who graced the occasion.

They were, His Excellency, Governor of Anambra State, Chief Dr Willie Obiano and wife, Dr Mrs Ebelechukwu Obiano; Peter Obi, former Governor of Anambra; gubernatorial candidates of the various political parties, including Nze Akachukwu Nwankpo (ADC), Prof Charles Soludo and his Deputy, Dr Onyekachukwu Ibezim (APGA), Mr & Mrs Valentine Chineto Ozigbo (PDP), High Chief Dr Obiora Okonkwo (ZLP), Chief Primus Odili, the State Chief of Staff, Ozonkpu Victor Oye and Senator Dr Victor Umeh, current and former National Chairmen of APGA, respectively, Obinna Ufudo, Prof Kate Omenugha, Commissioner for Education, Hon Evarist Uba, Lady Ngozi Nwanosike, among others.

Reverend Father George Adimike, who heads the Communications unit of the Archdiocese, said it spelt “the personal integrity that has marked his apostolate, being discharged with the fatherly concern without fear or favour, discrimination or favouritism.

“It is palpable that the Archbishop’s presence is an oasis that refreshes with wisdom, peace and harmony. His house is a big family space that accommodates politicians of all parties and people of various walks of life. In fact, all the false insecurities, superficial division by party lines and all segregations dissolve in the Archbishop’s presence,” Adimike said.

“Living his spiritual fatherhood, he creates an abode where no one is a stranger, and no one is an outsider. There is only one party in his house, and that is the party of the children of God, where everyone is welcomed, accepted and treated with dignity and love. “The Archbishop is the microcosm of what he desires for Anambra State, an oasis of peace.

“Indeed, people of different political leanings and religious denominations have experienced this harmony, in the presence of which various prejudices fizzle away. The power of personal testimony is the audacity of the Archbishop.”

Adimike said that Archbishop Okeke’s birthday “goes down as the day the Archbishop set the hearts of the Anambra political class on fire for proper development of the State founded on peace, harmony and brotherly cooperation, eschewing all forms of violence, hostility, and all destructive tendencies. It was one of the most eloquent and profound expressions of love of God and neighbour. And indeed, a father’s passionate appeal and a cry of hope, conscientising his spiritual children and beloved people of the State.”

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