Orji As Grand Benefactor of the Catholic Church

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Bonnie Iwuoha

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By Bonnie Iwuoha  |

A  FEW years back, some misguided persons held the wrong notion that Governor Theodore Ahamefule Orji was a hater of the Catholic Church. Those who held that erroneous opinion made efforts that were infantile in nature, in their approach to hoodwink a few others into their pessimism. They were wrong, totally wrong. Time and events have since disproved their cynicism.

Little did such cynics know that Orji, popularly called Ochendo Global, not only holds the Catholic Church in high esteem, he loves everything about the Catholic Church. Although not a catholic by birth, he has repeatedly and publicly said that he owes whatever he is today to God through the Catholic Church from his upbringing in the Catholic schools he attended which molded his character during his formative years. A strong believer in the supremacy of the Almighty Creator over and above every other authority, Governor Orji shares in the joy and pain of all believers and would do anything to identify with them. Sometimes, one had had to wonder why some people remained defiant in their views despite facts that are so glaring for all to see.

However, in an environment where ineptitude in governance or better put, governance without positive results had been the order of the day, it could be unimaginable to some people especially irredeemable political polyandrists whose loyalties centre only around the satisfaction of their selfish interests to the detriment of the generality of the populace, that a leader emerged who decided to alter the status quo ante and embarked on policies and projects that are people centered.

A man’s worth is determined not by his fiscal and material acquisitions but by his integrity, ability to do obeisance to higher beings and authority; being able to keep promises and uphold ethical norms and values of society. Any man who easily forgets his roots and the paths, through which he ascended great heights, is likely to fall without any intervention but whoever abides by the ethical codes of honesty, fair play, justice, equity, fear of God and righteousness, will enjoy the protection of Providence.

Saturday January 24, 2015, will remain indelible in the minds of Christians of the Catholic faith in Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, in Abia State as history was made on that beautiful day. It was the dedication of an ultra-modern cathedral built by Orji for the Catholic Community in the University. It was a moment of great joy and celebration as Priests, worshippers and guests assembled within the edifice to thank God for the great honour done them through the instrumentality of  the governor, who in fulfillment of the promise he had made about eight years ago, that if he became governor of Abia state, he would build a place of worship for God in the University Campus, erected the giant structure to the service of God from his personal income and assistance from his friends and associates.

Most elated by the fulfillment of the promise made in his presence, Michael Ukah, a catholic cleric, popularly called Father Mike, the Chaplain of St Thomas Aquinas Catholic Chaplaincy of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, in his address at the event, said “In its simplest term, it started as a dream and has now come to reality. It was eight years ago when the then Chief of Staff, T. A. Orji (now His Excellency the Governor) came to me in the chaplaincy and asked me to uphold him in prayers as he would be running for the gubernatorial election at the end of the tenure of  Orji Uzor Kalu. I was worried and asked him why he decided to come to me and not go to the shrine or other areas where, we guessed they normally go to obtain their powers and protection. He replied, “Fr, to tell you the truth there is no power greater than God’s and my spirit has directed me to come to you so that you can commit me to God.” This very statement was the starting point between me and the governor. We went to the chapel and prayed, he said.

From the fore-going, those who doubted the authenticity and sincerity of  Orji’s commitment to God and total rejection of evil practices including patronage of demonic entities, should understand that it was his genuine submission to God as attested to by Ukah that led to his triumph over the forces of wickedness that tried to undermine him.

It is therefore inconceivable that any sane mind would try to instigate Christians of the Catholic Church against their very own Orji, as some disgruntled fellows laboured fruitlessly to do a few years ago. The picture is clearer now, the truth must be told, that Orji is a lover of the Catholic Church and he is always willing to promote the work of God through the Church.

Building the place of worship for the Catholic faithful within the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike eloquently testifies to the above assertion. Ukah further revealed that the Governor embarked on the building of the huge Church auditorium voluntarily without the least prompting. This he said; “There are certain things that must be highlighted at this juncture about the Governor and this church.” “A personal commitment. Nobody asked him to build the Church, he voluntarily made a promise to God to build the Church and that he did. There was no address or request by any person or group of persons asking him to build a church, he decided on his own to say a big “Thank you to God” by building this Church.” “Interestingly, he told me and insisted he will not use government money to build the Church; rather he will build it with money he gets from friends, benefactors and his personal money. This perhaps explains why it was not in any State budget. The building of the Church was his personal commitment and promise to God.” This testimony stands as a memorial to the great works of Ochendo before God and man.

Other speakers at the auspicious ceremony poured encomiums on the Governor for his uprightness in dealing with all and sundry. Chris Chukwurah, chairman of the Chaplaincy Council, had this to say of Orji: “He graciously adopted the construction of this building as one of his legacy projects. He is a benefactor par excellence whose support was whole hearted, sacrificial, altruistic and prompted the speedy completion of the ultra-modern project in record time.”

In the same spirit, F. N. Njoku, secretary of the St Thomas Aquinas Pro-Cathedral Church, called the edifice a symbol of the Catholic faith and described Orji, as the most benevolent benefactor. He also said of him; “You have built your own treasure in heaven by this singular act.”

It may be necessary at this point to further commend Orji for the good upbringing he gave his children. The complementary role played by his son Chinedum Orji, an engineer, in ensuring good success of his Father’s programmes and projects is highly commendable. His Father built and equipped the St Thomas Aquinas Pro-Cathedral Church, while he powered the edifice with a standard electricity generating set to ensure that the Church is properly illuminated and its services are uninterrupted.  Isn’t that wonderful and laudable? The unity of purpose with which the Orji family operates, is admirable and stands as a good example to other families, especially homes whose off-springs work at cross purposes with their parents.

People often make hasty vows to God when in need only to renege or forget to redeem such vows or promises when their prayers are answered and things get better. Such people seem to forget that God is not a man that could be deceived. The Holy Scriptures in Ecclesiastes 5: 4-5, clearly states, “When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; For He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed. Better not to vow than to vow and not pay.”  Orji deserves every commendation for being a man of honour and integrity, even in redeeming the pledge he made to God. This singular act of his, is worthy of emulation by all those who desire to have life and have it abundantly.

It was in appreciation of this outstanding and exemplary performance that the Lucius I. Ugorji, Catholic Bishop of Umuahia, bestowed on Orji, an award of excellence as Grand Benefactor of the St Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church.  A good reward for faithfulness. This special honour by the Catholic Church at this time when Orji is gradually transiting from Government House, Umuahia to the hallowed Chambers of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Abuja, is heartwarming and deserves celebration, great celebration, truly joyous celebration.

One must thank Ugorji for his fore-sight, fatherly role, friendship and steadfastness in upholding the sanctity and integrity of the Catholic Church. Worthy of special mention in this script is Ukah, a distinguished gentleman and peace-maker, an exemplary Priest and one truly worthy of his calling in the Lord’s vineyard. An unassuming but very resilient man of God, honest and very sincere in his dealings with fellow men; Ukah is a priest indeed. The Catholic Community in Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike is blessed having him as its priest.

I join numerous friends, associates, admirers, loyalists and well wishers of Orji, to congratulate our very esteemed, astute, courageous, sagacious, ebullient, faithful and promise-keeping governor for building this great edifice for God, it is comparable to the great temple built by King Solomon of Old Israel.

The Award is indeed remarkable! Congratulations sir.

— Feb. 16, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT

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