June 25, 2024

Central News

at the center of it

Why I sponsored Imo pilgrims to holy lands, by Gov. Uzodimma

Gov. Hope Uzodimma of Imo State (r), receives a gift from the Auxiliary Bishop of Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri, Most Rev. (Dr.) Moses Chikwe (l) on behalf of the 2023 pilgrims, while Government House chaplain, Rev. (Dr.) Gilbert Alaribe watches, at a thanksgiving service held by the pilgrims to thank the governor for sponsoring them, at the Eze Imo Palace, Owerri, Sunday. (Govt. House photo.)

GOVERNOR of Imo State, Sen. Hope Uzodimma has said he did not have any political intention in sponsoring the 1,200 Imo Christian and Muslim pilgrims who visited Jerusalem, Jordan, Mecca and Medina this year on pilgrimage.
He says he is rather interested in the spiritual upliftment of the beneficiaries with its attendant moral benefits and their relationship with God.
The governor spoke on Sunday at the Eze Imo Palace in Mbari, Owerri in his remarks during the interdenominational thanks-giving service organised by the pilgrims to appreciate him for the opportunity given to them to visit the holy lands at no cost to them.
The governor had paid for the airlift, feeding, accommodation and other living expenses of 1,000 Christian pilgrims to Jordan and Jerusalem as well as of 200 Muslims who went to Mecca and Medina, from Imo State.
The thanksgiving service turned out to be a moment of emotional outpouring as Governor Uzodimma was treated to tales of how, through the exercise and his magnanimity, many beneficiaries had the opportunity of either traveling by air for the first time in their lives or traveling outside the shores of Nigeria, also for the first time.
Though they reminded the governor that they prayed for him, his family, his government, Imo State, among others, the pilgrims also told him that the pay-back time, which is November 11, has come.
They were therefore happy to enter into a prayer of agreement after which they endorsed the governor for re-election and resolved to vote massively for him.
“Live peacefully together”
The governor’s chief press secretary and media adviser said in a statement that the service was organised by the Imo State Christian Pilgrims Welfare board.
In appreciating their prayers, the governor told the congregation that he was not only humbled by their experiences, but that it gives him satisfaction having a better relationship with his Creator. He urged them to do the same.
He said that pilgrimage means a lot to the Christian and Muslim faiths, and appealed to Imo people to “first live together as a people irrespective of religious differences because all of us are of one God.”
He recalled that before the visit to the Holy land a lot of killings and violence were going on in the State, noting that he was convinced that after the visit, “the State is now far better and peace has returned to the State.”
He enjoined the pilgrims to pray that next year there will be opportunity for another set of contingents to visit the holy lands also.
Deputy governor speaks
He used the opportunity to pray for a free and fair governorship election in the state and urged the pilgrims to freely vote their consciences in the coming election even though they had all resolved to cast their ballot for him.
In their various speeches earlier, Deputy Governor of Imo State Prof Placid Njoku thanked the governor for his Godly dispositions that made it possible for him to sponsor the number of people from the state to the holy lands.
Prof. Njoku said that the governor has shown the world that “all about Imo State is in the hands of God.”
Christian pilgrims welfare board chairman Rev. Fr. Dr. Gilbert Alaribe also thanked the governor and God Almighty for a seamless exercise and journey mercies “because it was a difficult and complex programme.”
Muslims joyous
Alaribe who recalled that “never in the history of Imo State had any administration sponsored such a large number of pilgrims to the holy lands,” appreciated all who made it possible.
Similarly, state Muslims Council chairman Baba Sule expressed sincere gratitude to the governor for the gesture, saying that it is the first time the Government of Imo State sponsored Muslims to the holyoly land.
Sule, the Sarkin Hausawan Imo State, prayed God to continue to “put Gov. Uzodima on the front seat and always put him above all his enemies.”
He described the Governor as “excellent” and that he will “shine again”.
“The large population of Muslim Umma will vote for the governor come November 11 this year,” he said.
Dignitaries present
Other speakers included state Chief Judge Justice Theresa Chikeka, state APC chairman Dr. Macdonald Ebere and HRH Eze
Both Bishop Henry Mbamaonyeukwu and Bishop Akanabu, representing the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, CCN, ECWA, Anglican Church, all said the governor has sown bountifully hence he will reap bountifully.
Most Rev. (Dr.) Moses Chikwe, the Auxiliary Bishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri, former governor Ikedi Ohakim, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Chief Uche Nnaji, Sen. Patrick Ndubueze, Rt. Hon. Jerry Alagboso, Chief of Staff to the Governor Barr Nnamdi Anyaehie, Deputy Speaker Amara Iwuanyanwu, APC chieftain Chief Tony Chukwu, Eze Imo HRM E.C. Okeke and his wife, among other dignitaries graced the occasion.