… As Makinde confers knighthood, other titles on 71 members
It was on that date that they received earthly rewards for their services to God, the church and mankind even as they awaited the rewards from heaven.
The honours were bestowed on them by the outgoing Prelate of the Methodist Church of Nigeria, His Eminence, Dr. Sunday Ola Makinde at the premises of the church along Umuwaya Road by Crowder Street in the Abia State capital.
The premises of the church was filled to the brim, with the crowd stretching into the nearby road, including the premises of the Peace Mass Transit Motor park adjacent to the church building. It was hard to avoid human traffic, not to talk of the gridlock that hindered free movement in the area.
Vehicles were fully parked in all the adjoining streets and roads, up to the Old Tower, along Aba Road.
Prominent personalities from all walks of life were in attendance. While some came to receive their awards, others came to show solidarity to those who were being honoured. Yet others came as observers of the event which only takes place once in a very long while.
The prelate, who was performing his last function as the head of the church before his retirement, admonished Christians to do right, insisting that it was the only way to please God.
He conferred the knighthood and other awards on 71 persons said to have contributed in one way or the other to the service of God.
Twenty eight persons were conferred with the award of the order of Knight of John Wesley (KJW), six got the Knight of Charles Wesley (KJC), 17 were honoured with the award of the Officer of the Order of Wesley (OOW), and 17 also got the award of Members of the Order of Wesley (MOW).
Of all the prominent recipients of this award, one man was particularly outstanding. His contribution towards the growth of the Methodist Church, service to God and mankind was outstanding, according to the church. He is the former governorship candidate of Peoples Democratic Party in Abia State, High Chief Ikechi Emenike. Emenike , a development economist and publisher of The Economy, African Economy, Annual Meeting Daily (for the World Bank) among others, was the number seventh person in the list of those that were honoured.
Emenike was honoured, among others, for his philanthropic activities and for the construction of St John’s Church in his village of Umukabia Okpuala, which he built as a replica of the Methodist Church at Tinubu Square, Lagos.
Not quite long ago, the prelate came to Umukabia to dedicate the ultra-modern multi-million naira church building. So when his name appeared as one of those to be honoured, people were not surprised.
Makinde who was assisted by other prominent men of God to confer the honours at the church service, called on church leaders at every level to begin “to learn how to do things right” in order to make Nigeria better.
The eminent cleric, who was on a valedictory visit to Umuahia Archdiocese, used the occasion to celebrate his valedictory service at the church, where he presided over the ceremony of honouring the awardees.
He was billed to retire after seven years at the helm of affairs of the Methodist Church of Nigeria.
The awardees were selected at the biennial conference of the church earlier held in Yaba, Lagos, where they were judged to have been found “worthy both in character and Christian discipline, and in recognition of their selfless services to God, the church and humanity.
Bishop of Remo, Most Rev Babatunde A. Taiwo, who conveyed the church’s message in his sermon, noted that both the church and the political leaders needed to apply the recipes for good governance, which included seeking the face of God, seeking for justice and always doing what is right.
“If your intention is good, the action that will follow it must equally be good,” he said, quoting the founder of the Methodist Church, John Wesley. The Bishop insisted that leaders must ensure that justice prevails in the society at all times.
Minister of Labour and Productivity, Nwadiala Emeka Wogu, called on the church to continue to support the administration in the country with prayers and good counsel.
He lauded the outgoing prelate for the quality leadership he had given the church and for his contribution in nation building. He promised to take the message of the sermon to both President Goodluck Jonathan and Governor T.A. Orji.
Makinde was highly celebrated during his valedictory visit and church service held at Wesley Cathedral, Umuahia .
The service was attended by thousands of Methodist faithful, guests, as well as friends and well wishers of the awardees.