Two former presidents of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan, were among the dignitaries who attended the 85th birthday thanksgiving service of the Esama of Benin, Gabriel Igbinedion, on Sunday in Benin, Edo.
The event which took place at the Saint Gabriel, the ArchAngel Catholic Church, was also attended by traditional rulers, politicians, clergies, parishioners, friends and well-wishers of the patriarch.
Delivering the homily, entitled: “Gratitude and Thanksgiving: A fulfilment of God’s will”, Alfred Agbonlahor charged the congregation to take thanksgiving, a moral obligation of Christians, seriously in order to attract God’s blessings.
The priest cited relevant sections of the Bible on gratitude, including, Luke Chapter 17: verses 11-19, when Jesus, on his way to Jerusalem, encountered ten lepers, healed them, but only one returned to thank Jesus afterwards.
He described the celebrant as “a man after God’s heart and a distinguished entrepreneur who has contributed immensely to human capital development in Edo in particular and Nigeria at large.
He is a dogged man who does not give up in the face of daunting challenges in life.
“If there is no investment, there is no future.
You have diversified your investment; even before we were born, you raised many people through your act of generosity”.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports the Catholic Archbishop of Benin Metropolitan, Augustine Akubeze, who presided over the service, performed the Mass rites.
The Benin monarch, Oba Ewuare, II was represented at the event by the Obasogie of Benin, Eduwu Ekhator and the Aiwerioghene of Benin, H. Bazuaye while the Iyase (Prime Minister) of Benin Kingdom, Sam Igbe, was also present.
The Alaafin of Oyo, Lamidi Adeyemi III, graced the occasion while the Ooni of Ife, Adeyeye Ogunwusi, sent goodwill messages.
A former Senate deputy president, Ibrahim Mantu; former Senate Whip, Rowland Owie; former ministers of industry, Nike Akande, and Science and Technology, Emmanuel Emovon were also in attendance.
Others were Matthew Urhoghide, representing Edo South senatorial district, Sunny Omatseye and retired Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Parry Osayande (NAN)