Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State is not just regarded as a complete gentleman, but widely reputed to be one state chief executive with zeal and desire for the godliness devoid of politics. Correspondent EMEKA SAMUEL chronicles the series of thanksgiving ceremonies that he undertook to thank God for his victory at the Supreme Court recently.
In all situations, the scripture admonishes us to always give thanks and so it was not a surprise that after the Supreme Court affirmed him as the duly elected Governor of Akwa Ibom that Deacon Udom Emmanuel and many people in Akwa Ibom embarked on a series of thanksgiving ceremonies never seen in the history of the state. Many have aptly described it as an uncommon thanksgiving.
The series culminated at the 30,000 capacity Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo as the edifice was turned into a tabernacle with indigenes and friends of the state from all walks of life coming together to thank God for the victory at the Supreme Court that brought an end to the legal battle that nearly sapped the state of the energy needed to concentrate on improving the welfare of the citizens.
The thanksgiving service was by renowned men of God and Gospel preachers including Bishop David Oyedepo, Presiding Bishop of Living Faith Church Worldwide. Oyedepo’s message which centered on the benefits of thanksgiving likened the Supreme Court ruling to the victory of light over darkness. He explained that a thankful heart would always enjoy multiplication and preservation of God’s blessings when it is also timely given.
The Bishop prayed for God to preserve every investment by successive administrations to improve the lives of citizens and residents of the state. He urged the Governor to be magnanimous in victory and to prove God’s faithfulness in his life by leaving a legacy of Godly and good governance at the end of his tenure as Governor of the state.
Governor Udom Emmanuel, who ascribed the victory to God, said, “If anybody tells you that he did it, he is telling you lies because God did it.” The Governor described the ruling as the triumph of peace, equity and justice over that of inequity, lies and propaganda and commended the judiciary for maintaining independence and decried recent abuse meted to the judiciary by those who lost the election and at the courts.
He lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for not interfering with the proceedings of the courts and respecting the principles of separation of powers and urged all tiers and arms of government to be alive to their responsibilities. He expressed regret over the level of desperation witnessed in the last election and extended a hand of fellowship to all Akwa Ibom people irrespective of party affiliation in building an economically virile state.
The service which featured prayers for the peace and progress of Akwa Ibom and Nigeria led by Oyedepo, praise and worship rendered by renowned music artists including Evangelist Kunle Ajayi, Freke Umoh and Esther Edoho, was preceded by a another one held at the Banquet Hall Grounds of Akwa Ibom State Government House, Uyo.
The event witnessed a large turnout of people comprising the political class, religious leaders, women and youth groups who came out in their numbers.Governor Emmanuel, in a testimony, thanked God for his benevolence and grace contrary to the expectations of men to grant victory to the state at the court.
The Governor, who praised the people for their unflinching support and also thanked the clergies for their prayers and the Peoples Democratic Party for being a dependable ally, summed up his testimony with a text from the Book of Exodus Chapter 15 from verse 1 through 22.
Preaching on the theme ‘Who is like unto Thee O’ Lord’, Arch Bishop Cletus Bassey said the victory was that of Akwa Ibom state and commended Governor Udom Emmanuel for making God the source of his inspiration.
Also at the L’Meridian Ibom Hotels and Golf resort in Uyo, a select group of Gospel Ministers across the Country converged to appreciate God for the victory. Among the Ministers of God at the forum were Arch Bishop Margaret Idahosa, Dr Uma Ukpai, Arch Bishop Cletus Bassey, Prelate Isaiah Isong, Bishop Emma Isong, Rev Ntia Ntia, John Linus, John Thomas, Bishop Sylvanus Ukafia, Apostle Zilly Agrey, while John Praise thrilled the audience with gospel tunes. The event put together by Akwa Ibom Dakada Ministers Forum also used the occasion to celebrate the 46th birthday of the Governor’s wife, Martha Udom Emmanuel, and presented gifts to the Celebrant.
Governor Emmanuel, who read the book of Psalms 126, said God has proven himself as the omniscient God and appreciated the Gospel ministers for their prayers for the success of the Divine mandate, urged Christians to venture into politics and contribute to the growth of the society. Arch Bishop Margaret Idahosa preached on the theme “Acceleration”, while Bishop Uma Ukpai prayed for good health, protection and prosperity for the first family.
At Ikot Ekpene, the Governor literally turned what was supposed to be a reception for him by the people of Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District into a thanksgiving service to God and called on the opposition to join hands with his government to industrialise the state.
“Let me use this opportunity in thanking God first of all for His endless love by bringing us thus far as a state; as a state, we have moved forward overtime, we cannot help but give glory to God Almighty. Let us also salute the Nigerian judiciary for leaving up to is bidding as the last hope of common man, the good people of Akwa Ibom state for their prayers and steadfast support over the last eight months in the face of what was absolutely the most vain campaign of hatred, blackmail and character assignation by an opposition.
“The battle has been won and lost, in any political contest; there must be a winner and a loser. In this case, the people of Akwa Ibom won. I hereby call on my brothers from the other side of the political divide to close ranks and join me in making Akwa Ibom to sustain superior performance and ensure development that is sustainable, impactful and expansive; we don’t have any other state to call our own except great Akwa Ibom.
“The other side has the right to aspire to power even though we do not agree with their approach and mechanics, politics should not be used as a wage-issues to divide brothers and sisters, politics should not be an instrument the create disharmony among an otherwise homogenous people,” Udom said.
The leadership and staff of the state ministry of works also held a special thanksgiving service to thank God for the victory. Speaking at the occasion the Commissioner, Mr. Ephraim Inyang, thanked God for His supremacy, which has superintended over the affairs of men and of His glory, which had confirmed the divine mandate that the people of Akwa Ibom State graciously gave Emmanuel as their governor.
The thanksgiving service featured reading of Psalms, praise and worship; choir rendition; dances and prayers for the President and the country, the state governor and his family, Akwa Ibom State, the ministry and staff.
At Abak, it was a time of singing, dancing and rejoicing, when the women of Abak Federal Constituency, under the aegis of Divine Restoration Women, gathered for a special victory thanksgiving, to celebrate the Supreme Court confirmation of Udom Emmanuel as Governor of Akwa Ibom State.
Setting the tone for the occasion, the host and wife of the Commissioner for Information, Deaconess Maureen Umanah, said women of the constituency, comprising, Abak, Ika and Etim Ekpo, could not have been left out of the victory celebration, since they had always supported the government. She said that “the women engaged themselves in prayers and were unwavering, throughout the period of the elections and while the legal battle lasted in the courts.”
In her response, the wife of the Governor, Mrs. Martha Udom Emmanuel, who was represented on the occasion by the wife of the Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Dr. Uduak Luke, expressed appreciation to God and the women of Abak Federal Constituency for the wise decision to host the thanksgiving event. She assured the women of empowerment by the administration of Governor Emmanuel through appointments and elective positions. She added that through her pet project, Family Empowerment and Youth Reorientation Programme, FEYReP, “women and youths will be trained up to international standard, so that they can stand out anywhere in the world.”
On her part, the President of Divine Restoration Women, Abak Federal Constituency, Mrs. Victoria Thomas, who expressed gratitude to God for granting victory to Mr. Emmanuel, lauded the Governor for his accomplishments so far and urged Akwa Ibom people to continue to support him, especially towards achieving his industrialisation goal for the state. The event also featured intercessory prayers, witnessed the presentation of the award of Eka Iberedem Iban Abak Federal Constituency to Mrs. Martha Udom Emmanuel, as well as wrappers and other gift items to the women.