Raymond Ozoji, Awka
Christ The King Catholic Church Umuezeawala, Ihiala local government area of Anambra state, was the ground upon which Francis Cardinal Arinze brought his pastoral work all the way from the Vatican city of Rome and officiated the Holy mass upon which the community was handed over to God in praise and worship. Cardinal Arinze’s visit to Umuezeawala was also a golden opportunity for him to bestow an uncommon honour and award on Governor Willie Obiano for his strides in fostering religious ecumenism in the state. The mass had gone on devoid of any uproar until the state governor was called upon to address the congregation, itching to hear what he would say to ameliorate their plight.
It however became a ground-breaking ceremony for the governor to reassure the people of Umuezeawala community of the vantage position they occupied in his government. Thus, the entire congregation went agog when Governor Willie Obiano brought the contractor handling a major road project in the community in front of the congregation and in the presence of Francis Cardinal Arinze and declared that he had paid the contractor all the money required to get the road done and completed to reduce the sufferings community-dwellers go through in trying to access neighbouring communities. Words could not describe the mood of the congregation as songs of joy and jubilation rent the air because of the news that the said road would be constructed. Apart from that, Governor Obiano’s three million naira magnanimous donation for the completion of Christ The King Catholic Church Umuezeawala Ihiala was equally unprecedented as evident in the encomiums showered on the governor and his wife.
The visit of Francis Cardinal Arinze, Governor Willie Obiano, the Chief of Staff Mr. Primus Odili, the Secretary to the Government of Anambra State Prof. Solo Chukwulobelu, the Head of Service of the Anambra State Civil Service Barr. Harry Uduh together with other dignitaries to Umuezeawala community was at the instance of the Honourable Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment Mr. C. Don Adinuba who is a native of Umuezeawala.
On the occasion, Governor Obiano described Cardinal Arinze as erudite and articulate in spite of being an octogenarian. The governor therefore prayed that God in His infinite mercies and compassion grant Francis Cardinal Arinze more fruitful years, good health as well as prosperity in the vine yard of the Lord while assuring the people of Umuezeawala community and entire Ihiala local government area that they would obtain whatever is due to them in his government.
Mr. Adinuba went down memory lane recalling how Cardinal Arinze conferred on him the Sacrament of Confirmation in July 1972 in Ihiala where he also grew up and attended early childhood education. Mr Adinuba described Francis Cardinal Arinze as a living saint saying that for the cardinal to come to a rural community like Umuezeawala to celebrate the Feast of Immaculate Conception, his 86th birthday, his 60th anniversary of ordination as a priest and 10th anniversary of retirement as Prefect of Congregation For Divine Worship and Discipline of Sacraments was historical and posterity would remain grateful to him. He described the Cardinal further as a great believer of peaceful co-existence. Apart from being instrumental to the visit of Cardinal Arinze and Governor Obiano, the commissioner also recalled that his community has played host to ex-governor Chris Ngige, ex-governor Sam Egwu, Sen. Andy Ubah, the late Prof. Dora Akunyili and a host of other cream of the society stressing that small as Umuezeawala is, communal life is the order of the day and issues of armed-robbery, kidnapping and other vices were completely non-existent in the area.
Also, the lawmaker representing Ihiala 1 state constituency where Umuezeawala belongs Hon. Chidi Livinus Udemadu underscored the visit of Francis Cardinal Arinze to his constituency saying that it’s a good omen. Udemadu equally stated that the governor’s efforts in infrastructural development were monumental as the people of Umuezeawala have been assured of the completion of one of the most strategic roads in the area. Meanwhile, Barr. Ifeanyi Chudi Momah observed that the sufferings the people encountered plying the said road was unimaginable but the governor had shown the people of Umuezeawala great benevolence by telling them that arrangements had been made for the road to be tarred and made motorable. Chairman of the Organising Committee of the event Dr. Donatus Iberi and Chris-Chuka Ezenyimulu concurred that the visit of the Cardinal was remarkable as well as a blessing to the community and that it would equally bring about the completion of the church building project in no distant time.