CELEBRATING OKOJIE @ 80
80th BIRTHDAY AND GOLDEN JUBILEE OF THE PRIESTLY ORDINATION OF HIS EMINENCE, ANTHONY CARDINAL OLUBUNMI OKOGIE, THE EMERITUS ARCHBISHOP OF LAGOS.
A SPEECH AT THE END OF MASS BY MOST REV. IGNATIUS A. KAIGAMA, ARCHBISHOP OF JOS AND PRESIDENT, CBCN, AT THE HOLY CROSS CATHEDRAL, 16.06.2016
I arrived yesterday from Jos to, on behalf of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria join the family of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos and the teeming people of goodwill to pray in gratitude to God for the innumerable and unquantifiable favours granted to his Eminence Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie in his life time of eighty years and fifty years of generous and functional pastoral ministry.
We rejoice that His Eminence has used effectively and continues to use his life in selfless service of the Church and our nation, a service characterized by great dedication and distinction. From North to South, East to West, we say, EKUSHE, DALLU, MUN GODE/ SANNU DA AIKI.
My people of Jos Archdiocese and the Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Jos who just concluded their provincial meeting asked me to join your numerous well wishers at this Mass to express our profound gratitude to you for your long period of selfless service to the Nigerian Church and the nation. Also, as a Prince of the Church you have played a vital role as an adviser to the Holy Father and you did not only partake in the election of the Pope, if it was God’s will you could have been Pope yourself as all Catholic Cardinals potentially are.
Your voice in the Nigerian Church and nation was strongly prophetic and like that of John the Baptist, it was loud, clear and consistent and it did contribute to saving Nigeria from the brink of collapse. Your patriotic instinct and fearless confrontation of social issues helped to bring stability to this nation. You stood very firm on principles even in those days faced with the menacing and intimidating sight of military guns, soldiers whose dictatorial culture raped Nigeria for many years of the advantages of democratic governance. Your voice was a voice of hope and tranquility. Thank you.
Your numerous services to the CBCN are uncountable. You were president of the CBCN, You were a prominent pioneer member of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and provided a solid leadership to the Association when it mattered most. Compared to what has become of CAN today your leadership style showed critical and truth-speaking courage, not corrupted by Naira and Kobo, neither were you forced to succumb to ill-advised policies of those in power.
However, the challenges to the Nigerian nation and far from over. What with youth restiveness and violence, unemployment, armed robbery, kidnapping, high cost of everything, depreciating electricity supply, sometimes explosive and unedifying exchanges between and among political leaders? In your moments of solitary prayer kindly lift up the Nigerian nation to God for His MIGHTY intervention please.
Accept please our heartfelt congratulations with prayers that the Lord who has seen you through these blessed EIGHTY YEARS of life and fifty years of ministerial service will continue to be present with you, keeping you healthy, injecting you daily with more graces to remain sound in mind and body and that we shall continue to reap from your wealth of ecclesiastical and civil experience. We wish you many more peaceful, happy and spirit-filled years in the service of the Nigerian Church, our country and indeed the universal Church.
We thank Lagos Archdiocese under the leadership of the kind and amiable Archbishop Alfred Adewale Martins for inviting us to this great celebration and together with his people for making us feel very much welcome and giving us a warm /royal as well an animated liturgical reception. May God continue to bless this great Archdiocese.
Your Eminence, be assured that we are united in prayers and as we say in Latin, Oremus pro invicem (Let us pray for each other).
To you all, I say, “Ki alafiya wa pkeluyin”.