Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State has said that Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu who celebrated his 80th birthday on Sunday is deserving of every honour done him by family, friends and well-wishers alike.
The Governor spoke at the Cathedral Church of Transfiguration of Our Lord in Owerri during a thanksgiving service to mark Iwuanyanwu’s 80th birthday, the climax of a week-long event lined up for that purpose.
Addressing the audience at the Cathedral’s auditorium that was filled to the brim with Iwuanyanwu’s family, friends, associates and well-wishers alike, Governor Uzodimma said that “nothing can be more fulfilling than to be celebrated while alive.”
The Governor explained: “Yesterday (Saturday), Nigerians celebrated our father and leader, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu at 80. Yesterday (Saturday), Ndigbo expressed their profound gratitude to Ahaejiagamba for his many years of service to our people and Nigeria.
“Yesterday (Saturday), the government and the good people of Imo State stood in unison to proclaim to the world that Chief Iwuanyanwu is our son in whom we are well pleased. Not all mortals are so fortunate to witness such rare honour alive. And not all who live up to 80 years are so honoured.
“It is only natural that the week-long celebration is peaking with a Thanksgiving Service at this historic Cathedral; THE CATHEDRAL OF THE CONFIGURATION OF OUR LORD (CATOL), which Chief Iwuanyanwu was pivotal to its building.
“In his lifetime, he has watched the growth and expansion of this edifice. As those close to him know, nothing gives Chief Iwuanyanwu more joy than building for the Lord. This explains why he is currently embarking on the construction of even a more gigantic Cathedral in his hometown, Atta.”
Governor Uzodimma used the occasion of the thanksgiving to appreciate the galaxy of Nigerians who have identified with Chief Iwuanyanwu on his 80th birthday with prayers and goodwill messages.
“Let me, therefore, appreciate in a very special way those who were in Owerri yesterday to celebrate this iconic figure. I thank our caring President, Muhammadu Buhari for his sincere goodwill message. I equally appreciate former President Goodluck Jonathan for being physically present at the lecture. The guest lecturer, Dr. Nnia Nwodo was at his cerebral best. I didn’t expect anything less. Our own brother, General Ike Nwachukwu (rtd) was also there in flesh and blood. For those who also sent representations, you also deserve my regards. All of us working together gave Ahaejigamba a deserving birthday present,” the Governor said.
Governor Uzodimma recalled Iwuanyanwu’s effort in making the Imo State Airport a reality when it was like an aberration for States to own airports in the country.
His words: “Most people who came in through the Imo airport should salute Chief Iwuanyanwu. When the project was conceived, he was one of the very few that facilitated the realisation of the airport, the first to be built by the ‘never say die’ Imo people; the symbol of lgbo resilience and determination.
“Mark you, in the early eighties, one million was a huge sum of money.
“In the same period, many accident victims survived because of Iwuanyanwu”s blood bank. There are several other interventions by this great son of ours that changed the course of history in Igboland and Nigeria. We therefore cannot celebrate him enough.
“Indeed, the eulogies so far paid him are only a drop in the ocean in comparison to the positive impact he has made in society. However, I am glad that we are in the House of God, who alone has the adequate resources to reward Chief Iwuanyanwu according to his invaluable good works to humanity.”
The Governor expressed gratitude to Chief Iwuanyanwu for the support he has shown to his government that stands him out as a true statesmen and leader of men.
He therefore noted: “For me as the Governor of Imo State, I am grateful to our son and father, for the stabilizing role he has continued to play in my administration. He has truly been a father to the government. The only way I can reward him is to continue to serve Imo people with utmost honesty and accountability.
“My promise to him and the people of the state is that I will continue to serve diligently, selflessly, honestly and for the good of all Imo people irrespective of party or clan.
“Once again, congratulations, our dear patriot. By this time next year, we shall also return here to thank God for your life.”
Earlier in his sermon, the Anglican Archbishop of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province who is also Anglican Bishop of Okigwe Diocese, Most Rev Dr David Onuoha extolled the good virtues of Chief Iwuanyanwu, insisting that he never withheld God’s blessings from his people.
Onuoha said Iwuanyanwu impacted the lives of so many people in Nigeria, including those he did not know.
He said Iwuanyanwu is a classic example of God’s word of being gracious to whom he chooses and of showing mercy, compassion to whom he likes.
Onuoha maintained, therefore, that all our struggles may come to nothing if God’s grace, mercy and compassion are not involved.
He prayed God to grant Iwuanyanwu many more years of fruitful service, particularly in God’s Vineyard where he has not hidden his passion.
The highpoint of Iwuanyanwu’s birthday celebration was the unveiling of his biography – Amazing Grace of God – written by some members of his Alumni, the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, at the Landmark Event Centre Owerri, venue of the reception for guests.